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The Light Fantastic

Local artist Jim Emery and his fascination with light are on display at the Ashburn Library.

Ashburn residents might have noticed that their library looks more scenic this month. That’s because the library features the landscape photography of local artist Jim Emery.

A self-described "light junkie," Emery is primarily interested in the interaction between light and the subject. "I realized that the right light can lend special qualities to the most mundane scene," he said. "Sometimes I’ll just be walking around the house and see the light coming through the window in a particular way and I’ll run and get the camera."

To Emery, light is a key element in memories. "Everyone has smells or sounds that remind them of certain times in their life. I started thinking about certain memories I have and the kind of light that was present, and I try to recreate it."

WITH A formal education in geology, landscape photography was something that appealed to Emery. "I’m very interested in rocks. Granite is my favorite to photograph. It’s very majestic," he said.

While the pictures in the Ashburn Library are of local places, Emery does a lot of work on the West Coast. Though he researches locations before he leaves, he often finds better pictures in other locations. "As much as I find places online that I know I want to visit, there is always something along the way that captivates me."

As a photographer, Emery has fully embraced the digital age. "I don’t have to deal with smelly chemicals or a darkroom anymore. I can do my work on a computer monitor, which I am much more comfortable with." Emery said. Despite purists that believe otherwise, Emery finds that the digital medium allows him to turn the pictures into exactly what he wants.

This isn’t to say that he uses digital photography for convenience. "It doesn’t really save me any time as opposed to film. There is lots of work that has to be done to bring a digital picture to the clarity of color film," he said.

Playing the part of his creative partner is his wife of almost 10 years, Chris. She helps him find the shots that he might not. "I can sit there for a while, focusing on one shot and she’ll tap me on the shoulder and say ‘Look behind you,’ and there will be a whole scene that I would have missed," Emery said.

Emery doesn’t have any illusions about his place in the art world. "The thing about landscape photography is this: everywhere I go, someone has been there before. My goal is to try and take a cool picture that I like and sometimes people identify with that."