Darrell Berkheimer: A new book joins in the local sharing of art
I now have book number seven in my hands.
Although I spent more than a year compiling and preparing the book, I hesitate to refer to it as my book — because the bulk of the articles and photographs in it were the work of my brother Ron, who died of Alzheimer’s Disease this past September at age 84.
The book is titled “The loves & legacies of Ron Berkheimer.” It’s 195 pages and includes more than 300 photographs — most of them taken by Ron.
I consider myself a good photographer — partly because of what I learned from Ron. But he was an excellent photographer.
The creativeness, simplicity, vitality and art of Ron’s photos are evident throughout the book. I believe many of his photos are gallery quality, worth displaying in large frames and offered for sale. Simple green leaves outlined with frost would draw his attention.
He excelled in taking close-up photos of tiny creatures such as dragonflies, frogs and birds, which required unlimited patience. His wife, Barbara, tells how he would sit, or even lie, in a meadow waiting for the photo subjects to come to him.
Many of his scenics and wildlife photos also were top quality. One of his favorites shows an Amish couple riding in an open buggy through a snow-covered and snowing landscape.
He explained how taking photos in the early morning and late afternoon provides shadows that help make everything look more three dimensional. And he noted that wildlife photographers will take photos of animals when the light is reflected in their eyes.
Some of his photos won awards — whenever he decided to enter a contest. Some prints were sold; but many went to help raise money for a couple of churches that he had attended in Virginia and Oregon. And, like me, he used some prints on greeting cards that he and Barbara sent to family and friends.
The book also includes 17 of his previously published environmental articles that I typed in word-for-word. They are about insects, birds and other wildlife — written by Ron for various newspapers and magazines. Many were published by Country Extra magazine and The Harrisburg Patriot-News, the capital city newspaper in Pennsylvania. Each included his photos.
I wrote a few more short items to go with the many photographs.
He particularly enjoyed wildlife photography, and for 10 straight years attended trips led by professional photographers to Florida’s Everglades; Alaska; both Rocky and Smoky Mountains; Okefenokee Swamp; Olympic Peninsula; Botswana and Zimbabwe, Africa; Canada’s polar bears country; and the Galapagos Islands.
Although the articles on his travels and photography were published 20 to 30 years ago, they continue to be timely and interesting. Readers are drawn into sharing his awe as he briefly explains unusual and little-known details about the life cycles of various creatures.
In addition, the articles cite early warnings, and his deep concerns, about the declining numbers of so many species on our planet. He notes how poaching, loss of habitat, pollution and introduction of non-native species have reduced their numbers — and quite drastically for some species.
In general, he expresses some disdain for what has been happening in our world. We, who are members of his family and close friends, know that he would continue to raise questions about what we are doing by ignoring the fact that “we” are responsible for what is happening.
He frequently said that humans are on our planet — not to have dominion over all other life — but to exercise stewardship and protection for other life forms.
The book about Ron is available through Amazon Books — along with my six earlier books. The photographs alone make the book about my brother worth purchasing. And for each copy purchased, I will receive the exorbitant royalty of 50 cents.
Obviously, the book was a labor of love rather than one from which I expected to earn big bucks.
In today’s world, both book writing and photography are highly competitive callings that only occasionally yield big cash rewards. Many of us do it for the sheer joy of seeing our results and sharing the best of those results with others.
And the local appreciation of the arts is a major pleasure of living in this community, where so many outstanding performances, shows and displays are provided. The Union, of course, is a vital contributor by providing lots of space to publicizing those activities.
Nearly every day now, The Union publishes a page of pictures taken by area residents. And more recently, a monthly camera club feature has been added.
Also, I don’t want to leave this subject without applauding this community for the support it gives to the Neighborhood Center of the Arts, which offers great opportunities for local residents with special needs.
It is the support for such activities — by the newspaper and the community at large — that yields a source of pride in which we all can share. So to each of you who are reading this today, give yourself and your neighbors some pats on the back.
Darrell Berkheimer, who lives in Grass Valley, is a frequent contributor to The Union. He is the author of six books available through Amazon. His latest, “Essays from The Golden Throne,” also is available at Book Seller in Grass Valley. Contact him at email@example.com.
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