The deer stood tall, like a towering statue, motionless in the field. Mike Blackwell came a long way for this prize buck. He'd seen it earlier at the creek edge lapping up water on this hot, summer day. But it darted off as he approached. He waited to see if it would return, biding his time between singing his favorite Beatles' tunes and wondering if there'd be an NFL season for his Steelers to play. Suddenly, he heard a rustle. It was the buck, only a few hundred yards away. Blackwell finally had the deer again in his sights. Carefully, he pointed, aimed and shot ... the photo he'd waited hours to get.
That picture, now framed and titled "Young Buck" is part of Blackwell's photography show this month at Immix Wireless, 357 Market St.
Despite the fact that this is Blackwell's first solo show, he was never nervous about it.
“Buck,” a photo by Radio DJ?Mike Blackwell, is on display at Immix Wireless, 357 Market St.
"Not really, I'm excited to be showing the community actually," he said. "They see me with my camera and probably wonder what exactly it is I'm doing. Now people will able to see some of my work."
The opportunity to show at Immix arose after Blackwell stopped by during July's First Friday and spoke with Immix manager Chad Marks regarding interest in hanging his artwork.
Marks said, "I'd heard good things about Mike's photography. I like giving new artists a chance - that was a goal in opening a downtown store. I'm excited to have his works hanging here this month."
Twelve pieces of Blackwell's photographic works are featured in the exhibit. Some of the titles include "Days Gone By," "Spring Awakening" and "Peaceful Destination."
These images come from a variety of locales: as far away as Gettysburg, Bushkill Falls, Ricketts Glenn, Wellsboro and as close to home as his neighborhood.
One of his most popular pieces, "Days Gone By," is of a bridge along the Pine Creek Rails to Trails just above Jersey Shore. The way Blackwell shot the photo creates the impression that walking across it would take you into the idyllic past.
"Fireworks" captures an image of lilies bursting into bloom like fireworks in the summer night sky. The snapshot image of flowers in "Kiss of Morning Dew" perfectly captures that post-sunrise moment when flowers and lawns are coated with droplets of water and the chill of night is slowly giving way to the sun's warmth.
Blackwell is not fancy with his titles. He tags it in a way that reflects what the mind's eye sees in functional terms.
In addition to his floral works, Blackwell's show features several striking photos of waterfalls in "Paradise" and "Peaceful Destination." The former is of a series of steep, stair-like falling waters in a secluded lagoon surrounded by ancient boulders and lush greeneries. While in the latter, a calm stream drops suddenly into a brisk rush of water leading into what could be your favorite swimming hole.
Before embracing the lens, Blackwell, a Williamsport native, wielded the bass for several years in the popular area band Toyz.
During its '90s heyday the group played all over the Susquehanna Valley. In those days, it wasn't unusual for Blackwell to play till last call and wake up, go on-air at WZXR and then do it all again the next day.
Currently retired from the bass, Blackwell is still a fixture on the local airwaves - mornings at Oldies 93 and weeknights on WZXR.
According to Blackwell, "It was different time for local music; back then a band could play diverse places Wednesday through Sunday. I remember playing to around 250 people in a bar like it was nothing. After years of steep decline in the demand for live music, it seems to be slowly coming back around. I think the sheer volume of talent now is leading that change."
Although music has always been a part of his life, photography is a relatively new endeavor for Blackwell. Nature photography is his forte.
As a photographer, Blackwell thinks he's evolving at his own pace. He is completely self-taught although he's received a lot from other photographers in the area - one is Heather Horton.
"She does amazing work, taught me an awful lot about photography," he said.
Blackwell's musical past meets his photographic present in the way he - like a musician does with a recorded track - tweaks it with post-production techniques. He can alter the mood of an image just by making a few changes in the program.
An example would be "Antique."
"It's of roses my wife grows, very vibrant red but with a few adjustments I give it a more antiquey feel," Blackwell said. "Someone thought it looks more like a an early 1900 wallpaper from a home."
His efforts seem to work because opening night was strong for Blackwell. He estimate between 50 to 60 people passed thru Immix to view his artwork. He had lots of wonderful comments about the photography.
"People really liked the sharpness of my pictures, the vibrant colors of flower photos and a general liking of my photography. I even sold two prints at the show - 'Sunny Side Up' and 'Spring Awakening.' That was exciting," Blackwell said.
The success of the artist's photography exhibit doesn't mean that Blackwell will be putting the mic down anytime soon.
"I love photography as an escape, a different kind of outlet for my creativity," he said. "Radio, however, is a fun job. To me, it's not really work. I'm one of those lucky people who can I say that I love what I do. After 19 years, I still enjoy getting up and going to the station every day," Blackwell said.
So rather than choosing between the world of photography and broadcasting. Blackwell chooses to live in both worlds. And maybe, that's the best choice of all.
Blackwell's show runs through August 31 at Immix Wireless. For more information, call 651-9305. He also is on Facebook where you can "like" Michael Blackwell Photography.