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DEB RUSSELL

I enjoy almost everything about the process of plucking an image from the world around me and preserving it. Keeping the process as simple as possible is a big part of the enjoyment for me, so you may find the following explanation paradoxical. Believe me, this page was not the first task I undertook when getting my website up and running! It's meant as much to reveal a bit about my photographic process as to reveal just a bit "about me."

 

LAKE TILLERY

Our River, Our Beauty  

Lake Tillery has always been known to me as just "the river," as I have grown up and spent all my life just a few miles away in the small town of Mount Gilead. Except for some school years spent in Winston-Salem, NC; Athens, Georgia; Denver, Colorado; and, Des Moines, Iowa, this wonderful spot in the center of the state known as the Piedmont has been my home turf. The spectacular vistas of the western part of North Carolina have called me many times, as have the drama of the Carolina coastlines, but the area immediately around Lake Tillery holds its own share of beautiful hills, water, forests and, yes, even dramas of color and light. Living in a subdivision directly by the lake now, I've found many pre-dawn hours by the lake to generate just as much anticipation of color and light as a Blue Ridge Parkway dawn. 

Like most recreational lakes, Tillery is not the quiet, sparsely developed lake it was in the 60's and 70's when most houses along its shores were simple, tiny weekend "river cabins."  Boating on a weekday with too little gas or a bad battery could mean a long paddle with little chance of a tow. Those days are long gone, but, hopefully, Tillery will benefit from the areas protected by Morrow Mountain State Park on its northern Stanly County side and by the Uwharrie National Forest on the northern Montgomery County side. 

I hope the images in this collection convey some of the lake's mystery and quiet beauty that might be missed by busy Sunday afternoon boaters, skiers, and grillers. For those with a life-long appreciation of this stretch of the Pee Dee River between  Hydro and Falls Dams, I hope it brings a smile and some pride that your "river" is still beautiful. For everyone, I hope there can be renewed or continued desire to preserve and protect that which is close to us, so precious and delicate, and so important to our quality of life.
 

WONDERING | WANDERING | ANTICIPATION

In school I liked drawing maps for social studies, history, or geography projects. I've always loved just lookin' at maps and wondering what it would be like to be in that particular place in the world, what it would look like, but, most of all, what it would FEEL like. The "wondering" part, the anticipatory part of studying a map, charting a course, gathering all the "be prepared" kind of stuff for a trip, and finally the setting out on an early morning at sunrise, were always favorite elements in any excursion of mine. For me, preparing to "take some pictures", or rather to "photograph a landscape", is much the same and usually involves a map at some point. Anticipation and the "wondering" about the upcoming "wandering" continue to be a big part of the fun. The area around Lake Tillery in our beautiful Uwharrie Mountains, including Morrow Mountain State Park in Stanly County, and the country roads, farmlands, and forests of Montgomery County, have kept my "wanderings" pretty close and easy lately.
 

DISCOVERY | BEING THERE | CAPTURE

Now you know I like the "wondering" and the "happy surprise" part of "wanderings". I delight in the unusually twisty, narrow country road found on a mandatory detour or the ridiculous, silly roadside souvenir stand holding onto its time warp quaintness like my dog Scout hangs onto her "squeaky cheeseburger and French fry toys", or to her ability to hide from my camera.

The same location, say a pier in the Woodrun on Tillery subdivision where I live, never, ever looks exactly the same. Any artist or photographer knows this, but until you emotionally experience the subtleties and variations in light, mood (mine and the scene's), color, sky, wind, season, time of day, etc., it's tough to explain the lure of local landscape photography. 

Shooting the familiar paradoxically makes for continually unique discoveries. "Being there" is always unique and worthwhile, even if it turns out that "being there" doesn't produce a single worthwhile image on that occasion. The next time, or the next, or the next might just hold the treasure, and it's that possibility that keeps me coming back. Capturing one single moment of an extraordinary balance of light, color, and mood doesn't usually happen by accident -- or by showing up one time, even if the location is a great one. The Swift Island Bridge connecting Stanly and Montgomery counties is an example of potential treasure always waiting for me.
 

EXPERIMENTATION | POST PROCESSING | PLAYTIME

This has become an unexpected and most satisfying part of the photographic process for me. The digital age of photography has made playing with images so easy -- and with such immediate gratification -- that it now competes with the anticipatory parts of the photographic journey. I unabashedly frolic in the world of transforming original captures from my camera into whatever suits my fancy. Bending proper techniques, breaking traditional photographic rules (even being oblivious to many of them) no longer bothers me much. What usually winds up bugging me most is my inability to stop playing with an image. Often, I have trouble deciding which variation I prefer, much less which variation someone else might like as a fine art print, on a canvas or in a coffee table book.

For example, all variations in this collage are from the same image, and these aren't the only versions I created.

Now, perhaps, I've spoiled some of the "wondering" about me by publishing this page. But I hope you'll enjoy "wandering" around the rest of my website. If you don't discover a treasure this time, check back later...maybe I'll have one for you on your next visit.

~ Deb