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Burbul inspires through love of photography

Sydney Norris Antelope Staff
Sydney Norris
Antelope Staff

Among those who have a passion for learning and better yet, have a passion for passing it on to the next generation is Derrick Burbul, an associate professor of art and design who specializes in photography.

Cheyanne Loeffler, a junior photography major from Paxton describes the type of teacher Burbul has been during her three years at UNK.

 “He’s always the first one with a critique, but always followed by what he finds interesting. His open mind, love of research, and his series are dependent on his teaching,” Loeffler said.

“Professor Burbul is an absolute inspiration. I’ve had the honor of getting to know him through work study and continuous classes, and everyday his knowledge and perspectives continue to amaze and guide me.

“Conversations with him about my photography have lead me to photography I want to pursue as I continue to grow, and for that I could never thank him enough,” Loeffler said.

“If you’re interested in something, follow it, do it and don’t go halfway. Perseverance pays off.” -Burbul

Through classes with Burbul, Loeffler says the photography program at UNK flourishes due to his experience and love for the art.  

Burbul not only has a love for the art of photography, but he also has a love for the tool through which he produces this beautiful medium. He has owned “probably hundreds” of cameras, as he had no exact number: old Russian cameras, the famous brownie camera, the Rollex, Pentax film cameras, the old large format cameras and digital cameras, among others.  “I picked up 20 cameras out of my office no problem this morning,” Burbul said.  

This artist has gone to extremes all in the name of art. He has crawled on slick rocks at Glacier National Park he deemed to be more dangerous than walking on a frozen Lake Superior. His favorite things to photograph are fog, landscapes and water.

Burbul has traveled the United States to photograph a variety of different landscapes, everything from rugged mountains, rivers, dramatic landscapes and trees to the beautiful, desolate American deserts.

With the help of a grant, Burbul has traveled the Great Platte River Road to photograph historical aspects of the drive and the landscapes surrounding.  
One of his favorite traveling memories involved a very large homemade pinhole camera made from a long narrow cardboard box the length of a yardstick, and covered in duct tape. He describes this experience and the very interesting conversation with the park ranger who was wondering what exactly he was doing in America’s Capital Mall in Washington D.C. with a large cardboard box covered in duct tape.  

Before the digital camera there was the process of developing film, which was a very different form of art and a lot more difficult than that of the digital processing world. The photo editing program most of us know about today, Photoshop, has a long list of photo editing processes that were all done in the darkroom before the time of digital photography.

Burbul said that the biggest obstacle of changing from film and developing in the dark room to digital was trying to figure out how everything worked, as no one had the answers to his questions.  

Of all the places, Burbul has been in the United states to photograph, he wishes he could photograph Yosemite National Park as not only is it a beautiful place but it is the place where Ansel Adams did some of his most famous photographs.

Courtesy Burbul’s self-portrait shows off one shirt from his collection of college T-shirts he finds at thrift stores. Burbul goes to thrift stores often as that is where he finds his old cameras.
Burbul’s self-portrait shows off one shirt from his collection of college T-shirts he finds at thrift stores. Burbul goes to thrift stores often as that is where he finds his old cameras.

Adams, Burbul’s favorite photographer, became well-known as he really explored landscape photography and playing with the contrast in the darkroom.  Burbul appreciates this artist’s “ability to transform the landscape into this palatable thing for the masses and really brought his photographs to the fore front… and the conservation of land.”

If Burbul could ask Adams a question, Burbul would want to ask him “if all the time he spent was worth it and if he had made the impact he hoped he would.”  

Photography has always been a part of Burbul’s life starting at the young age of 6 when his mother handed him a camera.  From then on, everything kind of fell into place. His original college degree was engineering but changed to photography his fourth semester of college before going on to graduate school.

It wasn’t until he became a teacher’s assistant that he discovered his love for teaching.  

“Every time I teach photography, I find it exciting and every time I am taking a picture I find it exciting…anytime I see a student have an epiphany, that’s why I teach,” Burbul said.

UNK Art Faculty Exhibition,
Spring, 2017
Derrick Burbul
John Fronczak
Mark Hartman
Mallory Wetherell
Sam Rapien
February 13 – March 16
Catch the faculty feature from Page 1 with Fronczak- continue below

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