Meet Scott Stoner and Denise Hackert-Stoner: two naturalists fascinated by nature. Their work, "Nature at Your Doorstep" is on exhibit now at the Albany Heritage Area Visitors Center.
Nature photography isn't just a passion for Scott, it's his vocation. This water conservation expert works at the DEC, says that even from his earliest years, he's held a deep and abiding love of nature. When he was just 12 years old, he got his first camera, and this opened a door for him, allowing him to capture things he saw for others. Five years ago, he got his first digital SLR camera, and his work began to take on a life of its own.
We caught up with Stoner the evening before his art opening at the Visitors Center, and chatted about his work, his marriage, and his enduring passion for nature.
Stoner shares his passion with his wife Denise. They are both photographers, who met in a birding class. "I was one of the instructors and she was one of the students," Stoner says. "The best student," he adds. The two have been hiking and shooting together ever since. "We shared an interest in birds and nature, and that quickly lead to an interest in one another," he says. Although each has their own particular focus in their photography, they share a passion for their subject.
"We love nature. We love the beauty of nature from the tiniest spider to the largest bird to the large mammals like deer and wolves, all creatures great and small," says Stoner. "It is nice to have that in common. We spend a lot of time out together watching and photographing."
The shared passion has given rise to a business venture, Naturelogues, an online business that specializes in prints and cards, as well as lectures and workshops in nature photography and birding. Through Naturelogues, Stoner and Hackert-Stoner hope to share their vision with a larger audience, and in that way, to inspire greater efforts to protect these habitats.
"I think that awareness comes first. If we can get people to appreciate nature, they will be more interested in protecting it," Stoner says. Stoner and Hackert-Stoner have traveled extensively, offering their programs to bird clubs, senior groups, and school districts across the state.
But, their latest photography exhibit focuses on wildlife that you can find right in your own backyard. "We are wildlife rich, more than people realize," Stoner says. Their photos were shot at the Hudson and Mohawk Rivers, Thacher Park, Albany Pine Bush, Wilton, and Ft. Edwards Grasslands, proving that there's a wealth of ecosystems right around us.
Stoner's favorite shot? A cardinal shaking a snowflake off his beak. Stoner likes the action captured in the shot, and the fact that capturing it was mere happenstance. "It really was luck", says Stoner. "I was down at Five Rivers, during a heavy snowstorm, shooting male cardinals at the bird feeder. It wasn't until later, when I was looking through the pictures that I saw what I had." Someone else spotted the photo, too, and this month, it appears in National Wildlife Magazine. "It's our first national publication," Stoner explains, with evident pride.
To see all the photographs, stop by the Albany Heritage Area Visitors Center. The work is on exhibit now through April.
The Albany Heritage Area Visitors Center is located at 25 Quackenbush Square, off Broadway. Hours of operation are Monday-Friday, 9am-3pm, Saturday, 10am-3pm, and Sunday, 11am-3pm. For more information about Naturelogues or to purchase work, please visit their website: www.naturelogues.com