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NANPA Oral History Project -


Erwin Bauer

Erwin Bauer

Date of Interview: January 18, 2004
Interviewer: Shirley Nuhn (SN)
Transcriber: Susie Parrent
Length: 72 minutes
(Also present are his wife, Peggy Bauer (PB), and John Nuhn, photo director, National Wildlife magazine)


Track 4: (5:00 min.)

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EB: I guess I just don't know, honestly. I was pretty busy all the time. I got to be pretty busy and there wasn't time to think about it too much. You just do what you like to do. I don't know.

SN: If you want, we can come back to that question as we're talking. If there's something that you can think of, we can come back to that if you want to. Did you keep a log book?

EB: I kept a log book of the articles that I had published, the color photos I had published and - cover photos, I mean, not color - the cover photos, book jackets, magazine covers. I said that, didn't I? Oh, and also pictures became more and more used on - what do you say? - little trinklets and things. They used pictures - my wildlife pictures - on jigsaw puzzles and on little vases and on...

PB: Greeting cards.

EB: Greeting cards is another thing, yeah. That was big for a [while].

PB: Calendar pictures.

EB: Calendar pictures were big.

PB: Eight hundred [calendars].

EB: And I have a copy of every one of them.

SN: So that would be sort of like a scrapbook of your different things?

EB: I didn't put them in a scrapbook, that would have been too much trouble and I was too lazy. But I've got them all in one box - all the calendar pictures - and I have the cover pictures in one box.

PB: You have the bound copies of all those pictures in Outdoor Life.

EB: Oh, yeah Outdoor Life bound all the issues for me. That was another thing, too, at the end of the year that they did for their photographers and authors that did a lot of work for them. They'd make a bound copy and send it to them, and I have all of those.

SN: Well, in keeping a log, did you also write down what kind of film you used and the time of day and exposures and details like that?

EB: No, I never did do that. You didn't have to write down what kind of film it was because it's already on the film. You get the processed film back and it has Ektachrome so-and-so. Now, exposure: I've completely ignored that from the day I started until the present time. And a lot of editors and publishers want to know exposure data and I honestly can't tell them. Now, if I think I can tell them pretty close, honestly, I'll do it. But most of the time I can't, and I say so.

SN: So when you did shoot, you kind of experimented? You sort of knew how you should be taking the picture?

EB: Yeah, that's the truth. I've talked this over, but that's really the way I did it. You know, what was the most helpful thing - more helpful than an exposure meter - was that every roll of film had this little wrapper in it, and it told you in there what the exposure should be with the sun overhead or the sun low, bright sunlight, faint sunlight, bad light - it was right there. So I did that for a long while and it largely worked. But what I started doing was bracketing. Shooting - if I had time, if in the picture I had time - I'd shoot what seemed like the proper thing and then a stop underexposed and a stop over. And that costs a little more money, all right, in film, but that worked out good, too. In fact, some of those overexposed pictures were more dramatic, I think, and to this day I don't like underexposed pictures as well as some.

PB: Joe, you said it backwards. You like it underexposed.

EB: I like it underexposed, yeah, I'm sorry. Underexposed. And I think a good many editors, and I'm happy to say John is not among these, pick those...

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