Tuesday, April 5, 2011

"Naturally" book takes a look at Chippewa Nature Center's natural beauty

by Janet I. Martineau
Kyle W. Bagnall with his book showcasing Chippewa Nature Center
One of the images captured in a new nature book is of a black-capped chickadee in flight, wings blurred and headed straight for the photographer’s face.
“He missed me,” says Kyle W. Bagnall. “I think it is my favorite image in the book and it was just a lucky shot. Just as I started to take it, he flew right at me.”
Bagnall’s book is titled “Naturally,” and its 56 photographs were taken by him in and around the 1,200-acre Chippewa Nature Center, where he has worked since 1995 as  its manager of historical programs.
And that chickadee was “shot” right outside the Visitor’s Center at Chippewa, 400 S. Badour in Midland -- proving Bagnall’s point that the fascination of nature is everywhere.
“I like to capture moments that don’t last,” says Bagnall of his photo hobby, “and then share them with other people. I’d say I am out at Chippewa taking pictures weekly, not daily but weekly. I like tromping though the woods; there is such a diversity.”
The 7-inch by 7-inch, 40-page book carries the subtitle “Exploring Ecosystems at Chippewa Nature Center,”  and its images are divided into rivers, wetlands, fields and woodlands.
There are the typical scenics but also close-ups of a honeybee gathering nectar, an eastern garter snake, a wood nymph butterfly, common milkweed, a grey treefrog, a barred owl, boxelder seeds ... and.....a groundhog.
“People don’t think of groundhogs as beautiful. He was just behind the Homestead, and the frosted color of his fur was gorgeous. I snapped one shot -- I was about 10 feet away -- and then moved just a little bit and off it ran. That’s what I mean about capturing a moment that does not last.”
The garter snake was closer -- about 2 feet.
Bagnall shoots in all four seasons, but tends to favor autumn because of the vibrant colors. Rivers, he concludes, are hard to capture in a photograph.
Close-up of the book cover
Two images in the book were taken by other Chippewa employees. “I have never had a camera with me when there was a chance for a good shot of a blanding’s turtle, but (land and facilities assistant) Ron Burk did.”
Bagnall used a compact Panasonic Lumix Ultra-zoom for most of the images -- a camera he calls a basic point and shoot with a few extras -- and most were taken in the past five years. “I am not a tremendous photographer; mostly I use the automatic setting.”
As for how the book was published, it too is a story. It is produced by Blurb, a print-on-demand company. 
“You do it all online. I downloaded free software for the layout, did the layout with the pictures I had selected, uploaded it to their Web site, and people can go there and order copies printed on demand. 
“It’s slick. There is no huge outlay up front. We bought 10 copies to sell in the bookstore, but that is the only cost we’re out at this point. You can even set your own price.”
The book costs $16.95 for soft cover and $26.95 for hardback with a jacket, and readers can order copies at http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/1906903. Bagnall says Blurb will in turn donate $1 of each one sold to Chippewa.
“This is the fourth one I’ve done with Blurb. The others were personal, as Christmas gifts to family members.”
Chippewa Nature Center members may wonder why “Naturally” does not contain any images of its Homestead, an 1800s home and farm setting (with barnyard animals in the summer), where Bagnall does many of his programs.
“If this book does well, we’re thinking the next one will cover the Homestead. In fact, we are thinking about a whole series. There are so many nature books out there, but Michigan tends to be left out among them. And we have such natural beauty.”
In the meantime, Bagnall hopes people see “Naturally” as a way to “take a piece of the nature center home with them. The people who have commented on it to me say they are amazed at the beauty right around us here.
“They just need to slow down and look for it.”

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful story. Congratulations to Kyle. Jen and I just ordered our copy.

    Geof Kusch