Wauwatosa artist hopes to attract more people to visit and care for natural spaces
If you’re planning to spend some time in the many parks and natural areas we have this spring; you may run into photographer Eddee Daniel.
The Wauwatosa resident taught art for three decades. Today, Daniel shares his photographs through blogs and books, primarily as project director for a Milwaukee-based nonprofit called Preserve Our Parks.
Daniel shares some nature photography tips and his perspective on the importance of enjoying and caring for natural spaces.
"I've been doing this for four years now, and I've been to a lot of places, and I try to find places I haven't been before," Daniel says.
He continues to discover natural spaces. “Just yesterday I went to the website of the City of New Berlin to see what [are] their parks department and there are parks I had never heard of and I went to see the map of the parks,” Daniel explains. ”Some of them are just playing fields, which don’t interest me but some of them have lovely little natural areas that I want to go explore.”
I met Daniel in Grant Park located in South Milwaukee at the Seven Bridges trailhead. It’s a park Daniel has visited many times.
“So my approach, a place like this, is a little different than a place that say, I’ve never been to before, and I’m looking at it with different eyes because I’ve seen this before and I don’t want to arrive with preconceived notions and I want to try to discover something about it that I haven’t seen before if I can. So that’s one of my goals when I come to a place as popular and as familiar as a place like this,” Daniel says.
Daniel visits during different seasons of the year. He says each provide unique lighting he tries to capture in his images, sometimes using his camera, at other times, his phone.
“They do different things well. The camera has more sharpness, more acuity, more range of light and darks. Right now, for example, the sunlight is real strong, the shadows are real deep. So it would be preferable to use the camera for that because I would have more control over bringing out shadow detail,” Daniel explains.
He often turns to his phone because it's convenient, "but also what it does really well, it provides me a range of focal lengths right at the touch of a button. I have to switch lenses in order to do that on my camera," Daniel says.
Recently, Daniel began taking panoramic photos with his phone, “And what I’ve discovered is that the quality of the panoramic image on the phone is really good.”
Small groups of kids scurry and squeal along the Seven Bridges paths as adults attempt to keep up.
“I also love seeing kids out in nature,” Daniel says.
That’s how he spent his childhood growing up in New York state. “Our backyard was a woodland and across from us there was a canyon — I was a kid so it looked like a canyon — with a creek like this at the bottom of it. That’s where I spent all my time,” Daniel shares.“Growing up in nature is totally important to people because you’re going to continue to value that experience once you get older I think,” he says.
Daniel hopes his work helps attract people to parks and natural areas.
“These are the places that house and harbor the species that we want to live with in our world. If everything becomes streetscape and there are not soft surfaces like we have in our parks, then we’re going to be completely impoverished … so we need places like this to feel part of nature again, because we are part of nature,” Daniel says. “If we have the opportunity to come out and enjoy the natural world in a park like this then we’re going to see things a little differently I believe.”