Chris DeLorenzo has a collection of snapshots she has taken of natural wonders from Yosemite to Yellowstone, but the photograph she gets complimented on the most is of a place she drives by every day: a waterfall at Oliver Mills Park in Middleborough.
“I think the greatest thing that every photographer can understand is that you don’t need to leave your own backyard to capture the beauty of something photogenically,” the Bridgewater resident said. “I smile because I’ve also visited the places where Ansel Adams did his work; you really can find some fantastic shots in your own neighborhood.”
Her print of the Middleborough waterfall is one of 29 photographs from 14 natural settings in this area on display through March 29 at Massachusetts Audubon’s North River Sanctuary, in Marshfield. The collection is the culmination of a yearlong series of free photography workshops offered by Mass Audubon’s South Shore Sanctuaries under the direction of professional photographer Greg Lessard, of Middleborough.
DeLorenzo, who considers herself an “advanced beginner” and is still learning the mechanics of the camera, said she learned how to slow the shutter speed while photographing the churning waterfall, giving her print a silky effect and velvety aesthetic.
“It took it from a snapshot — and kind of mundane — to an actual artistic work,” she said.
Lessard employed the natural facets of each destination to instruct on various techniques.
“At each park I try to find something unique about it and try to concentrate on a certain technique to maximize the beauty of each photograph,” he said.
‘You set out to capture something and you end up finding and capturing something completely different.’
Though Lessard would introduce three or four techniques at each workshop, the lessons would really unfurl when people asked questions. That, he said, is the value of learning photography in a group setting.
Smith, who has four photos in the exhibit, said she enjoyed the camaraderie of being “out there” with people at different levels.
“What I see could be totally different from what someone else sees,” she said.
And Lessard said he always learns when he is teaching. He recalled one photographer taking a long exposure that generally required a filter who waved her hand in front of the camera instead. “At the time I thought there was no way that would work, but it did and it was an amazingly creative technique,” he said.
Though each workshop featured a different location, Lessard said it is important to revisit the same places.
“The lesson that I continually teach is to always go back because today it might be cloudy, but tomorrow it might be the best sunset you’ve ever seen,” he said. “A park will reveal itself over time.”
DeLorenzo recognized light’s importance in making a sublime photograph.
“How light falls on objects is a huge obstacle; it’s all about the light in many aspects,” she said. “You can travel by something on a daily basis at different points throughout the day and just as the light is falling on it, it can create an entirely different thing.”
Such was the case when the group visited Webb Memorial State Park in Weymouth to photograph the sunset. It was cloudy, and when the light did finally shine through, it wasn’t the sunset that was remarkable but someone’s discovery of tiny yellow snails on flowering white Datura plants.
“All of a sudden the whole group was over there,” Carissa Bousfield said. “You set out to capture something and you end up finding and capturing something completely different.”
Bousfield said she has always had a pocket camera, but while wandering through D.W. Field Park in Brockton, which was also a workshop destination, she realized she wanted to get more serious.
“I started to realize there were things I wanted to capture,” she said.
Her favorite shot, featured in the exhibit, is of a swan at the park where it all started for her.
“I was really thrilled with that photo and the fact that I could get something like that just a couple minutes away from where I live,” she said.
Bousfield, who moved to Brockton five years ago and was considering moving to the western suburbs, said the workshop inspired her to move south instead.
“I never really knew the South Shore at all; I really kind of fell in love with this area,” she said.
“I love the South Shore, and I like to show off where I come from,” she said.
And Lessard said his hope for the workshops — other than picking up some new techniques — was that people would learn to enjoy local nature.
“We’re appreciating our own communities; a lot of people think of going to the Grand Tetons or the Grand Canyon, but you can make just as equally beautiful photographs in your own backyard,” he said.
“Sometimes we forget about it because we’re driving through the same intersections each day and don’t pay attention, don’t notice those small snails or stop to see those waterfalls.”
The parks featured are Oliver Mills Park, Middleborough; Nantasket Beach, Hull; D.W. Field Park, Brockton; Gurnet Lighthouse, Plymouth; Daniel Webster Wildlife Sanctuary, Marshfield; Rockland Town Forest, Rockland; Great Neck Wildlife Sanctuary, Wareham; Luddam’s Ford, Hanover; Burrage Wildlife Management Area, Hanson; Scituate Lighthouse, Scituate; Hobart’s Pond, Whitman; Webb Memorial State Park, Weymouth; Betty’s Neck, Lakeville; and Sampson Memorial Forest, Kingston.Anne M. Steele can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @AnneMarieSteele.