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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Nature Of Wildlife


Stefano Unterthiner gets incredibly close to the action to create his unique wildlife photographs

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Unterthiner has published a number of books centered on his photography in Italy and elsewhere (unfortunately there are no English versions yet). He's also a member of the iLCP (www.ilcp.com) and The Photo Society (www.thephotosociety.org), a select group of National Geographic's contributing photographers. It's clear that he has dedicated his life to animal advocacy. Unterthiner donated his playful series on crested black macaques to ARKive (www.arkive.org), an online multimedia resource for endangered and extinct animals, for example.

"Throughout my work, I hope to be able to become a kind of 'ambassador' for wildlife," he explains. "I try to produce strong images, to show the beauty and fragility of a particular species and their environment. I always try to produce a good story to show the public my wild 'friends.' I hope to give a voice to the wildlife. Throughout ARKive, I'm able to let my images be used for conservation and educational purposes. It's much better than keeping my images on the hard drive just for my clients and myself. Share with others, and then let's talk about the power of nature photography!"

Unterthiner admits that after he has completed a project, he decides his upcoming subjects largely on his own fondness for an animal or a subject. He says that it's not really "work" when you're following your dreams, and it certainly helps to keep him motivated while he's back in his office spending so much time doing homework on an upcoming project while raising much needed funds for such long expeditions. He notes that it's here in these months of preplanning that he also begins to previsualize the kind of behavioral images that he will be on the lookout for in the field (although he laughs that he doesn't always end up with the images that he had originally imagined).

After 10 years of working professionally and a lifetime of experiencing nature firsthand, Unterthiner has no problem with the extensive time spent in the field, noting that he actually prefers to be in nature. He prefers to pack light, "but my backpack is always too heavy anyways," he says. "Usually, I have only one big tele lens—a 600mm if I have to work from a blind or more frequently the 200-400mm zoom—then a 70-200mm and a couple of wide-angle zooms. I usually travel only with two bodies, but sometimes I have three cameras with me when I'm working in a particularly remote area. Finally, one tripod, a couple of flashes and all my accessories, which includes a few ND filters, spare batteries and a few other things."

Such personable wildlife images like these are very difficult to capture, one of the reasons why Unterthiner spends so much time in the field. But he bristles at the suggestion that he's "patient," instead insisting that he's merely happiest when he's shooting.

"This is what I love most," Unterthiner explains simply, "and I do not need to be patient. I feel good when I'm in the wild. To me, photography is just a reason to be outside."

To see more of Stefano Unterthiner's work, go to www.stefanounterthiner.com.

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