Thomas, WV – This article is the fourth installment in a multi-week segment highlighting winning photographers from Cortland’s annual photography contest. This week, winners include TR Shultz of Morgantown and John Willson of Charleston, West Virginia.
Travis ‘TR’ Shultz; Morgantown, West Virginia
Using a Fuji X-T2 with Fuji 10-24mm F-4 lens, Shultz has been an avid photographer for approximately six years and a freshman winner of Cortland’s photography contest.
His favorite subject is nature and landscape photography. “A scene can change dramatically depending on the weather and light, combining in striking ways that evoke powerful emotions,” describes Shultz. “The moments are fleeting, but when it materializes, it’s always memorable. I love the challenge – both the effort it takes to be there at just the right time to experience those moments and understanding the camera well enough to capture the image as I see it.”
A well-known feature of the Dolly Sods Wilderness area, Shultz chose to photograph in black and white to emphasize the contrast. “Despite having photographed this feature a few times before, I had not found a satisfying composition. On this particular early November morning, it was extremely cold, having snowed the night before. The wind-driven snow coated the west-facing side of the trees, creating an attractive contrast. I admitted the scene for perhaps 30 minutes, walking around and framing composition, frustrated as I had been in my previous visits. Looking through the viewfinder, moving back and forth, side to side, in an instant, the image I saw evoked an emotional connection. This is what I hoped to capture an image that represented the feelings of that special place.”
Shultz clarifies that he doesn’t have any funny photography stories that don’t involve him falling on slippery rocks since some of his most memorable experiences and photographs involve cold or stormy weather. “One time, walking through a snow-covered wetland, I saw what looked like a snow- and fur-covered beachball – – it was an enormous and well-fed beaver! Little surprises like that are great.”
“Landscape photography to me is a great way to connect and immerse ourselves in the natural world,” explains Shultz. “To escape from mundane obligations and To-Do lists to just “be.” Almost meditative. Whether or not I get a great image, I never fail to enjoy the time well-spent.”
John Willson; Charleston, West Virginia
“Landscapes are my favorite subject because they get me out in nature and gives me a great appreciation for the beauty of God’s creation.”
Using a NikonD800 camera and Nikon 16-35mm F-4 zoom lens, Willson has been photographing the great outdoors for six years. He submitted images to the contest previously and had two entries selected for this year’s gallery.
“My’ friends’ blame me for any poor conditions we have when we go out to shoot,” explains Willson. “If there are no clouds, or if it’s raining, we know the cause. They have even offered to take up a collection if I leave so that the conditions will improve. It’s a great tradition and lots of fun too.”
“The Bear Rocks Sunrise” photo is an example of being in the right place at the right time. “The Blackwater Falls photo was the most challenging image to capture,” remembers Willson. “After hiking down to the river level, I started hiking toward the falls and encountered a big rock that I couldn’t get over or around. I set my camera up on top of the rock, not seeing through the viewfinder. Using live view and a little trial and error, I was able to get the composition I wanted.”
As far as words of wisdom for photography go, Willson recommends you be patient. “When you get to the scene, take it all in, and see what is ‘speaking’ to you. Then think about how to take the photo to highlight what captured your attention. You can’t see the best compositions if you’re not patient.”
COVID may have changed how Cortland presents their 2020 photography winners, the prints continue to be spectacular. As with previous years, both large- and small-scale prints from 2019 are available for purchase. The prints previewed in this article will be available for purchase in the fall of 2021. Please visit the Cortland Acres website at www. https://www.cortlandacres.org/2019-prints-for-sale or contact Dan Bucher at (304) 463-4181 for more information.
The Foundation’s mission is “To secure the resources necessary to enhance the health and well-being of the Cortland community.” A 501(c)3 organization, The Foundation is dedicated to helping Cortland Acres continue to provide and expand quality care and services to the local and surrounding communities. Cortland Acres is a nonprofit corporation offering state-of-the-art nursing care, skilled rehabilitation, and retirement living on a spacious 35-acre campus in scenic Tucker County, West Virginia. For more information, call 304-463-4181 or visit www.cortlandacres.org.