By Martha Nodar

Atlanta Artists Center member Grace Hawthorne submitted a digital pastel piece titled “Singing in the Rain,” inspired by a photograph taken at the Atlanta Botanical Garden.

Local artists team-up to kick off the Atlanta Celebrates Photography Festival at the Abernathy Arts Center in Sandy Springs this fall.

ACP is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting photography as an art medium. Celebrating its 15th anniversary, the ACP Festival, which is known for emerging in different venues around Atlanta every October, opens at the Abernathy center a little early this year.

“Abstractions: Celebrating Altered Photography” runs from Sept. 20 through Oct. 25, and features work from members of the Buckhead-based Atlanta Artists Center. AAC is a nonprofit association devoted to those interested in learning about art.

An altered photograph is an image which has been modified, such as through cropping, sharpening the contrasting, adjusting the color, etc., to create something slightly different than the original, either by using Photoshop or another similar program.

Dunwoody resident John Howe and married couple Grace Hawthorne and Jim Freeman of Buckhead are among the AAC members showing their photos in the Abernathy exhibit.

Hawthorne, a freelance writer who just published her first novel, which is titled “Shorter’s Way,” admits she was not interested in photography until she started dating her husband of almost 20 years.

“I wanted to learn about Jim’s interests,” she said.

But she is quick to emphasize that while Freeman is a photographer with vast knowledge on how to use a camera, she views herself “simply as a picture-taker,” with an eye for composition and less technically-inclined.

Abstractions: Celebrating Altered Photography

Where: Abernathy Arts Center Gallery, 254 Johnson Ferry Rd. N.W., Sandy Springs

Contact: 404-613-6172

When: Sept. 20 through Oct. 25

Reception: Sept. 20, 6:30-8:30 p.m., public is invited

Regular Hours:

Tuesday-Friday: 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday: 9 a.m.-2 p.m.

Admission: Free

Freeman, a Vietnam veteran, said he developed an interest in photography during his adolescence. But it was not until he was stationed in Saigon in 1968 that he began to take his craft more seriously, and took action pictures in combat. He describes photography as “the language of the eye.”

This resonates with Howe, who majored in film production and views the lens as an expressive tool. Howe’s “Empire” is a photo taken with black and white film, which he then scanned the negative, generated a digital file, and manipulated it with the computer program Photoshop.

Howe said he photographed the image reflected in a mirror of what appears to be a building next to the Empire State Building. “There was this mirror on the side of the buildings, which I thought had an incredible energy,” Howe said.

The defined black and white lines in Howe’s “Empire” are a sharp contrast to Hawthorne’s digital, soft pastel color piece titled “Singing in the Rain.” Hawthorne said she took a photo of a display at the Atlanta Botanical Garden depicting an umbrella floating in mid-air, and then cropped it.

“Grace’s piece is beautiful and lyrical,” Howe said. “It is a lovely tribute to the 1952 classic film of the same title with Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds.”

For more information about the festival, visit: www.acpinfo.org.