Discover the Winning Masterpiece
Artist Locale: Colorado, USA
Subject Matter: Wildlife and Nature
Medium: Fine Art Photography
About the Artwork: Photographing bison in Yellowstone National Park is on many photographer’s bucket lists. These magnificent mammals are certainly photogenic. The bison is our national mammal and the symbol or the American Wilderness and West. They are about six feet tall and weigh between 1,000 and 2,000 pounds. Despite their size and weight, bison are excellent swimmers, can run up to 35 miles per hour (three times faster than humans), and can jump over objects about five feet high. They have excellent hearing, vision, and sense of smell. Their life expectancy in the wild is up to 20 years.
While feet of snow blanketed the Yellowstone National Park landscape and the temperatures were well below zero in February, I watched in amazement on a hillside as this bison crossed Soda Butte Creek in the Lamar Valley.
Observing Yellowstone bison showed me why they are symbols of strength, stamina, survival, unity, and a wild spirit, especially in this protected land of unpredictable harsh weather and wind. The protection and recovery of bison in Yellowstone is among the great triumphs of American conservation, although management challenges of today’s bison herds are plentiful.
There is something for every photographer at Yellowstone in winter-capturing high-contrast or dramatic snow scenes, the animals surviving in harsh conditions, a variety of textures, and simplicity—even stunning black and white images. Yellowstone’s ecosystem allows for it all.
Artist Statement: Debbie McCulliss, a Colorado-based winter wildlife and nature fine art photographer, travels the globe to bear witness to and record the strength, fragility, beauty, and rhythm of wildlife and nature. McCulliss holds master’s degrees in nursing, science-medical writing, and non-fiction writing. She is also a certified applied poetry facilitator.
Debbie McCulliss, a Colorado-based winter wildlife and nature fine art photographer, travels the globe to bear witness to and record the strength, fragility, beauty, and rhythm of wildlife and nature.
McCulliss holds master’s degrees in nursing, science-medical writing, and non-fiction writing. She is also a certified applied poetry facilitator.
On most weekend evenings in 2016, McCulliss began photographing what became much-anticipated sunsets in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, before noticing two bald eagles perched on a pinion tree about 1500 feet away from her house. She remembers the first day that she tried to capture the eagles flying off that pinion tree. McCulliss made it her goal to capture a sharp image of the eagles’ amazing eyes. Her passion for wildlife photography grew from this singular challenge.
She began to research animal behavior and migration, not only for the eagles, but for other animals, such as elk and hawks. Like the eagles, the animals were drawing her further and further into their world. The more she learned, the bigger her photographic world became. With every change of season, she found inspiration in unexpected places.
McCulliss continues to master her photographic skills and to capture “the shot.” Today, she craves expeditions to polar regions. While such travel is oftentimes outside her comfort zone and in remote areas, these adventures help raise awareness and broaden her perspective of the world. It’s a privilege to see wildlife in their natural habitat and witness stunning, awe-inspiring, breathtaking landscapes. McCulliss journeys to learn about the history, ecosystems, environmental threats, and conservation efforts of the places that she visits. She believes that showcasing her work and writing for publication helps to increase the public’s awareness of ongoing needs: respect for nature and protection of wildlife, the marine environment, and endangered species.
The places she has visited have a powerful presence in her head and heart; she treasures these special places and the creation of stories that teach and art that pleases the senses. Her goal is to create memorable art that inspires conversation, evokes action, or leaves a lasting impression.