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Bruce Dana, A River Photographer


It was serendipitous that TI Life heard about local nature and wildlife photographer Bruce Dana. Bruce first introduced himself to us by posting a response to an article I wrote last month that included several of my own wildlife photographs. In Bruce’s response he identified himself as a nature and wildlife photographer from Morristown, New York. [See  Wings Like Eagles, December 2013]

 

I was intrigued! A quick web search took me to an article about Bruce and his photography. I learned that his photos have been featured in the St. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce “Anglers Guide,” as well as on NorthCountryNow.com and North Country Public Radio’s website. When I followed some of the links to see samples of his work, I was awed as I discovered photo after magnificent photo of our beautiful River. I felt as though, in discovering Bruce’s photos, I had unearthed a treasure of pictures that needed to be shared with my fellow River Rats. TI Life Editor, Susie Smith, wholeheartedly agreed.

The following is my interview with Bruce along with a few samples of his amazing photography.

PM:  How long have you been a nature and wildlife photographer?

BD: I have been shooting Natural Landscapes since I bought my first DSLR about nine years ago. I shot with film before that but wasn’t at it as much as I am now. Back in the mid 80’s I bought my first SLR manual film camera and enjoyed shooting existing light shots, like moonscapes and Auroras . Scenes you just can’t capture with a point and shoot camera. After encountering more and more wildlife in and around many of the scenic pictures I was shooting I knew it was time to start upgrading my equipment for wildlife photography. That’s when I bought my first telephoto lens. I think it was a 300mm. It was great to be able to get in closer to wildlife for a tighter shot without the risk of spooking the critter.

 

PM: Are you native to the area?

BD: I was born and raised in Ogdensburg NY which is right on the St. Lawrence River. I love swimming, boating and fishing. I have had a deep appreciation for the beauty of Nature from an early age. As kids we spent lots of time roaming the woods learning about Nature and fishing for hours for perch and bass on the St. Lawrence River. We had some great family fish dinners on Fridays. We would fish all week and save the fish for a big fish fry. My interest in photography grew out of the fishing trips on the river. My Mom would usually take a picture of us with our catch. Then when I got older I thought it would be cool to have a camera along in the boat to record the action. When there wasn’t much happening I would try to get pictures of the sunsets. I remember having to wait for the film to be processed and going through the prints. They weren’t all great shots. I was often disappointed that the results on film didn’t match what I had seen with my eyes. It would be many years later before I learned more about the difference in the ability of what a camera can capture and what the human eye can see. Photography continues to change with many technological innovations that are very exciting. It’s fun to try and keep pace with it all.

 

PM: The article I read said that you are retired. What did you do before retiring?

BD: I just retired in 2012 from New York State, most of that at Sunmount in Tupper Lake where I worked as a Nurse. Tupper Lake, known as “The Crossroads of the Adirondacks” is not far from Lake Placid, Whiteface and the Ausable River. I got some beautiful scenic pictures up there in the Adirondacks over the years. I still came back to the St Lawrence Valley on weekends. So I feel I had the best of both worlds – the 1000 Islands and The Adirondacks. Now I have more time to pursue my love of nature photography and to grow as a photographer and learn more.

PM: What inspired you to become a photographer at this point in your life?

BD: My inspiration continues to be the beauty of God’s creation that is all around us every day, especially here in the North Country where we have more sky and trees. I feel a deep gratitude to God for allowing me to be where I am with my camera at the moment of a beautiful Sunrise or Sunset that is especially intense in color and depth, or for me to be out for a drive in my car with my camera and to come across a mother deer licking her newborn fawn or an Osprey with a fresh fish in its talons. I often think of how fortunate timing is in many of these photographic opportunities. If I was a moment later or earlier I would have missed the shot.

PM: Do you have a favorite photo or photos you were able to take?

