Mt Pleasant News

Wash Journal   Fairfield Ledger
Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 24, 2018

Creative nature: Oakland Mills Nature Center hosts photography class, contest

Jun 21, 2018
Photo by: Grace King Alicia Cumberland shows Wanda Broeker a photo she took of a small waterfall at Oakland Mills Nature Center Tuesday, June 19. Broeker taught a photography class at the nature center, inviting amateur photographers to enter into a contest organized by the Henry County Conservation Department.

By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News


With a cool breeze in the air following the afternoon rain, a dozen photographers took to the grounds around Oakland Mills Nature Center to capture a moment on Tuesday, June 19.

The clock is now ticking for the photographers who attended the lesson taught by Mt. Pleasant Community School District art teacher and professional photographer Wanda Broeker. They are now eligible to submit their photographs to the Henry County Conservation Department for the chance to win two free nights of camping at any Conservation campground. The top three winners will then be eligible to receive a free cabin coupon for a stay at any Conservation cabin.

“When you have a contest and offer big prizes, you get bigger interest,” said Cari Nicely, Henry County Conservation Department naturalist.

Nicely and assistant naturalist Danika Cox brainstormed program ideas to fit into their theme “creative nature.” A free photography lesson and chance at a contest was the perfect answer.

With an average of 25 attendees at each program hosted by the Conservation Department, Nicely said she and Cox also thought it might attract a different group of people than their regular attendees — retired residents and parents with their children.

This is the second contest the Conservation Department has attended. The first was a Facebook competition a year ago that Nicely said didn’t go over so well.

This competition, however, seemed to be a hit Tuesday evening as 12 photographers questioned Broeker about how to get the best use out of their cameras and how to take interesting pictures.

Attendees were required to have their own camera.

Broeker’s biggest objective was to get people comfortable with taking photos using the manual setting on their camera. While she said it is perfectly acceptable when snapping a quick shot to use the automatic setting, manual enables a photographer to capture the best lighting possible in the shot and focus on the details.

Example photos she showed her audience included snapshots along the Skunk River, the Central Park fountain at night and close ups of flowers in her garden.

Before sending her pupils into the evening light, Broeker reminded them to take pictures from different eye levels. “Get on top of it, get on the side of it, get a bird’s eye view,” Broeker advised.

As Karen Jones inspected the settings on her camera, she said photography is just something she has always enjoyed, and she likes looking at photos. “I don’t do really good (photographing) people,” Jones said. She mostly takes pictures of landscapes and the geese on her pond.

Laura Bro too said photography is just a hobby for her — something she watched her father do growing up. A self-taught photographer, Bro said the lesson Broeker gave was mostly review for her; however, she enjoys coming to the nature center for something to do.

Marcie Hansen looked through her viewfinder and said she enjoys the challenge photography presents. Always trying to get the best shot possible, Hansen prefers taking pictures of her pets, flowers and nature.

“I can’t remember when I got started,” Hansen said. “Started with a disposable (camera) and worked from there.”

The youngest of the group, 10-year-old Alicia Cumberland attended the Nature Center class with her mother Nedra Cumberland. Alicia crouched beside Broeker outside the Nature Center, focusing the camera on a small waterfall.

Alicia began taking photos for 4-H last year, receiving an outstanding junior award on one of her photographs. This year, she hopes to do even better than that.

With only a week until the deadline to submit photos to the Henry County Conservation Department, most attendees said they would do it if they find the time. “It depends on how ambitious I am in the next week,” Jones said.

Photographs are due June 26 at 2 p.m. for those who are eligible to enter the contest. Photos will be judged by four area professional photographers. All photos must be taken in Henry County. Categories include Wildlife, Plants, People in Nature and Landscape.

For more information about future programs at Oakland Mills Nature Center, visit

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.