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While on a visit to Badlands National Park, William Howard saw a bighorn sheep off in the distance.
“I saw it from afar and parked the car along the side of the road and basically took my hunting skills together and did a spot-and-stalk — but with my camera instead of my rifle or a bow,” Howard said.
“I got probably within 30 yards of him, and it’s probably the best wildlife photo I have ever taken. Being from North Carolina and seeing a bighorn sheep, that’s kind of just blows my mind anyway.”
That photo is one of about 20 that will be featured in the exhibit “Acadia, The Badlands and Other National Parks” starting Friday a and continuing to Feb. 25 at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences Nature Art Gallery in Raleigh.
Howard, a Wilson native, is a regular outdoors columnist and photo contributor to The Wilson Times. He has been a full-time photographer for two and a half years.
“Everything that is going into the museum was shot last year,” Howard said. “There were seven national parks that I visited, other than the Grand Canyon, which I visited the previous year.”
“The photos that I am using from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park were shot in the Cataloochee Valley. “That’s where the elk hang out, and it’s a tree photo with mist behind it.”
Howard went to school at N.C. State for journalism and was focused more on becoming a writer.
“About 20 years ago is when I really got into photography and started learning everything I could about the camera,” Howard said. “Everything I have done I have learned on my own.”
Howard said photography is really his passion.
“I absolutely love everything about photography,” Howard said. “It’s the one thing that captures that brief moment in time. Time’s always flowing, so nothing is ever the same. Photography is the only way to get that one moment. You capture only one little scene of it, but you get that one moment.”
For many years, Howard worked in automotive service management at J.C. Harris Cadillac in Wilson, but once he got his first check for a photography gig, it wasn’t long before he was turning in his notice and taking on photography full time.
“Since I have gone into photography full time, my wife and family have commented that I have probably added 10 years to my life because the stress level has just been wiped away,” Howard said. “I don’t even think about what I do as a job now even though it is the way I make my income.”
Howard has won several awards for his photography in multiple competitions including with Outdoor Photographer Magazine.
“Once you are in those parks and witnessing the beauty of what’s around, you don’t think of the phone. You don’t think of the computer,” Howard said. “Stress goes away because you are caught up in that moment in time, and that’s what I hope people will see and get encouraged to do themselves.”
A gallery reception for Howard will be held Saturday from 2 to 4 p.m. All the exhibited works are for sale.
The Nature Art Gallery is located inside the Museum Store. Hours are Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4:45 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 4:45 p.m. Admission is free. The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences is located in downtown Raleigh at 121 W. Jones St.