Clyde Butcher - I'm sinking in the mud. Three gators are yelling at me.

I was in Lake Istokpoga, and I’m up to my waste in water. When a storm is coming, it’s pulling in the air. Then, before it hits there’s about 10-30 seconds of no wind. So I’m standing, waiting for that 10-20 seconds through four or five storms that have come through. And I’m sinking in the mud.

There are three gators behind me, yelling at me. They sound kind of like a diesel truck down-shifting. I was becoming really one with nature there. In fact, I was so one with nature that I was stuck in the mud. Haha!

 

First camera

I seriously started when I was 8 years old. I got me a little Brownie Hawkeye. When I was 10, I got into 16mm movies. I did that mostly up until college.

I saw Ansel Adam’s work in 1961. “Moonrise over Hernandez” as a 16x20 was $75 bucks. Golly! Who would ever spend $75…

I started saying, “That’s kind of interesting. I think I’ll play with that.” So I started photographing nature. And I did really well. In fact I did more sales than I was doing in architecture. So I said, “I think I’ll do this.” I dropped out of architecture.

Primevil

What I like to photograph is maybe different than a lot of other people. Basically, I like primevil stuff. For example, the redwoods forest is one of my favorite spots. I feel like I am back to eternity when I am there. I mean, it’s 15 million years old. The dinosaurs were there. Then, when I started photographing Florida, I got the same feeling.

 

Everglades

I started photographing the Everglades in ’84. What’s that, 30 years? While photographing there, I’ve never met another person. That’s how primevil it is.

It’s probably the most unique place in the United States. Photographers come out here and they say, “This is confusing. It’s chaos.”

Chaos is what I look for, because in chaos you find biological order.

Affect on your life

When you’re shooting large format, there’s a lot of patience involved. Sometimes you’re in a spot for the whole day. Same spot. Waiting for the light, waiting for the wind to stop, and you become one with that spot. You get a feeling of where you are. You’re not just passing through.

Ansel Adams did kind of a “no-no” in some respects. He would try to manipulate his development for the light. And those pictures were never that successful. The ones he took that were good, the light was good.

Without the light, what do you have? You’ve got to have the right light.

Black & White

Nature is all one. If you use color, you’re defining different parts of it. Your mind’s going to see this color or that color. In black and white nature becomes a oneness. Everything is the same importance—the tree, the grass, the water, the sky. It’s all necessary; it’s all important.

 

Advice

I studied different photographers—Ansel Adams, Wynn Bullock, Edward Weston. Study other photographers, but you have to go out and shoot. You have to go out and have fun! But don’t bang around shooting. You’ve got to start thinking about what you do.

Please leave a comment for Clyde below. For more of Clyde's work, visit ClydeButcher.com

Watch the complete interview in the video at the top.

Dewitt Jones - It's about the light coming out of your eyes!

The first place you ought to publish your pictures is in your life—the light that’s coming out of your eyes, how you treat your family. It ought to make a difference!

In the beginning

My first camera was an Argus C3 that my Dad had during WWII. People told me that I had a good eye, but it really wasn’t until after college that I got really into photography. I started out as a filmmaker. I had a Masters in film from UCLA.

I was in Yosemite doing a film on John Muir, and I saw a guy walking in front of the Visitor’s Center. He turned out to be a Geographic writer. I said, “What are you doing?” He said, “I’m doing an article on Muir.” I made a phone call, and even though I’d never published any pictures anywhere, they gave me the assignment. So, my first published pictures were in National Geographic, which was totally nuts!

Thank you

If I look at when I am happy, I am happiest when I am full of gratitude. Photography makes me stop, not only to big vistas, but to a leaf on the trail or a dew drop on a flower.

All of these pictures are little visual prayers. I think it’s important that we articulate that out loud. So, I wander around my garden in the morning saying "Thank you. Thank you. Thank you." That’s exposing my soul; that’s feeding me at a very deep level.

