Feltchs art on display
By Ron VandenBoom
Milton Feltch started taking pictures as a young lad working for a Boy Scout Merit Badge, but those early efforts of the 1950s pale when compared to the award winning shots he's taken since retiring from the U.S. Air Force.
Still the enthusiasm of those early attempts lingers and the evidence can be seen all this month at the Heritage Center Art Gallery.
Feltch has brought 24 of his photographs to Havre for a special showing of some of his finest work.
Specializing in lighthouses, ghost towns and western forts, the Feltch exhibit has managed to capture the unique quality of light, subject and composition in rare combination. His photographs bring together the ambiance of taste and quality that is more than the sum of its parts.
Visitors to the gallery will have no difficulty recognizing the uniqueness of what Feltch has captured in the quiet subjectiveness of a ghost town barber shop or the mystical wonder of a lighthouse surround by fog. In his picture of a rattlesnake striking, the viewer can sense both fear and majesty in the coiled serpent.
The subtle eloquence of a broken down tractor speaks volumes about its history while at the same time reflecting the sweat and toil of the men who once guided its metal wheels through the fields and pastures of a Montana farm. This vision is in sharp contrast to the natural beauty of a Michigan waterfall and the tranquility of the deep forest.
Great Northern cabooses and old Milwaukee Railroad depots are also among his specialties.
Feltch retired from the U.S. Air Force in 1992 and today spends a great deal of time traveling the highways and byways looking for that rare and perfect opportunity to capture a once-in-a-lifetime shot.
"I tried to emphasize the old things that had a Montana connection," he said about the exhibit.
Feltch's fascination with old forts also prompted him to spend several hours at Fort Assinniboine Wednesday morning, where he took three rolls of film.
"I like that fort," Feltch said.
He planned on returning Wednesday afternoon to catch some shots with different lighting.
To Feltch, lighting is everything. It is lighting, he said, that sets the mood of the shot.
The rest of the photograph is subject or composition, but as Feltch is the first to admit, "a lot of it is just being in the right place at the right time and being very patient."
"Anybody can just go take a snapshot," he said, "but to get one with that right kind of light takes a lot of work."
Feltch considers himself to be self taught and said he gets every photo magazine there is out there.
"I'm constantly looking at what other people are doing and I read their perspective on it," he said.
Feltch has won numerous awards from the Great Falls Tribune and the Montana State Fair. He currently lives in Great Falls.