Love of water yields a stream of photos

January 09, 1994|By Lisa Respers | Lisa Respers,Contributing Writer

Water is very important to photographer Gregory W. Blank.

"Water is the most important resource there is," said the Westminster resident. "Without water, there would be no life."

Mr. Blank, 30, has made it a personal goal to shoot photographs of every stream in Maryland. About 30 of his pictures will be on display at the Carroll County Arts Council Gallery, 15 E. Main St., Westminster, beginning with an opening reception from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. today.

The show, "Tributaries: Photographic Viewpoints," is a labor of love for Mr. Blank, who has been taking photos for 10 years. So far, he has traveled to streams in Carroll, Howard, Frederick and Baltimore counties, and he has taken shots of streams in other states.

"The way I've been doing it is that I look on a map and see what is out there that I haven't seen," he said. "I find out where a stream crosses a road, and I go out there and set up."

Letting nature take its course has enabled Mr. Blank to capture some incredible images.

"For the one entitled 'Dolly Sods, West Virginia,' I was standing on the side of a mountain setting up my camera on the tripod when a deer ran past," he said.

Mr. Blank said he judges photography by the use of light and shadows, composition and technical correctness.

Hilary Pierce, executive director of the gallery, believes that visitors will be pleased with Mr. Blank's work.

"The thing about photography is, you really need time to look at each one," Ms. Pierce said.

Mr. Blank also is an artist, having been an avid art student since the first grade. He has done many drawings and recently expanded into airbrush painting.

Graphite drawing is one of his specialties, and he says he personally prefers "surreal drawing as opposed to realistic photography." Drawing and painting, however, did not satisfy Mr. Blank's cravings.

"There's not enough detail," Mr. Blank said. "I never feel like I can finish it [a drawing or painting] completely."

He became interested in photography when a high school teacher suggested that he could capture more detailed imagery in photos. He went on to an associate of arts degree from Catonsville Community College in 1982 and credits an instructor there with furthering his career.

"He had a friend he was selling a camera for, and he chose to sell it to me," Mr. Blank said. "He got me working with a larger format camera, and he's the one that showed me what images are supposed to look like."

Mr. Blank does both color and black-and-white photography. He prefers working in black and white because of the longevity of the photograph.

One of the major components of black-and-white paper is silver. But even silver has its limitations. "As the environment changes, sulfur can affect the silver in the paper over time," he explained.

Mr. Blank would like to see a movement back to platinum in place of silver.

"At one time, platinum was used because you try to make the image as permanent as possible, and platinum is as about as permanent as you can get.

"As long as the paper lasts, the picture will last."

Mr. Blank is concerned, too, about other environmental changes -- mainly, man's abuse of the land.

"I think the biggest thing I have a problem with is when I'm out taking pictures and seeing trash on the ground," he said. "There are places that, if you could see them, you would cry."

"Tributaries: Photographic Viewpoints" will be on display until Jan. 28. There will also be an ArtSpeak lecture, "Save Our Streams," from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Registration is required, but admission is free. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and noon to 4 p.m. Saturdays.

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