“In an Artist-in-Residence program,” explained Ranger Bob Kuhns during his introduction of the photographer, “an artist is given the opportunity to live in the park with the purpose of documenting that park with their own skills and talents. While Sandy has many skills, she documented her experience in Shenandoah with her camera.”
Sandy Long’s passion and enthusiasm for connections with nature are evident. Although she is from the Poconos of Pennsylvania, Sandy credits her inspiration to work as an “advocate for wilderness” to her childhood experiences in Shenandoah on family camping trips, and her little 126 instamatic camera with the rotating flashcube as her introduction to the world of photography.
“These past two weeks, I have been prowling around with a camera, visiting peaks, valleys, trails, overlooks; and literally sticking my nose into the meadow, which is a highly satisfying experience!” she recounted. Her recognition of the importance of all senses in connecting to nature leads her to immerse herself in her subject matter. That total immersion is evident in the details of her photographs of spider webs, lichen on rocks, fallen leaves and acorns juxtaposed against her dramatic images of sunsets, and misty mountains, and valley views capped with dramatic clouds.
At the end of her first week, Sandy had the opportunity to lead “a casual exploration” of Big Meadows. Joining Sandy and Ranger Mike Punches on that walk were people from 12-90 years old. “Photography is not just about seeing. It is about looking and feeling and hearing, about capturing with a camera, rather than taking.”
“The camera is a portal to explore the world and the lens allows you to focus on a direct experience with the natural world. I think that is the kind of thing that wakes the love of nature in us,” Sandy said in closing. “That is why it is so important that children have the opportunity to experience that, so they will care for special places like Shenandoah after us.”
Sandy Long will donate one of her original images to Shenandoah National Park, and plans to provide a selection of 10 to choose from. Her images will also be available on her website at www.heronseye.com.
Shenandoah’s Artist-in-Residence Program is supported by a generous donation from the Shenandoah National Park Trust.