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This is why I am a photographer….

I came across this article today and I wanted to share it with everyone.  This is the exact reason that I have so much passion for photographing animals and landscapes.  For all you photographers out there this is proof that what we are doing CAN make a difference! 

Photographs help protect Absaroka-Beartooth Front

Powerful photographic images can often influence public policy for the better.

This became evident last month when Wyoming Governor Matt Mead, at the 11th hour, came out in support of protecting portions of the Absaroka-Beartooth Front from oil and gas drilling, said Barbara Cozzens, Northwest Wyoming director for the Greater Yellowstone Coalition.

Images from David Showalter, a photographer for the International League of Conservation Photographers, may have helped influence that decision, she said.

Working with iLCP and the GYC, Showalter created “The People, the wildlife and the landscapes of the Absaroka-Beartooth Front,” a story of the wilderness stitched togethewith high-quality images, Cozzens said.

The project was part of iLCP’s Tripods in the Mud expedition.

“The power of really compelling visual images help people connect [with] how important these landscapes are and how important it is to protect them, and that there are places that are too special to drill,” she said.

The GYC is not opposed to oil and gas drilling, she stressed, “and there are great places to drill, but there are places we need to protect for future generations.”

Situated northeast of Yellowstone National Park and part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, the A-B Front is a haven for wildlife, including the largest population of grizzly bear in the lower 48 states, Cozzens said, as well as critical habitat for wolves and “wintering range for most of the big game species. It’s the wildest place in the lower 48, and we call it Yellowstone’s Wild Side.”

Members of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition Friday joined Showalter on a photography workshop at Oxbow Bend in the Grand Tetons as part of the GYC annual meeting.

“If we want to learn how to make really beautiful, artful landscape images, it starts with evaluating what’s around us,” Showalter said. “The conditions are going to be different every single time we go out. We need to take a step back before we charge into the landscape.”

Photographers joining Showalter faced several apparently less-than-ideal situations for photographing the landscape, including harsh mid-day light and a smoky haze from the Phelps Moraine prescribed burn that drifted in front of the mountains.

“Generally, professional photographers work in the early morning and the end of the day when the light is warm and is the best quality. However, there is a saying that there is no such thing as bad light, only bad attitudes,” Showalter said.

The goal is to make good images at all different times of day.

On this trip, colorful aspens and “nice, fluffy clouds” could help with photo compositions, he said.

He also suggested using backlight.

“We can break what some say are the rules and shoot toward the sun, and get the light coming through the transluscent aspen leaves or willow leaves, and really max out on the color,” he said.

Yellow and blue are complementary colors, and shooting the aspens against the blue western sky boosts contrast. Adding a polarizing filter makes the white clouds against the blue sky “really pop up,” he said.

Take advantage of closeups, such as seed heads of sage in full bloom, he suggested.

“Consider that the best nature photographs are almost always the simplest,” said Showalter. “You break it down to the very simplest elements.

“You have to ask yourself one very important question: ‘What attracted me to this scene?’ Unless you can answer that question, don’t even bother taking the picture.”

LINK: Teton Valley News

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