Dec. 31—MOSES LAKE — Paula Zanter-Stout said she’s loved photography from the time her mom gave her a camera.
The camera was a Christmas gift when she was in grade school, she said, and she took photographs of her friends, events and experiences, and the scenery around her Michigan home.
“My sister and brother-in-law gave me a 35mm film camera when I graduated high school, because they thought I had potential,” she said.
The camera came with her when she moved to Detroit as a young woman, and later to Moses Lake, where her sister lived. While photography took a backseat to marriage, family and job, the camera was always around.
“It was something that I was really passionate about,” she said. “I didn’t go anywhere without my camera. And I still don’t, now, go anywhere without my camera.”
Zanter-Stout’s photographs are included in the “Members Only” show currently on display at the Moses Lake Museum & Art Center.
Photography became more of an interest when she retired, she said. She also bought a new phone with what she considered great camera capabilities.
“It really is amazing what a smartphone can do, and the quality you can get from a cell phone,” she said.
The combination of the good cell phone camera and the COVID-19 pandemic reinforced her interest in photography. She was stuck around the house without much to do.
“I just started watching things outside, and taking pictures when the flowers would start blooming, and the bees going to the flowers. I still have a passion for photographing bees and things in motion.”
The love of capturing motion dates back to her days in Detroit, where got into concert photography.
“I like the challenge of catching things in action, not just things that are stationary,” she said. “I enjoy capturing things in motion.”
The phone was great for catching pictures of bees, but it had limitations. Getting the right shot required getting close, and that was too close for some of the subjects she wanted to capture. She got a digital single-lens reflex, known as a DSLR, in June.
“That really took it to the next level, because I wanted to do more than bee closeups on flowers. I wanted to be able to shoot farther away, like (taking pictures of) birds,” she said.
The new camera opened up a whole new range of possibilities, she said. She started taking pictures of birds and scenes around her yard.
“I was pretty carried away with bees there for a while, and insects and whatnot,” she said.
She took her camera and started venturing further out, looking for wildlife and scenery around the area.
How Zanter-Stout frames a picture, how she sees the pictures she captures — well, it’s kind of a mystery to her, she said.
“People have said, ‘You really have an eye for it.’ I kind of struggle sometimes to know what that means,” she said. “I might look at a milkweed pod letting go of its seeds, and bursting out, and the pod to me looks like an alligator mouth opening up, or a dragon or something, but not everybody sees things that way, or is looking for those kinds of details,” she said.
“I don’t really know how to describe how I see things,” she said.
She prefers to photograph wildlife and landscapes.
“Mainly outdoor photography is what I like to focus on, so to speak,” she said.
The interest dates from her Michigan childhood.
“My parents loved the outdoors, my dad especially, and would always instill in us to appreciate the outdoors,” she said.
Washington provides plenty of opportunity for outdoor photography.
“We’re so lucky to live here,” she said. “It always has been amazing to me the variety of scenery and climates — you’ve got the ocean, you’ve got the rain forest, you’ve got the desert, you’ve got the mountains. There aren’t many states, if any, that can boast all those. In the matter of a few hours you can be in a totally different place and space and weather and sky.”
In photography, especially wildlife photography, timing isn’t everything, but it’s a lot.
“Being in the right place at the right time,” she said. “People don’t believe it — they think you’re sitting there patiently. Sometimes I can walk out the door to see what the sunset is going to look like and look and 100 yards away are three deer. So I’m not sitting out there in a blind waiting for something to happen. It’s just the right place at the right time.”
She said the new camera and lens have opened up a lot more opportunities, and she wants to keep exploring the possibilities.
Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at [email protected].