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Photo of a bird perched on a branch in the foreground with a small group of zebras in the distance. Northern Carmine Bee-eater and Grevy's Zebras, 2022 Showcase First Runner-Up, Altered Reality © Cheryl Medow
Northern Carmine Bee-Eater and Grevy’s Zebras, 2022 Showcase First Runner-Up, Altered Reality © Cheryl Medow

Artist’s statement

I love taking images from unrelated parts of the world and putting them together to create new stories. To me, this helps underscore the connectedness and majesty of this beautiful world.

This bee-eater was captured at Manda Bay off the coast of Lamu, Kenya. The light, the setting and his beautiful coloring just stole my heart. For me, finding these little moments where time stands still, is a tremendously peaceful and rewarding experience. Being able to share them with others is a wonderful gift that I feel compelled to explore.

How I got the shot

As any nature photographer will tell you, the craft requires a lot of hunting and a lot of patience. This shot was one of many I took while on a photographic trip to Kenya. Driving to the center of Manda Bay Island we spotted many Carmines. They were everywhere, and the biggest challenge was containing my excitement to get a clean shutter. This particular shot was one of my favorites because it shows the intensity of their true colors.

What I used

For the bee-eater and the Grevy’s zebras I used a Nikon D5 and a 600mm lens on a Gitzod tripod. This solid mount and long lens allow me to be far enough away as to not disturb the birds, but still capture the detail I’m looking for.

The landscape and cloud images were shot with shorter wider lenses. For the clouds I used a Light camera that really helped manage the intensity of the sky. With photoshop, I find it captivating to combine different focal lengths to help add to the magic of the story.

About me

I live in Santa Barbara, California, and am lucky enough to travel the world photographing birds and their habitats. I sell my prints through Photographs Do Not Bend Gallery (PDNB Gallery) in Dallas, Texas. So I guess that makes me a professional, but it’s more of a passion than a business.   My favorite locations are in Africa where I’ve travelled extensively – Kenya, Botswana, South Africa, Zambia and Tanzania. I also love shooting in Florida, which is a bird wonderland. During COVID I’ve been spending more time at Goleta Slough Ecological Reserve here in Southern California.

I love travel and taking in new sights and experiences from around the world. And although I’m a rather friendly person and like chatting, I love hanging out with the birds in the field. In my everyday life, I can be impatient and easily frustrated. I find that in the field all of that disappears. In the field I am quiet, grateful, and at peace. It’s a beautiful place to be.

My photographic journey

I have always been an artist, with or without a camera. When digital photography and photoshop became available in the early 2000’s, I found my niche. John Paul Caponigro and Mac Holbert were critical in my combining images in photoshop. I also love to travel and now have combined my two great passions. I never tire of nature and the incredible variety of birds. At this point, I enjoy sharing my enthusiasm about birds with others in hopes that we will all protect our environment.

NANPA and me

I’ve been a member of NANPA for many years. Connecting with others with similar interests and passions has offered me a community of like-minded enthusiasts. I especially enjoy the webinars where different photographers share their thoughts and insights. I also am very appreciative of the Altered Reality category, as this medium continues to grow.

I’ve been recognized by NANPA several times over the years, most notably in the 2018 Expressions with the Best in Show, a Judges Choice Award and several other images. I personally find being judged by your peers an exciting and very helpful experience.

Learn more

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Instagram – @cherylmedow