Featured Photographer – Chuck Gallegos (2013)

Jack-O-Lantern Mushrooms

Image 3 of 4

Our first featured photographer is Chuck Gallegos. Chuck has achieved Master Certificates in Monochrome, Slides, and Digital and a Platinum Certificate in Color. He won the photograph of the year for three years running 2009-2011. He will be giving a program on infrared photography April 2nd.

ACC: How long have you been into photography, and how long have you been in the Arundel Camera Club?

CG: I started getting serious about photography in 1999 after a colleague where I work, at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, organized a photo contest for our Holiday Party that year. My image won first place, and a several others of mine impressed the judges as well. Two of the judges were Dick Fairhurst and Howard Penn, who gave me his card and invited me to club. I had enjoyed photography for a long time, mostly as a snapshooter; but the possibility that I could take a photograph that would impress others was very surprising. I joined the club that January, began entering contests, and slowly started learning what constitutes a good photograph.

ACC: What equipment do you shoot with?

CG: I became entrenched in Canon equipment, mostly because at the time I bought my first DSLR in June 2003, the Canon 10D seemed to have the best capability for the cost, by quite some margin. In those early years Canon and Nikon were playing leapfrog, and if I’d waited 6 months I could well be a Nikonian.

ACC: What are your favorite subjects?

CG: I shoot a bit of everything except fashion or weddings, but by far my favorite subject is landscape, with other natural subjects a close second. I’ve come to realize that my real passion is to be outside and experience beautiful places. Photography allows/causes me to slow down and really observe a place. Looking at a scene through different focal lengths and perspectives, isolating various portions, is for me a way to appreciate the beauty that is out there.

ACC: What are your favorite techniques (B&W, slides, HDR, infrared, etc.)?

CG: I shot slides for many years, as long as it was practical and viable (it’s too expensive and the processing too inconvenient now), and I still feel that a projected slide on a beaded screen in a dark room is qualitatively the best presentation of a color image. I’m now exclusively digital, which, of course, allows a huge flexibility in the final rendering of the image. I base my decision between monochrome, HDR, color, or infrared largely on the subject and the lighting. Each has its own unique properties for selective emphasis in a scene. I do favor monochrome and infrared for the simplicity, by distilling a scene down to tone and textures. I tend to prefer exposure blending to HDR, though I will employ tone mapping when the dynamic range demands it. Compositionally, I like my photographs to suggest to the viewer a journey. For that reason I make frequent use of leading lines, S-curves, and distinct fore- middleand backgrounds. I also like selective focus, limited depth of field, and motion blurs.

ACC: What offices have you held in the club?

CG: I provided snacks for a couple of years, then served as Vice President for Programs for 2 years. That was a unique opportunity to meet and correspond with local professional photographers.

ACC: What photographers have inspired you?

CG: Not having had any formal education in photography, I am not as familiar with historical work in the field as I should be. Consequently, the most influential photographers for me are mainly current professionals. I trace my inclination toward selective focus and soft regions in a photograph to Tony Sweet, especially his rendering of flowers. There is a group of photographers who share my passion for wild places that used to be associated as “Mountain Trail Photography”. They mostly work independent now, but I’ve taken workshops with Joe Rossbach and Ian Plant. From them I derive my interest in long exposures, and low to the ground, wide angle perspectives.

AC: How would you describe yourself? Your photography?

CG: I am a product of coming of age in the 1970’s—first Earth Day—and all that. I’ve seen paradise paved, and developed a passion for and devoted my career to environmental sciences. No doubt that inspires my interest in landscape photography, though perhaps it gives me too technical of an approach. It also gives me access to some very special places. Like all landscape photographers, I hope my images convey a sense of worth in the beauty of unspoiled places.

ACC: Noteworthy accomplishments? (i.e., sales, awards, publications, shows)

CG: I’ve had several gallery sales through Maryland Federation of Art in Annapolis, and VisArts in Rockville. I’ve had photographs displayed in the Ripley Center of the Smithsonian as part of juried exhibits of art by employees. I’ve had several images appear in the Maryland DNR calendar, and once got the cover of Bay Weekly.