Two Interesting Things

June 29, 2017

Originally posted Mar 28, 2013

Last Friday, I was at the "Lift-off Luncheon" in Kearney for the 2013 Crane Watch, to hear internationally noted outdoor photographer, Tom Manglesen. Also, just along for the ride, which she says she does every Spring, was the "gorilla lady," Jane Goodall(!) who spoke briefly. Manglesen, on the other hand, spoke for about a half-hour, detailing his growing up years in Nebraska and showing plenty of his really marvelous photos.

On Saturday, Cindy and I went up to Omaha to spend the day - along with a couple hundred other folks -with noted nature photographers, John and Barbara Gerlach. The Gerlachs have figured out how to live on an Idaho ranch, near the west entrance to Yellowstone, complete with dogs and horses, sell photography books, lead photography tours and workshops all over the world, and actually make a living at it. And they're good at it. I've been to several workshops and have got something out of each of them, with the possible exception of Art Wolfe - who is an unbearable snob and smartass in my opinion - in Seattle, but the Gerlachs gave out as much hard and useful information as anyone I've come in contact with, though Randy Hampton right here in Lincoln is certainly a very close second.

But after the Saturday workshop, I told Cindy two really interesting things I've noted about these outdoor photographers. For one thing, most of them either are or were hunters. That's right. These guys who are all conservationists if not environmentalists just about all at least have hunting in their backgrounds. Tom Manglesen grew up hunting ducks and geese with his dad along the Platte and got on with Paul Johnsgard's graduate program when Johnsgard decided as how he'd overlook Manglesen's spotty academic record to have access to his skill at calling and recognizing just about every variety of waterfowl. John Gerlach also spoke of hunting in days past, though I don't know if either he or Manglesen still hunt. Randy Hampton was and is a pheasant hunter and has developed a way to carry a shotgun and his camera at the same time.

Actually, that hunting connection probably should not be surprising. I've hunted most of my adult life, only giving it up about five years ago after my cousin Kent, my hunting partner, had retired to the Ozarks, and Nicky the Labrador passed on followed a few months later by Pat the Springer, both of them cancer victims. Also, there aren't any more pheasants in this part of the state. But a couple of summers ago, when I was on a workshop with Weldon Lee that took place high on Colorado's Mt. Evans (the photo "The Kid" on our web site, business cards, etc., was taken during that trip) one morning sitting in Weldon's SUV, sipping coffee and quietly talking in the pre-dawn darkness, I realized how much nature or outdoor photography is like hunting. Those quiet times in the vehicle, gassing back and forth, waiting for the sun to make an appearance were one of the neatest parts of the hunting experience, and I realized that morning on Mt. Evans that I have found a way to continue to enjoy that experience as well as spend time in the outdoors, enjoying birds and animals and just the beauty of a creation that I sometimes find almost achingly sweet.

Now this is really interesting. There's another thing that those guys - and they are almost all guys - have in common that, as an english major really blows me away. Just about all of them say "pitcher." Not to be prissy about this, but wouldn't you think that a person in that business, and college educated as most of them are, would somewhere along the line have learned to say "picture" for something on paper or canvas that you look at and "pitcher" for a vessel that you pour liquid out of? Amazing. (It’s about as bad as the present generation’s penchant for calling an invitation an “invite.” For those who weren’t paying attention in middle school “invite” is a verb and not a noun.)

Oh well. I say picture; you say pitcher; but instead of calling the whole thing off, we're going to keep right on shooting. With our Canons and Nikons, that is.

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