Cort Bassett, Photographer

Cort Bassett, Photographer

Cort Bassett

I became interested in photography in 1987, the year after my father died. I must not have realized it until after he was gone, but my dad had a profound effect on my interest in photography. Dad was an avid advanced amateur photographer.

When I was a boy, he would take us on Saturday afternoon hikes in the Connecticut woods. I think these walks instilled in me a love and respect for the beauty of nature. He was a very good nature photographer and almost always shot prints, rarely slides.

He loved taking time out from his busy schedule to shoot scenes in Smoky Mountain National Park. Being a native New Englander, he enjoyed returning tot his region in the fall to record the foliage and covered bridges on film.

The other major motivator in my photographic endeavors has been Paul Johnson, a professional photographer and naturalist, from Borrego Springs, California. My wife Regina and I met Paul in 1992 at Acadia National Park. As the Kodak professional photographer in the park, his photo walks hooked us. Every summer for a month, we would participate in 20 or more of these two-hour lessons in beautiful places.

I enjoy natural light color nature photography. I like to shoot color, although I think the true artists shoot black and white. I read a lot of photography books, mostly nature subjects by the likes of John Shaw, Rod Planck, Art Wolfe and Galen Rowell.

What I like about nature photography is that each photograph that is made is a unique experience in place, time and lighting conditions, never to be duplicated exactly again. And no matter how good a subject and its lighting are, there is probably a way to make improvements.

Early morning and late afternoon light are the best, and I particularly like the light from one-half hour before sunrise to an hour after, and from about two hours before sunset until one-half hour after. I look for beauty and simplicity in nature. I will seek out bits of color to add a special foreground touch to landscapes. I look for even lighting, as direct light can often cause bright areas and shadows that end up looking somewhat mottled and much less appealing on film than they do to the naked eye. I rarely shoot without using a tripod. With slow, fine grain film, I need steadiness for long exposures. Many of my shots are in the quarter second to eight second range. As long as there is nothing blowing in the wind, these long exposures usually work.

Enjoyment for me is combining a half-day hike with photography. I just strap on my belt packs with camera, lenses and gadgets and throw the tripod over my shoulder and head into a local state park. I prefer wooded paths alongside water. There is usually a photo op around every corner, and if it doesn’t rain, I always have a good time.