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LARSON: Heart attack survivor throws heart into hobby

Frank Sharp, a heart attack survivor, is an avid photogopher. (Special Photo)

Frank Sharp, a heart attack survivor, is an avid photogopher. (Special Photo)

Walking for exercise was the farthest thing from Frank Sharp’s mind until about five years ago.

“On Dec. 12, 2009, I was driving on Duluth Highway headed to my son’s graduation at Georgia Tech,” Sharpe said. “I suddenly felt strange and sick so I turned the car around and checked myself into the emergency room at Gwinnett Medical Center. I told them that I thought that I had a heart attack.”

As it turned out, Sharp made the correct diagnosis. The emergency staff at Gwinnett Medical transferred him to St. Joseph’s Hospital, where he had a stent implanted.

“As you may know, the first heart attack is also the last heart attack 60 percent of the time,” Sharp said, indicating how fortunate he felt to have survived this trauma. And of course, he was open to any suggestions to decrease the odds of its happening again and eagerly followed his doctor’s advice to start walking more. But he didn’t just roam aimlessly through his neighborhood or trudge on a treadmill in his basement. He set a goal of walking the trails of every park in Gwinnett County and incorporated these walks into a longtime hobby.

“On each walk, I took along my new Canon high definition camera and made a video of each trail of the park,” Sharp said.

“It took me about three months to make a video of all the parks that have trails. Now there are 40 videos of mine out there on YouTube. At the end of each video, I try to give good hiking advice especially for hikers who have health or walking problems such as the steepness of the land and open shade since they might need a hat or umbrella during our hot summer days.”

But his walks, for which he always wore the same hat, weren’t confined to Gwinnett County. He’s since walked and photographed nature around the world including China and the Mediterranean and has had many of those pictures exhibited at George Pierce Park and has added videos like his Holy Land Tour to his YouTube files.

But now there’s a really big feather in Sharp’s trademark hat. His Birds of Bali Bird Park Exhibit at Fernbank Museum of Natural History. The exhibit features color photos taken in the Taman Burung Bali Bird Park, situated in the Papua rainforest in southern Bali, Indonesia.

For some shots, Sharp had to resort to a little “trick” photography. Of the promotional photo, Sharp said, “What makes the photograph of the bird interesting is that it could not have been made with my full-size DSLRs. The mesh wiring around the cage openings were too small to stick a regular camera thru the wire but my iPhone was slim enough to do the job.”

Pretty sharp trick, if you ask me. The Birds of Bali Park Exhibit runs through Aug. 24.

Susan Larson is a writer from Lilburn. Email her at susanlarson79@gmail.com.