With a passion for adventure and exploration, this photographer shows off the wild parts of the world to document the relationship between people and wildlife and the environment
By Mark Edward Harris
Outdoor Photographer: You work in low light with that flash to give a feeling of ambient light, but with a more workable shutter speed and ƒ-stop. What's your technique?
Wald: I use the Nikon Speedlight on an SC-17 cord quite a bit in various low-light situations. The nomads live in yurts, which are a little too dark to shoot in; they’re lit with lantern light or candlelight. I duct-taped a warming gel on the strobe and held it off to the side where the lantern light was coming from so it looked like they were lit by the lantern. I used Fujichrome 400 often, which looked really good. I was also shooting Fujichrome Provia and Velvia slide film.
Outdoor Photographer: You’re shooting digital, too. What about gear? Wald: I have a Nikon D2x, a D200 and I just got the D80 to try out. I used the 80-400mm ƒ/4.5-5.6 AF VR Zoom Nikkor lens in Argentina last September, which was great for shooting on the fly.
Outdoor Photographer: What sort of work are you doing in Argentina?
Wald: I’ve been going mostly to Patagonia in Argentina and Chile. I’ve been inspired by the dramatic landscapes and skyscapes there. I've also documented logging, overgrazing, desertification, oil and gas development, and I’ve donated many of these images to organizations working to protect the wild places down there, particularly Defensores del Bosque, La Fundacion, and Conservacion Patagonica. I’ve also been doing a personal project in black-and-white on the life of the gauchos, the horsemen of Patagonia. I always wanted to be a cowgirl.
Outdoor Photographer: Why black-and-white for this particular project?
Wald: It seemed to fit the dusty, gritty nature of the landscape and it pulled it out of time. It’s like stepping back a hundred years when you’re there. I don’t see this particular body of work as strictly documentary. I think it’s somewhat more romantic, expressive; the black-and-white gives it a more timeless feel.
Outdoor Photographer: How can photography make a positive impact on society and aid conservation efforts?
Wald: There are many ways that it can. It can bring the beauty of a place to people. Yosemite was preserved largely because of the photography that was done there in the 1860s. Photography brought that spectacular landscape to people who might never have had the opportunity to see it in person. It’s vital to create that awareness. Think of how those great big landscape photographs impacted how we think of the United States. Of course, the camera can document destruction as well.
Probably one of the most important environmental photographs ever taken was of the Earth by the astronauts. We can see how incredibly beautiful it is, how small it is and how fragile it is. We can come to the realization that this is our home, there’s nowhere else to go.