SWANTON, Ohio (WTVG) – Chances are you’ve seen his breathtaking work on social media, though few know the man behind the lens. Through all the ups and downs our Metroparks have gone through this last half-century, photographer Art Weber has been a mainstay.
“I’ve been here 48+ years at the Metroparks,” recalls Weber, “but the story begins even before that, when I was picking up a Brownie camera and shooting photos of anything I could find that I loved. We would get one of the moms and con her into bringing us out to one of the parks and explore the trails, finding frogs and turtles and all that kind of stuff.”
The current vibrant colors of maple, sumac, and sassafras are go-to options for any aspiring photographer — though whether it’s fall flora or flying fauna he sets out to capture, Art’s goal remains the same.
“The idea for me has always been to make the photography of a quality that matches what they see from other places, like the Grand Canyon out west,” Weber says. “What we have is just as fascinating and just as interesting if you capture it the right way. Nothing makes me feel better than that, when people go ‘Wow! Where was this taken?’ and you say ‘It’s just about 5 miles from here.’ ‘Really?!’” They’re your recreation. If you’re an apartment dweller, they’re your backyard. If you’re a nature lover, it’s your release right outside your backdoor. What the national parks are to the nation, the Metroparks are to Toledo.
As a University of Toledo student, Art volunteered as a photographer for a nature magazine… and now, through the institution, his works are heading to the printing press once more in a book by retired UT biology professor Elliot Tramer.
“It’s accurate, it’s exciting… he’s really written it in a way that’s friendly, and certainly hope it turns people on to nature,” says Weber.
“Richness and Rarity: The Natural History of Lucas County” even includes a section by our own meteorologist Ross Ellet. As Art puts it: “Ross has got one of the pieces he wrote up, and even knocked me out of a couple photo spots! He’s a good photographer, and he’s contributed on that end of it, too.”
It’s often said the devil is in the details, though Art prides himself on showcasing a little slice of heaven in our corner of the world. “Once you focus a lens on something and notice the details, you really start to wonder, ‘What’s this all about? Why is this animal this way? Why is this plant purple instead of red?’ There’s a purpose for everything in nature — even if for us, it’s just eye candy.”
“Richness and Rarity” will start shipping this December, with pre-orders on UToledoPress.com going for $29.95.
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