It all started with a phone call from a dear friend and former art gallery owner, Carol Balick, who asked if I’d be willing to print some large format images for a photographer friend of hers (thanks, Carol!). That started one of the most satisfying projects, despite its small size, that we have ever been involved with.
After the email introductions I met with the photographer, an advanced amateur named John Wehmiller. The name sounded familiar and after initial conversations we realized that we had both been on the faculty at the University of Delaware, although John’s academic career as Professor of Geological Sciences was considerably more accomplished than mine. After 40 years John retired and is now more actively pursuing his passion in photography.
“My current ‘workhorse’ camera is a Canon 60D with a 15-85 zoom, a wonderful lens,” John recently told me. He also uses his Nikon 35mm and 100mm lenses as needed.
Hardly a novice, John was introduced to photography as a child by his father, from whom he learned basic darkroom techniques during those early years. Traveling in the U.S. southwest starting when he was in high school peaked his interest in Geology. Photography became an integral part of those travels, which he also employed in his teaching and field research.
“As much as I enjoy travel and documenting scenes from places such as the Southwest,” John says, “I also believe in capturing images from the ‘commonplace’ scenes that are all around us. I always have a camera with me for this purpose…. one never knows!”
Along his life’s path John and his wife, Paula, maintained a close friendship with Ann and Tim Schenck, who live in a stunning northern Delaware location, surrounded by a mature forest that has always held John’s photographic interest. So, with the Schenck’s encouragement John began to photograph the trees behind their warm and welcoming house.
“I’d been photographing the trees every time we visited them,” John reports, “usually late afternoon when we came for dinner. But this project became a systematic study to capture images during different seasons and in different lighting conditions.”
After speaking with John and the Schencks, my assistant Bob Boyer and I got to work on John’s images, rendering the contrast to match the Museo fine art canvas we were planning to use. We produced some test prints that we showed to the group for their approval and go-ahead.
We worked against a self-imposed deadline due to my upcoming photo travels to Iceland and Maine. All was going well…. until. In our rush to get the canvases to our frame shop, Severn Graphics outside Baltimore, we had not noticed that we printed one image two inches too short. Thank heavens for the pros at Severn. They contacted me in Iceland and Bob handled the mess. By time I arrived back in the States, all was well and I picked up and delivered the framed canvasses.
In the lead image you can see the quadtych hanging above a staircase at the Schenck’s home.
To celebrate their new fine art installation the Schenks hosted a spectacular brunch for those involved in the project. Thanks to Ann’s scrumptious cooking we had a great time eating, talking, laughing and enjoying the perspective that John used to capture his images.
But, the very best thing that came out of this venture was the chance to make some wonderful new friends. My wife and I are looking forward to the next celebration with the Schenks, Wehmillers and our dear old friends, Carol and Sid Balick.