About me

CA. Desert

Laying the groundwork

During the course of my life, I have been a painter, illustrator, graphic designer and photographer—in that order. As I grew as an artist, I learned quickly that these four disciplines mutually support each other because you can take what you learn from one and apply it to another.

I like to say that I became a painter when I was old enough to learn not to eat the paint. I was five years old when my mother started teaching me how to use paint-by-numbers, putting me a step ahead of the other kids by teaching me blending techniques right off the bat. Poor mom—who grew tired of teaching a stubborn, hyperactive kid like me—sent me to a local painter and teacher, Mae Townsend for further tutelage.
During the 1970’s, after spending a few years in the school of hard knocks, I returned to school to study fine arts at Bucks County Community College in Pennsylvania. It was there that I fell in love with magazines and switched my major to illustration and design. Bucks is where I learned the importance of things like distinguishing the figure from the ground, proper composition and the importance of color as an element in design which all came in handy as I developed as a painter and, eventually, a photographer. I was beginning to tie in that which what I mentioned before about the various disciplines being mutually supporting of each other.
One day, while I was still going to Bucks County Community College, I was talking to a student who had the coolest camera I’d ever seen hanging around her neck. I asked her what it was and how it worked. It was a 35mm film camera that actually had lenses you could take on and off! What a concept. I thought, at the time, it was something new that had just come along.
It wasn’t long after that that I bought my first 35mm. But I held off on learning the art of photography so that I could continue my studies in graphic design and illustration at The Philadelphia College of Art (now The College of the Arts).  And, of course, I was still very passionate about painting. I used my camera to take photographs to refer to when I was painting scenics—the way Mae Townsend taught me.
The years flew by, I moved to California and eventually did become a graphic designer at a newspaper in 1985 during the dawn of the digital age. It was there that I learned to use the big copy cameras and work in the darkroom until the whole industry was completely usurped by digital technology. It was exciting to be there during the transition to say the least!

Discovering photography

In 2001 I started playing around with collages and Photoshop composites and planned to use some of my inter-disciplinary training to accomplish my goals. I quickly realized it was almost impossible to make collages without violating someone’s copyrights, so I decided to take some photography classes at the local junior college. It was still all about film, though, because so many photographers believed that digital could never be as good as film. I somehow knew they were all wrong.

I quickly grew tired of my return to the darkroom and its’ toxic odors, so I bought my first digital camera even before my course was complete—though I did stick it out to the end of the semester. I fell in love with photography lock, stock and barrel and it has—since then—taken over my life.
It didn’t take long for me to decide what subjects I wanted to shoot. I’d been a huge lover of animals all my life and was also very concerned about the destruction of their habitat—and ours. Against everything I was told about how competitive the field of nature and wildlife photography is, I pursued it anyway because I knew I would continue to be a graphic designer to make my bread and butter no matter what; and it was what I was truly passionate about in life.

Recent works

Today my main focus is on nature, wildlife and scenics, but I also enjoy shooting the occasional ghost town and, more recently, nautical themes. My travels have taken me all over California and to most of the western states to photograph North American predators with a particular emphasis on the Timber Wolf.

I am a lifetime student at the Siskiyou Field Institute where I continue to learn about the Klamath-Siskiyou bio-region in which I live. My ongoing local projects include shooting Roosevelt Elk, marine mammals and migrating birds along the Pacific coast as well as photographing and learning about the various plants in the area. Trips out of the local area have included several trips to Yellowstone National Park to photograph wolves, coyotes, grizzly bears and scenics and to my old home back east to shoot birds along the eastern flyway. Also, a visit to New Jersey is never complete without driving up to the Lakota Wolf Preserve in Columbia, New Jersey to see their four wolf packs.
What you see here is just a handful of what I have available. There is still much “in the can” to process and present.

How to buy my photographs

Framed pieces can be found at The Gallery of Arts and Culture in Crescent City, California. I can also be found in the Crescent City area and in Brookings, Oregon at the art fairs.

All photographs can be directly purchased from me in print form (all of which I print myself) and in digital form. Please email me at: steelmanphotographics@gmail.com if you are interested in knowing more.

Enjoy!

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