When Nido Paras talks photography, his enthusiasm for the art form is immediately apparent.
His passion for capturing images of unfamiliar and exotic locales takes him beyond the tourist attractions to find unique scenes "… that really represent the culture and its people, a sense of sharing these things in the hope that others appreciate and connect with what I'm trying to convey," says Paras.
His latest exhibit, Turkey In Focus, is on display at the Lindsay Dirkx Brown Art Gallery, inside San Ramon Community Center at Central Park. It showcases images from his recent trip to the Republic of Turkey – including the cities of Istanbul and Ankara and the region of Cappadocia.
Paras, 68, picked up his first camera as a teenager. But he didn't get serious about the craft until he retired five years ago.
"I showed some of my work to friends, got some favorable feedback, then started selling some pieces," he says.
Paras describes his style as stark and minimalist. "One thing I learned in art and in photography is to begin taking out elements until you can't take anything else out without losing the essence of the image."
Color is another important element in his work. One of his favorite shots in the exhibit shows two Muslim women dressed in black with one exception – a Pierre Cardin scarf covers their heads, one bright red, the other vibrant yellow.
Paras prints images, too, using two computers and a professional printer in his home. He recently installed a table in his garage on which he does matting and framing.
"I'm very serious about all aspects of photography," he says. "The artistry is in the whole process. It's a real sense of accomplishment."
When not snapping pictures, Paras volunteers at the . He served two years on the Arts Advisory Committee for San Ramon, resigning as vice chairman in 2009.
Paras' wife accompanies him on his trips abroad.
"Patty has a liking for different cultural experiences," says Paras. "She's very comfortable in these environments."
This is Paras' third show at the gallery. The first two exhibited his photos of France and China. In the current exhibit, Paras provides background and information about each image to give visitors a better understanding of the culture of the region.
Turkey In Focus will be on display through April 30. An artist's reception will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday, at which Paras will answer questions about his travels and photography.