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BCA News: Spring 2021

Jim Wetzel’s Special Place of Solitude

Everyone has one – sometimes we just do not realize it, or if we do, cannot imagine extending the feeling of 'why' through imagery. That special place, the one we return to over and over again when time, distance, or simply a busy schedule prevents venturing out to more scenic or even exotic locations to shoot. I have mine, and oddly enough, through the confines of COVID-19 restrictions, have come to recognize the 'why'.

Within a two-mile drive from my home lies Conestee County Park (locally termed Conestee Swamp), a relatively undeveloped watershed of approximately 400 acres. I have always loved swamps. To me, the term wetland takes on a more managed wildlife area, but the term 'swamp' sings untamed nature. This one is overgrown with invasive weeds, often flooded through the combined work of beaver dams and the characteristic red clay of southern soils, hard baked in the heat of summer, frozen and stark in winter, and except for winter, as bug infested as anyplace I know. But amidst the development of suburban subdivisions it is a place of wilderness peace, and a reminder of one of my favorite theme for a days shoot – Nature will find a way.

This is my place of solace in evenings following a busy workday, or in early mornings before the start of another committed overload. For the most part I end up shooting at the same spot and recapturing the same image – morning and evenings, season by season. Through this I've developed a personal connection with this area that would for most, be viewed as little more than swampland. And as seasons dictate mood, I've noticed that the images I shoot of the same area that take on a meaning deeper than the expected 'dormancy of winter' or 'awakening of spring' notions that draw me afield year round. That feeling stays with me throughout any post-processing, and in turn, has resulted in a very personal collection that decorates my home. These images are never technically perfect, and in likelihood lack any true artistic flair – but they are my personal reflections via imagery, and certainly have my thumbprint as a photographer.

I offer the following samples of images captured, and the after-image works from my beloved neighborhood swamp. It is my hope that some of you will share your reflections on your personal haunts as well. At the very least, I'm sure we will find each other's works interesting – but I suspect this will stimulate more interest and broaden ideas for creative expression within our organization as friends through a shared passion. That has always been the affect so many of you have had on my approach behind the lens.

Always learning. Getting inspired. Sharing with friends. That is the BCA.

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