Snapchat: A New Lens for Old Sights

By: Hannah Bredar

Snapchat allowed me to share this Tolkien-esque vista with over 100 friends. (This view is from Buckskin Pass is in Colorado’s Maroon Bells/Snowmass wilderness area)

The days of Polaroids and darkroom photo development have been replaced by the modern era of digital ubiquity. Photography apps have risen in popularity among smartphone owners, as users are now able to take, store, and send pictures from one device. The Snapchat app is a particularly pervasive example. Indicative of the times, the name of this app is a quippy hybrid: “snap” morphs with “chat” to imply a short exchange, quick as a shutter speed. But what’s the point? Why not use real cameras? What’s the allure of Snapchat? Allow me to explain.

Let’s assume you are on a white water rafting trip and pull your raft up onto the bank of the river. The lighting is magnificent, the rapids are terrifying but magnetic, and you realize this experience MUST be shared. You whip out your phone, open the Snapchat app, and take a picture. Assuming all of your friends also have Snapchat, you can send them this picture. However, the app gives you the ability to set a time limit for the number of seconds for which the photo will appear on your friends’ phones. If they click on the picture but are not paying attention for the six-second time limit you have set for it, they cannot reopen it! This scene before you — the mesmerizing dance of swaying trees and violent rapids — will go unappreciated by all but you unless your friends are paying attention for those six seconds you allow them.

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This view is worth more than any pot of gold. And yes, there are two rainbows. Taken via Snapchat in upstate NY, on the road between Elizabethtown and Westport.

So the question remains: what’s the point? What consequences do your friends incur from this experiential time limit? On the one hand, Snapchat limits one’s exposure to nature. Your friends only have six seconds to see and process the picture you send. This is no way to experience the wild! A six-second photograph can’t convey the triumph of the water’s strength as it shapes the riverbanks, nor does it hint at the ravenous sound of the falls in the distance, nor the lulling scent of sun-warmed balsam firs lining the shore. And then there’s you. Does looking through a lens put distance between you and your object of focus? Snapchat differs from ordinary digital and film cameras in that it is a form of social media; you are sending this picture to specific recipients. In all likelihood you are anticipating their reactions, allowing those to color your own immediate experience. We all know this feeling: it is difficult to be fully present when we are sending an email or a last-minute text. This is why there are hands-free laws and those omnipresent signs that read, “No Phones Please!” Snapchat, too, can be a distraction. Like many other kinds of social media, it prevents full absorption of one’s surroundings as one attempts to send time-limited photos and videos to one’s entire social sphere.

Snapchat captured this interplay of light and dark along a Champlain Area Trail in upstate New York

On the other hand, Snapchat could be portraying nature realistically: wilderness is something fleeting, rare, and valuable. One must be present and attentive when one is exposed to it. Snapchat enforces this reality, disallowing prolonged exposure to the precious vistas, permitting just a hint of sublimity. That human desire to have more of something after just a brief taste could encourage further rafting excursions and thus increased wilderness education. This is good: the more that people know about the natural world, the better we will be at protecting it. Additionally, as the Snapchat photographer, you are forcing yourself to view the scene piecemeal. The grander scope of the roaring water, the glaring sun, and the threat of hidden boulders has a tendency to overwhelm, and the limited parameters of your smartphone’s screen may allow you to process the vista more thoroughly, and to cherish it.

It is controversial whether or not Snapchat’s cons outweigh its pros. Long-form nature film, on the other hand, is widely accepted as a comprehensive representation of the wilderness. It educates the masses on the value of the wild, combining cinematography with narration to tell the history of a place. If individuals are inadvertently educating their peers about this history through apps like Snapchat, the primary consequence will be increased awareness. Is this deleterious? As you stand on the riverbank, taking a photograph and sending it off to your social sphere, you are neither mentally nor emotionally present. But imagine the good that could be done if your friends are paying attention when they open the photo! They are introduced to a world of dynamic beauty and sublime ferocity, if only for six seconds.

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I’ve tried to find an imperfection in this view and I simply cannot. Lake Champlain has never looked so good. Documented by Snapchat in Westport, NY.