BD: It is hard for me to have one favorite picture. Many of my pictures have strong emotional feelings I still feel as I felt when they were taken, like the time I was shooting a Red Tail Hawk in a perch in a tree. I was so happy to be getting such good images, the light was good, the Hawk was staying still, and I was fairly close (less than a 100 ft). How could it get better? But it did, when the one was joined by another, probably its mate flying right into the scene. I was overjoyed and praising God!! There was also the spectacular display of the Aurora Borealis over the Brockville Skyline. Or the day an eagle landed in a tree by my house is one I will never forget. I have been blessed with many pictures over the years. Yet when I’m doing a slideshow presentation I remember the moment as if it were today and the wonderful feeling of being there at that particular time. To be able to share that with others is such a joy. My only hope is that it will bring others the same joy and peace that I felt when I was there.

PM: I read about your presentations in one of the articles written about you. Is this something you do regularly?

BD: I’ve done two benefit slideshows for a worthy charity based in Lake Placid. Mercy Care for the Adirondacks provides companionship, friendship and spiritual care to elders living in their own homes who may be isolated and in need of some friendly company. These shows were presented at the Flammer Theater of The Wild Center Museum in Tupper Lake. I also did an exhibit and slideshow here at the Gateway Museum in Morristown last August. I have more time available to do these shows now that I’m not working full time at another job. If anyone is interested in having me do a presentation for their organization please contact me by email at brucedana@gmail.com.

PM: I noticed that your photos are copyrighted. Are they available to be purchased?

BD: I have been selling a few of my pictures at shows and exhibits and I have started to offer some of my work for sale in local retail outlets. I have over 50 different mounted works at Mares Wares Pottery on Route 37 in Morristown, NY. I hope to get my website up and running soon. People will be able to order prints directly from the site.

PM: Anything else you want to tell the readers about yourself and your photography?

BD: Right now I am looking for a business partner who has experience running an office, filing, filling orders, ordering supplies and marketing which would allow me to spend more time out there taking pictures and doing post production work.

PM: Thanks so much, Bruce. This just might be the perfect place to get the word out about that.

1 2 3
"Spread my Wings." "Flying Free" and "Gliding"    [Click on each photograph of the seagull to enlarge]
Bruce Dana © 2014
9-10-05 Aurora # 5 PSE
“Aurora Borealis over Brockville”
Bruce Dana © 2014

10-15-13 IMG_2186 text a

"Blue Reflections Chippewa Bay"
Bruce Dana © 2014

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"Skyline Reflections"
Bruce Dana © 2014

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"Lightning Strike"
Bruce Dana © 2014
Bruce Dana © 2014
“Ominous Sky”
Bruce Dana © 2014
Bruce Dana © 2014

“Sky Dance?” 

Bruce Dana © 2014

I am sure you now understand why both Susie Smith and I were so pleased to learn more about Bruce Dana.  After our interview, Bruce related how he captured “Sky Dance” by saying: 

"Sky Dance" is a term coined by some raptor researchers who have observed in flight behavior involving the exchange of food or nesting materials or both. Some of this observed behavior has been associated with Mating rituals in the spring and some behavior later in the season by fledglings. They  may be practicing and developing hunting skills and the muscle groups needed for catching and obtaining food. Some raptors have been observed stealing from other birds in flight. So "Sky Dance?”   with a question mark (to indicate maybe or we don't know) was intended for the two Osprey in the photo where there was a close encounter with one bird that was actually in position to take or receive from the other Osprey, but something changed at that moment and the other Osprey with the fish kept going.This is what we saw and can extrapolate for several books worth of possibilities but that still leaves us on the ground without wings to scratch our heads and speculate the reason for this observed behavior. It was a great moment to capture this behavior as it was happening. This is what Wildlife Photographers hope for is a great behavior moment as its happening. Something that the creature is doing that seems entertaining, or endearing, or different, or seems to be, at least to us, even though they're just being themselves.

Working in a Psychiatric setting for over 20 years I've seen this. We can observe external behaviors but not really know what someone is REALLY thinking and feeling. We can speculate by observing but we don't really know. Only God knows our hearts and our innermost thoughts that's why we must let Him be the Judge.

You can see more of Bruce’s photography at http://photo.net/photodb/user?user_id=6443135 ; you can contact him directly at brucedana@gmail.com. Or, you just might run into him some day out there on the River taking pictures!

