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What was seen by nature photographer Neal Maine recently, you ask?

Baltimore Oriole

Image titled: Oriole in the West. Neal Maine/ PacificLight Images.

Proceeds in support of NCLC.

One of the most brilliantly colored songbirds in the east, flaming orange and black, sharing the heraldic colors of the coat of arms of 17th-century Lord Baltimore. Widespread east of the Great Plains, winters mostly in the tropics around forest edge, never before seen in the west,  the young male discovered in a North coast back yard by nature photographer Neal Maine, PacificLight Images, in February, 2016!

On March 5th, Neal Maine will introduce more February images from his natural history journal during the Seaside First Saturday Art Walk at Fairweather’s,  5-7: pm.  At 6:pm, Neal Maine will speak about discovering the Baltimore Oriole and answer questions.

Please visit for more information.

Photo by Joshua Bessex, The Daily Astorian

Nature in your own North Coast backyard

Story by NANCY McCARTHY, Published: December 23, 2015

Local photographer Neal Maine and his grandson, Michael Wing, go on a ‘wildlife safari’ every day

The story goes like this: Two caspian terns show up on Del Rey Beach, each holding a fish in their bright orange beaks. The female tern stands between them, trying to decide which suitor to choose. Caught in a photograph entitled “Taking Terns,” the scene needs no caption. It’s a quandary as relevant to humans as it is to the black-hooded, white-bodied birds, waiting patiently for the female to make her move. Michael Wing, who was 16 when he shot that photo two years ago, happened upon the scene while joining his grandfather, Neal Maine, on one of their regular excursions to see what nature offered in their own backyard.

For at least eight years, the two have spent several days a week together, capturing photos that delight, surprise and intrigue viewers. Their partnership has become PacificLight Images. Their mission: to show residents and visitors the variety and vibrancy of wildlife that surrounds them on the North Coast.

Photography is sort of like filling the gas in the nature car,” Maine said. “It’s the gas, but the end product is having people be aware and be engaged.” A retired biology teacher who taught Seaside High School students the wonders of the local landscape for 31 years, Maine wanted to pass that education along to his grandson.

“I hung out with Grandpa many times, and I saw him do photography, and I just decided I would try to pick up on that,” Wing said. “I picked up my first camera — it was a Canon Rebel — and I started taking pictures of cups in the sink overflowing with water while the faucet was on. I was 10 years old.” Pretty soon they started hanging out together every day while Wing was young. Even now, at 18, Wing, who is a father and who works at Lektro full-time, tries to catch a few moments with Maine out in the “wild.” “We’ve got a friendship, a bond; it’s hard to explain but it’s a wonderful feeling knowing you can have your grandfather as your best friend, not just someone you have to visit,” Wing said.

For them, the definition of “quality time” is traipsing through the forest — no matter the weather — in search of nesting birds, elk or interesting plants. They may hunker down for hours near, or even in, a stream, waiting for a salmon to swim in view or a wood duck to take flight. On beach days, there may be birds of prey or whales to capture. “We just go wherever our minds wander,” Wing said. “We have a basic area — as far as Cannon Beach south and as far as the Warrenton-Astoria area heading north.” At first, Wing asked his grandfather to rate his photos from one to 10, with 10 being the best. It took many tries, until he started shooting eights and nines steadily. Then, finally, there was the triumphant 10 — the photo of the coho swimming upstream — a shot Maine had found elusive.

“I’d been working on it for years, and then he goes and gets it! I wasn’t mad at him, but, at the same time, that was the picture I was trying to get,” Maine said. He points to the photo of a male salmon with a big hook nose. “It just says, ‘spawning, life cycle, migration.’” Usually the youngster looked for “action” shots, like a fish swimming or a hummingbird flying. But, eventually, he learned that waiting has its rewards. “And that’s another thing I learned from photography, (that) patience is key,” Wing said. “And I use it in everyday life now. I’m not constantly in a hurry to do anything; I just take life one step at a time, no matter how long it takes that step.”

Some of the photos taken throughout the years are set up in their own “gallery” corner at Fairweather House and Gallery in Seaside. They are popular attractions during the city’s First Saturday Art Walk. “People come in, and their jaws drop. It’s more than a pretty picture; there’s a story behind it,” Denise Fairweather said, who owns the shop. They seem to have pride of ownership over some photos, especially those of the local elk crossing the Necanicum estuary or bobbing up in dune grass. “They call them ‘our elk,’” Fairweather said.

Proceeds from the photos’ sales goes to the North Coast Land Conservancy. Maine was on the conservancy’s founding board and was its executive director for many years. Since its inception in 1985, the conservancy has raised money to buy and preserve hundreds of acres of ecologically sensitive land between the Columbia River, Lincoln City, the Coast Range and the ocean. “PacificLight Images has been a wonderful asset in support of the North Coast Land Conservancy and conservation on the coast,” said Katie Voelke, the conservancy’s director. “Yes, significant funds have been raised, but the awareness and the inspiration that the images create for people is priceless. It’s so easy to drive past the natural world around us and take it for granted during busy work-a-day life,” she added. “The images that they capture of the phenomenal natural world surrounding us all allows people time to pause and take it all in, and this often leads to a desire to care for it as well.

While the mission is worthwhile, the fun is the photography. Even if that means spending hours operating a 12-pound, 500 mm lens on a tripod while covered in shrubs, waiting for the split second when a wood duck lifts off a stream. “I think maybe a twig snapped, and it completely spooked him,” Wing recalled of that particular experience on Neacoxie Creek. “For some reason, I can tell when things are just about to be spooked or fly — they sort of get this hunch to them that I notice. I held down the trigger just enough to get two shots as he was taking off. “I looked down at the (camera) screen and I turned to Grandpa, and I said, ‘Oh boy!’”

Maine and Wing say they will continue to tell the story about the wildlife wonders on the North Coast. “We want the photograph not to be the end but the means to living in paradise and valuing it as a quality of life issue, not so much just conservation,” Maine said. “When you pay attention to what’s going on around you here, you have a wildlife safari every day.”


To view more  photos featured in the article please visit:…/nature-in-your-own-north-coast-backyard…

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