Saturday, February 15, 2014

An Interview with Award-winning Florida Wildlife Photographer - Paul Rebmann

I was recently surprised at the Florida Scrub Jay Festival when I ran into a virtual friend. Paul Rebmann and I have swapped occasional retweets over the years (@WildFLPhoto and @oliviabrophie). It is only natural that we follow each other since we both choose Florida nature as the subject of our art. But when Paul walked up to me at the Festival, I didn't have a clue who he was until he introduced himself. It's an interesting quirk of our online lives that we can know so much about someone and their artwork, but not really have a clue what they look like.

Paul proved to be as smart and engaging in person as he is online. I didn't get enough time to talk with him because we were so busy at the Festival, so he agreed to an interview.

I've noticed on your website that you captured some amazing photographs of a snowy owl on Little Talbot Island in Florida. What do you consider your finest moment as a photographer? 
That would have to be capturing a loggerhead turtle hatchling just before entering the ocean at dawn in an image I call 'Heading Out To Sea'. 

Photographer Paul Rebmann's beautiful image of a newborn loggerhead turtle

What are you most proud of?
Winning first place in the 2008 'Beyond Birds' category of the Orange Audubon Kit & Sidney Chertok Nature Photography Contest with ‘Heading Out To Sea'.
What is your favorite part of being a wildlife and nature photographer?
The best part is being able to spend time in the outdoors where there always seems to be something new to discover. For instance I went out to the Big Scrub in the Ocala National Forest one day with the intention of shooting scrub jays (with a camera, not a gun) but the birds were not cooperative.  They all insisted on staying between me and the sun which usually does not make for very good photos.  But while wandering around in the scrub, I discovered several plants that I had not seen before and a cute little bee fly.  One of the plants was Curtiss' milkweed, a species that like our Florida scrub jay occurs nowhere in the world except in Florida.
Curtiss' Milkweed - native of the Florida scrub
What part do you find most challenging?
Finding the time to get out and make all the photographs that I want, as I still also have a day job as a network administrator.  On the detail level, our refreshing Florida breezes can make many images - especially of plants - difficult to capture.
You are also a certified Florida Master Naturalist. How has that education and knowledge changed your art?
The knowledge attained from the Master Naturalist program is very complementary to the art of nature photography.  It helps with things like learning where various subjects can be found or when the most likely time is to see them, and can  even help me to capture  particular behaviors.

Do you ever wish you would just pack up your bags and become a photographer of the Arctic or desert?
I do like the look of some of the dramatic western desert and canyon photography, and would like to shoot some of those scenes at some point, but I don’t think I would like to limit myself to a single subject.  My wife & I travel often, and I do take those opportunities to do some photography in different places.
Is there a shot you missed that haunts you? 
I was out at Lake Woodruff wildlife refuge near DeLand one day.  I had spent the morning on subjects along the impoundments, then hiked the (then just opened) trail to the lake and back.  I sat down on a bench on one of the levees and was watching an alligator in the canal when there was a sudden splash and commotion of birds behind me.  I swung around just in time to see a disappointed and wet bobcat sauntering back into the weeds with several herons haranguing the cat from above.  A few moments earlier would have been a great shot.

Is there a dream shot that motivates you that you can't ever seem to capture?
A Florida panther in the wild, or at least a bear, which I seem to only see along roads.
Florida Scrub Jay - Florida endemic and superstar of the scrub  - Paul's main website, with information about and photos of over 600 plants and more than 300 animals, plus other scenes from Florida - where select images can be ordered online in various format prints, including traditional photo, canvas, acrylic and metal or as greeting cards - where I occasionally post videos of nature subjects

@WildFlPhoto on twitter

Paul Rebmann has been a resident of Florida for more than thirty years and has spent much of the past fifteen years learning about, exploring and photographing nature all around the Sunshine State. A Florida Master Naturalist, he is a longtime member of both the Florida Native Plant Society and the Audubon Society, providing opportunities to learn from many of our experts about the various ecosystems, and the plants and animals that inhabit them.
Employed full-time as a network administrator in Ormond Beach, Paul is also a part-time nature photographer with images published in several field guides, periodicals, including The Palmetto and Backpacker magazine, and utilized in exhibits at Weedon Island Preserve and Lyonia Environmental Center. A number of images have also won awards in the Orange Audubon Society's Kit & Sidney Chertok Nature Photography Contest.

Paul and his wife Virginia reside in Ormond Beach

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