Beer Ruins, Penguins & Water Lilies

I hope all of you had a safe but fun New Year’s Eve, and will have a peaceful New Year’s Day.  It has been many years since I have celebrated this holiday but I have indeed had some exciting New Year’s Eves.  The next morning usually featured recuperation, work, photography or all three.  Actually the last time I had a traditional New Year’s Eve celebration was 1991/1992.  I did have a brief but enjoyable New Years Eve in 2005/2006.

I’ll begin today with a few of my own shots of those “cemetery owls” from the past, a female Painted Turtle, and finally a pair of female Common Goldeneye Ducks.

I am sure these owls are remembered by many who will read this post. I rarely include pictures of the triplets that appeared one year, so I thought I would choose an image of these cute little siblings for my first pictureDSC_9232

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Time spent on land is always a struggle for aquatic turtles like this Painted Turtle.  She was very determined, and having me stop and make a few pictures didn’t even peak her curiosity. We can learn a lot from turtles about how to handle uphill struggles, and still persevere. 12aDSC_0068

The great thing about photographing turtles is that you can catch them in mid step.  Just a bit easier than say a deer, or a Pronghorn…..That is of course if they will even take that step for you.

Notice how in the second Goldeneye photo she seems to be “sunk in a ditch” of water.  As the waves rolled in, she would periodically fall into the valleys between those waves. I would wait for those moments.  This is why I love waterfowl photography.DSC_6322

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Those of you who are “little” older like me, and like beer, as I once did, might remember two of the behemoths of the beer world, Pabst and Schlitz.  If you are from my home state of Wisconsin, I am quite sure you remember these giants.  Photographer Paul Bias has passionately photographed the “ancient ruins” of these breweries, as well as the better kept parts.  He currently has books on both Pabst and Schlitz and his website is Lake Country Photo.  I came across Paul when he was one of the featured artists on the PBS show, Arts Page.  If you love history and have a feeling for rusty iron and chipped paint, it is worth a look.

The pictures below are from the crumbling Pabst and Schlitz breweries.  You may have to strain your eyes a bit due to the small imagery, but it’s worth it.6676160

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Some time ago I used a Jess Lee photo called “Bringing in The Horses” to illustrate a story of when I use to herd a group of horses and “drive them in”, so to speak, when I was in Colorado. I think this image by Jess says it even better than his previous shot.z

I do think I need to say something here.  Back some time ago I wrote an article where I proclaimed that most photography workshops of native cultures are not actually real.  They dress they way they do, or dance the way they do, to fit the schedules of workshops/photo tours from which they are paid.  I also mentioned that in the U.S. that is also true of many of the cowboy pictures you see. In fact I believe that many of the subjects are actually models who can ride a horse, not working cowboys/cowgirls. I am quite sure that is also true of this image. Even the color combos of the horses look chosen to me. Jess does not try to hide facts like that. I choose his images because of their mood and quality. I am not attempting to say that this is a real horse drive and he was lucky to have been there.  Much of the world’s culture is passing away before our eyes. If you have a chance to photograph something real, don’t miss that opportunity.

Once again I will share with you an image by wildlife photographer Charles Glatzer.  He has carved out a life of photographic opportunity and he takes advantage of it.  This great pose is that of Gentoo Penguins. 1521839_756212254407168_768514818_n

In a recent post I included my first ever Art Wolfe image. Art is arguably the best known outdoor photographer in the world. I just couldn’t resist one more. This picture was made recently (I believe), in the French Alps.  How does Art make many of the greatest landscape, wildlife and native culture images ever?  Well, he is one of the best photographers ever, but you have to be there to create images like this. He has cultivated a life that allows him to “be there”.  When most of us are thinking about what we might do next, Art is already on his way.1506917_626036684121865_1425543082_n

Frans Lanting is considered one of the world’s premier nature photographers.  He is of the adventurer mode of image maker. It was not a shock that he and the late Galen Rowell were great friends. The first picture below is an Impala herd and the second shot consists of Water Lilies.  Both were made in Africa.  The lily shot was made from crocodile infested waters as an assistant stood watch for him.  Above the photo you will see an account of the experience by Frans himself. I urge you to savor his words. Like all great photographers, he thinks deeply about his subjects, both in literal terms, and those of their potential for visual art. Learning how visual artists think is just as important as viewing their work004909-01bcd

Water lilies, Okavango Delta, Botswana “One of the greatest challenges in photography to me, is to define a personal point of view. During my work in Botswana’s Okavango Delta, I looked for ways to capture the essence of this great wetland and my own response to the wonder of it. The Okavango covers thousands of square miles, but it is really just a thin sheet of water stretched across the sands of the Kalahari. The delta’s water lilies drew me in because they symbolize life made possible by water in this dry land. I photographed lilies covering lakes and giving shelter to an array of animal life, but I was searching for something more lyrical. One day I looked down in a clear lagoon and noticed how a patch of lilies was anchored in desert sand. An idea took hold. I plunged into the swamp.

Actually, I slipped in. Quietly. Crocodiles abound here. While an assistant stood guard in a small boat, I sank to the bottom with a camera encased in a bubble-shaped underwater housing. I held my breath on each dive, which allowed for less than a minute at the bottom. It took many attempts and the better part of a day for the image to become refined. I was intrigued by the sinuous curves of the lily stems. In an interesting reversal of the maxim about magic light peaking around sunrise and sunset, underwater photography conditions get better towards high noon, when light penetrates farther into the depths. By the time I had figured out solutions to the technical problems of this shot, the midday sun backlit the lily pads suspended at the water’s surface.

From the bottom of the swamp I saw that the lilies told a larger story, about the anomaly of water in the desert. In one sense the margin for life was exactly the distance from the lilies above my head to my toes buried in the sand. But my perspective was of the exuberance, not the limits, of life. The water was only a few feet deep, but the lilies reached for the sky”001379-03

The best photographers (like Frans), often are just as good at telling or writing a story as they are at making pictures.  If you are a struggling part or full-time pro, keep in mind the importance of words and how you use them.

The Earth Images Group on Flickr.  Earth Images on Flickr is not about my photography.  It is about the images of a large group of photographers from every corner of our planet.  They range from beginners, to a few of the world’s top pros.

God bless and have a great 2014,                                                                                                 Wayne

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