“Without tears in the eyes, there would be no rainbow in the heart.”

photoMeeting Dr. Jane Goodall at the 2013 Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival

I never imagined that my dreams would come true, meeting my hero during the 2013 Film Festival. After waiting patiently, I finally had the opportunity to tell you how I dressed up as you and embodied your character in 8th grade for a “Who’s your hero?” video project. Near the end of my story, blubbering in tears and absolutely moved by your peaceful presence, I knew why I had chosen you as my hero! Then when you recited a Native American proverb that I love, “Without tears in the eyes, there would be no rainbow in the soul,” my joyous tears flowed even more strongly. I want to thank you for this short moment with you – It was an incredible experience that I will remember until the end of time. I feel very fortunate that Tom Mangelsen captured this moment on film, now you and I are framed on my coffee table! 🙂 Happy 80th Birthday Jane – your peaceful heart is incredible.

With tremendous gratitude and eternal love,

Melissa

On behalf of the entire team here at the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival, HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Dr. Jane Goodall! We are continually inspired by your endless devotion to the common good, and genuine and passionate nature .

If you missed Dr. Jane’s Keynote talk at the Wildlife Film Festival this past fall, check it out here.

 

Outdoor Recreation & Conservation

February 24, 2014DanaPic1

Hello! I’m Dana, one of three interns joining the Jackson Hole Wildlife FilmFestival for the winter season. I’m very happy to be involved here. I believe media is essential in exposing people to the problems and wonders of our natural world and a key factor in conservation. Working as a guide for horseback and dogsled trips in the wilderness areas of Wyoming, I’ve seen firsthand the positive effect an experience in the natural world can have on a person. But even low impact human activities have an often harmful effect on wild areas as well. Where does one draw the line between preserving wild habitats and experiencing the great outdoors? I’ve recently returned from the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon in northern Minnesota, and I’d like to share a little bit about dog sledding and some thoughts it brings up in me about the use and protection of wild lands.

At approximately 380 miles, The John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon is considered one of the biggest sled dog races in the lower 48. It commemorates John Beargrease, avid outdoorsman and son of an Anishinaabe Chief, who with great perseverance delivered mail between early settlements along the rugged terrain of Lake Superior’s North Shore via boat, horse and dogsled in the late 1800s. Like other great sled dog races, such as the Iditarod and the Yukon Quest, the Beargrease is run on many miles of trail through protected lands and wilderness. This sport just can not exist without access to vast amounts of wild, open space.

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No one takes up dogsledding casually. The cost and commitment of owning, training and caring for these canine athletes is daunting. You need to love it, because staying involved in the sport requires a great deal of dedication and sacrifice. For most mushers, gliding on your runners through a pristine winter landscape, the only sound the gentle panting and padding of the dogs with whom you share such a special bond, is such an undeniable and irreplaceable experience that it becomes a major part of their lives.

Dog sledders aren’t alone in this kind of passion. Many people build their lives and their careers around pursuits that rely on access to public lands and wilderness areas. Sometimes these activities have a great cultural and historical value, such as fishing and canoeing among the Anishinaabe-Ojibwe people. Even as a modern horsewoman, I use age-old hitches and long honored techniques when packing into the backcountry that might disappear if not for their recreational use. Other outdoor sports, such as skiing, are always on the cutting edge, fueling technological advances. New ways to recreate in natural areas are constantly emerging. Snow King resort here in Jackson has recently begun hosting a race series for Fat Bikes, a relatively new innovation in mountain biking that allows bikers to travel over thick snow. Interestingly enough, a Minnesota company makes a top of the line Fat Bike also named for Beargrease. Here in a mountain town like Jackson, the popularity of outdoor activities and the dedication with which people pursue them is obvious.

This passion has power. It’s been a driving force behind initiatives to protect and preserve wild lands from the very beginning. Ferdinand V. Hayden, a geologist and preservationist that played a great role in the formation of Yellowstone National Park summed up his goal as “setting aside the area as a pleasure ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people”(source). Sporting outdoorsmen and women have always been some of the strongest proponents of conservation. An iconic example is Theodore Roosevelt. An adamant hunter originally drawn west by the lure of big game, he found himself spurred to action by the habitat destruction and species decimation taking place there. As president, he made great strides in conservation, helping to create the National Forest Service, 5 national parks, 18 National Monuments, and 150 National Forests, ultimately preserving approximately 230,000,000 acres of land (source). This tradition continues today. Outdoor sports enthusiasts and organizations not only use lobbying power to preserve public land, but also largely fund the institutions that protect them. Visitors to the National Parks offer support through day use fees, dogsled and horse trip outfitters pay for permits to operate in National Forest and Wilderness areas, and hunters and anglers do a great deal to support the wildlife management budget through license fees, conservation stamps and organizations such as Ducks Unlimited. A role summed up by the Colorado Wildlife Council’s HugAHunter campaign.

