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TURNING POINT: RICHARD TURNER, '60

A New Lens on Life

Richard Turner

FRESH VIEW: Nature photography, says Turner, helps us see beyond the obvious, as in this luminous close-up of rhododendron stamens.

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By Richard Turner

I told my wife I’d be back in a month. I didn’t know where I was going or what I would do. My “plan” was to get up every morning for the next 30 days with the absolute, unmitigated freedom to do whatever struck my fancy.

It was a magical time. I left my home in Sacramento and drove more than 3,000 miles. I marveled at the sweeping plains in southeastern Oregon and the mountain wilderness in the middle of Idaho, where I nearly bumped into a bull moose. I bucked hay on a ranch in Montana and kayaked on alpine lakes in British Columbia.

Everywhere, I took photographs. Most suffered from camera shake. Others were over- or underexposed. But some were okay, and a couple were really good. I was hooked.

At the end I returned home safely, kissed my tolerant wife and, at the age of 63, began a seismic professional shift from the daily conflict of law practice to the meditative process of nature photography. True, my new work has its inconveniences—mosquitoes, snakes and the occasional bull moose—but not one of nature’s inhabitants has argued with me, called me disgusting names or forced me to read boring documents.

I have learned that photographing the natural world pushes me to see beyond the obvious, to discover beauty in all forms and colors, and to recognize the intricate collaboration among sun, moon, earth, water, flora and fauna. Recording these things and sharing what I see is a delight beyond description.

I love what I do.

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