Celebrating All Things Moose from North Country Magazine

North Country Article Tear sheet

Celebrating All Things Moose from North Country Magazine – A reprint from the Spring 2013 Issue of North Country: The Journal of Maine. Shelia Talbot is a talented freelance writer and regularly contributes to North Country Magazine. She resides in the Moosehead Lake Region of Maine. North Country: The Journal of Maine is published bi-monthly and features all that is Maine.

Many people come to Maine with the hope of seeing one of the most amazing creatures, the mighty moose, or as it is technically known Alces alces, the largest member of the deer family. This amazing creature, which can seem as large as a house when encountered on foot, saunters gracefully through the woods in spite of its size, and in the case of the male, its ungainly rack of antlers. They are like no other animal; to some they look like they’ve been constructed out of spare parts by Mother Nature – an almost droopy cow-like nose, narrow hips, long, long legs and a tiny snip of tail. In spring they move out of the deep woods and into boggy places on lakes and ponds to enjoy the fresh plant life growing nearby or underwater. That’s the best place to catch sight of them. And, if you’re very fortunate, you might be treated to a Mama moose with one or two fuzzy little ones. It’s a lifetime experience for sure – one you’ll never forget. Hopefully you have your camera ready!

If not, you still can find your moose, magnificently photographed by the folks at MOOSE PRINTS GALLERY AND GIFTS in Millinocket. This July, owners Mark Picard and Anita Mueller will celebrate the third anniversary of their business. They are both talented photographers and, as our good fortune would have it, also have a passion for the North Woods of Maine and the creatures that live there. Mark’s work has graced the cover of North Country Magazine many times. His photographs are like paintings, the brilliant shot of a fox on the last edition of North Country and the antlered moose in snowfall published prior to that, are two examples.

It takes infinite patience and time, not to mention a deep understanding of the animal’s behavior to capture images like these. Mark’s quiet way has been such an asset and he is now known worldwide for his extraordinary digital presentation of moose. His portfolio of more than 150,000 quality nature images has been featured in numerous national and international publications, books, and calendars including Audubon, Sierra Club, Nature Conservancy, National Wildlife Federation, Vermont Magazine, Yankee, Defenders of Wildlife and Birder’s World, and Ranger Rick, (just to name a few) as well as North Country.

While photographing at a wildlife sanctuary he met Anita, a talented free lance interior designer, who as a hobbyist, photographed birds. She shares Mark’s passion for the natural world and, with her eye for design as well as photography, designed Moose Prints Gallery as a perfect foil for their work.

“This space reflects my long-time love affair with the Katahdin region and its wildlife,” Mark observed. “Much like a walk in nature, you need to expect the unexpected. Anita has created this gallery in such a way that the walls are filled with creatures, landscapes and gift items both great and small.”

Anita smiled. “Mark has been photographing in Maine for over 30 years now,” she said. “Then, a little over 10 years ago, LL Bean hired him to lead one of their Photography Outdoor Discovery Schools. It seemed like such a good idea we continued to promote the workshops in the Katahdin Region, which have attracted visitors from around the world. However, the few short months we spent in Maine for the workshops was never enough so we re-located permanently to Millinocket three years ago and opened MOOSEPRINTS GALLERY & GIFTS.”

Not long ago Mark was honored to have his Moose images used in rendering the Maine State Postal Stamp and last year he was selected as the Maine Sportsman Artist of the Year. “Most recently, the Turnpike Authority has used his images on one of the large-scale banners that hang in the visitor centers,” Anita said. “We have several large canvases on loan to the Maine Tourism Association to greet visitors at the Kittery Visitors Center. The center attracts thousands of visitors each year. And, who does not want to see a Moose when they visit Maine?” For most, it’s at the top of their list and the banner and canvases are dramatic invitations to spot your own.

