Wildlife Photography: My Art & My Life

F2506  COLORADO Sleeping Indian for Hwy 7; Allenspark, Colorado

“Ghost Herd”  –  American Elk
Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

 Article and photos ©Weldon Lee

The following definition of art by Edgar Allen Poe pretty much sums up what art and photography are to me.

Were I called on to define, very briefly, the term Art, I should call it the reproduction
of what the Senses perceive in Nature through the veil of the soul.

– Edgar Allen Poe

 

My art – the product that comes out of my camera is about one thing, and one thing only . . . it’s about my wild brothers and sisters. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Images exactly as they come out of a camera, assuming they’ve gone through the essential steps of post-processing – tonality, color balance, dodging/burning, etc. – can be awesome. However, I’m also drawn to images that that go a step, or two, beyond reality.

For years, I never knew why. Then one day it dawned on me. Most photographs all look alike. Sure, some are head and shoulders above the main stream, but they’re all reproductions of what we see in nature. That’s fine – actually I love them, but I was craving for something different.

The journey for the extraordinary has taken me through many styles and techniques.

“Mystic World” series, was my first attempt at taking that next step – portraying not only the spirit world of my wild brothers and sisters, but exposing them communicating with life in our world.

 

“Mystic World” Series

GhostofTatanka 470x700  BackFromTheBrink 470x700

“Ghost of Tatanka”                                                         “Back from the Brink”

FollowMe 470x7700  PhantomWolf 470x700

“Follow Me”                                                                      “Phantom Wolf”

XNPJ22  AMERICAN BISON  (Bison bison)Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota   TotemBear 470x700

“Mystic Dancer”                                                                        “Totem Bear”

F2506-04NPS 470x950

“Spirit of the Rockies”

 

“Through the Veil of Consciousness” is a series inspired by “Ghost Herd” (depicted at the beginning), a photograph I made years ago, shortly after moving to Colorado. It was a blurry photograph depicting a group of elk that I made one morning while exiting Rocky Mountain National Park. Some would call it one of those accidental pictures. However, I don’t believe in accidents. All things happen for a reason. Anyway, it went on to be displayed in the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

 

“Ray Harm Experience”

XNPG27 16_0376 470x700  XNPG23 14_0311 470x700

“On A Mission”                                                                  “Out of the Forest

XM060-2469 BAND-TAILED PIGEON 360 Ski Road East; Allenspark, Colorado  XM060-2469 BAND-TAILED PIGEON 360 Ski Road East; Allenspark, Colorado

 “Battle Ground”                                                                 “A Time Forgotten”

Americak elk, Hwy 20, Cody, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming  XNPJ22  AMERICAN BISON  (Bison bison) Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota

“Rivalry”                                                                        “Winter Challenge”

Years ago, I purchased a signed copy of a painting created by artist, Ray Harm, featuring a Pileated Woodpecker. I loved the way he eliminated many of the background details and focused almost entirely on the subject. I often though it would be nice if I could find some way to transform one of my photographs into a similar, albeit photographic rendition of what Mr. Harm had created. Eventually, my ability using a variety of photo editing software programs increased to the point where I was able to make this into a reality. The series that I call, for lack of a better name, my “Ray Harm Experience,” is the result.

 

“Photographic Realism with a Touch of Expressionism”

XNPJ22  AMERICAN BISON  (Bison bison)Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota     XNIA04 00_0005 470x700

“Life in the Shadows”                                             “Alpha”

XNPJ22 03_0009

“Face of Wisdom”

XNPG232 00_0006 470x700     XNIB04  BROWN BEAR  (Ursus arctos) Lake Clark National Park, Alaska

“Moosoonsii”                                                            “Vigilance”

All is this has finally led me to where I am today – a series that I refer to as “Photographic Realism with a Touch of Expressionism.” It has everything to do with what happens when I look through my camera’s viewfinder into the eyes of my subject and feel connected. There are times when I can almost sense their inner most thoughts. What I’m creating today portrays, to the best of my ability, those feelings and emotions. It’s all about my subject’s eyes.

So, whenever I head into the field, camera in hand, I expect magic to happen. There are times when it does. These times . . . these moments . . . are truly gifts of nature. Occasionally, I’m able to capture some of them with my camera.

Summing up the connection I have with our wild brethren, no one says it better than Bev Doolittle as she related to her painting, Season of the Eagle, “In the life of the Indian, every new day, every encounter with a bird or beast, and everything he owned or wore related to his religious belief that all creatures were the creation of the same great power, and therefore were brothers.”

Not only do I share that belief, I take it a step further. Regardless of one’s religious persuasion, whoever, or whatever created us, also created them. We’re made of the same elements – star dust. We share almost identical DNA.

If that doesn’t make us related, then what does?

Comments

    • admin says

      Your photography is nice. What’s important is “Are you having fun doing what you’re doin’? If not, do something else, life’s was too short.

  1. Joann Raley says

    Hello. I am privileged to be included and view your current work. It is full of expression and dream. Thanks for sharing with me. Joann

    • admin says

      That’s very sweet of you Joann. I’m the one who is privileged just to have you as my friend. Thank you for your wonderful comments

  2. Lynne McCoy says

    sent your Back from the Brink to my friends at AEF (American Eagle Foundation)….I enjoy your photographs altho I do not totally connect to the wildlife out west ….more the Smokies and the smaller critters: owls/hawks/songbirds and groundhogs, squirrels, raccoons, grey foxes, etc. but your work is awesome.

  3. admin says

    Thank you, Lynne, for taking the time to share your wonderful comments. I agree that our wild brothers and sisters living in the Smokies are awesome. In fact, this place called Planet Earth is pretty fantastic when is comes to scenic beauty and a diversity of marvelous wildlife species.

    • admin says

      Thanks, Dan. Your work is pretty awesome, too. In fact, I invite everyone seeing this post that it would be worth their while to do a Google search and check out your work. I agree, it’s been way too long since our paths crossed. Lori and I just returned from several days in Sand Wash Basin photographing wild horses.

  4. says

    I love what you do Weldon and share your inspiration most especially when I am immersed in nature or being creative working in my digital darkroom. I feel, share and appreciate your passion. Keep doing what you do and may it continue to bring you much love and many more exciting experiences! God Bless You and His Beloved Creatures!

  5. Walt Kaesler says

    I have always admired your photography, and your dedication to our wild neighbors. Now its interesting to see your artistic flair as you manipulate reality

  6. Helen Dillon says

    Weldon,

    As Ansel Adams said, “The most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it.” Your heart and soul flows through those 12 inches and connects us all to the beauty and kinship we have with our animal brothers and sisters. Excellent article.

    Your recent collection of ‘photographic realism with touch of expressionism ‘is powerful.

    Thank you for all you do,

    • admin says

      Not only do I really appreciate your wonderful comments, Helen, thank you very much for taking the time to share them with me..

  7. John Tobias says

    I am pleased that you are finding new ways to express your connection with nature. For me, the images that combine one or more photographs touch me more than those that have a more painterly look. But, that is just my personal taste. Your skills in developing these two approaches is truly amazing. Hope to see more of your work as you continue to search for new ways to present your art.

    • admin says

      Thank you for your wonderful comments, John. As always, it’s really good hearing from you. Happy Halloween . . .
      ‘Tis the night — the night
      Of the grave’s delight,

      And the warlocks are at their play;

      Ye think that without

      The wild winds shout,

      But no, it is they — it is they.

      – Arthur Cleveland Coxe

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