The Examiner

Trekking into the Wild for That Special Photograph

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Doris Shepherd Wiese captured zebras on one of her four safaris to Africa.
Doris Shepherd Wiese captured zebras on one of her four safaris to Africa.

When Doris Shepherd Wiese began taking photographs of animals in her youth it was mainly shots of dogs and cats around New York.

Over the past three decades, Wiese has markedly expanded her horizons. She has taken four safaris to Africa, traveled to Antarctica and has gone to the sub-Arctic Canadian outpost of Churchill, Manitoba to capture breathtaking photos of animals in their natural habitats often interacting with their own or fending off predators.

Most of the time Wiese goes on her photography trips with her husband, Lee, also a photographer.

“We have friends that are photographers and back in the ’80s one of these photographers was going to India and asked us if we’d like to join him,” Wiese recalled. “I was really intrigued by the thought of going to India and I think that was the start of going to these places and shooting wildlife photography.”

Now through Feb. 17, Wiese’s work will be on display at The Art Gallery at The Rockefeller State Park Preserve in Pleasantville in the exhibit “A World of Animals & Art.” A few dozen of her most striking photos are hanging throughout the gallery, including some that were taken so close to the subjects you can feel the unease of the animal’s piercing eyes.

Wiese’s eye-catching work is done with either a 300- or 500-millimeter digital camera and a 2.8 lens. She transports you Tanzania with a herd of elephants and Mount Kilimanjaro in the background or to the polar bear capital of the world in Churchill when in autumn the animals move in droves toward the shores of Hudson Bay.

Her already crisp photographs are made even sharper because she uses a company in South Carolina that places the photos on canvas without frames. In some cases it’s like looking at a mural.

“The canvas gives, to me, kind of a painted look with this kind of subject matter,” said Wiese, an Upper Nyack resident. “I don’t think it’s great for all kinds of subject matter. There’s a depth to it.”

Wiese started with photography when her parents bought her a camera when she was 10 years old. Always possessing an artistic flair, she went to Pratt Institute to study advertising design, which also allowed her to take a photo packaging course.

When Wiese isn’t involved with photography she’s the president of a Rockland advertising agency. Over the years she has used some of her images on clients’ advertising campaigns.

Curator Audrey Leeds said she was looking for an exhibit that would brighten the gallery during the mid winter doldrums. When she came across Wiese’s photographs at the Art/Cultural Center of Blue Hill Plaza in Pearl River, Leeds knew she had to pursue her work.

“I think she has a wonderful perspective in how she shoots,” Leeds said. “She works with very good light.”

Of the places that she’s visited, South Georgia Island, located between the Falklands and Antarctica, is her favorite.

“Fascinating place,” Wiese said. “Of course in Antarctica and South Georgia there are no humans except for people going there to visit so the wildlife is extraordinary.”

A successful nature photographer must have an abundance of patience .Her shot of the elephant herd at Kilimanjaro took two and a half hours of waiting. Another time she photographed a six-hour standoff between a line of giraffes and a pride of lions. She was relieved when both groups left without attacking. Another time she came face to face with a cheetah, an image which was captured and is part of the exhibit.

But there are plenty of times when a photographer will come up empty.

“There are days that you don’t take one shot,” Wiese said. “As someone says, it’s not Disneyland.”

Lee Wiese, who accompanied his wife to the opening reception last Sunday, said she has a knack for getting the good shot.

“She has an affinity with animals, extreme patience and a very good eye, a painter’s eye,” he said. “She an excellent painter also.”

The Art Gallery at The Rockefeller State Park Preserve is located at 125 Phelps Way, off of Route 117. The gallery is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. There’s no admission but parking is $6. For more information, call 914-631-1470 ext. 0.


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