Retired LFCC employee Alvin Finchum’s fledgling photography career is soaring to new heights.
The former buildings and grounds worker recently had his photograph of a short-eared owl with a meadow vole in its clutches included in an online National Geographic article entitled, “The Owls of Winter: Ghosts of the Grasslands Appear at Twilight” by Cheryl Lyn Dybas.
Finchum, who retired from LFCC 2 ½ years ago, earned his career studies certificate in Outdoor and Nature Photography last year under the tutelage of Professor Rob Simpson.
Simpson and his wife, fellow professor Ann Simpson, both have photos of owls in the National Geographic online article as well.
Finchum, a Strasburg resident, said he’d been interested in photography “forever.”
“When it was film, it was just way too expensive because you never knew what you were getting,” he said.
Among the classes he took with Rob Simpson were field biology, mushrooms, and fish, reptiles and amphibians.
The owl photograph was taken in January off of Milldale Road in Warren County.
“Rob told me about the owls [that were there] in December,” Finchum said. “There was eight of them. And they’re the only owls that come out during the day. It was just a chance shot. I just looked up and it was flying back across, and there was just enough time to take two photographs.”
When he saw Finchum’s shot, Rob Simpson recognized it was “a highly publishable image and helped tell a story.”
He mentioned the photo to David Carr, director of Blandy Experimental Farm in Clarke County, and Carr put Simpson in touch with Dybas.
“Alvin is now a published photographer, which is an important part of a portfolio of an aspiring photographer,” Simpson said. “His photograph is no accident. We teach situation recipe photography and Alvin precisely follows those techniques. In a relatively short time he has become adept at applying both the technical and artistic aspects to make an appealing photograph.
“As you can imagine, Ann and I are very proud of Alvin as we watch him grow into an accomplished photographer.”
Finchum, who continues to take some of Rob’s classes, accompanied the Simpsons to Costa Rica for one of their nature photography trips.
“I took 17,000 photographs,” he said. “I will shoot anywhere now between 1,000-plus a day if I can.”
Finchum estimates he has 1,800 shots of owls alone.
He’s excited to see his work featured on National Geographic’s website.
“I loved to look at National Geographic,” he said of his youth. “And read the stories, but especially the photographs. Back then, it was real expensive cameras.”
To see the article and photos on owls, go to http://voices.nationalgeographic.com/2017/02/25/the-owls-of-winter-ghosts-of-the-grasslands-appear-at-twilight/.
Finchum’s website is at http://www.alvinfinchumsstockphotography.com/home.html. He is also on Facebook.