Affect on life

I published an ebook recently called, Art in My Life. I was getting at the idea that art and photography are a way of seeing; they are a way of looking at the world. The photograph is the residue of that; it’s what’s left over. It’s really good residue, and I like it. But if I don’t have the experience, if I don’t go out and connect with something, if I don’t see more deeply, then what was the point?

iPhone

My iPhone is with me all the time. It’s there as a little way to just stay more ALIVE.

I shoot all the time with it. I shoot things that I never would shoot with my big-boy cameras, because it would be too much of a hassle. All the tiny things of life, I shoot with my iPhone. Those images are now always with me, reminding me of what a cool thing it is to get to be conscious on this planet.

Advice

Follow the passion, because that not only is what’s going to give you your eye, but it’s also going to expose your soul, and that’s the whole point anyway.

What do you think of Dewitt's perspective? Please leave us a comment below.

Then, explore more of Dewitt's world at DewittJones.com and CelebrateWhatsRight.com

Watch the complete interview with Dewitt in the video at the top.

Alastair Humphreys - A Normal Person

I am a pretty normal person, really. I’m not a really strong person, I’m not very brave, and I realized that a lot of people thought of me as this adventurer.

Major adventures

I cycled around the world; it took me four years to do—46,000 miles through 60 countries. I’ve walked across India from coast to coast. I’ve rowed the Atlantic Ocean. I’ve been up in the Arctic in Greenland up near the magnetic North Pole on the Arctic Ocean. I’ve canoed across Iceland. Most recently, I just walked 1,000 miles across the Empty Quarter desert in the Arabian Peninsula. I do that sort of stuff.

More recently I’ve been doing little adventures around the UK. I call them microadventures. That’s the direction my adventures have been going the last couple of years—trying to encourage normal people to do something slightly different.

Adventure has been so important to me in my life, so I wanted to try and find a way to show that normal people—like, everyone—can also have adventures. The best way to have an adventure is by starting small. Start with something that’s within your skill level, your time level, your fitness level, your equipment level. If you want to be a good photographer, don’t worry about having a Canon Pro DSLR, go out and buy a $50 camera on ebay and just start taking photos. It’s that sort of principle.

5-to-9 thinking

The 9-to-5 defines people a lot. But it also limits people. People with real jobs can’t have adventure, because of their 9-to-5, 9-to-5, 9-to-5. That is a constraint; it’s a limitation in your life. But, if you flip it around in your head, instead of seeing a constraint, you try to see an opportunity. When you leave work at 5pm, you’ve then got freedom until 9 o’clock the next morning. So, instead of going home and watching rubbish TV, get out of town, go sleep a hill, cook on top of a fire, have a swim in the river in the morning, and get back to work by 9am. You can have adventures even in a small space of time such as that.

Advice on adventure and photography

  • The times when you don’t really want to get your camera out—when the sand is blowing and the rain is falling—that’s the time when you’ve got to get your camera out, and take the pain.
  • Most of the trips that I’ve done tend to involve having to get my camera serviced afterwards. Taking it down rivers, rowing the Atlantic Ocean—saltwater—these are terrible things for a camera.
  • Any idiot can be an adventurer, but being a photographer is more difficult. So, I think it makes sense to find a photographer and take him on an adventure rather than finding an adventurer and trying to teach him photography.ost of the trips that I’ve done tend to involve having to get my camera serviced afterwards. Taking it down rivers, rowing the Atlantic Ocean—saltwater—these are terrible things for a camera.

365

  • I think the best thing that I’ve done for my photography is when I decided to take a photograph every single day for a whole year. I put it up on Flickr, and that forced me to have a camera with me every day of the year. That taught me more than anything.
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What do you think? Please leave us a comment below. Experience more of Alastair's perspective on his website www.AlastairHumphreys.com, buy his book #Microadventures, then go sleep a hill!

Watch the complete interview with Alastair in the video at the top.

Joe and Mary Ann McDonald - And I Fell in Love with the Instructor

J – I’ll start first, because I started first.

