Protecting the Cradle of Life
Shooting sensational wildlife images is a rare talent. Even among professional photographers there are few individuals with the speed, perseverance, and knowledge to capture spellbinding images.
Nature photographers must sit perfectly still for hours with their eye trained on one spot. Always being ready for action is difficult. Wonderful shots often are lost by clicking the shutter a split second too late. Conditions in the field often are uncomfortable, even dangerous. It's too easy to step into a nest of angry hornets or to find a rattlesnake coiled inside an open camera case.
The photographs will show it if a photographer does not have a passionate love of the wilds What special qualities does the nature photographer possess? The animals know. They sense when something feels "off." If conditions do not feel right they will not reveal themselves. A nature photographer will blend into a field that anyone else might think is empty. Loving, respectful and noble shots of shy and elusive animals are the result.
Ballona's 640 acres are located within one of the busiest metropolitan areas of the world only minutes from one of the biggest international airports in the world. Yet they are as full of wildlife as the African Savannah or the Alaska's Mount Dinali. If you have not personally visited Ballona this website will take you through the salt pans, the mud, and the dry, parched earth . . . courtesy of our Protect Ballona Wetlands photographers and nature guides:
JONATHAN COFFIN, in the style of Claude Monet who created a sequence of paintings of haystacks and revisited them many times throughout the year, Coffin has visited the same "Mystery Tree" hundreds of times to capture it in glorious joyful moods, times of foreboding fear and eery drama, surprising whimsical moments, abundant times as well as and stark moments of still and lonely insight. He visited female Green Lynx spider every day after she laid her eggs and after they had hatched he recorded the progress as the "children" grew up.
A photographer, artist and naturalist, Coffin received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Otis Art Institute, and since 2004 has become a "wandering around" student of the Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve and other natural areas of the Los Angeles coast. He has become one of the most knowledgeable naturalists of the Ballona Wetlands, grasslands, dunes and associated ecological areas - and has captured with his artistic eye amazing images of the wildlife and landscapes there.
RICK PINE is a former construction contractor turned nature lover and web systems manager at The Otis Institute. His amazing photographs convey a keen awareness of the power of details. But they are not just marked by precision; they convey a passion for life, as well. Pine was born and raised in south Florida with the Everglades practically in his backyard and he says his interest in nature photography grew from his love of the outdoors and easy access to that rich habitat. "I think you could say I'm more of a photographer looking for a National Geographic cover shot than I am a true naturalist, " he laughs. Even though his images are exceptional he believes that his love of art and nature makes photographing wildlife come naturally.
CHRISTOPHER TAYLOR has talents that are a rare combination of science, industry and art. With no
formal training in photography, Taylor has instead relied on his knowledge of computer science to engage with the photographic medium and has mastered a technical approach. He became interested in technology at a young age, establishing his first Internet Service Provider at the age of 15 which provided dial up service to the greater Los Angeles area. He is currently one of the founding partners of Voltage Search Media in Santa Monica.
Southern California is where Taylor was born and crew up. He presently lives in Marina del Rey and is involved with several local non-profit organizations that work to protect avian habitats.
"I have been fascinated with birds and nature since a very young age," says Taylor.
MARC EVANS, who also visits Ballona often, has a yen for the broad view and panoramic shots. He takes it all in at once, and captures the beauty of irony -- a city skyline behind the scrub and brush. Evans does not like to talk about himself or release much information, however, he concedes that he is "driven by a general moodiness." He says he works most often in the small windows of time allowed by sunsets, twilight, or the cloud cover that comes from a passing storm. A fourth-generation southern Californian, Evans has lived within 10 miles of the Ballona for the past 30 years and desperately wants its remaining wetlands to be spared from further development. While he specializes in fine art prints of his dynamic landscapes, he also provides event photography and portraiture services to a growing number of clients.
LINA SHANKLIN -- As an avid watcher of herons and a resident of Marina del Rey's Mariners Village, Shanklin began honing her wildlife photographic skills
because she lived in an apartment with a great view of a Great Blue Heron rookery. While she admits she didn't know much about herons when she first began observing them, the details of their daily lives began to fascinate her, and she found herself being drawn to the drama that was unfolding before her eyes.
* * *
Once you've seen Ballona, you will want to visit it yourself and return again time after time. If anyone ever tells you that the Ballona Wetlands is just an old dead bog that needs to be cleared off to make room for more houses, you now have plenty of evidence why you should not believe them.
Look at their photographs and decide. Is this beauty not worth fighting to keep around us? We might be speaking for nature, but our photographers are showing the rest of the world why! Hats off to them.