A natural profession

Thursday, August 7, 2008
One of the numerous photographs taken by Gary Palmer and Kenny Felt as part of their wilderness and wildlife project. Many of the photos taken by the team are of natural wonders throughout the Midwest, Kansas and here in Bourbon County. -- Submitted Photo

By Jason E. Silvers

The Fort Scott Tribune

Two local photographers have recently begun sharing their love of the outdoors with the community.

Captured Images owner Gary Palmer, and Kenny Felt, the director of event photography at the studio, 118 S. Main St., are currently showcasing collections of nature photographs that the two professionals have snapped in recent years.

Palmer said that his future plans include organizing a photograph scrapbook that will include photos from the many nature excursions he has undertaken.

"Nature photography is one of my favorite pastimes," Palmer said. "I have been photographing the great outdoors for quite some time. I plan to put together a photo book with essays and memos from the experiences I've encountered while capturing the images. I think the great outdoors is the single most amazing element of our daily lives."

Felt agreed, adding that he has always enjoyed spending time outdoors, even as a young boy and long before he became a photographer.

"I've always enjoyed the outdoors and what it provides," he said. "Camping and fishing and visiting the mountains are a few of my favorite pastimes. Nowadays, there is nothing I would rather do than grab a camera and sit under a tree waiting for the sun to set or for a bald eagle to swoop down for an evening meal."

Palmer said that he and Felt have recently been traveling to some of their favorite photography locations across the United States, with plans to narrow down their photo shoots to more specific areas in the near future.

"I plan to do a photo expo of images across Kansas," he said. "I find that often I am thinking about images in some far off place and sometimes the very best images are in our back yard. I want to showcase lifestyles, terrain, work ethic, and the people of this state. I'd like to travel across the state, taking my sweet time and meet many new people and see places that I know I've never seen and I'm sure many other Kansans haven't seen either."

For Felt, photography is an "escape from the real world" and an "ongoing adventure."

"I think everyone needs an avenue to relieve stress," he said. "It just happens that photographing the natural world is mine. I have all of these places in mind that I want to visit and will probably never be able to for various reasons. The only way I can see some of these places is through photographs. Hopefully, when someone sees one of my photographs, they smile and can feel like they are standing in that exact spot even if they have never set foot anywhere near there."

Palmer and Felt said that they venture out on nature photo shoots often, and each trip typically lasts from a few days to a week.

Felt added that he tries to go out on a shoot at least once a week.

"I think it is a little odd that I like spending my free time doing the same thing I do at work," Palmer said. "I truly love to photograph. When I see an amazing sunset, I go. When it is lightning over the rooftops, I am there. I try to find the time to schedule trips just to concentrate on more of the same and in better detail."

Palmer added that he usually wakes up long before sunrise to prepare for a photo shoot at a chosen location.

"A nap in the afternoon and grab a bite to eat and repeat the process for sunset," he said. "The morning and evening is the golden hour and I try to never miss it. Especially on a trip."

Felt said that he and Palmer typically do not travel together on the shoots, instead opting to capture moments by themselves.

"It's not easy to plan a great sunset," he said. "I just sort of see when one is developing and then head to a favorite spot to try and capture it from. Nothing beats waking up at 4 a.m. to see the sunrise light up the horizon."

Felt added that there are a few ideal locations near Fort Scott and Uniontown where he frequently photographs nature and wildlife. There is also an abundance of wildlife present in Colorado, where both he and Palmer have traveled on photo shoots, Felt said.

Palmer said he enjoys taking portraits and action shots, although the two types of photography are very different. Photographing nature is often similar to snapping portraits of people, he said.

"The animal and even the heavens seem nervous when I first arrive or try to rush a photo," he said. "If I take time to embrace what I'm looking at, the nerves settle and you can create some breathtaking images. Often you can see me crouched down in the corner of a field, or overlooking a lake with the sunset, or waiting in a tree for hours, silent, motionless, just observing the area and waiting for the magic to happen. It takes a lot of time, patience and great deal of skill to put it all together. I love every part of it."

Felt said that for some people, photography may be considered a hobby or a job, but he has a different opinion.

Kenny Felt (left) and Gary Palmer, Captured Images, Fort Scott, hike through a wooded area of Bourbon County attempting to find a subject for their ongoing wilderness photography project. Submitted Photo

"I consider it neither," he said. "It's literally the essence of who I am. For that, I am truly blessed."