Photos Come to Life
Woodstock photographer Dan Wiegel captures the beauty of McHenry County and beyond.
Woodstock artist Dan Wiegel is young enough to find the world of digital photography exciting and advantageous, yet old enough to have been a student manual photography and developing 35-millimeter film in dark rooms. Wiegel’s background in both processes – plus and aesthetic for texture, light and realism – has been exhibited at art shows at the Woodstock Opera House (where he is the production assistant) and Raue Center For The Arts in Crystal Lake.
A Passion for Landscapes
Wiegel’s knack for capturing landscapes – a process that means he’s on site for hours to get the right light or returns to a site multiple times to achieve the most dramatic shots – has earned him a portfolio of breathtaking imagery. And he’s not afraid to roam. “I like going out and exploring places,” he said.
Among his favorite local sites is Fel-Pro RRR Conservation Area in Cary. “It’s a long walk to a big field where you’ll find a pond, bridge and path that leads to a prairie meadow,” he said. Pleasant Valley Conservation Area in Woodstock is another.
Outside of McHenry County, Wiegel’s exhibit explores scenic locations such North Carolina’s beaches (beach photo, above), and Pennsylvania’s hilly geography, covered bridges, forest preserves and peaceful Amish community.
Finding the Extraordinary in the Ordinary
“I also like places people pass by every day but take for granted,” Wiegel explained.
He cites Hunt’s Service Station on Lake Avenue in Woodstock as a structure that goes largely unnoticed despite the traffic that surrounds it. With the right light, plus framing in the stone arch bridge in the background, Wiegel was able to create a dramatic black-and-white scene that appears right out of the 1950s.
In addition to landscape and architecture, Wiegel’s body of work includes people, interiors and events.
Drawn to Photography
Wiegel, who has always enjoyed drawing and sketching, caught the photography bug when taking an elective class with a friend sophomore year at Crystal Lake Central High School. “It was cool to see all the steps involved in manual photography,” he said, adding that he believes today’s photography students should learn that process. “In the darkroom, you see images start popping up from white paper. I loved seeing my images come to life during the process of developing film.”
Wiegel took photography classes at McHenry County College around the time the department upgraded to 35 darkroom stations. When he transferred to The Illinois Institute of Art – Schaumburg, in 2007, digital photography was booming and he bought his first digital camera. He graduated in 2009 with an image manipulation certification.
Today, he lives in Woodstock and shoots a variety of projects for work and pleasure, including assignments for McHenry County Living as the chief photographer. He uses a Canon 60D with a Canon T21 backup camera. The Canon 5D is on his wish list.