Picture This: Friends of the Arboretum Nature Photography Group


If you’re looking for a regimented, tightly organized curriculum to teach you the fine points of photography, the Friends of the Arboretum’s Nature Photography Group isn’t for you.

But if you just want to share a passion for nature photography with the support of fellow photographers, you’ve come to the right place.

“We’re unorganized. We have no dues, no constitution, no official membership list. Anyone interested in nature photography is welcomed,” according to long-time member and current group Chairman Dave Peterson.
“Most of our members are not professional photographers, but skilled amateurs, some of whom have had their own shows. Others are skilled beginners. We all learn from one another,” he added.

Another member, Mary Ellen Gerloff, agreed with David, describing the group as a cooperative learning experience where exposure, composition and one’s point of view come together to make a photograph the one you truly want—and where enthusiasm abounds.

The group meets at the Arboretum Visitor Center on the third Wednesday of the month. Meetings can be simply show-and-tell slide shows of a member’s trip to distant Antarctica, or a closer-to-home trip to the Upper Peninsula.

At the January 18 meeting, Rich Armstrong will show pictures of his trip to Wabakimi, Canada. Meetings begin at 7 p.m.

Sometimes an invited speaker introduces a novel aspect of photography. On February 15, for example, Lynn Weatherby will present her photomontage technique in which she combines two slides, one of which is out of focus, to form an abstract image sometimes referred to as dreamscapes.

On March 22, Lynn Reiger will explain how to develop a show from digital images.
Sometimes members engage in organized photo shoots, such as a recent trip to the Arboretum’s Abraham’s Woods near Albany, to capture the fall sugar maple community.

In another recent project, seven members photographed many of the seats and benches found in the Arboretum, which will eventually become a book or CD.

Readers may recall a month-long exhibit put on by the Nature Photography Group at the Visitor Center’s Steinhauer Trust Gallery last year. It consisted of a year in the Arboretum, with seven images from each season. These photos now hang in the Ancora Coffee Shop on King Street.

Members also participate in competitions such as the yearly Wisconsin Area Camera Clubs Organization (WACCO) contest. Last year the Arboretum group scored fourth out of 17 clubs. If you like nature photography, this may be the group for you.

Located between Lake Wingra and the West Beltline Highway at 1207 Seminole Highway, the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum features the restored prairies, forests and wetlands of pre-settlement Wisconsin. This 1,260-acre arboretum also houses flowering trees, shrubs and a world-famous lilac collection. Educational tours for groups and the general public, science and nature-based classes for all ages and abilities, and a wide variety of volunteer opportunities for groups, families and individuals are available.