Rebecca Wilks

Rebecca Wilks; Photographer, Teacher, Yarnellian, Do-Gooder

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


 Sunrise, Watson Lake, Prescott

People often ask me "how many pictures did you take?"  Sometimes the question gets me thinking about how my workflow has evolved.  As time goes by, I take fewer.  Mostly.

Photographing wildlife is the exception.  It's all about high-volume bursts of activity, and a low ratio of keepers.

 Horse Ranch, Southern Yavapai County

In the past few weeks, in a attempt to escape the steamy purgatory we call Phoenix in August,  I've been on the road.  A little here, a little there.  Prescott, the Sierra Anchas, the Mogollon Rim, Flagstaff and near our second home in Southern Yavapai County.  It's been raining all over Arizona and at altitude, rain is pleasant.  Magical, even. Terrain is green.  Flowers are blooming.

You might think this would lead to scores of images but, in fact, I might have just one gem a day (sometimes none, in truth).

 Gathering Storm, Forest Road 418, North of Flagstaff

So, there are few, widely "sprinkled" images of my love affair with the high-country monsoon this year.  A monument to many things, one of which is knowing when NOT to shoot.

My favorite images of  summer wanderings are at

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Friends in High Places

August in the Phoenix metro area is uninspiring, or worse.  110s this week and humid.  Mosquitoes.  Perpetual air conditioning.

I have a very kind friend who issued an open invitation (last November, no less) to come up and photograph with him near his home in Pine, AZ (5500 ft elevation).  I accepted.  Sunday night I camped in 50 degree temps, and Monday we had a delightful day.

We shot sunrise at Woods Canyon lake, explored Tonto Falls and Tonto natural bridge, and he generously let me play with his infrared camera.  No great works of art there during my first attempt, but I had a good time doing it.

It was still hot when I got home, but my attitude was better.

Hey, Bear

That's  the suggested phrase, to be intoned in an authoritative voice, when a bear seems to be coming too close.  I have to say that once I saw the claws, teeth, and running speed of the Coastal Brown Bear (which is a well-fed and therefore larger Grizzly), my personal space with regard to the bears got a whole lot larger.

Fortunately, they're occupied with fishing for salmon; putting on weight for the coming winter.  They're not too interested in us.

We were, however, fascinated with them.  Four of us flew (I'm in love with float planes) each day to sometimes isolated places in Katmai National Park to photograph the majestic animals.  We were accompanied by an Alaskan Guide as well as our leader, pro photographer and bear expert Stan Cunningham.  The pilots didn't count, since they left us on the lake's beach and took off.

I'm guessing we saw 100 or so individual bears over four days.  In addition to being decidedly beautiful, they have easily distinguished personalities and complex social hierarchies. That is, they're interesting to watch.

There were some other fabulous opportunities as well, including images of eagles and osprey in flight, and an elk cow dropping a calf at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center.

Alaska has gotten under my skin.

Hey, Bear.

More images are on the website.