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December - Jim Brandenburg.

The closer you can come to a thing, the more intimately involved with it you are, the more it opens itself to you. We grow, like the roots of a tree or the basin of a stream, deeper with the years. And life reveals its order, the structure of its poem to us.

When you visit the American photographer Jim Brandenburg’s home page on the Internet you are met with the philosophical concept that everything in nature has a spirit. The statement contains a deep respect for everything living. Is it Japanese in origin? Is it Buddhist? Or is it really a Native American saying?
Jim Brandenburg’s home page does not only contain English but Norwegian as well.
“Lots of people have asked me why”, says Jim. “ But it just says that a part of me is Norwegian. I feel very Scandinavian while at the same time I also have Japanese roots”.
Jim Brandenburg lives farthest up in Minnesota, so close to Canada that if he looks through his window to the north, he can see lakes and forests on the other side of the border. The lives in Ravenwood, a nature reserve, of three million acres of natural territory.
He started as a nature photographer and filmmaker while he studying at the university in Duluth. He continued as picture editor at the Worthington Daily Globe in Southern Minnesota and also started to freelance for National Geographic.
In 1978 he signed with the National Geographic Society. For many years he worked as a freelance and in this capacity carried out numerous projects for magazines, also contributing to the issue called ‘North Woods Journal’, that came out in November 1997. It was the feature that the editor, William Allen, considers as, “the most pictures the magazine has ever published in one feature in the entire history of the magazine while, by the way, using the least amount of film”. Jim Brandenburg’s bestseller ‘Chased by the Light’ is built around the result of 90 long days of photography.


As a freelance, Jim Brandenburg has done assignments for, and published his pictures in papers and magazines, such as The New York Times, Life, Time, Audubon, Smithsonian, Natural History, National Geographic World, Geo, Airone, Modern Maturity, BBC Wildlife, National Wildlife, Terre Sauvage, Outside, and Camera Natura.
His pictures have been rewarded with many international distinctions including Life Magazine Collector’s edition – The World’s Best Photographs 1980-1990 and recently by the magazine Photo District News – 20 years of Great Images. He has twice been named ”The magazine Photographer of the Year”, by the American National Press Photographer’s Association (NPPA) and as ”Kodak Wildlife Photographer of the Year” by the Natural History Museum in London and the BBC Wildlife Magazine. In 1991 he received the World Achievement Award at the United Nations environment conference in Stockholm. The award was presented by King Carl XV1 Gustaf  of  Sweden. About the photographer it was said; ”With his photographs of nature he has succeeded in raising the general public’s awareness of environmental issues”.


Deciduous forest, Minnesota, Minnesota, USA

 

Jim Brandenburg has published several best sellers. In 1998 he came out with the already mentioned ‘Chased by the Light’, ‘Brother Wolf’ appeared in 1993, ‘White Wolf’ in 1988 and ‘Minnesota- Images of Home’ in 1990. He has also produced four books for children and two for young adults.
In 1998 he produced, directed and filmed a TV documentary ‘White Wolf’ for National Geographic / BBC, that was released as a video in 1989.
There is an exhibition of pictures from ‘Chased by the Light’ travelling around North America at present. Another exhibition titled ‘The Photography of Jim Brandenburg’ is part of the collections at the Bell museum.
Currently Jim is working on his latest project ”Looking for the Summer” which is a sequel to his bestseller ”Chased by the Light” and will be available in the summer of 2003. He is also working on a high-definition movie with a companion book about the prairie that will be released in 2004.


After travelling around the world for several decades he has now become more and more interested in documenting his home territory. The Ravenwood reserve contains thousands of lakes. During the last year he has been on the hunt for new images with his Hasselblad XPan.
“I don’t know of any camera that in such compact form produces such high quality. The lenses are incredibly sharp. I ski a lot in the winter and I keep the camera in my pocket. But it also slips neatly into my small pack when I’m out canoeing”.
He has all three lenses, 30mm, 45mm, and the 90mm. “I use the 30mm for 90% of the shots .”


Birch wood, Ravenwood, Minnesota, USA 

He produces enlargements from his XPan negatives for his galleries, one in his hometown of Luverne and another in Ely, both in Minnesota.
“I crop the image a little to get the format I prefer. Then I make a giclée fine art print on the best watercolor paper, so-called pure rag, using an Epson 9000 with pigmented inks. It produces 1,440 dots per inch. Sometimes I’ll do an enlargement up to 2 meters in length. And I know they are going to last for hundreds of years. I think it’s interesting that modern technology has been combined with traditional printing materials like real paper and real inks”.
Do not forget to visit Jim Brandenburg´s website.

Sören Gunnarsson