Abstract photographs in Castle Valley. 2020

"Riveted,” by Annie Goodenough, one of the abstract photographs that will be on display at the exhibit in Castle Valley. [Photo courtesy of Annie Goodenough]

Millions of visitors take countless pictures of the Moab area every year. But the Castle Valley Photography group isn’t capturing your standard scrapbook or Instagram images.

The Castle Valley Photography group has been meeting once a month for about four years, learning techniques and styles, and applying those lessons to their work and bringing them back to their fellow photographers for feedback. On Tuesday, Jan. 28, the group will share some of the results of that learning process at the opening of an exhibit showcasing their photographs at the Castle Valley Community Center.

The name of the show is “Discovering the Creativity of Abstracts: An Exhibit of Original Photography and Presentation by the Castle Valley Photography Group.”

“Abstract... takes an object and kind of shows it out of context. You can’t necessarily know what the object is. Sometimes they’ll have lots of colors, sometimes shapes,” explained Tom Haraden, one of the instructors for the group. “It gives you more of a feeling, it’s something you look at out of interest and kind of pause and perhaps you wonder, ‘what is that?’”

He said examples of abstract photographs might be the reflection of an object in a lake, or the shapes and shadows found in a frozen pool.

“I saw one recently that was a close-up of the bottom of somebody’s sauté pan, and there were just really interesting colors and shapes in it,” he said.

The exhibit will showcase fourteen photos taken by members of the Castle Valley Photography Group. After guests have had a chance to view the work, there will be a slideshow featuring more photos by the group in other genres. The slideshow will be followed by a panel discussion with three members of the group: Jocelyn Buck, Sherry Karp and Ron Drake.

Haraden worked for many years as a ranger for the National Park Service, and he often served as a photographer at parks where he was employed.

“I have hundreds, if not thousands, of pictures out there used by the NPS in exhibits and websites and that sort of thing,” Haraden said.

Bill Rau is the other instructor for the group. Rau used to work for the United Nations, and now takes his photography seriously, Haraden said.

“He’s very good at taking sky pictures, which is very hard to do,” said Haraden, adding that Rau has been known to drive out of state to capture a forecasted storm event with his lens.

“Bill was the one who came up with the idea to do this,” Haraden said of the photography group. “He approached me and said, ‘you take different kinds of pictures than I do, which would make it fun for the two of us to do this.’”

Rau prefers to shoot landscapes and skyscapes, and often uses black and white; Haraden likes to photograph people in the outdoors and usually shoots in color.

“One of my favorite things to shoot is the car show in the spring, because of the color and the light and all the people. It’s just a really fun place to spend the day taking pictures,” Haraden said.

Rau said the group has been as valuable to him as it has to the students.

“I, too, continue to learn, both by preparing presentations on numerous topics and then making photographs for each assignment,” he said. As an example, he said, “This month, I stood on a corner in Moab for thirty minutes, photographing what I saw — each minute brought another composition.”

Rau said he’s watched his students in the group progress, and that everyone enjoys the classes.

“The most frequent comment I hear from group members is that our meetings are fun,” he said. “That’s what learning is supposed to be.”

Rau and Haraden host the class at no charge, and people of all skill levels are welcome. They meet on the first Monday of every month at 6:30 p.m. at the Community Center in Castle Valley. To learn more about the group, or about the exhibit, contact Tom Haraden at tom_haraden@yahoo.com or Bill Rau at brau30@gmail.com.