NATURE’S VIEW: Photographing Patterns

A retrospective of Gary Braasch

Story and photography by Jim Clark

Today a plethora of information exists on the web about how to photograph nature. Just type your question or topic in the search box and immediately you are presented with hundreds of links that may or may not be of use. It seems as though books about nature photography techniques have gone by the wayside.

Photographing the Patterns of Nature by the late, great photo-naturalist and environmental activist Gary Braasch is surely an exception. This is one book that I continually pull from my bookshelf and read.

Published in 1990, Gary’s techniques are as relevant today as they were when he first started his career as a nature photographer in the sixties. The book is only 144 pages, and it is written in a simple, readable and relaxing style. Gary offers a treasure trove of techniques for photographing nature — techniques that will elevate the skill level and photographic vision of any nature photographer. It’s as if Gary is right beside you, helping you discover the patterns in nature.

Salmon-spawning-jim-clark

Pink salmon spawn in the Indian River, Sitka National Historic Site, Alaska.   ©  Jim Clark

Gary did more than capture the beauty and wonder of nature. He wanted his words and images to be used for a higher purpose: to instill awareness in others on behalf of the environment.

What distinguished Gary from many others was that he did not hold back on his views about the threats facing our environment. He used his passion and his skill as a photographer, writer and speaker to inform others of the very real threats facing our natural world.

 

Clark, Jim, Icebergs in Endicott Arm

Abstract patterns in an iceberg near Hawes Glacier, Endicott Arm of the Tongass National Forest, Alaska. © Jim Clark

Gary was one of the original true blue nature photographers. He knew his subject and he continued to learn as much as he could about the critters, the land and the issues. He wasn’t shy nor afraid to express his opinion. Indeed, he used his talent to challenge those who wanted to undermine efforts to protect our wildlands. He is sorely missed, especially in today’s world of uncertainty. Gary died in March 2016, while snorkeling in Australia at the Great Barrier Reef.

Clark, Jim, Seashells-Assateague Island National Seashore VA

Seashells along the Assateague Island National Seashore, Virginia. © Jim Clark

All nature photographers can use their talent to not only capture amazing moments of nature, but also to help teach others about what is out there, like Gary did. You don’t have to be a dyed-in-the-wool tree hugger to do this. Keep in mind that if you don’t have the natural world, you don’t have nature photography. Use your love, your talent and your skills as a nature photographer to help others savor nature. Hopefully you will inspire them, too, to take an active role in making sure we have these wild places for future generations.


A past NANPA president and contributing editor for Outdoor Photographer, Jim Clark is a nature photography instructor for the Chincoteague Bay Field Station, Wallops Island, Virginia. The author/photographer of six books, Jim is particularly proud of two children’s books he did with his son Carson. Jim was also a major contributor to the book Coal Country. Jim’s website is www.jimclarkphoto.com, his blog, www.jimclarkphoto.wordpress.com, and you can visit him on Facebook.