Photographing wildlife is a great excuse for spending day outdoors

PICATURE PERFECT

April 10, 1993|By Wayne Hardin | Wayne Hardin,Staff Writer

Middleton Evans came out of Duke University in 1986 with a degree in economics, couldn't find a job in his field, and turned a childhood hobby into a career in photography.

That gives him a unique perspective to offer the weekend photographer. He's been there.

"Maryland is a great state for photographers," he says. "There's so much here to shoot."

At 29, Mr. Evans has two coffee table books of photography in his resume that show he has, indeed, found plenty to shoot: together, the two books contain more than 500 photographs. "Maryland in Focus" was published in 1988 and "Baltimore" came out in 1992. And he is working on a third, "Maryland's Great Outdoors."

A grouping of his color photographs forms a scenic montage on one wall of the living room of his Charlesbrooke home, just north of the city line. The photos show kayaking, a fox hunt, hot air balloons, three women in bikinis and a man in a tuxedo standing together in the surf, an American Indian festival, a bear cub clinging to a tree, a nest of osprey, sailboats in the breeze.

In blue denim shirt, tan trousers, no socks and brown loafers, Mr. Evans sits on a sofa opposite a floor-to-ceiling window, enthusiastic and laid-back at the same time. He pushes back his sandy hair when he emphasizes a point. The window overlooks a small wood-fenced yard. English ivy grows up the fence in one corner. Several bird feeders stand or hang in the yard.

"I shot the picture of the goldfinch on page 208 of 'Baltimore' right through the glass of that window," Mr. Evans says. "A goldfinch likes thistle feeders. I have two out there. With birds, you can put a stick or a perch above the feeder. They will perch there before feeding."

He says birds and butterflies are prime subjects with which the weekend photographer "can go out on and have fun."

"Three hundred bird species are found in Maryland," he says. "Nesting birds are a big deal in the spring. This is one of the East Coast flyways for migrating waterfowl. In March and April, you see ducks, geese, herons, egrets, warblers, even loons.

"Butterflies are great to photograph in summer. There are 100 species in Maryland and they're the easiest form of nature to get close to. I've gotten within 3 inches. You need a macro lens to photograph close-up."

Other wildlife?

"Frogs and snakes are easy to do if you know where to find them. It takes a lot of time to photograph mammals like fox, coyote and bear. It's too time-consuming for weekend photographers."

Over the years, he has developed a few favorite Maryland things.

"In terms of spring, Sherwood Gardens in Guilford is my favorite spot," he says. "Every year there are new varieties of tulips. In the fall, it's Cunningham Falls State Park near Thurmont for waterfalls and foliage."

His favorite little town to shoot? Step forward Chesapeake City on the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal in Cecil County with its historic area, high bridge over the canal and the ships that pass through.

"Frederick and Annapolis can be quite charming," he said. "I also like Burkittsville for its proximity to the mountains. Ellicott City has so much character but it's a hard place to photograph well."

Other Evans recommendations:

* For wildflowers, try Cylburn Mansion near Northern Parkway in Northwest Baltimore and Oregon Ridge Park in Hunt Valley.

* For scenic terrain, Patapsco State Park along the river on the Baltimore-Howard county line which has pretty waterfalls and where "once a fox came right up to me."

* For birds, Cylburn, Lake Roland off Falls Road just into Baltimore County, Oregon Ridge, Irvine Natural Science Center at St. Timothy's School in Greenspring Valley, the inlet in Ocean City next to the parking area.

* For "the ponies," sika deer and "all kinds of water birds," Assateague Island, near Ocean City.

* For events, the Renaissance Festival in Crownsville, which has colorful "costumes, activities and atmosphere," and Chesapeake Appreciation Days near the Bay Bridge. However, weekend photographers will have to wait a while to shoot these. Both are fall events.

Spring, following the drabness of winter, is the time people want to get back to nature and away from an urban setting, he says. "Most people taking photographs for fun like to shoot scenic or pretty things in spring, not architecture."

Regardless of the chosen subject, Mr. Evans hammers on preparation.

"You have to invest some time in reading and research before going out," he says. "You can't expect to just go out into the woods and find something."

He motions toward his bookcases.

"I have 15 books on wildlife photography in my library, and that's just a small sample of what's out there," he says. "There also are all kinds of magazines."

Along with the success Mr. Evans has had with his pictures have come some disappointments -- a few pictures that got away or that he still hasn't been able to shoot.

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