From the Photographer...
People often ask me what my photography style is, and I tell them, “I shoot like a Nature Conservancy photographer. My style is TNC.” I’m not saying this to be cute or to blow them off — it’s simply the truth.
I started working for the Conservancy almost straight out of college, and during an eight-year tenure, my photography (and I) have matured here. I shoot like our marketing and membership departments need me to shoot. My style aligns with what our communication materials want to highlight: people in nature, working to protect the lands and waters on which all life depends.
So that’s why I bought a Canon 60mm EFS macro lens — the lens used to capture this image. I wanted to develop a certain type of style that isn’t often used at the Conservancy — one that I could claim to be a little more of “Erika’s style.”
On this particular trip, I was in beautiful Gateway, Colorado during a quarterly Board of Directors meeting. Some of the Board members and I were up early for a sunrise hike through the desert. I was capturing people out enjoying nature (as is the norm for me). The light was beautiful and the landscape, stunning.
I stopped for a moment to take it all in, when I noticed this beautiful plant near the trail. It looked like one of those orbs that you put your hands on and your hair stands on end. I grabbed my Canon 7D and switched out my 70-200mm for the 60mm.
There were only a few minutes before my hiking photo subjects disappeared from view, so I didn’t bother setting up the tripod (a usual must for my macro work since the slightest movement can change the focal area). I knelt down on the ground, braced my arms against my body and fired off about 20 shots before I had to leap up and chase down the Board members.
This was my favorite frame — it really highlights the vibrancy of the different colors of the plant, and the white hairs make the plant look truly electrical. Most importantly though, for me, this image captures the vitality of life in the desert, and my own personal sense of identity through photography.
I was so wrapped up in capturing this image this way that I forgot to step back and take my usual “identify this plant” shot. My guess is a type of yucca?
To make this image, I used a Canon EOS 7D with the EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM lens at f/2.8, 1/400th of a second at ISO 100.
Erika Nortemann is the Senior Manager of Photography at The Nature Conservancy.
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