Thursday, December 27, 2012

Congaree National Park

Running the Junior Ranger Ecology Camp at Congaree National Park in Hopkins, South Carolina required a lot of work, everything from throwing on a pair of waders and collecting aquatic macro-invertebrates from a lake, to inventorying supplies, scheduling activities, becoming first aid/CPR and AED certified, and becoming aware of educational standards put in place through the public school system. I now have experience working as part of teams with a number of specialists, researchers, park rangers and other government employees, and other people from all backgrounds and professions. I’ve participated in many different programs including the North American Butterfly Count, conducting hydrology research and measuring cross-sections of creeks and rivers, and bird banding for data collection, just to name a few. In addition to participating in these programs, I had an obligation to document them and provide professional photographs of such activities, and my pictures were utilized for different publications, and utilized for educational purposes as well.

Upon completion of my summer internship, I installed a photography exhibit of 42 prints I had produced over my time there. It took up three big walls I had installed in the Harry Hampton Visitor Center, so that visitors from around the country and the world could see my vision of Congaree as a photographer. This is the first show I’ve installed outside of MICA, so it was a good experience to think about things like placement, captioning, and how people outside of the art-world might perceive my work.

Overall, the three months I spent at my internship site threw me into situations I never though I’d be in. I made some professional contacts in the National Park Service, and have been inspired to continue working with similar subject matter in the future.  I now have experience in the realm of nature and wildlife photography. Within this, I’ve learned how to camp, navigate, and drudge through some of the most unfavorable environmental conditions possible. I hope that I get to utilize these skill sets again someday, as I yearn to travel and see as much of the natural world as I can. Photography plays a big role in this as well, as I don’t want to explore just for the experience of it alone, but always be able to come out with high quality professional images, which can be utilized for publication or for sale in the fine art marketplace. If my job demands that I hop on a plane to Africa to photograph wild tigers as part of a story on the diminishing wild tiger population, I will be content.  In addition to being able to expand my photography portfolio, I’ve learned a great deal of other skills. I now have experience working with young kids, which will benefit me if my photography ever leads me to those sorts of situations as well. I’m confident that having this internship on my resume may lead to new and exciting endeavors in my professional career.
-Paul Angelo '13 Photography