Capturing that certain something in a landscape at just the right time of day when color is imbued with fantastic hues, or that chance appearance of wildlife, that’s what photographers William Pearson and Barbara C. Arnold strive to achieve.

Garden Friend by Barbara C. Arnold

Their handsomely framed photographs of New Mexico landscapes and wildlife are on exhibit and for sale at the Los Lunas Museum of Heritage and Art through March 29.

Both of the photographers have an exhibit at the museum: “New Mexico Landscapes” by William Pearson; and “Backyard Beasts” by Barbara C. Arnold.

Both are local photographers with Arnold living in Tomé and Pearson living in Los Lunas.

Pearson is always trying to catch the illusive elements of a landscape that comes and go with the light. His favorite place is the Gila wilderness, and he often carries a little digital camera while out hiking, fishing, bicycle riding or kayaking.

Garden Friend by Barbara C. Arnold

“Mornings and evening sunsets are best, plain and simple, but a lot of these (photos) are taken mid-day,” Pearson said of the photographs in his exhibit. “It just depends where I’m at and at what time (and) do we have the time.”

Pearson and his poet wife, Annmarie, published a book with her poems and his photographs titled, “Nature Rhymes with Natural Impressions.” It was a 2012 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards finalist.

“From sunrise to 10 o’clock in the morning is prime time, and then 4 or 5 o’clock until sunset, that’s when the time is the best,” Pearson said. “But if you’re camping or fishing, it just depends.”

Climbing the Grade East of Belen by William Pearson

He especially likes stormy and cloudy days when there is a lot of contrast he can use to gain more depth in his pictures.

In the early ’70s, Pearson took up skydiving, filming and taking photographs of the dives. He started selling photographs to skydivers and developing his own slides. That’s when he got hooked on photography, he said.

“Nothing beats looking at slides on a light table with a loupe (small magnifying glass) because they’re 3-dimensional, and the colors pop,” he said. “Digital is always two-dimensional, whereas slides have depth. They’re three-dimensional.”

Nowadays, little point and shoot digital cameras are easy to carry and take great pictures if they have a good lens, he said.

“Most of the time, automatic settings are great,” said Pearson. “But if there is a lot of shadow and light in a picture and you need to control it, then you need a better camera with more controls ― control of your aperture, your film speed, your shutter speed ― but 90 percent of the time, automatic works great.”

Photographing wildlife takes patience, stealth and a lot of luck both photographers said.

Bosque del Apache Doe by William Pearson

“It’s catch as catch can,” said Arnold.

A honey bee in flight, the barbs on a wasp’s legs — close-up photographs that magnify tiny insects seem to be a specialty of Arnold’s.

“I don’t use any fancy, expensive cameras,” Arnold said. “I took the photo of the wasp with a Kodak.”

Arnold doesn’t consider herself a professional photographer, but she always liked photography.

After earning her bachelor’s degree in biology and a master’s in anthropology, Arnold started photographing ancient ruins for documentation. That’s when she became a shutter bug.

“Then the cameras got better,” said Arnold. “Anybody can shoot fantastic photos now, with all the equipment they’ve got.”

Living on a farm in Tomé offers her ample opportunity for photographing spectacular sunsets and wildlife. Her backyard, which is mostly pasture, is her favorite place to take pictures. She gets up early in the morning, as farmers do, she said.

“I look out the window, 6 or 7 in the morning, and if there’s clouds, I know there’s going to be a good sunrise,” Arnold said.

A patch of wild flowers and a vegetable garden where she grows chile and tomatoes attract a variety of insects and birds. That’s why she calls her photo exhibit, “Backyard Beasts.”

“I always have my camera handy and, when I see an animal or phenomena of interest, I fire off many photos,” Arnold said. “I never knew that toads had such iridescent eyes until I photographed them.

“The barbs on the wasp’s legs were news to me. The grasshopper’s eyes are striped! Every day, I learn something new about the most common creatures. To share these observations is a privilege for me.”

New Mexico is the best place for sunrises and sunsets because of the endless sky, the photographers said.

“New Mexico Landscapes” and “Backyard Beasts” photo exhibits can be viewed at the Los Lunas Museum of Heritage and Art from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday until Saturday, March 29.

“It’s been very busy and we’ve had lots of field trips from the area schools,” said Andrea Chavez, museum specialist.

For more information, call 352-7720, or just stop by the Los Lunas Museum of Heritage and Arts, 251 Main St. SE.

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