Images that Inspire a Connection to Place
What's News and Exciting to Report
May 8, 2020 - Today, the coffee table book “Beauty And The Beast: California Wildflowers And Climate Change,” won a gold medal for the Bill Fischer First Time Book Award – Non Fiction category. It also received two silver awards in the Art and Photography and Nature and the Environment categories.
The IBPA Benjamin Franklin Award program recognizing excellence in book editorial and design is regarded as one of the highest national honors for independent publishers.
Review of “Beauty and the Beast” by Katherine Morris will be featured with several other Nature/Environmental titles in the upcoming May/June issue of Foreword Reviews.
Katherine writes about these titles:
"Writing about the natural world isn’t easy at a time when climate change is making its ugly face known, with swings between devastating heat, record cold, prolonged drought, and torrential rains. It would be easy to fall into despair. But the books featured here are hopeful instead. Celebrating Earth’s beauty, warning of the fragility of its ecosystems, and demanding change on behalf of the planet, they’re all about taking action. Read and be inspired!"
"Beauty and the Beast is the story of an imperiled glory. Part of an inspiring documentary art project created by photographers Rob Badger and Nita Winter, it highlights California’s famed wildflower superblooms” that, when conditions are favorable, herald the arrival of spring with a riotous display of color.
Shimmering in vast waves across the landscape or revealing their intricacies in intimate portraits of a single bloom, the wildflowers were all photographed in natural light using harm-free methods that are shared in detail at the end of the book. Sixteen short, insightful essays by a diverse group of writers tell the stories of these imperiled wildflowers and inspire action with suggestions for helping to tame “the beast.”
The book celebrates California’s remarkable biodiversity. Home to more native plant species than any other state, its varied landscapes—cool north-facing mountain slopes, scorching desert terrain, bay estuaries, and beaches—are the result of millennia of tectonic upheavals. The resulting microclimates have sheltered ancient organisms that are now extinct everywhere else, though they are now under threat as overconsumption destroys natural habitats, pollutes, and wreaks havoc on ecosystems.
While Earth’s long and tumultuous evolution has always included periods of climate change, the book reveals that what is happening now is different. Sped up by human activity, climate change is occurring much faster than ever before, leaving plants without the time they need to adapt to changing conditions or migrate to environments better suited to them.
Sensitive and thought provoking, Beauty and the Beast is a delight for the eyes and nourishment for the soul—a strong reminder of fragile beauty on the cusp of destruction, given in the hope that people will be moved to care and then to act on its behalf."
BY KATHY MORRISON
The beauty of a wildflower is ephemeral, and much more so when viewed in the shadow of climate change. Will the same species of flower bloom in the same spot next year, next decade, next century? If not, will future generations know what has been lost?
Photographers Rob Badger and Nita Winter have made California wildflowers their cause and their rallying point in the fight against “the beast” — human behavior that threatens native landscapes. Their photographs are collected in a magnificent book, Beauty and the Beast: California’s Wildflowers and Climate Change, to be published at the end of the year in partnership with the California Native Plant Society. The book also features essays by 16 noted environmental scientists, activists, and writers including Peter H. Raven, Mary Ellen Hannibal, Gordon Lepig, and Robin Wall Kimmerer. CNPS Executive Director Dan Gluesenkemp wrote the opening note to the reader.
Badger and Winter, who are partners in life as well as business, have been photographing wildflowers in nature for more than 20 years. Working only on public lands, they lug pounds of photo equipment into the desert or up mountain trails so they can capture the serene glory of a sacred datura (Datura wrightii), or the fiery red and yellow blooms of Franciscan paintbrush (Castilleja subinclusa). Astonishing photographs of common harebell (Campanula rotundifolia) — the blooms glowing as if illuminated by blacklight — and translucent petals of checkerbloom (Sidalcea malviflora) demonstrate the breathtaking beauty of our native plants.
Eagle-eyed Winter often will spot their next subject. The flowers always are photographed in natural light as they grow, whether a few inches or several feet above ground. Badger and Winter use a black or white portrait backdrop to allow the flower’s details to come to the fore. To get the best angle, Badger often lies flat on the ground with his digital camera on a tripod, while Winter holds a reflector above. At other times, they gently wrap cloth around the plant to create complementary folds and shadows. Every once in awhile, Rob uses a spontaneous approach; they call these shots their “Contact” Series. They also photograph panoramic landscape scenes.
One eye-catching image included in the book shows a rufous hummingbird feeding at a scarlet fritillary (Fritillaria recurva), its wings moving too fast for Badger’s camera. He says that picture was just luck; he was already photographing the flower when the bird flew into the frame. He clicked off two shots before it flew away. “That was the luckiest photograph in my entire life,” he says.
But the pair refuses to take pictures in any place where they feel their work will disturb the flowers or their habitats. They are dedicated to respecting the rights of the individual plant and its community, as well as any people who might follow them to that site. “Nita’s really conscious about where I place my knees and my feet,” says Badger. If they do have to move a rock or a twig, they gently restore it to its original spot, Winter says.