Picard’s canvases, with the photograph stretched around the frame are impressive, especially the ones featuring the adult bull moose, a creature who can weigh in at around 1200 pounds and stand over seven feet tall! No less spectacular are the panoramic landscape images of Mt Katahdin, Maine’s tallest mountain which are photographed in such a way as to make the viewer feel as though they are standing right there. The image transferred to canvas gives it a more “painterly” look and can be a centerpiece that commands a whole wall.

“We have enjoyed living and doing business in Maine” Anita said. “We have accomplished a great deal in a few short years.” Looking forward and new for 2013, in addition to Mark’s group photography workshops they have added Maine Woods Photography Workshops for Women led by Anita which are scheduled during prime viewing times of June and September. It is quite a trick to photograph a sometimes fast-moving subject, and with her special eye for birds, Anita has the knowledge and technique to assist photographers of all levels of experience. She knows her subjects well, and can anticipate movement and patterns of animal behavior. As is true for all their workshops a heavy emphasis is placed on learning how to operate a digital camera for consistent results.

On your way to Katahdin or Baxter State Park, be sure to include enough time for a stop in Millinocket and a leisurely visit to MOOSEPRINTS GALLERY & GIFTS where you can bag your own moose souvenir. You will find a rich assortment of Mark and Anita’s work, including Mark’s popular moose wall calendar, greeting cards and photographs of all sizes. You can also find works by other gifted artisans, including nature-themed jewelry, candles, cd sound tracks, moose antler sheds, and locally authored books.

MOOSEPRINTS GALLERY & GIFTS is located on 58 Central Street (Routes 11 and 157) at the intersection of Congress Street and just down the road from a picturesque stretch of Millinocket Stream, adjacent to Key Bank. Call Mark or Anita for information regarding workshops and presentations at 207/447-6906 or visit their excellent website at www.markpicard.com or e-mail them at mark@markpicard.com

Reprinted by permission North Country Magazine

Alces alces Latin for Moose

Watch Alces, alces a You tube video featuring Maine Wildlife Photographer Mark Picard who specializes in Alces, alces which is Latin for Moose, other wildlife and landscape photography workshops and instruction in the Katahdin Region of Maine. This video was sponsored by New England Outdoor Center, the Maine outdoor adventure company that host’s our Maine photography workshops. They had a summer intern who was a photographer and videographer who produced a number of “shorts” about businesses in the Katahdin Region of Maine who specialize in providing outdoor recreation opportunities. Watch the short video to learn what Mark Picard did before he became a professional photographer, what got him hooked on photography, and what he has learned about wildlife photography and Moose over the years. Take a guided tour through Moose Prints Gallery and Gifts and learn about Moose and wildlife photography as Mark discusses images that tell a story about Moose behavior and their natural history.

A Few Wildlife Photography Tips

Twin Moose CalvesA few wildlife photography tips or “pointers” you might consider when photographing Moose and other wildlife.

The most important wildlife photography tip I can suggest is to always focus the camera on the eye (or the head) of any wildlife photography subject. If the eye area is not in sharp focus, the general impact of the photograph will be lost.

The second most important wildlife photography tip (unless you want extra work in Photoshop), is try to maintain a level horizon line in the background of your photographs. Refer to actual horizon lines such as a shoreline, a tree line, or another point of reference to help you achieve this.

Third wildlife photography tip –  don’t be afraid to rotate your camera and shoot photographs vertically! In many instances the photo’s composition would benefit greatly from shooting it vertical, especially when photographing wildlife such as a moose from head on.

Fourth important wildlife photography tip –  try to avoid cropping out or “cutting” off the Moose’s limbs when possible. If you must crop, try to crop above the joints (such as the ankle and knee joints). Sometimes, as in photographing close-up portraits, some cropping will be necessary. If you are including all of the Moose’s body and legs, always include the “virtual” area hidden below (as in grasses or water, for instance) where the feet would normally show as well.

Fifth wildlife photography tip –  leave room in the photo on the sides and try to lead the moose or any wildlife subject into the space around it in the direction it’s headed, while leaving some “space” for the Moose or subject to go. This tip usually lends itself to a more pleasing composition in general.

