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December 11, 2013
Many who frequent the outdoors, particularly hunters, are fond of keeping something from the events that helps remind them of those events. These keepsakes may take the form of items that come from the taxidermist or tannery. They may also include rocks or leaves or various flora from a region apart from where we live. I brought my dad a tumbleweed this past October from Kansas. He has never been to Kansas—or any number of a great many other places for that matter—but always loved the old westerns such as “Gun Smoke” and marveled at the unfamiliar scenery, tumbleweeds among that scenery. He now has one of his own!
And these items, trophies they are often called for lack of a more suitable term, are dear to us. I have a trophy house (there is that word again) on the hillside just up from my dwelling. This is a special place. It is not a locale for bravado or boast; it is a place of
and for reverence. The animal specimens there are cherished. I go there to sit and reflect and remember—and to express deep gratitude and respect for those I see there. Some individuals perhaps won’t understand my sentiment and may vigorously disagree, but I hold firm. This is my house of respect.
That matter aside, however, we do like to collect items that generate recall of the experiences. One way to do that is through pictures. It has been my discovery that the images I capture on film or a memory card fall woefully short of containing the real image I had envisioned when I clicked the shutter. I just never conquered the process. Oh, I know the mechanics. I can get the color right and the focus sharp. But I just don’t have the eye. Developing that is an art form. It is what makes a picture, apart from that focus-and-color blend, a true masterpiece.
But there are those who can. When we see their work we sigh. “Oh, so that’s how it’s done!” I often say as I try to hide away my own feeble efforts of doing what these have so successfully done. That is exactly what my friend Sherry Thornton has learned to do—successfully create masterpieces. Sherry and husband Danny are country neighbors, and Danny serves on the board at Central Electric Power Association. He also is a farmer and staff member at Mississippi State University. They are both hunters in the basic sense of that word, but Sherry is also more than accomplished with the camera (firstname.lastname@example.org; 601-728-0392).
I recall years back when Sherry began toying with the camera and blush now at the fact that she attended one of my photography seminars. I told her all I knew at that gathering, and she then went about the business of developing her skills despite my weak pedagogics. And building on her personal hunting background, as well as that of Danny, wildlife photography became of keen interest. She has now traveled and photographed extensively to collect some purely amazing images.
Along with her expertise, her equipment has grown. There are various cameras, all digital now of course. And there are tripods and solid collections of impressive lenses. But most of all, there is this phenomenal eye for the shot.
What does Sherry shoot? Just about anything she sees. There are fawns hidden by the attendant doe in some secure weed patch. There are high-scoring bucks—in the woods, in the fields, jumping fences, pushing another like-sized buddy around. There are bear cubs scooting up trees and mama bears high in an oak eating acorns and menacing boars proffering a judicious look toward the intruder. There are rustic cabins set off a dusty road in the hillside. There are enchanting trout streams flowing through ancient rocks festooned with moss and over covered with mountain laurel in full bloom.
There are even shots of Danny admiring a big rainbow or brookie before he released these back into a gurgling stream from which they came, though I doubt anyone save Sherry and Danny would want these images hanging by the fireplace!
It is all pure art. The wild things and the wild places promote artistry. It is work in the form of pictures that enriches the lives of those who see it. And Sherry has perfected it to its most refined. Refreshing, to be sure.
Tony Kinton has been an active outdoors writer for 30 years. His books, “Outside and Other Reflections," “Fishing Mississippi" and his new Christian historical romance novel, "Summer Lightning Distant Thunder," are available through local bookstores or from the author at www.tonykinton.com or P.O. Box 88, Carthage, MS 39051.
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