Images of the Great Bear Rainforest

IanBy Ian McAllister

Conservation Director & Resident Artist
February 2007  From Bella Bella, B.C.

I am sometimes asked for my views on photography. Do I consider it an art form, a creative expression, or another tool in our ever-changing campaign toolbox?

As a teenager, I was inspired by Tofino-based photographers Adrian Dorst and Mark Hobson. They made it clear, at least to me, that living in a small inflatable motorboat, travelling the rugged Pacific coast, and taking pictures, was a dream worth living.

I remember staring at Adrian ‘s famous image of one of Carmanah’s giant trees. I knew that this image was often credited with the protection of the magnificent Carmanah valley, so the idea that images could help protect real places was embedded from the start.

Despite my growing interest, it took me a few frustrating years to begin getting it right. People did not get nearly as excited about protecting blurry bears and overexposed wolves as I thought they should.

Sometimes though, I think photography is just one more way to spend time in the wilderness that I enjoy so much, despite the difficulties of capturing a perfect image. Joel Sartore, one of National Geographic’s most talented photographers, once told me that of all of the countries that he has worked in, he finds B.C.’s rainforest the most challenging. The lack of light, constant rain, nocturnal wildlife and logistical challenges add up to a a place that makes image making tough.

So why do I continue to take pictures? If all the valleys were protected in the Great Bear Rainforest, would I still feel the need to capture them on film? If wolves were not hunted for sport, would I feel the same about taking their picture?

I suppose, in the end, that I enjoy photography for the combination of events that conspire to create an image. Marine navigation, animal behaviour, photographic technique, basic survival – each skill is as important as the moment the button is pressed, and the shutter introduces the film to a brief moment in the Great Bear.

It is in those moments, a million miles from the nearest person, that I am living fully in the present. Being mindful of what is around me, letting everything fall into its rightful place. All the things that I should be doing or should have done graciously fade away into the present.

I suspect most photographers would agree that while every image has its utility, it is ultimately the journey that is worth living.
By Ian McAllister
Conservation Director & Resident Artist
February 2007
From Bella Bella, B.C.

P.S. Don’t miss out! On Thursday, March 15th, expedition kayakers Dan Lewis and Bonny Glambeck will share images and tales from their 3-week exploration of B.C.’s Central Coast in 2006. Bonny and Dan own and operate Rainforest Kayak Adventures in Tofino , BC .

Time: 7:00 PM
Location: Raincoast Adventure Sports
1317 Broad Street
Info: 250-380-RAIN http://www.raincoastadventuresports.com/

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