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    Gwinnett County, GA (Gwinnett Daily Post) — He’s a successful computer programmer, has published books of his photography and regularly photographed Duluth’s public events. Yet when the quarantine went into effect in March this year, Dustin Grau discovered that his creativity could be expanded further.

“It’s surprising how much you can get done when you have nowhere to go,” Grau said.

A Gwinnett resident since 1985, Grau took up photography when his daughter Amy was born.

“I was a dad with a camera,” he said.

The fun of exploring Gwinnett with his daughter and camera led to “Urban Explorations” where he traveled to downtown Atlanta with groups of other photographers. One resulting project became a book in 2017, “Waking A Leviathon,” featuring the redevelopment of the old Sears building on Ponce de Leon.

With his own business, his family and his many photographic activities, Grau was on the go continuously. Then the COVID-19 virus struck.

“In March we got used to things being weird, but in April, reality hit,” Grau said. “Cabin fever set in.”

Grau is a movie fan with a home theater. He loves to paint, and he is also the owner of a 3D printer. And recently he has had plenty of time for his “Quarantine Creations.”

“Now that 3D printers are affordable, there is a whole community of people making models inspired from movies and other media,” Grau said.

“I love bringing items from my favorite popular and sci-fi movies into the real world,” Grau said. “3D printing allows me to do that without piecing things together from a hardware store. While I don’t design all the items I print, the fun for me is in painting them — finding still images from the movie where I can identify the colors and shading, and attempting to replicate that look in the final product.”

The 3D printer found another use. When the need for medical masks became urgent, Grau worked to produce PPE, printing the bands for face shields and dropping them off at Geek Space Gwinnett, which completed the items.

As satisfying as these creative outlets were, Grau is still a photographer, and all the deserted streets and buildings were beckoning to be captured by his camera.

“I love abandoned spaces for the art of ‘life without people,’” Grau said. “It’s been very interesting to see exactly that as the world shut down for a time.”

During March, Grau explored the empty streets of Duluth, capturing images of familiar storefronts and buildings which were usually teeming with human energy.

April saw Grau venturing farther afield to catch this forlorn but beautiful atmosphere. His wife Amy drove as Grau hung out the car window taking photographs in downtown Atlanta: Ponce Market, the Varsity, Fox Theatre, Little Five Points. These expeditions are now a family affair. Daughter Kate,12, carries on the family’s call to creativity with her cell phone, recording her own images from the back seat.

Visit Grau’s photography at his web site: photography.dustingrau.com

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