By Patricia Mondore

Patty Mondore and her husband, Bob, are summer residents of the Thousand Islands. Patty is a published author and a singer/song writer.  Her most recent books include River Reflections: A 90-Day Devotional for People Who Love the Water and its sequel, Nature Reflections: A 90-Day Devotional for People Who Love Nature. Her other books include River-Lations: Inspirational stories and photos from the Thousand Islands, A Good Paddling, Proclaim His Praise in the Islands, and Perennial Faith.  She and Bob, co-authored Singer Castle, and Singer Castle Revisited published by Arcadia Publishing, and co-produced Dark Island’s “Castle of Mysteries” documentary DVD in addition to a Thousand Islands music DVD trilogy. Patty is a contributing writer for the Thousand Islands Sun. Her column, "River-Lations", appears in the Vacationer throughout the summer months. The Mondores are online at www.gold-mountain.com.

Posted in: Photography, Nature
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Comments

Donna D
Comment by: Donna D ( )
Left at: 4:24 PM Wednesday, January 15, 2014
totally awesome!!
Mary Jo Acerno
Comment by: Mary Jo Acerno ( )
Left at: 12:08 AM Thursday, January 16, 2014
This article is wonderful. I was Born in Ogdensburg, New York. I get back there are often as I can. No matter how old you get to be it's all about The River. Peace and serenity. The lapping of the water against the shore. Watching ships make their way through the seaway, you can barely hear the engines as the pass. The waterway is filled with an abundance of treasures to behold. The photographer loves what he does and it shows as he has captured the beauty in all realms of nature at its best.
Donna Matthie Pray
Comment by: Donna Matthie Pray ( )
Left at: 7:25 AM Thursday, January 16, 2014
Congratulations Bruce, You certainly earned the recognition. Your work is amazing as always, and thanks for all the help you gave me when I became interested in photography.
Marion (Gutterson) Jones
Comment by: Marion (Gutterson) Jones ( )
Left at: 12:44 PM Thursday, January 16, 2014
Hi Bruce, I, too, have marveled at the beauty of your photos, and love them. You do an outstanding job! I see Mary Jo Acerno (above) has summarized it beautifully! I recall all the same things. I love your lightning bolt going into the river and have to say, Oh WOW!- you're making me lonesome for my beloved St. Lawrence River and all it's magnificent beauty. One of which, was the many days, I used to look downriver from our camp towards the DuPont plant, and see scenes just like this! So beautiful! Dangerous, but so beautiful nonetheless! Thanks for sharing Bruce Love this shot!
Bruce Dana
Comment by: Bruce Dana ( )
Left at: 2:48 PM Thursday, January 16, 2014
eg4x7Thank you all for your kind comments!!
John and Clair Magee Sever
Comment by: John and Clair Magee Sever ( )
Left at: 3:35 PM Thursday, January 16, 2014
Bruce,
Your photos are more than first prize. They are a treasure.
The comments from all the posters get a ditto from me.
Thank you for all the treasures that are captured in your photography. There is not another "River" like the St. Lawrence and the 1000 islands and you capture them in such reality.
Thank you
Kay Dana
Comment by: Kay Dana ( )
Left at: 4:30 PM Thursday, January 16, 2014
What a great article. You are an amazing photographer!
Linda Marshall
Comment by: Linda Marshall ( )
Left at: 6:46 PM Thursday, January 16, 2014
A good photographer combines art,skill and a good developed eye to know what to include or exclude in a image and when to click the shutter. Beyond those qualities it takes a special artist that evokes a connection with those who look at the image and Bruce has that ability. His images transcend words
Lynette
Comment by: Lynette ( )
Left at: 10:12 AM Friday, January 17, 2014
Absolutely beautiful photos! How you capture this beauty in a moments notice is shear talent! Thank you for sharing these photos with us! Can't wait to see more! God definitely gave you a gift. Thank you for sharing this gift with all of us!
Bruce Dana
Comment by: Bruce Dana ( )
Left at: 4:11 PM Friday, January 17, 2014
All Glory, Honor and Praise be to God!!! "For He made all things by His awesome power." Rev.4:11.

Thank you all but I am just clicking the shutter on these scenes. I thank God for leading me there at the right time.

I thank Patty Mondore for her inspirational writings.
As a fellow nature lover I love to read of her personal outdoor adventures, many of which you will relate to too.
She has a real talent for weaving entertaining personal stories with enlightening devotional verse. Links to Patty's work is above this comment section.