Badger loves the desert, where he became overwhelmed by a superbloom in the Antelope Valley in 1992. In fact, he was so enthralled that he jumped in his car, drove all the way to the Bay Area to get Winter, then drove all the way back to show her the colorful expanses in the California Poppy Reserve. He was a landscape photographer at the time, while Winter was focused on the diversity of human faces. But they joined forces to record wildflowers beginning with the 1998 superbloom. Now, after wet winters they begin photographing in late January, then follow the blooms as they unfold across the state. “One of the fun things about California is that you can find things, good blooms, probably seven months of the year,” Winter says. Peak bloom at 11,000 feet in the Sierra might even be in August. “Weather can really affect what’s blooming where,” she says. “We’re all up and down the state,” Badger notes.
Climate change itself is hard to track over just a few years, but one thing the pair has noticed in California is the increase in superblooms. The 1998 event they photographed was called a 100-year bloom then. But now, they say, there are more high rainfall years between drought years, and more moisture is available in desert regions. That creates more astonishing flower displays but also encourages invasive plants to move in and outcompete the native plants.
Winter and Badger also are concerned about the increased traffic from superbloom tourists, who trample the flowers or even lie down in them to take pictures, as seen this past spring. “It’s really hard for us to see people’s behavior,” Winter says. “We want people to get out and see, and value, the outdoors,” adds Badger. “But do you love it to death?” There are different levels of consciousness among humans when it comes to nature, he notes. So the people behind “Beauty and the Beast” have a hope and a goal for the publication: To raise awareness, and to change the actions that destroy the plants and their communities, Winter says. “The book really is about motivating action,” Badger says.
Beauty and the Beast is a companion to a large-format photography exhibit that already has been seen around the state, including at the California Museum in Sacramento, the Fullerton Arboretum, the Hi-Desert Nature Museum in Yucca Valley, the Bay Model Center in Sausalito and most recently the Sam and Alfreda Maloof Foundation for Arts and Crafts in Alta Loma. A semi-permanent exhibit also is at Chico State’s gallery through Nov. 24. The exhibit tour will continue in 2020 once the book is published, Winter says.
Ileene Anderson, senior scientist at Center for Biological Diversity
Genevieve Arnold, seed program manager at Theodore Payne Foundation for Wild Flowers and Native Plants
Ryan Burnett, sierra Nevada director with Point Blue Conservation Science
Kitty Connolly, director of Theodore Payne Foundation for Wild Flowers and Native Plants
José González, founder and director emeritus of Latino Outdoors
Mary Ellen Hannibal, author of 5 books and many articles focused on nature and conservation
Kenna Kuhn, student of environmental science and sustainability at the University of Denver
Margaret Leinen, director of Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Gordon Leppig, senior environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife
Amber Pairis, director of the Climate Science Alliance and Climate Kids
Peter L. Raven, author, world renowned botanist, president emeritus of the Missouri Botanical Gardens
Will Rogers, former president and CEO of the Trust for Public Lands
Erin Schrode, activist, social entrepreneur, and innovative community organizer.
Wendy Tokuda, retired award-winning journalist, environmental restoration volunteer
Susan J. Tweit, author of numerous books and articles focused on nature and conservation
Robin Wall Kimmerer, mother, writer, scientist, distinguished professor and founding director of the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment
Reprint of the article in the California Native Plant Society magazine Flora, Winter 2019
ART & EXHIBITS SF GATE
Sam Whiting, San Francisco Chronicle March 25, 2019
The first time landscape photographer Rob Badger saw the wildflowers bloom in the Mojave Desert, he drove directly to a grocery store pay phone and put in a collect call to his partner, Nita Winter. She accepted the call in Marin City, and when his verbal description proved insufficient, he jumped in his car, drove six hours home to pick her up and then six hours back to the desert to prove it to her.
It was 1992, the first rainy season after seven years of drought, and “there was no way in hell that she was going to miss this,” recalls Badger. “There was this contrast of purple and white mixed in with orange. I’d never seen anything like it.”....
By VICKI LARSON | Marin Independent Journal
Photo by Rob Badger
Melting ice caps, drought, rising sea levels and wildfires are what usually come to mind when we hear about climate change.
Photographers Nita Winter and Rob Badger would like you to think about wildflowers instead.
Not because they’re beautiful to look at, but because climate change is changing their habitat and that has huge consequences for all sorts of wildlife that depend on them....
Bay Nature Magazine 03/25/19
by Matthew Harrison Tedford
Rob Badger began photographing nature and the California desert when he was 18, having moved from the East Coast to Los Angeles for college. Eventually what was a passion and a hobby turned into a career documenting environmental destruction, from clear-cutting to mining. Roughly 25 years after those first.....
Traveling exhibit " Beauty and The Beast: California Wildflowers and Climate Change"
featured in Spring issue of Pacific Horticultural Magazine.
