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Cornelian Cherry Dogwood

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As a naturalist and former vice president of science and stewardship for the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, Paul g. Wiegman has spent his career exploring, learning and educating others about the marvelous natural history of Western Pennsylvania. Through his photographs of our region's farms, fields and forests, he hopes to inspire viewers to explore nature, experience its genius, and share his desire to protect and preserve it. We took a few minutes with Paul to discuss the natural world as seen through his lens.

How did you first become interested in photography?  

It’s been a lifelong pursuit. I got my first camera when I was 8 and learned to process black and white film in a dark corner of the basement. Throughout high school, college and beyond I’ve never been without a camera. My undergraduate studies focused on botany, and photography was a natural extension of field work. While working for the Western PA Conservancy, I photographed land we had acquired or were considering for acquisition as part of my responsibilities.

Where do you get the inspiration for your photos, in particular those featured in the Center for Sustainable Landscapes (CSL)?  

My inspiration comes from the subjects. I have a love of the natural world and photographing species and landscapes comes naturally. The pieces in the CSL are best described as found subjects. An example is my photograph of the fall view across the Yough River in Ohiopyle State Park: I had been riding on the Great Allegheny Passage; it was late afternoon and the clouds were breaking after a shower. The light skimmed the top of the adjacent mountain and illuminated the peninsula across the river. The photo wasn’t planned. The subject just presented itself, and I was lucky enough to be there at the right time. It was simply found.  

What are your favorite places and subjects to photograph and why? 

Most of my recent work has been of the Allegheny Mountains of Fayette, Westmoreland and Somerset Counties and the Great Allegheny Passage. I’m also very much interested in photographing plants, both native and cultivated. I’ve recently been working on a technique for photographing plants with a pure white background, creating images that are reminiscent of botanical prints of the 18th and 19th centuries.

What is the most difficult part of the photographic process?

The most difficult part is finding the right subject in the best light. I’m constantly looking for subjects and watching the light as it moves and changes. I often find wonderful views, but if it isn’t the right time of the day or the clouds aren’t quite right, I pass and wait for another opportunity. On the other hand, I need to be ready when a unique situation arises, and the subject and light come together.

What impact do you hope your photographs will have on CSL visitors?

I hope that they like the work and will take time to visit and enjoy the locations I captured.  
   


Photos © Paul g. Wiegman



Other Featured Exhibits & Events

Three More Nights of Winter Lights
Jan. 30, 2015; 5 – 11 p.m.
Feb. 6 and 13, 2015; 5 – 10 p.m.
Take one more walk through the dazzling light displays in our Outdoor and Children’s Discovery Gardens while our indoor spaces transform for the Orchid and Tropical Bonsai Show.
Orchid and Tropical Bonsai Show
Jan. 17 – March 1, 2015
Chase away the winter blues with the spectacular sight of orchid specimens arranged in beds and baskets, and see unique selections from our permanent collection of tropical bonsai.
Tropical Sundays
Sundays, Feb 1, 8, 15 and 22, 2015
Wear a tropical shirt and receive 50 percent off admission to relax under the palm trees, sway to music of Matthew Mazza and Carmen Bruno of the Tropical Sands Steel Band, and taste tropical fruit.
Biophilia: Pittsburgh
Next Meeting Feb. 5, 2015
6 p.m., with networking and refreshments at 5:30 p.m.
Biophilia: Pittsburgh is the pilot chapter for a Biophilia Network of creative minds meeting monthly to discuss strengthening the bond between people and the natural world through education, discussion and action. Meetings are free to attend; advance RSVP is required. Join the conversation!
Tropical Forest Congo
Opens Feb. 7, 2015
The beauty of the tropics flourishes as we unveil Tropical Forest Congo, a new exhibit featuring some of Africa’s lushest landscapes. See varieties of flora never before showcased at Phipps and discover how indigenous tribes use plants to sustain and enrich their lives.
Tropical Forest Congo Opening Festival
Feb. 7, 2015
11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Be among the first to see our new Tropical Forest Congo exhibit as our guest at a special opening celebration. Family-friendly activities include a storytelling performance, African-inspired food sampling, cultural crafts and a pot-a-plant station — all free with Phipps admission.
Party in the Tropics
Select Fridays
Next Party Feb. 13, 2015
7 – 11 p.m.
Ages 21+
Gather your friends and get ready to dine, drink and dance the night away at Phipps! Make our paradise your own as you indulge in sweet and savory morsels, taste unique cocktails, and dance to the beats of a live DJ in our Tropical Forest Conservatory. Entry is free with Conservatory admission.
Hothouse Happy Hours
Thursday, Feb. 19, 2015
6 – 8 p.m.
Join us on Feb. 19 as we partner with the Pittsburgh Urban Magnet Project (PUMP) to kick off Hothouse Happy Hours, a series of events for young professionals, featuring specialty cocktails, beer and wine, inspired bites and dynamic special guests.
Seed, Perennial and Seedling Swap: 2015 Garden Season Opener
Feb. 28, 2015
11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh - Main
Join Phipps and Grow Pittsburgh at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh in Oakland to swap seeds and plants, learn tips and get ready for a great season of gardening. Bring seeds you saved from last year and take home an exciting selection to grow in your garden this year. Admission is free to the public.
Garden Railroad
Closes March 1, 2015
A unique twist on the traditional Garden Railroad, this year's display takes you back in time to the California Gold Rush — complete with water features, interactive buttons for children to push, and miniature living plants.