Behind the camera lens, photographer Roger Raepple surveys boneyards of fallen trees where the shoreline shifts and encroaches on a maritime forest. Moody weather and cloud cover serve as the backdrop for his chosen subject matter. The rest of the photo’s ambiance comes together with curiosity, time, and patience.
Dealing with long exposure photography, Raepple uses a slow shutter speed to capture motionless subjects while blurring moving components like clouds or water. An exhibit of his work at the Gadsden Arts Center & Museum in Quincy showcases some of his favorite shots and will be on display until March 24. One photograph originated from a drive along a familiar stretch of road from Apalachicola. There, Raepple uncovered a scene that continues to be one of his most memorable photos.
“I came upon a marina and a little bay where a sailboat had run aground,” describes Raepple, who set up his camera and tripod, then clamped an umbrella over it to save it from the pouring rain. “It was windy and the water was choppy, but I’ve learned you don’t pass up a shot when you see it because it might not be there when you come back. I downloaded the picture and it became one of my all-time favorite images.”
The mist surrounding the forlorn boat created a “dream world,” according to Raepple, who had never taken a long exposure in the rain before. While some photographers talk about light and dark as being interesting contrasting elements, he much prefers looking at the softness this blur creates against rugged subjects.
Fresh out of high school, Raepple had no intentions of becoming a photographer. He enlisted in the military and was assigned to Fort Myer, adjacent to Arlington Cemetery in Virginia. In the barracks, he befriended two men whose photography hobby rubbed off on him. They took him to a pawnshop where he purchased a Pentax camera, his first, along with a used light meter and lens.
The trio traversed Washington, D.C., photographing the monuments, memorials, and museums that dotted the cityscape. Raepple says Arlington Cemetery always topped the list in terms of favorite spots. After leaving the service, he took a long hiatus from photography to attend college and start a family, keeping sports like hockey, tennis, and baseball as his main pastimes. Raepple says that all changed 10 years ago while walking through the LeMoyne Chain of Parks Art Festival.
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