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David Gottlieb - NPN 0598

As far back as I can remember, I have been a nature groupie. One of the earliest recollections of my natural history enthusiasm was volunteering for the audio-visual squad in 3rd grade. I could then enjoy multiple viewing of film strips and movies that were usually nature themed. I specifically remember watching a series called "John Keiran's Kaliedoscope." Even then I realized this was pretty hokey stuff, crude photography accompanied by monotone narration. I am sure Mr. Keiran (now so obscure that even a Google search comes up empty) would be known as the Ed Wood of nature cinematographers. My first taste of quality nature film making was Walt Disney's "True Life Adventures." This series was widely acclaimed in its day, even winning an Academy Award.

Another lifelong passion has been some form of creative expression. I have always enjoyed drawing, painting, sculpting, carving, casting, molding and eventually photographing something or other.

The logical progression of events would seemingly lead to a creatively inclined nature profession. Growing up in coastal Georgia pointed me towards a career in marine biology. As I looked into this pursuit more carefully, I realized I really didn't want to be a marine biologist, studying sediment samples or the like, so much as I wanted to be Jacques Cousteau. So it naturally followed I would major in zoology and become a dentist. After dental school I moved to the Virgin Islands for a couple of years. I had plenty of opportunity to satisfy my marine biology interests through SCUBA diving and setting up marine aquariums. I also started to become a bit more serious about photography.

I moved back to Atlanta and reconnected with some naturalist buddies. I remember being amazed by some close-ups of insects a friend shot with an SLR, 50mm lens and a toilet paper roll as an extension tube. Thus inspired, I enrolled in a couple of workshops and courses at a local art center armed with a Minolta SR-T 102, my first SLR. My equipment was eventually upgraded to a Minolta X-700 and an assortment of lenses that served me well for over 20 years.

About 14 years ago I became a member and volunteer at a local nature center and started doing artwork, building exhibits, leading trips and taking pictures for them. Although I enjoy photographing a wide variety of subjects, I seem to be drawn to intimate details. Over the years I've examined things with everything from a magnifying glass to an electron microscope and am still endlessly fascinated.

A macro safari needn't take you any further than your own yard. I've been fortunate to travel to a number of exotic locations but the majority of my favorite images were taken within a few miles from home. I prefer to stalk my subjects in their natural settings whenever possible. I usually start out with a particular subject in mind but as I sit quietly waiting for the right moment, a whole new set of possibilities is invariably revealed.

I'm strictly a hobbyist so a successful photograph is one that pleases me technically and aesthetically. Being able to share my work is a bonus. I've been entering local competitions for years and have learned much from the opinions and work of others.

Discovering NPN has accelerated this process exponentially. About a year and a half ago I entered the Digital Domain with a Canon G2 and then a Canon 10D. Going digital, coupled with sharing images and information on the web has revved up my enthusiasm for photography to new heights.

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