Indoor setting for outdoor beauty at photo exhbit

You may find yourself wanting to make travel plans after seeing "Nature Visions" at the Meeting House Gallery. Organized by the Mid-Atlantic Photography Association, this group exhibit features beautiful landscapes, wild animals posing for close-up portraits, and other photogenic examples of natural abundance.

One of the most imposing wilderness views can be seen in Louise McLaughlin's "Spirit Island." Shot in the Canadian Rockies, this photo offers a panoramic view of soaring conifer trees beside a lake whose waters are so still that you're prompted to silently linger over this scene.

For a rock-filled, mountainous landscape at night, have a look at Joyce Harmon's "Perfect Night." Its star-filled sky is so clear that you know you are far away from light-filled big cities.

The above-mentioned photos and most of the others in the show were shot in color, but Stan Collyer opted for black-and-white for his photo of "Mount Kirkjufell, Iceland." A steep mountain and a dramatic waterfall seem even more primal owing to that austere use of black-and-white.

Big landscapes naturally grab your attention, but other photographers in the exhibit prefer to depict plant life and animals at much closer quarters.

Julie Cochran's "A Circle of Pansies," for example, offers a tightly cropped look at five blue-and-yellow blossoms. Most of us walk by garden-planted pansies and quickly admire these bursts of spring color, but sometimes it takes a photo like this one to make you slow down and have a closer look.

Several photographers in the show don't shoot landscapes or plants, but instead call your attention to various wild animals.

Nancy Dubiell's "Father and Son" features two lions affectionately next to each other. If you're only inclined to make ferocious associations where lions are concerned, this photo will encourage you to think about their gentler qualities.

Of course, animals also express more, er, animal tendencies on occasion.

There's at least a bit of aggression on display in Patricia Deege's "Pushing Contest." It depicts two elephants that seem to be engaged in a trunk-to-trunk wrestling match. An accompanying text explains that teen-aged elephants push against each other in order to establish who is in control — sort of like human teens.

For a different photographer's presentation of elephants in a more peaceful domestic setting, Suzanne Dater's "Elephants at Waterhole" has several adults and one juvenile clustered around that much-appreciated water source.

While you're watching the animals, some of them are watching you. Marilyn Gaizband's side-profile close-up portrait of a "Eurasian Owl" presents one of its eyes staring at you with such a fixed expression that you would blink first in a staring contest.

Whether in the wild or in a zoo setting, these are critters that you're accustomed to seeing represented in photographs. Steve Heap's "Sunday Lunch," however, features an unusually extreme close-up of a vividly green caterpillar resting on an equally green stalk that seems to be its meal for the day.

Although you may not want to encounter bugs eating your garden, you've got to admit that this particular one has an eye-catching appearance.

"Nature Visions" runs through May 31 at the Meeting House Gallery, in the Oakland Mills Interfaith Center at 5885 Robert Oliver Place in Columbia. Call 410-730-4090 or go to

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