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In search of just the right light

A photographer looking for lightning is among 120 artists with displays at a Palm Harbor festival.

By TERRI BRYCE REEVES, Times Correspondent
Published November 30, 2007


Don Naumann seeks out tempestuous skies, an obsession he has had since he was little.

"As a kid, I'd rather go to the beach and watch a storm than go to a movie," he said.

These days, the 59-year-old Crystal Beach photographer takes storm chasing to a new level, stalking bolts of blue in the middle of the night to create some electrifying photos.

On Saturday and Sunday, Naumann and other artists will showtheir creations at the 33rd annual Palm Harbor Fine Arts, Crafts and Music Festival. The work will be on display at the Tarpon Springs Campus of St. Petersburg College, near the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art, 600 Klosterman Road.

About 120 artists will show and sell watercolors, painting, mixed media, photography, graphics, drawings, fiber art, wood, ceramics, sculpture, fine crafts, jewelry, paper, metal, glass and baskets.

The artists will be competing for more than $9,000 in prize money. A portion of the festival's proceeds will go to the Bill and Louise Hoskins Visual Arts Scholarship Program and the St. Petersburg CollegeScholarship Fund.

Children of all ages will want to head to the Fine Arts Building where the Leepa-Rattner is located for origami and kirigami paper art activities. There will be some Japanese-themed storytelling as well. Hours for the children's display are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

"It's going to be a fabulous festival," said Karen Fry, this year's festival chairwoman. "The weather is going to be great, so everyone needs to come out and get started on theirChristmas shopping."

Entertainment includes a medley of bands performing everything from classic rock to Scottishhighlander music.

Tony Krysinsky is the festival's featured artist. His painting Bad Dog on a Blue Roof appears on the festival's advertisements and T-shirts. He said Bad Dog was inspired by his 15-year-old golden retriever who was barking at roofers hammering down a blue tarp after a hurricane.

"She only made it up to the roof in my painting," he said.

The Pensacola artist said '60s pop art, the Caribbean islands, and Southern folk art have all influencedhis works.

While Krysinsky's images are happy, bright and tropical, Naumann's work - creating compositions with lightning - could be described as dark, dreamy and moody.

To produce his photos, Naumann uses a 1959 Hasselblad camera with a Carl Zeiss Distagon lens. His other equipment consists of a raincoat and large golf umbrella.

He admits his chosen field is a perilous one.

"I'm scared to death when I go out there. I've been close enough to smell the lightning," he said.

One time, he was shooting a lake when a lightning bolt hit a nearby tree.

It knocked him off his feet.

"I went through the screen door and ended up on the floor of my friend's house," he said.

The Tampa Bay area is a target-rich environment for both scenery and powerful electric storms, he said.

"Our average is 49.9 (lightning) strikes per square mile each year," he said. "That puts us No. 1 in the country. I have a lot to work with duringthe season."

To make sure he doesn't miss any potential "gifts from nature," Naumann has a lightning detector next to his bed that beeps when lightning is within 40 miles. When that goes off, he checks radar online to see if it is headed to one of his carefully chosen destinations.

"During the day, I travel by bicycle to select a composition," he said. "I look for something like a pier, an old boat, something really pleasing to the eye that would be beautiful even without the lightning. Then I come back at night to make sure no other light source will ruin the photo.

"I pick the most beautiful sites and wait for it (lightning) to come to me."

All shooting is done at night. Naumann said he leaves his shutter open for anywhere from 10 seconds to 10 minutes.

He never uses a digital camera.

"I purposefully overexpose to get the reciprocity effect. I want the color to shift and change and it does," he said.

He favors Kodak film for green and blue hues. Fuji film gives him redsand purples.

One of his favorite subjects is a boat wreck on the Anclote River inTarpon Springs.

"It took over two years and 50 visits to get the right shot," he said. "But it was worth it. It's my No. 1 seller."

Terri Bryce Reeves can be reached at

If you go

Palm Harborart festival

What: The 33rd annual Palm Harbor Fine Arts, Crafts and Music Festival is sponsored by the Palm Harbor Chamber of Commerce in cooperation with the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art and St. Petersburg College.

When: Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Where: St. Petersburg College's Tarpon Springs Campus, 600 Klosterman Road. Enter the campus on Belcher Road.

Admission: Free. Parking is $3. No pets please.

[Last modified November 29, 2007, 21:12:23]

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