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Greenwood photographer finds wildlife in mundane places | #childpredator | #onlinepredator | #sextrafficing

Tucked among the trees in the neighborhood park, a predator hid in the foliage.

The Eastern screech owl keenly watched the forest around it. Silent and still, it waited inside University Park on Greenwood’s east side.

To most, the owl would have done unnoticed until it exploded through the leaves to hunt. But Triston Vittorio knew this suburban woodland well.

“It’s just a neighborhood park, but there are actually two species of owls that nest there,” he said. “It’s all about just paying attention and knowing what to look for.”

On public lands, popular area parks and around neighborhoods, Vittorio has patiently searched out and captured the wild creatures of Johnson County. The Greenwood resident has discovered a love of photography in recent years, and after years of teaching himself, has built an increasingly impressive portfolio of unique images.

His passion has also taken him outside the state, as Vittorio has shot everything from black bears in the Smoky Mountains to braving the northern Minnesota winter to catch great gray owls.

Vittorio’s striking images have gained attention at local shows and online. But for him, even if he doesn’t photograph the animals he’s looking for, the journey is always rewarding.

“Sometimes I go out and didn’t see anything. But at the end of the day, it’s my therapy. It soothes my soul and takes the stress away from work and life in general,” he said. “Whether you see something or not, being out and isolated from the rest of the world is a great thing for the mind.”

When Vittorio first picked up photography, it was on a whim. Though he’d always been creative in the visual arts, particularly on the computer, he had never done artistic photographs before.

But when he spotted an online advertisement for a camera for Amazon Prime Day, he thought it would make for a fun hobby for when he was done with his full-time job at Menard’s.

He found photography to be exhilarating and scoured online forums and videos for instruction to make his work better.

“I’ve always had that creative eye, so it worked out really well,” he said. “Those first three years I was learning, I did sports and weddings and proms. But I didn’t want to be told how to take a photo of something.”

As his skills improved, Vittorio decided to combine it with another passion — the outdoors.

“I started with landscapes, and then moved into wildlife. That’s where I’ve found a whole new love,” he said.

Vittorio has spent the past four months learning all he could about the habitats of local wildlife. He befriended a ranger and naturalist at Eagle Creek Park, who also did photography in his spare time, and he helped Vittorio learn how to scout different animals and what to look for.

Soon, he could go out on his own, identifying the tell-tell signs of bald eagles, songbirds, foxes and much more.

“It’s really about paying attention to your surroundings. When you’re in the woods, so many people are focused on finishing a trail or walking in the woods. You’ve got to look around,” he said.

Scouting out local parks, from Atterbury Fish and Wildlife Area in southern Johnson County to Northwest Park in Greenwood, Vittorio has learned the habits and routines of different types of animals — allowing him to anticipate where they’ll be and when to photograph them.

Recently, he spent about four days searching for American mink, a small weasel-like predator that lives along bodies of water. In Franklin’s Province Park, he was staking out Youngs Creek when he watched the slippery brown animal emerge from its den.

Probably his favorite animal to photograph is owls. He’s found an enclave of the birds in University Park, which has become one of his main habitats.

“There’s a lot to offer here in Johnson County,” he said.

When Vittorio is able to, he travels around the region to capture exotic wildlife not available in Indiana.

“A few weeks ago, I was in the (Smoky Mountains) to photograph black bears, which was super cool. In a day and a half, I saw 32 bears,” he said. “Photographing a mammal that big, it’s kind of humbling. This is an animal that could take your life.”

Vittorio displays his art on his social media pages, including on his Instagram account, Vittorio Visualz, where he sells prints and other items. Every year, he does a calendar, which has been popular, he said.

Earlier this year, he started taking part in Beech Grove’s First Friday Art Walk, a community art event held throughout the summer and into October.

For Johnson County audiences, he has photographs hanging inside Fresh Pots Coffee Bar, a Greenwood cafe.

He hopes that through his work, he can show that anyone can get outdoors and relish what we have, right here in Johnson County.

“I think it’s important to get outside, enjoy nature, a little more than what we do,” he said. “There’s a lot to offer in our outside world that people miss.”


Triston Vittorio

Who: A local resident and wildlife photographer

Where: Greenwood

How to find his work

Vittorio’s images can be found on Facebook at Triston Vittorio, on Instagram at @vittorio_visualz, and on Tik Tok at @tristonvittorio. He also shows at Beech Grove’s First Friday Art Walk, which will next happen from 5:30-9 p.m. Aug. 4 on the city’s Main Street.

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