Showcase 2021 Winner: Mary Louise Ravese

Close up photo fo lotus blossom seed pod. Lotus Blossom Seed Pod Resembles an Alien Landscape, Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, Washington, D.C., Showcase 2021 Judges’ Choice, Macro/Micro/All Other © Mary Louise Ravese
Lotus Blossom Seed Pod Resembles an Alien Landscape, Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, Washington, D.C., Showcase 2021 Judges’ Choice, Macro/Micro/All Other © Mary Louise Ravese

Artist’s statement

While my intention that day was to photograph one of my favorite flowers, lotus blossoms, I like to keep my mind open to whatever opportunities arise. Lotus blossoms, buds, leaves, and spent seed pods are all things I had photographed many times. But this seed pod was in an in-between state I hadn’t ever noticed before. The surface of the seed head seemed like an alien landscape, or some sort of mythical multi-eyed creature. I was fascinated by the textures and shapes and just had to photograph it, even if it was outside my normal subject matter. By isolating just this portion of the seed pod, I’ve made an abstract interpretation of it, adding a sense of mystery about what it could be.

How I got the shot

I was leading a NANPA meetup event to Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, a place I’ve been to several times before. Since it wasn’t a new location to me, I was challenging myself to find new shots, things I hadn’t photographed before. I think it was this mindset that led me to discover and photograph this subject. In retrospect that’s often a good approach to getting a more unique shot, and it encourages you to see a familiar subject with “new eyes”.

What I Used

Equipment: Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Canon EF 180mm Macro Lens, Manfrotto Tripod, Photoflex soft-gold Reflector. Camera Settings: f/11, 1/125 second, ISO 400, focal length 180mm.

About me

I’m now based in Raleigh, NC and am a full-time, professional nature photographer. I’ve been shooting nature photography since I was in my early teens, but I didn’t pursue it as a career until 2000. My favorite subjects include nature close-ups, country landscapes, and abstracts in nature. Favorite locations are harder to pin down, I love exploring the US and the rest of the world. France and Italy are countries I frequently find myself coming back to time and time again.

I have a degree in Electrical Engineering from MIT, and photography is my second career. I’m fortunate to have learned with Doc Edgerton at MIT, the inventor of the strobe flash. I was impressed that his photographs were not only scientifically meaningful, but also beautiful. Photography combines my interests in art and science. When I was pursuing a career in technology consulting, this was important for my life balance. Now, I think my engineering background helps me to clearly explain photography concepts to my workshop participants. It also comes into play with my interest in experimenting with different photography techniques.

My photographic journey

The Wild Kingdom TV show and National Geographic Magazine sparked my interest in nature photography as a kid. So, my father gave me my first SLR camera. Photography is where I find my Zen. In the 90s I turned to photography to unwind from a stressful job. I was mentored by nature photographer and long-time NANPA member, Barbara Brundege. She really helped me in all aspects of my photography, and it was with her encouragement that I made the big leap from corporate life to start my own photography business. What keeps me interested is that there is always something new to learn — new equipment, software, techniques, or new parts of the world to discover.

NANPA and me

I’ve been a NANPA member since 2001. I have been a past co-coordinator for the NANPA meetup group in the National Capital region, and a member of the organizing team for the NANPA Celebration event that had been scheduled for Asheville, North Carolina in April 2020. I have had my photographs recognized in 7 previous NANPA Showcases in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2015, 2016, and 2017.

Learn More

Website: www.BellaVistaPhotography.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/BellaVistaPhoto

See more of Mary Louise’s images

  • Lotus Blossom Seed Pod Resembles an Alien Landscape, image by Mary Louise Ravese
    Lotus Blossom Seed Pod Resembles an Alien Landscape, Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, Washington, D.C., 2021 Showcase Judges' Choice, Macro/Micro/All Other Wildlife © Mary Louise Ravese