All through the month of September an exhibit on raptors will be featured in the Community Room of the Sisters Library. It all got started a few months back when Zeta Seiple, chair of the Friends of the Sisters Library art committee, asked, "So, what do we want to do for an exhibit in September?"
Not wanting to pass up an opportunity, I piped up, "How about I do one on raptors?" All the heads around the table nodded up and down, so Zeta said, "OK, you got it."
Knowing I couldn't fill the walls with my photos alone, I began soliciting others to join me. This is where I have to give a big hug to a whole bunch of old pals and fellow lovers of all things natural. Be it ants, butterflies, eye-catching geology, birds or reptiles, I delight in friends who love all of the nature of our beautiful planet and don't hesitate to share it.
Kevin Smith up in Crooked River Ranch dropped off a bunch of photos of the raptors near his place. Al St. John, our local expert and author on herptiles, dropped off three images of his raptors. Local artist Jennifer Hartwig jumped right in with scratchboard work of owls and eagles that'll knock your eyes out.
I've also included fellow birder Tom Crabtree's work. He's one of the original members of Central Oregon Audubon, which eventually became today's East Cascades Audubon Society. His Great Gay Owl portrait, which normally hangs in our house, is spectacular. And wait till you see Charlie Baughman's eagles!
Baughman has the good fortune to live in one of the Deschutes River canyons between Bend and Redmond. His home is about a football field length from an active Golden Eagle nest. He often sits on his deck, camera in hand, while "Chester" and "Kitty," owners of the nest, nod at him as they go out foraging for their kids.
Meanwhile, Abbott Schindler of Bend has three pieces in the exhibit, and the one of an Osprey shaking water out of its feathers is a barn-burner. In addition to the California Condor, Jodi Schneider has hung a portrait of a waiting Cooper's hawk at a bird-feeder, glaring at you, seeming to say, "Get out of here and leave me be!"
Tom Davis' photo of a family of Long-eared Owls portrays a surprise on the owls' part at seeing a camera staring them in the face. My wife Sue's adult Ferruginous Hawk swooping over us while I was banding its kids shows that species in almost all white plumage.
Fellow Sisters Area Photography Club member Linda Ziegenhagen has a Great Horned Owl photo in the exhibit—with a spectacular framing job—while on the West wall of the Community room I've hung my favorite owl photo. It's on 40-inch photo paper from when I was making photo murals back in the '50s.
I spotted that Great Horned Owl when I looked out the window of the old George A. Jones house I was living in on the Hollinshead's Timberlane Ranch in Bend in 1955. I was in the act of loading and cranking up my ancient 1928 4x5 Graphlex view camera, and it was 6 below zero outside.
I grabbed up my jacket, slipped on my logging boots, and with Graflex and head cloth in hand, slowly advanced on the owl. As I got closer it raised its head and stared at me. That's when I could see it was sitting on what appeared to be a jackrabbit.
I opened the big old Graflex, popped the lens board out, raised the hood, placed the black head cloth over the my head and camera, then slowly walked toward the owl. At that point I was no longer a human being, but the owl never took its eyes off me.
When the frame of the 4x5 negative was filled with owl I stopped, took a big breath and held it as I pushed the lever to bring the focal plane shutter over the film plate in the back of the camera—and that's all I got. When the camera's shutter went, "ker-plunk" the owl raised itself out of the snow on those big wings and flew off with the jackrabbit dangling.
Most of these amazing pieces are for sale—anywhere from $20 to $750. If you see something you like, quickly put your name in the box and if you're first, you'll get to take it home at the end of the show.
On Friday, Sept. 30—God-willin' and if snow ain't too deep—I'll be at the library to give a program on birds of prey. At 1 pm, most of the artists and photographers will be on hand to tell you about their work. Then around 1:30pm I'll show some slides and tell a few stories. So, as the old popular game show announcer said, "Come on down."