For our very first Forest Friends feature, Cook Forest Online interviewed Kevin Kaltenbaugh of Kaltenbaugh Photography. Kevin's excellent nature photography can be seen in-person at his Gallery in the Forest just a few miles from the Clarion River. We asked Kevin about his trade and found out what makes the Forest such a special place for shutterbugs of all varieties.
CFO: Tell us a little bit about your background as a photographer.
Kevin: I've been a photographer for 30 years, but it's only recently become my second career. I spent 25 years in the lumber business and felt it was time to follow my passion. I've been building an inventory of images, getting my business going. The gallery was the biggest part of the process. I also enjoy working on the presentation of the image - the framing and matting and other techniques that make images come to life.
There are many different kinds of photographic specialties besides nature photography – portrait or architectural, for example - so why nature photography for you? What appeals to you the most?
Nature photography has always been where my passion lies. I've always loved the outdoors, from family camping trips to trips out west with my grandparents when I was young. Photography was a way to share the experience. To me, nature is awe-inspiring and spiritual. It's the opportunity to be in the beauty of nature and to attempt to capture the feeling on film. Nature has a sense of peace and quietness to me. There's also a sense of adventure: you never know when that special moment will come along.
I do enjoy other types of photography. I think that no matter the photographic subjects you choose, it's exciting to have one image say something about the area, person or event you are working with. Sometimes it's quite a challenge.
Photograph by Kevin Kaltenbaugh
Speaking of special moments that come along...Tell us about the greatest photo “that got away.”
The photo that got away. Well, I've let a lot get away and there's not one in particular which comes to mind. Although on a recent trip to Wyoming I was treated to a spectacular sunset...but the problem was that I was in an unfamiliar area, and I couldn't find a composition that didn't have an element in it I didn't like. The light changes so fast and I never got anything I was happy with. Did I miss an opportunity? I feel I did but you prepare for the next time.
Have you ever been the one who had to get away - from wild animals, that is - while roaming around taking pictures?
Once on a backpacking trip I came around a bend in the trail, only to find myself about 50' from a grizzly bear feeding on berries. After backing away and making noise the bear wondered off. No, I did not attempt to photograph; I felt I was too close already. That night's campsite was not far from that spot - which made for a restless night.