National Geographic photographer presents at Summit County library |

National Geographic photographer presents at Summit County library

Joel Sartore |

What: Travel Slideshow: Hummingbirds of Costa Rica and Ecuador featuring Matt Shetzer

When: 7 tonight

Where: North Branch Library, 651 Center Circle, Silverthorne


What: Breckenridge Creative Arts’ National Geographic Live Series featuring Joel Sartore

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturay

Where: Riverwalk Center in Breckenridge

Info: Single event tickets are $25 and $35, while children and students can get seats for $10. Call the Riverwalk Center Ticket Office at (970) 547-3100 or go to

Shutterbugs are salivating for what’s shaping up as a wild weekend in Summit County — that’s wild as in wildly fast shutter-speeds and wildly intimate portraits of rarely seen wildlife.

Motivated to shoot exotic creatures, Joel Sartore and Matt Shetzer do it in a way that doesn’t see their work universally condemned on Facebook or on Twitter. Rather, the two professionals are conservationists with cameras, and their work is simply awe-inspiring — each in its own unique way.

Even better, they’re both going to be here in Summit County this weekend for separate presentations — Shetzer at 7 tonight at the North Branch Library in Silverthorne and Sartore at 7:30 p.m. at the Riverwalk Center in Breckenridge.

The two photogs’ styles vary significantly, with Sartore on a mission to catch as many animals as he can in intimate, portrait-like settings, while Shetzer, a local shutterbug who makes regular trips to Central America, relies on being lightning-fast to freeze hummingbirds in flight.

You don’t have to be a photographer to appreciate their images, and the way they’ve captured them might be the most interesting pieces of their separate presentations. How do you light a tiger? Where do you set the flashes to freeze a wing that beats 80 times or more a second? What makes one image stand out above the others? There are so many questions I have for the two, and based on office chatter at the Summit Daily News, I’m not the only one.

For a little background, Sartore is a National Geographic pro who’s been working on a project to capture 12,000 animals for more than 10 years now. Last summer, he and his team eclipsed the halfway point with a proboscis monkey at the Singapore Zoo.

While the volume alone is staggering, the photos themselves are mesmerizing. In Sartore’s work, the focus comes in crisp, with deep details emerging and the creatures taking on human-like qualities.

The end result of each of Sartore’s shoots is a portrait-style image that might right remind some people of an expecting mother, highlighted by an all-white or all-black background, with the only exception being that the feature is a mountain lion, elephant, Siberian tiger or any one of 6,000 other species.

In a CBS News report, Sartore was compared to Noah and the photographer’s photo library to the prophet’s great ark. It’s a fitting metaphor as Satore builds up the “Photo Ark” before these animals are lost forever.

Shetzer, on the other hand, is a lightning specialist, fast with his work, in capturing the beadiest of birds at 1/10,000 of a second.

For reference, some of the baddest camera bodies on the market — think upwards of $6,000 new — can only achieve a 1/8,000th of a second shutter speed at max settings.

But where the camera can’t keep up, Shetzer does it with lighting and flashes.

It’s not an uncommon trick for studio photogs, but putting it on the unpredictable flight of hummingbirds, seems like a lesson in frustration to me. But if you want to know how Shetzer did it for sure, you’ll just have to catch the show.

It’s easy to appreciate great photography, and Sartore and Shetzer each play on what many in their industry do: glimpsing that which we rarely see or otherwise cannot see.

If the number of local photogs is any indication, judging simply by the amount of wonderful submitted photos we receive at the newspaper, both events should be well-attended.

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