World view - from the top


Photographer Steve Ember adores the mountains.

"I love rugged, high-altitude mountain scenery," said Ember, who grew up in Baltimore and lives in Springfield, Va. "I like walking among it. I like the invigorating air. It's revitalizing to me, and aesthetically it's just a very strong draw."

That's why so many photographs in Ember's exhibit, opening at Columbia's Slayton House Gallery today, are of mountains.

The exhibit, called Top of the World ... and More, features about 50 photographs from his extensive travels. The images include mountain landscapes, aviation images and aerial images of Baltimore, Washington, Paris, New York and Chicago, among other places.

Ember, 57, is an international broadcaster, and he has been interested in photography since he was a teen-ager.

His mountain images were photographed during his travels in Europe, Alaska and Canada. He is especially fond of his Alaska photographs.

"I hired a pilot out of a little place called Talkeetna, and we flew into the Alaska Range," he said. "It was June, so it stayed light very late in the day. We were flying from 10:30 at night until midnight and I got some real sunset-bathed images of the Alaska Range."

Although he is not a pilot, Ember loves being around airplanes. Many of his images are aerial photos of mountain ranges and cities.

Finding a theme for the show was a challenge, he said. "Most of the time, I'm just taking in everything I find dramatic or beautiful, gentle or whatever, and shooting. I generally find a theme after the fact, when I'm doing a show. In this case, this is the first time I've exhibited here at the Slayton House, and I was really going round and round in ever decreasing circles of what to show."

Ember said about one-third of the photographs in the Slayton House exhibit are black and white, and the rest are color. He likes to take black-and-white photographs at certain times of day.

"I will shoot black and white if the light is right, and generally that means early in the day and late in the day," he said.

The images in the exhibit range from 5 by 7 inches to 20 by 30 inches. The majority are either 14 by 20 or 16 by 24, he said. Prices range from $100 to $500.

Ember said he is excited about the Slayton House exhibit because the entire show will be his and because his exhibit is opening the season.

"This is the beginning of the gallery season for all Howard County galleries," said Bernice Kish, director of Slayton House Gallery. Ten Howard County galleries, including ones at Howard Community College and Savage Mill, are scheduled to open with new exhibits the same day, she said.

Exhibits for Slayton House Gallery are chosen by a committee, Kish said.

"He's really quite a great photographer and we're delighted that he wanted to show here," she said of Ember.

Slayton House Gallery, on Wilde Lake Village Green in Columbia, is open to the public and does not charge admission. Hours are from 9 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday; and 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday. However, Kish urges visitors to call the gallery, 410-730-3987, before attending because one of the rooms is often used for meetings. A reception, featuring refreshments and a classical guitarist, will be held from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 14.

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