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Artist strives to ‘catch the moment’ through landscape photography

Diana Petersen has been living in Southern Nevada since she was a little girl and creating art for nearly as long, but she has taken up photography only in the last four years.

“I’ve done oil painting, leather tooling, pen and ink, pencil and watercolor,” Petersen said. “I love art, and I look on photography as just another form of it.”

Petersen’s work is display at the Sunrise Library, 5400 Harris Ave. Much of it features the wild and dramatic landscapes of the Southwest. The show includes photographs of places as near as Red Rock Canyon and as far as Arches National Park in southeast Utah.

“ ‘Catch the moment’ is my motto,” Petersen said. “Sometimes I’ll be sitting in a restaurant looking out at the clouds, and I’ll think, ‘I need to be out there right now. I need to be there in that brief time when the light is just right.’ ”

Her work doesn’t begin and end at trying to catch that moment. Often she will take long exposures or paint with light to get the image she wants.

“Because photography is art, I want to show what I’m feeling through the photography,” Petersen said. “There are times when you have a remarkable setup and you just want it to pop more.”

Petersen is a member of the Nevada Camera Club, which meets on the second and fourth Friday of each month in the auditorium of Sunrise Hospital & Medical Center, 3186 S. Maryland Parkway. The group holds monthly competitions and takes field trips to shoot photos. While organizing a group show for the club, Petersen casually asked if there were any openings for solo shows. Denise Alvarado, gallery services coordinator for the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District, told her she had one available right away at the Sunrise Library.

“Usually we’re scheduled about a year and a half out,” Alvarado said, “But the very day we were talking, I had a cancellation.”

With the addition of the Windmill Library at 7060 W. Windmill Lane, Alvarado takes care of 13 galleries in the county and two exhibit halls, at the Clark County Library 1401 E. Flamingo Road, and the Centennial Hills Library, 6711 N. Buffalo Drive.

“Cancellations do happen every now and then,” Alvarado said. “Sometimes people get cold feet at the last moment or have some sort of family crisis. Sometimes by the time their show comes up, they’ve moved away.”

Alvarado takes in a wide variety of submissions in many media. She’s pleased to be able to show works ranging from paintings and quilts to installations and photography.

Petersen has enjoyed exploring the new medium and getting out to beautiful places.

“It’s been a pleasant journey,” Petersen said. “It’s such instant gratification compared with something like a pencil drawing. You can put 40 hours into one piece, but with photography you just need to be there at that perfect moment.”

Petersen pointed out that getting pictures isn’t just a matter of timing but persistence. She quoted her friend and fellow camera club member Ed Stiglitz who said, “The more pictures you take, the luckier you get.”

Petersen runs a sign-making business, which supports her art for the time being. She’s making increasing sales of her work and hopes to transition to full-time art. For the time being, her business allows her enough flexibility that she can take off on short notice when she sees the light is right.

Photography has changed not just Petersen’s way of viewing the world but also her husband’s. He too has learned to notice the changes in light and potential photographic subjects.

“It rubs off,” Petersen said. “You start to notice things differently when you’re a photographer.”

Petersen’s work is on display during regular library hours through May 8 in the gallery. To see her work online, visit originalimages.zenfolio.com. For information about the Nevada Camera Club, visit nevadacc.org.

Contact Sunrise and Whitney View reporter F. Andrew Taylor at ataylor@viewnews.com or 380-4532.

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