FORT LORAMIE – Leon Mertz and Mary Ann Olding share a love for Lake Loramie’s wildlife and created a book so others can witness the beauty the lake has to offer.
“Living with Nature on Lake Loramie” is a picture book showcasing 25 photographs that Mertz has taken the past decade. The book, which is available to purchase for $25, benefits the Lake Loramie Improvement Association.
“This is just a way of giving back to the lake that has given me a lifetime of enjoyment,” Mertz said. “The main thing I’m trying to do is record the history of wildlife here on Lake Loramie.”
Olding moved to Lake Loramie from Cincinnati about 10 years ago and discovered Mertz’s photos on Facebook. She approached him about putting together a book to display his pictures, and their creation was released this month to coincide with the dedication of Lake Loramie’s adaptive boat launch.
“We had a lot (of photos) to choose from,” said Olding, who limited the number of pages to keep the cost of the book down. “We could have made a book of 100 pages.”
Mertz has loved nature his entire life and has had a passion for taking photos since his days at Sidney High School where he took his first photography class. It was about 10 years ago when he really became dedicated to those passions after seeing a bald eagle flying at Lake Loramie while he helped his son Daniel with an Eagle Scout project, which was building a bird observatory at the lake.
He spends a day or two every week taking photos of the lake’s wildlife, generally traveling by kayak to locations around the state park. He enjoys getting up early on Sunday mornings before the sun rises.
“Sit back and enjoy it,” Mertz said. “The sunrises and sunsets here are quite unbelievable if you know where to go and what you’re looking for and how to capture it.”
Like Mertz, Olding has developed a love for Lake Loramie and its natural beauty. She takes daily walks alongside the lake and enjoys taking friends to enjoy the water on a boat or kayak.
“I’ve found that living alongside the lake is very tranquil and peaceful and restores my health and my faith in humanity,” she said.
As an author who has extensive experience writing about history, architecture, artists and more, Olding decided she could use her skills to create a book as a keepsake for Mertz. Her daughter-in-law Laura Nelson Brown, a graphic artist from Mason, helped design a Shutterfly book in a process that took a month or two to complete.
“It’s kind of nice that somebody recognized there’s a of of wildlife to be seen here at Lake Loramie,” Mertz said.
The initial printing of books included 10 copies. The project was well received, leading the Lake Loramie Improvement Association to take orders for more copies.
“We’re not going to sell 5,000 of them,” Olding said. “But I paid for 10, and after that we’ll see what happens.”
Mertz, the president of the Lake Loramie Improvement Association, said the proceeds from the book will help fund the adaptive boat launch and Scouting projects at Lake Loramie.
“It was kind of surprising how fast it came together,” he said of the book.
The photos in the book document a wide range of animals Mertz has observed over the past decade. Among his favorite to photograph are the bald eagles, which are becoming more common in Shelby County. He knows of at least six mating pairs of eagles and several young eagles.
He’s also photographed numerous animals that people may not realize are in Shelby County, including a yellow-billed cuckoo, American white pelican, trumpeter swan, white squirrel, black squirrel and an endangered dragonfly.
“It’s kind of neat,” said Mertz, who has passed his love of photography along to both of his sons, Daniel and Ryan. “You get to see a lot of things.”
In recent years Mertz has purchased larger cameras and lenses and now owns a pair of Canon 7D cameras. Knowing how to properly adjust the manual settings on his cameras, he’s been able to capture sharp images of birds flying and other animals in their natural habitats.
“Every time I go out I pray,” Mertz said. “I ask God to show me what He wants me to share. I never have been disappointed in what He has shown me.
“I push the button, and He takes care of the rest of it.”
Mertz posts his photos to the Lake Loramie Improvement Association Facebook page, www.facebook.com/lake.loramie/. Olding is fond of a photo Mertz took of a great blue heron.
“It’s a beautiful setting with a lot of trees around it,” she said.
Information about ordering a copy of “Living with Nature on Lake Loramie” is available on the Lake Loramie Improvement Association’s Facebook page and on the organization’s website, lakeloramieia.com. Orders will be accepted until June 30.
Reach this writer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 937-538-4824.