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June 2013: Majestic Bison

From the Photographer...

Nick Hall as told by the Conservancy’s Jenny Rogers

When photographer Nick Hall came to Colorado’s San Luis Valley to shoot the Great Sand Dunes National Park for Nature Conservancy magazine, he says he became a “little obsessed” with the bison grazing at the Conservancy’s nearby Medano-Zapata Ranch.

“I was enraptured by the fact that back in the day, America would have been covered with millions of these creatures,” he says. “They would have roamed the landscape.”

Taking a good shot of the animals, though, was not only difficult but potentially dangerous. Since field biologists had warned him that the animals could become aggressive, Hall kept his distance. But if he couldn’t get close, his camera could. He set it up on a tripod on the bison’s grazing grounds and stood a safe distance away with a remote trigger.

The trick worked — perhaps a little too well. “I spotted a couple bison licking my tripod,” he says. One of the curious animals knocked it over. The camera’s lens filter smashed on the ground and the bison scattered, scared by the noise.

Hall hurried to the tripod, worried that they had damaged the camera itself. Luckily, they hadn’t. Instead, Hall had captured an image of both an extraordinary animal and its iconic American setting — from the unusual angle of being one of the herd.

On assignment shooting images of Colorado’s San Luis Valley, photographer Nick Hall spent a great deal of time alone capturing the colorful sunsets at Great Sand Dunes National Park. Hall has contributed photography to Hemispheres and Outside magazines and has recently created a short film about 10 Russian soldiers accused of cowardice during World War II.


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