MARCH 28 2014

Local photographer shares work with Stewards

Anna Krejci

A Wisconsin Dells resident who scouted the banks of the Wisconsin River as a child has grown up to capture images of it with his digital camera, and he shared his photography with the Stewards of the Dells of the Wisconsin River at a meeting Wednesday night.

Joey Leute is a University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate who majored in photography and history. He has taken photos for Capital Newspapers and the Wisconsin Dells Visitor and Convention Bureau, in addition to working on his own book comprised of photos of the river. The book isn't complete yet.

Leute said he joined the newspaper staff at the Dell high school and found he liked taking photographs more than writing. It put him on track for his present career.

At the Stewards meeting, he showed his photos during a 30-minute presentation where he commented on the circumstances during which the photos were taken. He prefers to take photos in the early morning or at sunset, he said. He uses a Nikon digital camera, and he has taken some photos from an airplane and a boat. It can take 300 photographs just to get one good one, he said.

Once he ruined a camera for a photo by holding the camera too low to the water. He took it from a boat to show the view of a low sun and its reflection on the water.

"It was an expensive shot," he said.

He also encountered a cougar once while working along the river, and he said he left the area without thinking of photographing the animal that fortunately wasn't aggressive and didn't follow him.

It has been six years since he wanted to make a book of images of the Wisconsin River, and he still thinks the project needs more time to be done correctly.

"I see the river more as a lifelong project," he said.

Some photos showed a close look at sandstone rock, the Ink Stand, Hawk's Beak, the Narrows, the Sugar Bowl, Cold Water Canyon and Louis' Bluff. He took photos of the boat, Winnebago, on the water as it was lit at night and a tourist standing on a paddle board for the Wisconsin Dells Visitor and Convention Bureau.

He does little editing of his photos, he said. He prefers to show the river as it is, unaltered.

At the end of the presentation, Debbie Kinder, a member of the Stewards, said she appreciated Leute's product.

"I think the work that you're doing, capturing this beauty and marketing it, and drawing people's attention to it, it's the best stewardship work you can do. So we're so grateful for your artistic talent and choosing this topic," she said.

Leute presented four different framed, photographs that the Stewards could choose from to receive as a gift. The people at the meeting voted to receive a photo of Louis' Bluff at Sunset Cliff.

Leute's photography left impressions on the organization's members.

After the meeting, Laura Reger, vice president of the Stewards, said, "I think they show the natural beauty of the river and as a member of the Stewards of the Dells, I think that's one of the things that's so important to our group is how unique and how beautiful this river is and you want to try to protect it for everyone who comes here to visit and for everybody who lives here," she said.

Several years ago Reger said she went to Louis' Bluff on a hike and Leute's photos brought back the memories of being there. She described how she felt being there.

"When you see that for the first time, it's just amazing. It's like being in the Mississippi Delta and you see all those fingers of the river that you didn't know existed until you get way up there to see that," she said.

When looking at the image of Louis Bluff from Sunset Cliff, which featured the sun over the water, Stewards member Helen Mork said, "When you look at it, you get happy. It changes your energy level," she said.

Hawk's Beak

Joey Leute took this photo of Hawk's Beak. He showed it to the Stewards of the Dells of the Wisconsin River at a meeting Wednesday.

Sun on Wisconsin River

Photographer Joey Leute took this photo of the Wisconsin River. He told the Stewards of the Dells of the Wisconsin River that he ruined his camera on this shot because it was held too close to the water, but was able to save the image.

Louis' Bluff

Photographer Joseph Leute took this image of Louis' Bluff at Sunset Cliff. A copy of it was given to the Stewards of the Dells of the Wisconsin River during a meeting Wednesday night. Leute discussed his photography of the Wisconsin River with the Stewards.