TALK­ING PIC­TURES

SO­CIAL ME­DIA SERVES A PHO­TOG­RA­PHER’S PRO­TEC­TION PRO­JECT

Shutterbug - - Contents - By Barry Ta­nen­baum

CAROL FREE­MAN BE­GAN the En­dan­gered Species Pho­tog­ra­phy Pro­ject 15 years ago. Her aim was to pho­to­graph all the en­dan­gered species in her home state of Illi­nois, in the hope that aware­ness would fos­ter pro­tec­tion for the threat­ened species and their habi­tats. “You can’t just have the monarch but­ter­fly,” Free­man says. “You need the habi­tat that sup­ports it. For peo­ple to care, they first have to know what’s go­ing on.”

So far Free­man has doc­u­mented 168 species; the fact that there are 315 to go is both daunt­ing and in­spir­ing.

The pro­ject is an “act lo­cal, think global” en­ter­prise, with so­cial me­dia car­ry­ing the mes­sage and pro­mot­ing the re­sults. “Peo­ple from all over are get­ting the story and the in­for­ma­tion,” she says. And the pic­tures, as well: “Cana­dian Geo­graphic mag­a­zine asked to use one of my pro­ject pho­tos.”

Free­man has also founded the Team Green En­vi­ron­men­tal Net­work, a not-for­profit ded­i­cated to get­ting the word out about her pro­ject as well as other na­ture ed­u­ca­tion op­por­tu­ni­ties and ac­tiv­i­ties.

Word and pic­ture post­ings on Face­book, Flickr, and on her web­site

kept fol­low­ers ap­prised of the progress. Then came a lo­cal gallery ex­hibit. “That’s where I re­ally called on my so­cial me­dia net­work—to raise the funds to pro­duce it, to build mo­men­tum and en­thu­si­asm, and to get peo­ple to come.” Free­man posted pic­tures and made some videos of the show go­ing up, and the gallery used Face­book and Twit­ter to pro­mote the show.

The ex­hibit, which will travel to var­i­ous lo­ca­tions in Illi­nois, in­cludes in­for­ma­tional pan­els along with the pho­tos. “Ev­ery­body I talked to said they learned some­thing from the ex­hibit; they didn’t just see some­thing pretty. That’s the great­est suc­cess I can have, and I can hope it will lead them to vol­un­teer, or think about what they buy, or who they elect.”

The egret in the photo here is not en­dan­gered, but the im­age, taken at Air Sta­tion Prairie, a 32-acre pre­serve just five min­utes from Free­man’s home, is in­dica­tive of how she works. “I can go to the same place two or three times a week, week af­ter week, and still be sur­prised,” she says. “I’d never got­ten a pic­ture quite like this one at Air Sta­tion Prairie.”

The re­serve is not their pre­ferred habi­tat, and nor­mally she’d see one egret. “But when the wa­ter level is just right, they’re able to pick off cray­fish one by one, and on this morn­ing there were four or five birds, and as they flew in, the sun­light lit up their wings, which I didn’t ex­pect, and here I got this an­gelic-look­ing bird and some beau­ti­fully lit-up plants. It was a mag­i­cal mo­ment on one of those morn­ings when I think, This is why I get up at o-dark-thirty—to get pic­tures like this.”

You can fol­low Carol Free­man’s ac­tiv­i­ties and the en­dan­gered species ex­hibit on Face­book. Her web­site, car­ol­free­man­pho­tog­ra­phy.com, has in­for­ma­tion about her pho­tog­ra­phy and a link to her Flickr pho­tos. Team Green is at team­green­web.org. Tech Talk: Carol Free­man took the photo with her Nikon D810 and an AF-S Nikkor 200-500mm f/5.6e ED VR lens at set­tings of 1/800 sec­ond, f/9, ISO 800, aper­ture pri­or­ity, and Ma­trix me­ter­ing.

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