All throughout the month of December, photographs of Letchworth State Park, taken by Geneseo Campus Photographer Keith Walters ‘11, will be exhibited at the new Humphrey Nature Center in Genesee Falls.
The Humphrey Nature Center features exhibits that emphasize Letchworth’s wildlife, river ecology and geology. The nature center educates the park’s more than 650,000 annual attendees on sustainability and appreciating nature.
The exhibit, “Beyond the Turnouts,” features 25 of Walters’ photographs. Since receiving a grant in December 2016, Walters has taken hundreds of photographs of the park.
The project began when he met with Livingston Arts Executive Director Betsy Harris a few years ago, and she informed him about a grant program that supports an individual artist once a year.
“The whole idea is that the artist comes up with a project and it has to be community oriented,” Walters said in a phone interview. “I started thinking about how I could combine my passion for landscape photography with community oriented aspects. I thought I could document parts of the park that were lesser known because the majority of the people who go to the park either are limited on time or are just interested in the main overlooks.”
Throughout the year, Walters leads nature walks to familiarize visitors with possibly unknown areas of the park as well as providing them with tips and critiques on their own photography. The final stage of the project was to donate all of the prints to the nature center.
One of Walters’ favorite photographs is of a group of pine trees under a blanket of snow off of the main road.
“I took the photo early on in the year,” Walters said. “There was a pretty heavy snowfall and there was nobody in the park. A gust of wind came through and blew the snow off trees. When I look at that photo, I am transformed back to another place in time when I made it.”
Another remarkable photograph shows a few trees near the scenic Inspiration Point Overlook on the Gorge Trail at sunset. One glance at it explains why locals often call the park “The Grand Canyon of the East.” The photo displays several trees in front of the deep valley, with the glowing sky above, presenting diverse shades ranging from blue, purple and pink to orange and yellow.
Walters began visiting the park regularly as a student at Geneseo. After he graduated, he began exploring more obscure areas of the park that allowed him to fully appreciate everything the park offers.
“If you came to this area and didn’t know that much about it, I don’t think you’d expect for there to be a canyon, a world class park that is only a few minutes away from campus,” Walters said. “It is surrounded by farmland and just a surprise to people. There’s a lot of history at Letchworth State Park and to me it’s just a nice place to go and reflect.”
Walters may not know what will be next for him, but no matter what is, his work will surely be noteworthy.
The Humphrey Nature Center is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day, excluding Tuesdays and Wednesdays. “Beyond the Turnouts” will be showcased throughout the rest of the year.u