Whether it's examining nature as seen through the naked eye or getting a glimpse of an artist's vision inspired by his mind's eye, two photography displays at the Kenai Visitors and Cultural Center showcase both things and ways to see.
The center has "Alaska WILD: 2003" and a digital photography show by Clayton Hillhouse on display.
"Alaska WILD: 2003" is the annual touring exhibit of the Alaska Society of Outdoor and Nature Photographers. As in past years, photographers selected into the juried exhibit have captured the Alaska outdoors looking its best.
The show presents a laundry list of the sights tourists and Alaskans dream of seeing in the Last Frontier including creatures of the land, sea and air, as well as majestic views of forests, icebergs, mountains and of course the northern lights.
The level of the photography in the show is such that many of the images captured are much better views than what would be possible to see with the naked eye, at least until modern science can outfit human eyes with zoom and focus features.
A bald eagle is frozen mid- wing beat, the movement of floating chunks of ice is slowed to a glassy texture, fleeting rosy alpenglow on snowy mountain tops is made to never fade and the flickering dance of auroras are stilled at the height of brilliance.
"The Monarch" won photographer Scott McGee and honorable mention award in the wildlife category of "Alaska WILD: 2003."
Anyone who enjoys critiquing skilled photography or looking at the quintessential postcard shots of Alaska will find much to study in "Alaska WILD: 2003," which will be on display in the center's gallery until Nov. 28.
Those looking for a more abstract experience in photography can venture across the center's lobby to the conference room and view Hillhouse's show.
Hillhouse, of Soldotna, is a semi-retired electrical contractor who branched into digital and computer manipulated photography relatively recently in his 50 years of photography experience.
The majority of the first images he produced in this vein were close-ups of flowers made to look like reflections of themselves. Now he has expanded his repertoire to include figures and structures.
He also has become adept at super-imposing layers of ethereal images to create a three-dimensional feel in his prints.
Hillhouse hopes viewers will use their own mind's eyes to interpret meaning from the vision he crated with his mind's eye.
"Caribou Twosome" by John DeLapp, who also won an honorable mention for the shot.
"What is before your eyes is a two-dimensional print, but your mind interprets what you see to be something else," he wrote in his artist's statement. "That something else depends upon your imagination and past experiences. Within each print are endless possibilities and each time you view the print you will discover something you have not seen before. Each print is a small world, a microcosm that expands within your mind."
Though his subject matter has expanded, the vibrancy of his color palate has stayed the same. There is not a lackluster shade to be found in Hillhouse's prints. Some of them almost beg to be viewed with sunglasses and could make a good remedy for the post-fall, prewinter doldrums the area has been stuck in lately.
Hillhouse's show will be on display until Nov. 21.
A reception for both shows will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. today at the center as a First Thursday event.
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