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Great Fountain Geyser, Yellowstone National Park, 2005

In the visitor center at the park they have a list of all the geysers and when they are supposed to erupt. I saw this one was meant to go off at sunset. So I went there and waited…and waited…and waited. One of my preferred lighting situations is to backlight things. So, I’m standing directly opposite the sun. As the sun was going down, the geyser went off. I positioned myself to hide the geyser with the brightest part of the sky, to capture the motion. I probably shot 30 images with one camera. No filters, just some bracketing to make it a little lighter or darker. But nine times out of ten with my images, what you see is what nature is dishing up. Nature is so beautiful. It’s just a matter of seeing it and being there.

Location: Yellowstone National Park
Photograph Date: 2005
Medium: Chromogenic Print
Edition: 200


SKU: N/A.

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Photographer Profile: Michael Melford

Michael Melford originally wanted to be an engineer. But after taking an art history course at the University of Syracuse, New York, he found his way to photography, which combined what he calls “the mechanical-chemical aspect of engineering with instant art.” Since then, he has won numerous awards from The International Center of Photography and World Press Images, among others. He is a regular contributor to National Geographic. He lives in Mystic, Connecticut.

Q & A

You’ve just completed your 18th story for National Geographic. What does it mean to work for “The Big Yellow”?

It’s everyone’s dream, and it did not disappoint. I came to National Geographic through National Geographic Kids magazine, from that to the Books division, then to National Geographic Traveler magazine, where I worked for 15 years without cracking the door at “Big Yellow.” Then, about twelve years ago, out of the blue, I got the phone call. Two other photographers had turned down an assignment to go to Acadia National Park. I jumped on it and began working nonstop for National Geographic.

One of your inspirations is Ansel Adams. What excites you about his work?

Ansel was not only an artist, he was a technician. He pre-visualized his images. He was, to me, the landscape photography master artist, technician, and craftsman, and he remains so today. Digital photography makes it easy by giving you the tools to make a picture look any way you want. I think Ansel would be all over digital. He was the predecessor of it all. Not only did he have a vision of landscape and the American West, he understood light and the technical aspects of it.

Is there a larger mission behind your photos, Michael?

National Geographic’s goal is to get people to care about the planet. That says it all for me, too. I want to try and capture how beautiful the world is. I am not a journalist. I’m a landscape photographer and want to share with people what I see and how beautiful it is, in the hope of preserving it and making people appreciate it.

National Geographic Creative Interview With Michael Melford By Simon Worrall

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