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A Nature Book – And Here We Are, by Bil Zelman

January 11, 2018

By P. Berberian

© Bil Zelman

When I realized Bil hasn’t contributed to the newsletter for a few months, I asked him to send me a few stories he was excited about. One was a lifestyle story for a start-up insurance company, it was supposed to be shot in Oakland and eventually shot in San Francisco due to the scouting crews getting robbed by gunpoint. The other body of work is everything I love about photography beautiful, deliberate and thought provoking. I want to hang all of them on my wall, I’ll probably ask him for a print.

Here is what he says about the images.

“I’ve been working feverishly on a project touching on non-native and invasive species and the fragile places where man and nature are colliding. Last year I managed to shoot in the Amazon, The Everglades, a few mountain ranges on the West Coast and the Sonoran desert.”

“Shooting at night time helps me to isolate my subjects from their environment and show the distress on an individual level sans all of the sunsets and mood lighting we all associate with nature photography with. This work is meant to be provocative and thought provoking but going out of my way to make things beautiful isn’t my goal- I’m striving to walk the line between a scientist displaying specimens of evidence and that of a visual artist whose work is captivating enough for an audience to want to engage with it.”

“European Honey Bees in Western United States”

The European Honey Bee is one of the oldest domesticated insects and was introduced to the Americas in 1622. They now populate every continent aside from Antarctica.

 

“Mono Lake Tufa Towers.”

In 1941, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power extended the Los Angeles Aqueduct system farther northward into the Mono Basin. Mono lake, which is believed to be 760,000 old has lowered 41 feet exposing these unique underwater structures and imperiling many species of migratory birds.

 

“Ponderosa Pine Dropping Cones after Fire.”

Many pine trees have evolved to withstand and utilize infrequent light fires but forest fire management has extinguished most small fires leaving more fuel in the forests. Even trees with thick protective bark cannot withstand the current “Super Fires” which now, unnaturally, take place with more fuel than ever before.

 

“American Alligators”

The American Alligator species is over 150 million years old and survived mass extinction 65 million years old when the dinosaurs died off. They were put on the Endangered Species list in 1973 due to uncontrolled hunting but were taken off the list in 1987-One of the Endangered Species Preservation Act’s greatest successes.

 

“Burmese Python Crossing a parking Lot in the Everglades.”

Burmese pythons are native to Southeast Asia but have established a strong breeding population in the saw grass marshes of Florida. With few natural predators this invasive reptile out competes native species and has greatly reduced the mammal and bird populations in the Everglades.

 

“Fence and California Drought.”

Tree ring studies have shown that periods of drought have often lasted 10-20 years and include many more extreme circumstances such as a 240 year drought which started in 850 AD. The 20th century was the wettest the Southwestern United States has experienced in 7,000 years- The same century forty million people flocked to it.

 

“Satellite Crossing the Dotted Path of an Airplane between an Ocotillo and Side View of the Milky Way.”

 

“Vehicle Passing Cacti in The Quiet of the Sonoran Desert.”

 

“Saguaro and Power Lines”


Bil Zelman is currently directing still photography and film for a range of clients, including CocaCola, Harley Davidson, Guinness and more. Working from a small beach town you’ve probably never heard of just south of Los Angeles, Zelman lives with his beautiful wife, two dogs, and a bunch of old motorcycles and surf boards.

Check out more of Bil’s work at bilzelman.com and his PhotoServe portfolio

Read a Q&A we did in August 2017, right here.


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