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It’s important to remember outdoor recreation can also be a threat to the wilderness. To varying degrees, any human activity taking place in nature has some impact on the environment and the resident wildlife. Each activity presents its own challenges. Ski resorts, although run on National Forest property, seem to be constantly expanding. Hunting and fishing by their very nature have a direct influence on wildlife populations. Even Leave No Trace style hiking and camping can potentially disturb wild animals during a vulnerable stage such as nesting or foraging in winter. Dogsledding causes a lot less noise and air pollution than snowmobiling, but the dogs do have the potential to pass on dangerous diseases to wildlife. This was the main reason sled dogs, despite being crucial to earlier Antarctic exploration, were banned from Antarctica in 1993 by the Antarctic Treaty, for fear they could spread distemper to native seal populations (source).

The impact of human activities on public lands is addressed in a number of ways. Before a race sled dogs must be cleared by veterinarians as healthy and proven vaccinated. Hunters and anglers must adhere to strict regulations or face steep penalties. Access to important winter range areas is restricted during certain times of the year to help animals that must graze in heavy snow. Here in Wyoming we are lucky enough to have different types of public land, including National Parks, National Wilderness areas and National Forests. Each has it’s own set of rules for access and use, a brief description of which can be found here. But these protective restrictions are constantly being challenged. One example that hits close to home is the current bill before congress that could abolish 60 year old restrictions on boating the rivers of Yellowstone National Park (source). I can empathize with those who love to paddle, but I can’t help but be concerned about the erosion, invasive species and pollution they could expose to these long protected waters. Currently remote, these riverbanks are a crucial habitat and water source for Yellowstone’s wildlife. We can’t forget that for the health of the ecosystem and the sake of biodiversity some places must be set aside as truly wild and untouched.

Conservation is an ongoing struggle. Even when an area is protected, it must be constantly monitored and it’s regulations kept current in response to the needs of the environment and its wildlife. The more vigilant we are and the more space we can keep undeveloped, healthy and wild, the better; for the protection of our resources, the survival of our planet’s species, the continuation of our outdoor traditions, and for the future of the world’s greatest playground. For people, and for sled dogs.

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Focus on Keynote: Daphne Sheldrick

Dame Daphne Sheldrick
Kenya- born and bred Daphne Sheldrick is recognized internationally as the world’s expert on the African Elephant and Black Rhinoceros, and considered the international authority on the rehabilitating of orphaned baby elephants back into the wild. Through four books, numerous articles, lectures and television appearances, she has been a tireless voice for wildlife conservation worldwide.

Daphne SheldrickHer recent memoir, Love, Life and Elephants is her story of her love for her late husband David Sheldrick , legendary warden of Kenya’s Tsavo East National Park , and her love of animals and her experiences raising and rehabilitating elephants, black rhinos, buffalo, zebras, elands, kudus, impalas, duikers, reedbuck, dikdiks, warthogs, civets, mongeese and birds.

Following the death of David Sheldrick in 1977, in his memory she founded and currently runs (along with her daughters) the  David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and orphans nursery in Nairobi National Park. The Elephant Orphanage hand-rears traumatized baby elephants – who have fallen into wells, or watched their mothers, sisters and aunts slaughtered for ivory – during a three year rehabilitation program, to their ultimate release back into the wild in Tsavo National Park.

Photo @Henry Holdsworth
Photo @Henry Holdsworth

In 2001 Daphne Sheldrick received Kenya’s Order of the Burning Spear, in 2002 the BBC’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and in 2006 she was made a Dame Commander of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II, the first such honor to be awarded in Kenya since the country received Independence. Dame Daphne Sheldrick will receive the Teton Outstanding Achievement Award in Conservation at the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival. Don’t miss this special conversation with Dame Sheldrick, and the award ceremony, Wednesday September 25.

