Nebraska's beauty in eye of photographer—April 11, 2008
If you see Nebraska as an aesthetically-challenged state, then I invite you to look again. . .through the camera lens of some of the state’s most gifted photographers.
What the rest of us overlook every day, landscape and wildlife photographer Mike Whye has once again translated into art to appreciate.
In his newest collection of photography and imaginative text, "Omaha Impressions," a cloud of snow geese becomes a "flurry of snowflakes," plowed fields in springtime create a "patchwork of geometrics," fireworks are "feathery arches in the night" and downtown windows become "mirrors in a funhouse."
Whye suggests that with a little imagination, there is so much that is impressive: "The beauty of the Great Plains has always been subtle, nuanced. It challenges people to really look at what’s here. There is great natural beauty in tasseled cornstalks that resemble teepees silhouetted against a stormy evening sky, clouds rambling across the setting sun before encircling the moon that shines over the winding Platte River, oaks rising tall with other trees, adorning the slopes of ravines, casting shadows across the undergrowth but illuminating the thoughts of those who see and appreciate them."
Whye’s photos show there is beauty in other ways, too – in what we make and who we are: "ornate details hammered and chiseled into century-old buildings stand next to new buildings sleek, tall and reflective. . .Athletic young women pause at their oars as they head toward the rising sun. . .One of Omaha’s seven mounted police guides his horse through a crowd after a Cinco de Mayo parade."
Additionally, the book sparkles with playful photos and commentary . . .a worn cowboy boot "finishes out its life on a fencepost" in a time-honored tradition of the Old West. Three Adirondack chairs sit waiting for the right sized sitters – one each for papa bear, mama bear and baby bear.
A lighthouse in Nebraska? Friendly and faux, there is one halfway between Lincoln and Omaha, its location inspiring its name, "Linoma."
"Omaha Impressions" is Whye’s second book of Nebraska photography. His first, "Nebraska, Simply Beautiful," published in 2004, also captures the subtle beauty and unique spirit of the state.
Whye is a freelance photographer and writer whose articles and photos have appeared in numerous newspapers and magazines including Nebraska Living, National Geographic Traveler, Time and Home and Away, and publications for the National Park Service and tourism bureaus. He teaches journalism and photography at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
Hastings Public Library also can take you on a magnificent photographic tour of Nebraska through the works of two other remarkable photographers: wildlife and landscape photographer Georg Joutras – "Along the Edge of Daylight, Photographic Travels from Nebraska and the Great Plains:" and environmental photographer Joel Sartore – "Nebraska Under a Big Red Sky."