By Cindy Brookshire, Contributing Writer
Autumn is an ideal time to explore Prince William’s colorful foliage and scenic spots with your smart phone or digital camera in hand. Just ask Manassas Warrenton Camera Club (MWCC) member Dan Jenkins, of Woodbridge.
“By sunrise on most Saturdays, I’m at one of the local parks with my camera, creating images that reﬂect the beauty and wonder of nature. I hope my photos inspire others to get out, slow down, look around and experience the joy of nature for themselves,” said Jenkins.
Jenkins, who grew up in Ohio, said his father encouraged his interests by setting up a darkroom in their home. As a teen, Jenkins worked in a photography studio, and while his career took him into ﬁnancial management, both in the Marine Corps and as a civilian, photography remains his top interest, he said.
“In 2007 I created Dan Jenkins Photography, a website that showcases my passion for photography,” said Jenkins, who began selling his own ﬁne art prints at that time. He credited MWCC’s speakers and competitions with helping him improve his photographic skills.
The club encourages area residents to connect with Prince William’s many natural habitats through photography. Scenic locations captured on ﬁlm by club members range from grand in scale— including the National Park Service properties of Prince William Forest Park and Manassas National Battleﬁeld Park—to smaller areas, such as Merrimac Farm Wildlife Management Area in Nokesville, Conway Robinson State Forest in Gainesville and the Julie J. Metz Wetlands Bank in Woodbridge.
Sharing Knowledge, Demonstrating Skill
Club meetings are held at 7 p.m. the ﬁrst and third Thursdays of the month, September through May, at Manassas City Hall on Center Street in Old Town Manassas. Meetings alternate between program nights (a presentation by a photography expert followed by questions and answers) and competitions in three classes (novice, intermediate and advanced) for color prints, black-and-white prints and projected digital images.Members can also participate in workshops, ﬁeld trips and an annual awards banquet in June. One of the awards honors the club’s founder, James R.M. Spor, now deceased. Under his leadership, the club joined professional associations and became a welcoming place where members were encouraged to both learn and share knowledge. The annual award recipient is the member who most exempliﬁes Spor’s ideals by giving back to the community.
“Nature Visions” Expo Returns to Prince William
Each year, under the auspices of the Mid-Atlantic Photography Association, MWCC joins with the Loudoun Photo Club, McLean Photo Club, Northern Virginia Photographic Society, Reston Photographic Society, Vienna Photographic Society and National Institutes of Health Camera Club to host “Nature Visions” photography expo. This year, the three-day event takes place Nov. 8-10, returning to the Hylton Performing Arts Center in Manassas. MWCC, and “Nature Visions,” are members of the Prince William County Arts Council.
“The partnership and its annual expo have made an exceptional contribution to establishing Prince William County as the geographic center for outstanding photography education and appreciation in the metro area and Mid-Atlantic region,” said Bill Corbett, a member the McLean Photo Club and president of “Nature Visions.”
“This is our fourth year using the Hylton Performing Arts Center as a venue. … We’re expecting to bring up to 1,000 photographers and visitors to Prince William County in November,” he said. “The ‘Nature Visions’ photo expo is unique and extremely valuable to Prince William County. It attracts most of its audience from outside the area, while at the same time nurturing and inspiring the work of MWCC members and other local photographers.”
Exhibits and Classes for All Levels
The expo will feature noted commercial photographer and internationally known photo instructor Bryan Peterson, who has been a contributing editor at Popular Photography and Outdoor Photographer magazines. He has authored several best-selling books on photography, including “Understanding Exposure” and “Understanding Flash Photography.” Peterson will present a full- day seminar, “Learning to See Creatively” (also the title of one of his books), on Nov. 8 and deliver the keynote address, “Flashes of Inspiration,” on Nov. 9.
“The willingness of photographers to come to Prince William County for the annual event, from as far north as New England and as far south as Georgia, illustrates the unique value of the expo,” said Corbett.
Admission is free to the expo’s vendor area, which includes industry exhibitors such as PhotoCraft, Nikon, Canon and Sigma. There is also no charge for basic photography instruction or to enter the exhibit hall, with 325 nature photographs available for sale. The free courses are due in part to a grant from Prince William County.
These basic classes will oﬀer the public opportunities to learn to take better pictures with their camera phones and get a tutorial from PhotoCraft. Other national vendors and advanced classes oﬀer unique experiences, including going outside on George Mason University’s campus to capture the beauty of raptors— hawks, owls and falcons—in a natural setting.
Pre-registration is required. Advanced classes and full-day seminars range from $10 to $85 each. Visit naturevisions.org to register and learn more. For more information about MWCC, visit http://www.mwcc-photo.org.
As a freelance writer who relies on the photographers she works with to bring her articles to life, Cindy Brookshire values their creative eye and technical expertise. She can be reached at [email protected].