M – He’s older. Haha

J – I started when I was in about eighth grade. By the time I was a junior in high school, luckily enough, National Wildlife Federation had a film library that they were going through at that time. That kind of supplemented my high school and early college photography career, because I was able to sell through them.

M – In second grade I got a Brownie Instamatic camera with a flash where you actually had to lick the flash bulbs before you put them onto the camera.

J – She still licks the back of hot-shoe flashes.

M – Yeah, I can’t break the old habit. Haha

Romance

J – I’ll try to tell the story without getting too emotional.

M – Haha

J – I was teaching photo workshops. Mary met me at a lecture that I was giving at a bird club, and she decided to take the course that winter in the Everglades and…

M – And basically, I fell in love with the instructor. I had to convince him that I was necessary for his business. And the rest is history. He opened me up to the world of photography, and it was like this creative bloom went off inside of me.

Affect on your lives

J – In a way, [photography] almost defines my existence. It’s almost like a religious experience. In taking the photographs, it’s like celebrating nature. I really think that is my operating premise.

M – If we don’t take an image that’s okay, because we have this whole library of images which we call neurochromes up in our brain of things that we’ve seen throughout the years. When we’re out there it reinvigorates us; it just fills us back up. You become one with it. And then to be able to document that to use it for educational purposes for kids or for adults. To share it with the rest of the world, and to try to save it in that aspect, it’s pretty special.

On seeing

J – I drew pictures before I ever took a photograph. Although, I dabbled with drawing ever since then. You know, just as kind of like a fun thing...

M – He does great acrylic painting, and we have stuff in our house from him, so don’t let him kid you.

J – But the point is that even looking at the world like a painter or an artist you see things that you absolutely don’t otherwise see. To give you an example, I’ve often been tempted to make just an outline of a zebra and take it on my safaris, and put it down at the table where we all have lunch and say, 'Okay, fill in the stripes on the zebra.' And I’m sure most people would have no idea which way the patterns would go. Because we look at things, we classify them, and then we dismiss them.

Backyard habitat - Hoot Hollow

J – I wanted to be able to step out the door, and not have to worry about paying for a gallon of gas, but be able to take photographs literally just outside the doorstep.

M – It’s our little piece of heaven here. We can walk right out the back door and photograph. We dug vernal ponds for the wood frogs to mate and everything and to have tons of tadpoles. Our birds and our animals eat better than we do. I'm going through probably 200 pounds a week of bird seed right now even. We've just been experiencing our first fox squirrel and a red squirrel. It's really cool to be able to get out there and say, 'Wow, we helped bring them here, because we developed this for them.' It’s fun to be able to give back so much by creating this habitat.

ALIVE

M – It happened at the end of November, one day before my birthday. We were in Rwanda on our 75th gorilla trek. As they started to go back up into the woods into the national park, another group, called the hero group came. And Ghunda, who is the head Silverback of Sabina was running past us. You know when something is going to happen, because he puffs his lips up like this. Pfff. And then what he was doing was something we had never seen before...

J – This is good.

M – The two main Silverback started going… (see video) It was just wild! The photography just added to being able to capture it and share it.

J – I had a camera laying down on the ground at the time, and a Silverback ran by like a freight train. His foot just missed the camera; he was that close. Had he moved, even another two feet over, his shoulder would have hit any of us, and just flipped us over the ledge. Because were were right on the edge of a…

M – terraced field.

J – But I mean, to really have the hairs of the gorilla brush your face as he ran by…

M – it was cool.

Favorite image

J – BBC and Nature’s Best both had it as the second place winner that year. So, it was a striking shot…

M – What he forgot to mention was that it was seven male lions. So, we’re talking about seven big male lions on this kill.

J – And as my story continues. Haha. It was like if you’re climbing and you get scared. My leg was just rubber. You know, it was just shaking! And I was aware of that shaking and thinking, 'This is really cool, because I am so juiced up that my body is responding to this.'

Please leave us a comment below. Experience more of Joe and Mary Ann on their website at Hoot Hollow.