Keeping It Local: Wes Bunton Photography
There's so much beauty to Maryland that it seems impossible to condense it to just one photograph. But photographer Wes Bunton knows just how to fit all that greatness into a single image. His portfolio contains both striking cityscapes and peaceful landscapes-- and get out your wallets, because they're for sale! Whether you're looking for the perfect accessory for your dorm room, a Maryland piece to remind you of home after you've moved far away, or just need a stunning sunset to match your decor, Bunton's Etsy page is the place to go.
I interviewed Bunton to find out what drew him to photographing the beauty of Maryland, what his dream project would be, and how he does a few of his coolest tricks.
Route One Apparel (R1A): Are you a Maryland native, or a transplant? If you're from Maryland, where did you grow up, and if not, what brought you here?
Wes Bunton (WB): I grew up in the mountains of western North Carolina. Unfortunately, I never once took a landscape photograph while living in Blue Ridge Mountains. I hadn't yet begun my journey into photography while living there, but I still get to enjoy the scenery when visiting from time to time. In college, I met the love of my life, who happened to be from Maryland; and ultimately career opportunities have made Maryland a great place for us to settle down.
R1A: How long have you been a photographer? What got you interested in doing it?
WB: I’ve been investing my spare time and energy in photography for about three years. I bought my first camera when my wife was pregnant with our first child. Primarily, I got into photography because I wanted to have lots of family photos, not just the token vacation or Christmas shot. Since then I’ve dabbled in many types of photography, including weddings and a myriad of portraiture types; however, landscape photography, in its many forms, has always demanded my attention from the beginning.
R1A: What has been your favorite place in Maryland to photograph? Do you prefer taking city photos or nature ones?
WB: Baltimore City is definitely one of my favorite places to shoot. The Eastern Shore has been another great area because it harbors relatively dark skies. My astrophotography is a niche of my art that is rather unique. As astronomers and star gazers alike know, you have to leave the city to see the stars really well, so you end up in western Maryland, or below the C&D canal on the eastern shore. It can be difficult to find good star viewing areas considering the level of light pollution from the multitude of cities that are aligned closely on the Mid-Atlantic Coast. I happen to live closer to the Eastern Shore, so it tends to be where I shoot a lot of my astrophotography, rather than western Maryland.
R1A: Your celestial photos are really stunning! How do you take them?
WB: Thank you! Star trail photos are simply a compilation of many individual photos. Once a large set of shots are gathered from the same camera position (tripod use is vital here), it’s relatively simple to “stack” the photographs, such that each image is slightly opaque, and the trail of each star becomes visible in the final product. It’s a common misconception to assume these images are simply “shopped”, as every element in each image is captured in-camera, through a tediously lengthy shoot. When I’m in the field, I use a photography tool called an ‘intervalomater’. This tool allows a photographer to automate the camera’s shutter release using a set interval. I use this tool to make my camera continually photograph the night sky for hours, without having to repeatedly press the shutter button. If I’m camping in a safe area, I’ll leave my gear out while I sleep, and I can sometimes shoot up to six hours – or over five hundred photos before my camera battery dies.
R1A: What was your education like? Did you study photography, or are you self-taught?
WB: I received my Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, and I’m a software engineer by day. With a background founded in math and technology, learning the technical aspects of photography came quickly, while I struggled to learn simple rules of composition. Although I never formally studied photography, in the last three years I’ve completely immersed myself in photography. On days that I’m not shooting photos, I’m reading about new techniques, looking at others work, or scouting new locations. I’ve learned from numerous sources, including friends in art/photography professions, blogs, podcasts, magazines, and online communities such as 500px.
R1A: What's a dream project for you to work on? Where in Maryland would you like to shoot that you haven't gotten to go yet?
WB: I love to photograph scenes at sunrise. In the first few minutes of daylight, a scene will morph into a unique display, which only lasts for a few minutes. The tough thing about planning sunrise shoots is that you have to be nearby to wake up and quickly get on location. Ideally, the scene I’m shooting is near a road, or campsite, that’s easily accessible. However, other locations, such as the mountains in Western Maryland, may require a hike. In addition to the tight timeline, the weather conditions can make or break a great sunrise photo opportunity. Repeated attempts are the best recipe for making sure you get the shot you want. I’m looking forward to planning a camping trip to the Deep Creek Lake area in the next year. I’ll most likely spend at least a few consecutive mornings attempting to capture an image that’s been in my head.
All photos belong to Wes Bunton. Want more? Check out his portfolio!
This post was written by Route One Apparel blogger, Eva Niessner.