Thursday, July 10, 2008

Photographer documents intricacies of small-town living

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David S. Spence⁄Special to The Gazette
Bernie Lucas of Myersville shoots photos of downtown Middletown Sunday to post on his blog,
Bernie Lucas takes to the streets of Middletown once or twice each week on a mission.

He sets out – with his Nikon D-80 and a chunky green camera bag slung around his neck – in search of interesting images of the Middletown Valley to post on his ‘‘Middletown Daily Photo” blog.

Visitors to his site can view a new shot every day, as he uploads them onto his month-old site. He has brought Frederick County into a growing community of ‘‘daily photo” blogs – other examples range from a beautiful one based in Torino, Italy, to a gritty one from Riga, Latvia, and even one as close as Silver Spring.

The Myersville resident has passed through Middletown as part of his daily commute to Rockville where he works as creative services director, public affairs director and disc jockey at Clear Channel Communications and its Washington, D.C., station WMZQ. He moved to the area six years ago, from Germantown, and makes his home with his wife and their three border collies.

Lucas realized over time that Middletown warranted more attention than just the cursory glances so many passers-by grant it.

‘‘This is a very interesting town. ... It’s a very photogenic place with a lot of history ... Driving through here – this is a drive-through place for so many people – you miss a lot of things,” he said while taking a break from peering through his camera’s viewfinder Sunday at the intersection of Main Street and Md. Route 17. ‘‘I wanted to do something originally with Frederick County, but then I thought it would be more of a challenge choosing a smaller place.”

Lucas, 54, got into blogging two years ago when a friend challenged him to try the hobby as a creative outlet. He started with a blog called ‘‘F-f-fifty Something,” a blog about life as a baby boomer, then added a general photography blog when he got the D-80, his first digital camera. He also has a blog called ‘‘Poetician” where he posts various poems he pens.

He toyed with images for a while before the first Middletown photo - a sunset rising from a silhouetted South Mountain - was posted on May 24.

‘‘It took me a month from the time I thought I should do it and when I actually started doing it. I wasn’t sure: ‘Would I actually be able to [post a new picture every day?]’” he explained.

One thing that helps him keep on top of postings is that his blog provide allows him to upload several pictures at a time and set them to post later - on a daily schedule. As such, he does not actually have to go out and take a new picture every day; instead, he is able to stock up on images on weekends and post them daily with minimal effort.

Lucas, who grew up and graduated from high school in New Orleans, La., then graduated from the University of New Orleans, has been into photography since he was young. He has lived in Maryland for 24 years.

‘‘I think he’s had that passion all of his life ... He’s told me that when he lived in New Orleans, he would go to these community street events and just photograph people at these events way, way back as, like, a teenager, so he’s been interested in doing this all his life,” said his wife, Marilyn Waterston, who works as a lawyer.

His love for the art form probably stems in part from his late father, who Lucas described as an ‘‘avid hobby photographer.”

Waterston said her husband’s photographic style is in large part a reflection of his strong sense of organization and his love for people. She calls him a friendly person who people instantly like, and says his idea of a good time is to be in a place with lots of people who he can observe.

‘‘The types of photography that he’s interested in, it’s mainly people, architecture - again it’s the things that are detail-oriented, rather than painting with a broad brush,” she explained. ‘‘Some people want to show landscapes with a broad panorama. Though he’s done some of that, he’s interested in what the people in the landscape are doing, rather than just the scenery.”

Lucas says he enjoys the ongoing educational process of photography, and that he has a longstanding dream of making his living as a professional photographer.

‘‘I’ve been doing it since I was a kid,” he said. ‘‘It’s a creative outlet, and you never really stop learning. No matter how much you know, there’s always more to learn ... My fantasy career, if I wasn’t doing what I’m doing, I’d be a starving photographer.”

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