SHAMOKIN - As prolific a photographer as Larry Deklinski is, he says he wasn't pained in choosing a select few photographs to put on display in the Fine Arts Gallery at the Northumberland County Career and Arts Center.

"Any artist already knows what their favorites are. The first 25 to 30 are easy to choose," Deklinski, 31, of Ranshaw, said at a reception Friday for the opening of his untitled exhibit.

There are 36 framed photographs on display - 27 from Deklinski's personal collection and nine historic photographs from the Paul Thomas Studio collection, including panoramas of the Glen Burn Colliery and Edgewood Park.

More than 40 people turned out for the reception. One visitor bought two of Deklinski's framed photos. Several others were actively considering purchases of their own. The prices are quite reasonable, between $10 and $65 each.

One photo, "Colors," captures the beauty of fall by incorporating the colors of turning leaves still clung to trees matched inexplicably with the rusty waters of Carbon Run and a decrepit blue barn holding steady for the next stiff wind. The creek is polluted, the barn is blighted, and yet somehow near the Fifth Street playground in Shamokin there's a scene worthy of a postcard.

In "Kiss Me," a photo illustration, a single red leaf shaped like partially pursed lips pops from a black and white background. "Lonely" features a downtrodden man stooped on the bottom of a stone staircase, dressed in dark from head to toe, unshaven - a scene not unfamiliar to lower Northumberland County's denizens.

Cliche but true, Deklinski has an eye for photography. He's self-taught; a natural.

"Why is he seeing that and I'm not?" asked his former teacher, Annamae Kanuchok, who is a family friend. Many people pick up digital cameras and pop off countless images, but not many can grasp the art of it like Deklinski, she said.

"That's talent," Kanuchok said.

Deklinski tooled around with photography while in the yearbook club at Shamokin Area High School and did the same as a earth science student at Millersville University. It wasn't until his junior year at the university when he gained access to a professional camera. A few more years would pass before he bought a professional camera of his own. In 2008, he landed at The News-Item where he continues to work as a photojournalist.

All of the work in the exhibit, however, is from his private collection. The show has no theme, he says, but it's there. Deklinski has found a knack for finding beauty and excitement in this part of the coal region. In an area remembered fondly by those who left and often derided by those still here, his images are fascinating enough to remind both groups that, yes, the greater Shamokin area is still quite interesting to explore.

Alex Hayes, a 2001 graduate of Shamokin Area High School and now the managing editor of the Gettysburg Times, does a bit of exploring with Deklinski now and then. They're camping buddies and have been friends since they were 14 years old. When they go on trips, Deklinski documents them with photographs capturing moments as well as any collection of words.

"You can look back and think of what's was going on at that moment. You can't remember the joke but you know you were having a damn good time," Hayes said.

Deklinski has amassed an impressive collection of works of other area photographers, most notably Paul and Myron Thomas. Hundreds are on display at his personal website, www.daladophotography.com, as are hundreds more of his own photographs.

His exhibit will be on display until Feb. 21. The gallery is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. It is sponsored by the Northumberland County Council for the Arts and Humanities.