Lemont Artist Captures Surprising View of Plants, Animals
Photographer Gene Mark uses macro photography to reveal details most would never see.
Lemont photographer Gene Mark believes in the saying, “Good things come to those who wait.”
Mark will sit or stand for hours in a field or forest and wait for a bird or a small animal to come near. Using macro (close-up) photography, Mark captures details in her subjects that most people would never see.
Every ruffled feather of a brilliant-red cardinal is as vivid as if the bird were inches away. A tiny hummingbird sipping nectar becomes larger than life in a close-up that shows its face and long bill.
“Can you imagine how close I needed to be to catch the hummingbird?” Mark says with delight.“It’s hard to catch what you see.
"I love photographing birds, that’s for sure. Next to plants, I love birds. It’s a big challenge. You sit for hours. And sometimes you sit for hours and get nothing.”
In her studio, Mark spends hours setting up for her macro photographs of flowers and plants.
“I love magnolias. I love that image. For me, I see magnolias like dancers, so gracious. They are saying something,” Mark said.
Her portraits of flowers include images of glistening dew drops on a velvety rose petal and a pink calla lily under crackled ice. Seeing the intricate structures and textures makes the lovely flowers even more stunning.
“I’ve tried my best to take pictures like she does, but it’s impossible,” said Judy Love, a friend and fan who lives in Louisville, Ky.
After Love bought four of Mark's framed photographs, Love's daughter became very interested in photography.
“I have never seen her get such joy out of something,” Love said.
Mark finds beauty in some plants that other people would shun. Two of her favorite subjects are the stark thistle and the dreaded dandelion puff.
Under Mark’s camera lens, the dandelion seed head turns into hundreds of perfect wisps of white fluff. The wisps are arranged into starbursts that look like an explosion of fireworks. When she looks at a dandelion, Mark said she sees “that nature is extremely precious. We have to be very gentle with what we do, she said.
Mark has recently been experimenting with mirror-image photos using apple blossoms or ice and snow to produce a modern-art take on texture and form.
Mark was introduced to the camera by her high school sweetheart and now husband, Algis. They have two grown sons, one who enjoys photography as a hobby and another who draws.
Love said she met Mark and her husband on a trip to Alaska.
“We just absolutely hit it off. I think the world of them,” Love said. The friends have visited each other in their hometowns, she added.
Mark, a chemical engineer, was once a singer in a Lithuanian opera choral group.
Mark’s love of nature and the outdoors extends to cityscapes and landscapes.
Mark mats and frames her work in various sizes. Prints on canvas are also available. Note cards featuring Mark’s photographs are sold at several places in Chicago and Lemont including Chipain’s and Walgreen's. To see more images, go to Mark’s Web site, www.fieldprints.com.