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An eye for the detail all around

Barbara Diltz Chandler. - DOUGLAS CRIST/Staff Photo
Barbara Diltz Chandler.
— image credit: DOUGLAS CRIST/Staff Photo

Barbara Diltz Chandler’s images appear at Pegasus.

Barbara Diltz Chandler once tried to circumnavigate the island – not by boat but by shoreline, making piecemeal rambles across local tide flats.

She only made it halfway around, but came away with fond memories and at least one fun image on her camera.

That picture, of a long-decrepit pier adorned with a traffic sign reading “One Way,” is among 14 images from Chandler’s peripatetic sprees in an exhibition titled “Circle, Line, Sign,” opening this weekend at Pegasus and running through June.

“I just thought it was funny,” Chandler said of the sign, its message perhaps cautioning against long walks on short piers. “My signs in the show are just humorous ones.”

Chandler’s camera captures pedestrian objects – a wheel, a fence, a sprig of cactus – at a level of detail that explores the graphic composition implicit in each.

The rare textual element comes in the form of offbeat signage, like twin placards at a New Zealand roadside declaring “Starvation Gulch” and “No Exit,” or a storefront on the Olympic Peninsula advertising “Frozen Ice.”

Chandler is a familiar face to many islanders, first coming to Bainbridge in the mid-1980s when $82,000 bought her a good house.

She did stints with the National Park Service office in Seattle and at the reference desk at the Seattle Library. She later was a fixture at the farmers market, selling apples that she and her husband Bob Chandler, an organic gardener, grew near Island Center.

Although her primary vocation has been as a writer, from catalog copy for a big-name clothier to news writing for local publications, Chandler has carried a camera along all the while.

Her photos have appeared in various Northwest periodicals and several national literary magazines.

The “Circle, Line, Sign” images were culled from a stock of photographs Chandler has accumulated over the past five years.

The locales range from snowy Vermont, where she was attending a writers conference, to a New Mexico road trip, to New Zealand, where she traveled several years ago. Down under, she shot three dozen rolls of film over a month-long stay.

Chandler and her husband relocated to the Port Townsend area last year to recapture the more pastoral lifestyle of the Bainbridge she once enjoyed.

She publishes a poem or two every year, and her humorous essays appear in natural health publications. She also volunteers her time at Copper Canyon Press, a small poetry imprint on the grounds of Fort Worden State Park overlooking Port Townsend.

The camera still goes everywhere, although she maintains an allegiance to film even as others make the move to digital. The closest she’s come to the new technology has been scanning film images for a previous show and doing the prints from her computer.

“It seems like you have to work harder at it,” she said of the old-school medium of film. “You don’t know the results instantly, so it keeps me from being cocky.”

Photography, Chandler says, makes her slow down and pay better attention to detail in the world around her.

“That’s why I like it all, is just to see more,” she said.

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