I also thank TI Life Editor Susan Smith for her extraordinary efforts in the design and layout for this article which she did seamlessly while traveling !!

Again I thank all of those for there kind comments .
Praise be to God for His beautiful Creation!!

Bruce Dana
Comment by: Bruce Dana ( )
Left at: 5:04 PM Friday, January 17, 2014
All Glory, Honor and Praise be to God!!! "For He made all things by His awesome power." Rev.4:11.

Thank you all but I am just clicking the shutter on these scenes. I thank God for leading me there at the right time.

I thank Patty Mondore for her inspirational writings.
As a fellow nature lover I love to read of her personal outdoor adventures, many of which you will relate to too.
She has a real talent for weaving entertaining personal stories with enlightening devotional verse. Links to Patty's work is above this comment section.

I also thank TI Life Editor Susan Smith for her extraordinary efforts in the design and layout for this article which she did seamlessly while traveling !!

Again I thank all of those for there kind comments .
Praise be to God for His beautiful Creation!!

Tom Sovie
Comment by: Tom Sovie ( )
Left at: 7:20 PM Friday, January 17, 2014
Bruce, you definitely have captured some wonderful scenes. The Aurora Borealis over Brockville was super. Being a retired pilot and flying over Alaska on trips to Japan, Korea, and China they always fascinated me.
MARTHA GOTHAM
Comment by: MARTHA GOTHAM ( )
Left at: 11:10 PM Friday, January 17, 2014
The photos are stunning. have never seen anything like them before. who needs to travel whe have such beauty here
Natalie Aldrich
Comment by: Natalie Aldrich ( )
Left at: 7:05 AM Saturday, January 18, 2014
BUb7fDI too have enjoyed many wonderful Bruce Dana photo's via NorthCountryNow.com postings. I first learned of Bruce's talent though a family member and I've been following his postings for a couple of years. I am a "very amateur" photographer myself and marvel at Bruce's abilities. I finally got the pleasure of meeting him at his photo display in Morristown this past Fall. He took a great deal of time showing and telling me all about each photo and that was very interesting to me. Well, Bruce this recognition is well deserved. Keep on clickin'
Len Ewald
Comment by: Len Ewald ( )
Left at: 2:24 PM Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Love the photos like everyone else! Spent many an island summer just up river closer to Gananoque on the Canadian side, and I still get back every summer for 2 weeks. Just curious, the lightning strike and ominous sky back drops - is that Brockville or Ogdensburg, or?
Bruce Dana
Comment by: Bruce Dana ( )
Left at: 5:53 PM Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Thank You all!! Yes the Lightning was shot right across from Brockville and Ominous Sky was shot a few miles down river from Brockville Ont.
Len Ewald
Comment by: Len Ewald ( )
Left at: 2:58 PM Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Thank you for the clarification on Brockville, Bruce. Before purchasing the island in '58, our family spent a week or two each summer at Oak Point. We're now in the Navy Group, just up river from Ivy Lea. Big news of 2013 was an active Bald Eagle's nest right on the island!! We are hoping they'll be back this year!
Bruce Dana
Comment by: Bruce Dana ( )
Left at: 12:28 AM Thursday, January 23, 2014
That's great news Len!! Hope they return too!!
tim Cobb
Comment by: tim Cobb ( )
Left at: 4:32 PM Thursday, January 23, 2014
Thank you, Patty Mondore and Thousand Island Life for the article on Bruce Dana. During this past summer I had the opportunity to renew my childhood friendship with Bruce, renewing our life as true “River Rats” growing up on the river above Morristown. My wife and I have visited Bruce at his studio overlooking the river. We have also viewed his exhibit and attended his presentation at the Gateway Museum.
For us, Bruce Dana is a true river photographer. We have viewed many more of Bruce’s photos of the river and nature. The love of the river and how Bruce captures nature only comes from being out on the water as a young river rat. Combined that with his strong faith in God and that makes Bruce Dana stand out.
I would suggest, Thousand Island Life invite Bruce to submit more of his photos along with the many great childhood stories he has of growing up as a river rat.

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