Now through the end of February, an exhibition of photographs taken by award-winning photographer Theresa Baldwin, titled "Life On The Refuge," will be on display at the Education Center of the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge.
"Basically, it started as a hobby for me," said Baldwin, known as Terry to everybody at the refuge, where she leads birding tours and acts as a volunteer rover, providing on-site information to visitors passing through Wildlife Drive.
"When my husband and I bought a home here back in 1987, we used to spend the week between Christmas and New Year's here," she said. "We also used to come down during the summer to check on things, and I would notice all the different species of birds who would be here at different times of the year."
Terry Baldwin's exhibition of wildlife photographs will be on display at the 'Ding' Education Center through the end of February.
Baldwin said she enjoyed taking pictures of the birds, especially the ones who would be here year round, "because they let you get closer to them."
"The summer birds would be very tame," she said. "They look at you in the eye and appear to be quite calm around people. If you respect their presence, they'll respect your presence."
Terry and her husband, Mike, have been full-time residents of Sanibel for the past 12 years after being frequent visitors to the island since the mid-1980s. During that time, her love for capturing the beauty of the refuge's birds, reptiles and other creatures through her camera lens blossomed.
"I started out with a simple point-and-shoot camera, but every Christmas my photography gear has gotten better and better," said Baldwin, who specializes in blending several shots of a single or multiple species together in her photo montages she calls "Wildlife Windows."
"All of the photographs in this exhibit were taken in the past five years here at the refuge," she said, adding that she uses digital photo equipment for all of her wildlife photography these days.
"Over the years, you learn the habits of each of the birds and animals. That way you can kinda get you camera set up and be ready for the right moment. Still, a lot of it is being in the right place at the right time," she said.
Baldwin is an active member of the Ding"Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge, serves as secretary of its board of directors and helps coordinate its annual photography contest.
In addition, Terry holds a doctorate in nutrition education from the University of Cincinnati, where she served as adjunct faculty prior to moving to Sanibel.
"Since my background is in education, I like my photographs to tell a story," she said.
Also through the end of March, Baldwin will present a program on nature photography at the refuge Education Center every Tuesday starting at 2 p.m.
For additional information about the exhibit, visit the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge six days a week (closed on Friday) from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. during January and February. The Web site is located at www.fws.gov/dingdarling.