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  Field Notes From
Boundary Waters Summer

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From Author

Jim Brandenburg

In most cases these accounts are edited versions of a spoken interview. They have not been researched and may differ from the printed article.

Photograph by Judy Brandenburg


Boundary Waters Summer

Field Notes From Author
Jim Brandenburg
Best Worst Quirkiest
    I used a digital camera on this project. On Day 17 at 6:30 in the morning, I took a photograph of a heron sitting on a tree branch in the fog. Then I went right back to my studio, made a 20-inch (50-centimeter) print, brought it to my gallery, and sold it by noon!
    That was fun! Not so much for the money, but because the new technology allows you to have great rewards very quickly. The turnaround time is quite an advantage in the remote area where I live.

    I found a small lake and climbed up a fallen tree to photograph it. The tree was still hanging, and I leaned over to get a nice perspective of the lake with my wide-angle lens. Just as I shot the picture, the tree broke, and I fell quite a ways down, landing spread eagle on another stump. It hit my chest, and knocked me out. I thought I was gone.
    When I regained consciousness and started making my way back to civilization, I kept thinking I was going to die. I had all these strange and horrible feelings inside, and I was sure I was bleeding internally. But it turned out I was just badly bruised. In fact, it still hurts. I've worked for National Geographic for many years and have been in a lot of really dangerous situations, like facing charging rhinos in Africa and darting through war zones. I've been hit and beaten up and gone through a number of inconceivable things. But I thought I was closer to death here than anywhere else, virtually in my own backyard.

    One day at about five in the morning, I was rudely awakened by a crash and breaking glass. I went downstairs and found that a bear had broken in the house. He was in the kitchen breaking dishes and knocking things over. I scared him out, but he came back a week later. That time I got his portrait, which appears in the magazine. A bee was buzzing around his head. I guess he'd been stealing from the bee too, so we were both after him!

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