A final wildlife photography tip –  don’t be afraid to take several images at different focal lengths (such as with a zoom lens). Include images that show the Moose or subject’s environment as well. Some of the best photographs that have the most impact are taken with the Moose or main subject occupying only a small portion of the overall photo. This method supplies the viewer with a ton of information! Of course, that’s not to say that you shouldn’t get that frame-filling portrait of a massive bull moose adorned with a huge rack! Try to be diverse and capture both images when time and conditions makes it possible!

We hope you found these wildlife photography tips helpful. Good luck, and we hope to see you at an upcoming Maine wildlife photography workshop!

Baxter State Park: MYWLP

An honor to participate!  Mark has been invited to lead the outdoor photography segment of this year’s week long Maine Youth Wilderness Leadership Program sponsored by The Friends of Baxter State Park. Prior to attending the program in Baxter State Park the nine high school students were asked to complete an assignment which included reading the North American Nature Photography Association’s Principals of Ethical Field  Practices and then answer the following question: “What is the most important sentence and why?”  Here are a few of the responses:

“The most important sentence in this position statement is this sentence: “One must always exercise good individual judgment”. This is true because in all  actions towards nature, including photography, personal judgment allows you to follow your own instincts and create a safe and stable environment for the wildlife and others around you. By doing this, you are further helping the safety and success of the surroundings, wildlife, and photographer. This also allows for greater ease and self-confidence in both the photographer and subject!”

“Many people unknowingly endanger themselves and animals: This statement, although in the Individual section of the principles, can also be applied to the Environmental and Social sections. A lot of people are ignorant about what lives in the wilderness and, therefore, don’t know what actions are acceptable in a human-nature relationship. Having knowledge of subject and place (i.e. animals and their habitats) and being aware of the rules and laws in specific areas will allow someone to be more responsible and safe overall. As animals and plants don’t have the ability to research the patterns of human beings, it is our ethical responsibility to obtain this knowledge about the wildlife (because we have the resources to do so). By learning all about wildlife before we explore it and being conscious and aware when among nature, it allows us to act as “good role model[s], both as…photographer[s] and…citizen[s].”

“Most Important sentence: Treat the wildlife, plants and places as if you were their guests. Why: Although there were a number of sentences in this statement from the North American Nature Photography Association that proved to be very insightful, I thought that this particular one instilled a very important ideal for anyone who wishes to enjoy the abundant wildlife. When enjoying the wildlife it is of utmost importance to remain respectful to living and nonliving things. Too many times do people enter the wilderness without any knowledge of subject and place. It is then that disturbances are made that have the potential to alter the life of far too many organisms. I felt that the sentence that I chose was a reminder of how all people should feel when entering the wilderness. It is important to be aware that humans, for the most part, are visitors in life away from urban areas. Because people are simply guests they must do research and become informed when entering a place in which they are less familiar with.”

“I believe that the first statement, knowledge of subject and place, is the most important in nature photography. This section deals directly with the health and safety of the subjects you are photographing, wild animals. Practicing this principle is the most effective in preserving the natural environment for photography and prevents any damage to the ecosystem. While the other principles also help achieve this goal, I believe having proper knowledge of how to conduct oneself in the wilderness is most effective and therefore most important.”

“I found the most important sentence in the article to be: “In the absence of management authority, use good judgment.” I believe ‘use good judgement’ is one of the most important phrases to think upon when you interact with the wild. Written/posted rules and laws are great, and important to follow, but they don’t exist everywhere in nature. Before you do something/go somewhere, you need to assess the situation by yourself, and figure out if it really is a good idea. Always err on the side of caution, and respect the animals, plants, and ecosystems.”

We think the answers provided by the program participants were very insightful and thoughtful. In fact, we think it will be our pleasure to run into these young leaders while photographing in Baxter State Park.  If we had to choose just one sentence as the most important Mark and I would choose “Treat the wildlife, plants and places as if you were their guests.” There are an increasing number of us photographing wildlife every day and far too often we forget that we are in someone else’s home. Limiting the cumulative effects of our presence should always be our goal.