Guest Post by Lori Robinson of AfricaInside.org

Great Ape Summit Snap Shot

The great apes face possible extinction within our lifetime. Their numbers are being decimated by habitat loss, geopolitical conflict, disease, illegal trade and even consumption as food.

Join us at the Great Apes Summit www.greatapessummit.org,  September 21 -24 in Jackson Hole, Wyoming where leading experts from around the world will gather to focus on issues threatening the long-term survival of gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos and orangutans in Africa and Asia.Great Apes Summit Poster

Hosted by the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival, the Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP), and the Arcus Foundation, the Summit will feature a keynote address by world-renowned primatologist Jane Goodall, PhD, DBE, Founder – the Jane Goodall Institute (www.janegoodall.org), UN Messenger of Peace and GRASP Ambassador, major plenary sessions and numerous panels.

Other speakers at the summit include: Google executive Michael Jones, anti-poaching specialist Damien Mander, Harvard professor Richard Wrangham, Conservation International president Russell Mittermeier, Greenpeace advocate Rolf Sklar, Uganda Wildlife Authority director Andrew Seguya, PETA vice-president Dan Matthews, and Volcanoes Safaris director Praveen Moman. 

The Great Ape Summit will coincide with the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival, September 23-27.

Tickets:  Tickets are still available for both the Great Ape Summit and the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival – www.jhfestival.org/greatape/registration.html

Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival convenes an unparalleled five-day industry gathering that draws filmmakers and broadcasters from around the world to hone skills, explore emerging media technologies and market opportunities, network and exchange ideas, and honor notable achievements within the industry. For more on the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival visit our website: www.jhfestival.org.

 

 

2013 Outstanding Achievement Awards Announced

Each year we acknowledge achievements in natural history media, science or conservation. The highest honor recognized by JHWFF, previous honorees include: Dr. Richard Leakey, Dr. Sylvia Earle, Dr. Jane Goodall, Dr. E.O. Wilson, Dr. George Schaller, Prof. Hans Hass, Sir David Attenborough and Gil Grosvenor. This year, the JHWFF Board of Directors has chosen to honor Beverly & Dereck Joubert for their notable impact in media, and Dr. Dame Daphne Sheldrick, for her work in conservation.

Dereck & Beverly JoubertBeverly & Dereck Joubert 
For nearly three decades, conservationists Beverly and
Dereck Joubert have celebrated nature and wildlife in documentaries, books, scientific journals, photographs and magazine articles. The couple’s arresting visual work has earned them five Emmys and many other awards. The Jouberts, both National Geographic Explorers-in-Residence based in Botswana, are dedicated to understanding and preserving key species throughout the African continent. The couple is particularly interested in large predators, and lead the Big Cats Initiative, a campaign to stop dwindling populations and bolster public awareness. Beverly and Dereck are also building a new model for preservation as partners in Great Plains Conservation. Striking a balance of preservation, community and commerce, GPC aims to save endangered habitats in Africa and surrounding the Indian Ocean through low-impact tourism and the sale of carbon credits and villas or bush homes.

Daphne Dame SheldrickDr. Dame Daphne Sheldrick is a Kenyan author,
conservationist and expert in animal husbandry,
particularly the raising and reintegrating of orphaned elephants into the wild for over 30 years. From 1955 until 1976 Sheldrick was a co-warden of Tsavo National Park with her late husband, David Sheldrick. During that time she raised and rehabilitated back into the wild, elephants, black rhinos, buffalo, zebras, elands, kudus, impalas, duikers, reedbuck, dikdiks, warthogs, civets, mongeese and birds. Queen Elizabeth II appointed her with the first Knighthood to be awarded in Kenya since the country received Independence. Dame Daphne Sheldrick has tirelessly campaigned at an International level against the abuse of captive animals. Daphne Sheldrick is recognized internationally as probably the world authority on both the African Elephant and the Black Rhinoceros, with a broad knowledge of natural history and the interlocking role of different species within the environment. Through four books, numerous articles, lectures and television appearances, she has promoted wildlife conservation worldwide. Through the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, established after the death of her husband in 1977 in his memory, she has made a further significant contribution to wildlife conservation in Kenya, supporting the Kenya Wildlife Service by meeting contingency needs during times of economic constraint.