North American Nature Photography Association

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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 5: (5:00 min.)

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EB: ...awful, dull, blah-looking, overexposed ones.

SN: Erwin just referred to photo editor John Nuhn of the National Wildlife Federation. Ektachrome film - what measures have you taken to preserve the photos, or have you, of Ektachrome?

EB: Of Ektachrome. Well, of course, every picture that we keep [we] put in a file. It goes into one of those little - what do you call it [to Peggy]?

PB: Sleeves.

EB: Sleeves, and then the sleeve goes into a 20-slide sheet.

PB: Ektachrome has faded.

EB: Yeah, there has been a lot of fading in Ektachrome and I have thrown a lot of it out. Not all of it. Boy, some of it just holds up fine, I don't know why. It might be that one batch was better than another or a little different. But, anyway, some of it's really good. Kodachrome was better and I guess over the years, recently, I like more of the others [films]. I would start using Fuji Velvia. That's good.

SN: That's been a situation for people in some of their archives, that Ektachrome just is not holding up as well and if there are any things that they can do to save them. But of those - that film that you've thrown away - would you say that most of that work has already been developed and printed? Most of the images already have found their way into a magazine or a book?

EB: Oh, I don't think most of them. Some of them have, but I threw a lot away that would have been - had they held the color - that would still be publishable. But then the general quality of photography is so much better today. I look at the pictures, my own pictures and others', I think, my God, what I should have done on this one. And I drive Peggy nuts telling her that. I think, my goodness, we should've done this.

SN: What places have you been that you'd like to go back to?

EB: What?

SN: A place - do you have favorite places around the world?

EB: Boy, this is going to take a lot of room.

SN: That's okay. It's all right; this is your story, your history.

EB: Well, eastern and southern Africa. And, of course, what makes a difference in this decision is where Peggy would like to go. But those two places are [wonderful]. And you have to pick your spots inside eastern and southern Africa, too. They change from time to time. Times are really changing in Africa. Okay, I guess a favorite place is Alaska; I could go to Alaska every year. I really love it. In South America there are a number of places, too, [such as] Pantanal in Brazil. Southern Chile is a beautiful place. Torres del Paine. All those Arctic-type places with snow and icebergs and piles of birds and all that. There's so many of those that are spectacular, but there's one that's most spectacular, I think, and that's South Georgia Island because it's all right there. All the birds that are - with a few exceptions - that are in South Africa are in South Georgia and you don't have to spend four or five days crossing the roughest ocean in the world to get there. That's more formidable a thing now than it was years ago, going across that ocean. I like India very well, too. It has its problems. It's not organized very well and like that, but it's beautiful place.

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