Contact us for a press release and to set up interviews
Kaiser Redwood City Medical Center opened on December 17th. Two years ago, Rob Badger and Nita Winter began a collaboration with Suzanne Frazer, owner of A.R.T. Consulting Services, to provide artwork for this upcoming Kaiser hospital. This unique art commission involved providing 34 images that were built into the architecture of this new seven story medical center. Seven images became 8 foot high x 20 foot wide translucent lobby dividers.
Another series of images became diptychs and triptychs up to 15 feet wide behind the nurses stations.
To promote healing, patients, staff and visitors will enjoy the colorful wildflower abstracts in each of 120 patient rooms. More installations.
Current Documentary Art Project Renewal:
Beauty and the Beast: Wildflowers and Climate Change ~
Rob and Nita's documentary art project: Beauty and the Beast: Wildflowers and Climate Change, sponsored by Blue Earth Alliance, has been renewed for another two years.
Blue Earth will again act as our fiscal agent during fundraising. Blue Earth provides a variety of support and networking opportunities to help us complete our project and get the best exposure possible. We are very excited to have been invited into this very prestigious group of documentary photographers who's work illuminates the important issues around the world.
Blue Earth Alliance's mission is: To educate the public about endangered cultures, threatened environments and social concerns through photography. By supporting the power of photographic storytelling, we motivate society to make positive change'.
Click link below to learn more about this project, and view a prototype of the beautiful and thought provoking coffee table book "in progress," without its planned essays.
IMPRESSIONS OF SPRING: Wildflowers of the West on Our Public Lands
Public Art Announcements:
2015 San Francisco Arts Commission: $9,000. Six of Rob Badger's nature and San Francisco Bay Area images have been selected by the San Francisco General Hospital Art Committee. They will be reproduced on aluminum by Magna Chrome for the new hospital.
2014 Alameda County (California) Arts Commission Award: $64,000. Rob was selected as one of 15 artists to create original, one of kind artwork for a new Highland Hospital building in the San Francisco Bay Area. The commission for a series of both wildflower portraits and landscapes of the East Bay are to be completed by September 2015.
Exhibits, Awards, Articles and Interviews:
Rob Badger’s 2009 Wildlife Photographer of the Year (WPY) award winning wildflower landscape (category: Wild Places) is one of 200 images selected to be included in their 50th Anniversary book. Sponsored by the British Museum of Natural History and the BBC Worldwide, the competition “provides a global showcase of the very best nature photography.” His photo was selected from a large collection of 50 years’ worth of award winning contest images.
Honorable mention for "McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park, Shasta County, CA". Three other images made it into the finals.
***Radio Interview at G2 Gallery exhibit: "Where the Wild Things Grow"*** 2010
G2 Gallery in Venice, California: March 23, 2010 – May 2, 2010.
For a full view of the G2 Gallery site visit: http://www.theg2gallery.com/exhibits/wild_things_grow/index.html
***"Wild Places" Award Recipient from Wildlife Photographer of the Year (WPY) Competition sponsored by the BBC and British Museum of Natural History*** 2009
Rob's "50 Year Bloom in Peace Valley, Gorman, CA" is part of an international traveling exhibit featuring the 96 award winning images chosen from over 43,000 entries from 94 countries. Images can be seen at:
***Avanti Award Recipient of $10,000 Artist Award*** 2009
Awarded to Rob Badger to pursue his artistic passion in the field of photography. We are grateful to the Brucia Family for their generous support of the arts.
***Master Artist: Marin Independent Journal Feature*** 2008
Nita Winter is featured as the Master Artist at the Marin Art Festival at the Civic Center Lagoon in "Marin Art Festival: The face behind 'Faces' project" in Marin Independent Journal on June 11, 2008.
***American Photo Magazine Feature*** 2007
Nita Winter and Rob Badger are featured green photographers in "Inside the Green Studio: Being eco-conscious can also be good business" in American Photo Magazine's September 2007 issue.
***Natural Home Magazine Feature*** 2007
Nita Winter and Rob Badger are featured green photographers in a two page spread: "Focus on Sustainability" in Natural Home Magazine's May/June 2007 issue.
***Marin Independent Journal, March 24, 2007***
Nita Winter and Rob Badger are featured green photographers in a
"Green Plan-it: Shutter Out the Pollution with Eco-friendly Photography"
"The Faces of ..." Series 1999-2002
by Deb Fellner for Teaching Tolerance Magazine Fall 2002 (web exclusive)
"The town of Novato, Calif., was long known to outsiders as a white, wealthy community nestled in the hills above San Francisco Bay.
Nonresidents may have missed the changes that communities like Novato have experienced in recent years ............"
by Benny Shaboy for Studio Notes
By Stephanie Hiller for the North Bay Bohemian
“When people come here, they fall in love." Jeannette Sotomajor has set aside her lunch to talk with me at the front desk in the Pickleweed Community Center in San Rafael, where she works as an administrative assistant. "Sometimes people ask me if it is safe here. But once they're here, they fall in love."
It's true… The Canal District of San Rafael ………..”
"The Faces of Marin City"(full version)
by Deb Fellner for Photo District News (PDN) April 2000 issue (c)2000