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Capturing Nature, History of Great Falls

Photographer Dee Leggett releases “Visions of Great Falls.”

As a photographer, Great Falls resident Dee Leggett believes that people don’t always appreciate the beauty around them, even in their own backyards. So it’s only appropriate that her journey as a photographer began literally in her backyard.

“I work a lot at home, so to take a break I like to walk my dog outside. I’ve always liked butterflies, so I planted a lot of butterfly-friendly plants in my yard, and I started taking pictures of them,” Leggett said. “Soon I started sending the pictures as cards to people, and I got some good feedback, so I kept taking photos.”

Leggett has released her second book of photography, “Visions of Great Falls.” It contains 92 pictures of animals, buildings, streams and valleys, almost everything but human beings.

The photos in her book were taken all around Great Falls, in a variety of settings and seasons. From the bluebells at Riverbend Park in spring to the waters of streams in the winter, Leggett has captured it all.

HER PARTICULAR FONDNESS for butterflies has helped her become somewhat of an expert on the creatures, even learning what species are what by their flight patterns. The butterfly friendly plants in her yard, such as colorful azaleas, also provide her photos with pleasing backdrops.

“The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, which also happens to be the state insect of Virginia, is much easier to capture in a photo than some others. It likes to find a spot and will sit there for a while,” she said. “But something like the Zebra Swallowtail doesn’t stay still very long. It lands for a bit, eats a little, then moves on.”

While Leggett’s photography began in her backyard, she soon found herself stretching beyond its borders.

“As I drove around Great Falls, I would notice these beautiful gardens in people’s yards, and I eventually knocked on some doors and asked if I could take pictures of them,” she said. “So many people were so generous to let me take photos of their property, and I always make a point to send them a few postcards with the pictures on it. Some have told me they’re too pretty to send away, but I always tell them that it’s a joy that’s meant to be spread.”

Leggett soon began finding photo opportunities all around Great Falls, whether at Great Falls Park, where she enjoys hiking, or just catching the sunlight at the right angle while driving.

“I really like light and fog, particularly the way the sunlight might go through the trees and fog one particular morning,” she said. “As I’ve become a better photographer, I’ve learned to see things all around me better, to see the mystery and interest of what’s around me, to see the drama of the sunset.”

LOCAL LANDMARKS in Leggett’s book include the Great Falls Grange, the Forestville Schoolhouse, the Great Falls Freedom Plaza, the gazebo on the village green and the falls themselves in various seasons and times of day.

“I tried to include a lot of community focus points, along with the history of the area,” she said. “And of course the falls had to be on the cover.”

Leggett’s first book, “Visions of Peace” includes shots from around the world with Bible quotes that she feels are represented in the accompanying photos. She is also working on her next book “Visions of Light,” which will deal more extensively with her fondness for light.

Her photos will also be on display at Katie’s Coffee House in Great Falls in the month of May.

Her book can be ordered online in hard copy or as an e-book on http://www.blurb.com/, or by e-mailing her at DeeLeggett@aol.com.