Images

RARE: a look at endangered wildlife at the Oklahoma City Zoo

For years, I felt like I had my foot in two boats. On one hand, I’d find myself in Los Angeles working on incredible television shows with great writers where I made lifelong friends. When I was blessed with the opportunity to start travel writing, even though I had no experience doing that type of work, it was an opportunity that I had to explore.

For years, I’d find myself working on a television show on the CBS lot, heading to the airport on a Thursday night, catching a red eye to another country, spending a weekend in a jungle only to take a cab from the airport back to CBS on Monday morning. It was an exhausting but profound experience for me… I thought to myself, eventually these two worlds MUST collide and finally in the last month, I’ve got a taste of what it might be like if they did.

I’ve been hired by OETA, the local PBS affiliate to produce and direct a series of mini-documentaries to be aired in conjunction with a larger documentary on famed  National Geographicwildlife photographer Joel Sartore. Sartore has made it his life’s work to photography every wildlife species living in captivity. He is absolutely brilliant and his passion for wildlife is infectious and inspiring.

My mini documentaries highlight different endangered species, the zoo staff that love them and conservation partners for the Oklahoma City Zoo. I’ve met some of the most passionate, dedicated people imaginable through this process and gotten to spend time with, photograph, video and engage with some of the most tremendous endangered species on the planet. It has been a true joy. These photos are from my experience at thus far on the project. Hope you enjoy them. It has been an experience I’ll always treasure.

Cam the tiger

 

Elephant and new mother.

 

Toba, a fifty year old Orangutan at the Oklahoma City Zoo.

 

A grizzly keeping cool on a summer day.

 

This plough share tortoise was seized in Hong Kong before it was put onto the black market. There are less than 200 in the world.

 

I got to feed this beautiful giraffe by hand.

 

American Flamingos

 

Indian Rhino enjoying a lettuce lunch

 

Silverback gorilla

 

Matt Payne Photography — Digital Wallpaper — Turner Falls Waterfall

Turner Falls is one of the most beautiful spots in all of Oklahoma. With its blue/green water and dramatic falls, it is also one of the most visited, which can make it more amusement park and less natural respite. Fortunately, on this fall day, I had a pretty uninterrupted view of the fall and this stranger wasn’t too bothered by the creepy dude snapping shots behind her and I was grateful that she was able to sit still long enough to slow the shutter speed in order to blur the water. If you get a chance to head to Turner Falls this winter, do it. Less folks and when you have the place all to yourself, it is truly magical. Until then, enjoy this image and check out the rest of my webpage including upcoming travel writing workshops!

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The Mountain Gorillas of Rwanda: A hike to visit one of the world’s greatest creatures

While this is a new article, it has been several years since I actually had the privilege to hike into the ran forest of Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda to visit these gorillas. I still remember the experience with such remarkable clarity. The musty smell, the way the rain seemed to stop as you came into their presence. The odd way that fear melts away to closer you get to a beast that could kill you in seconds. I remember asking a fellow traveler if there was a chance in the world we would see something in nature so profound. The answer thus far, despite many thousands of miles and adventures, is a resounding no. I hope in my lifetime I can make it back. Read more about the experience here.

Mountain Gorilla, Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

Mountain Gorilla, Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

 

Matt Payne Photography — Free Digital Wallpaper — Grand Teton Horses – Link below the blog post

For my first three days in Jackson Hole, at least as far as I was concerned, The Tetons existed only in theory. It was fall and the famed range had been shrowded in moody, low clouds. While it was a thrill to enjoy the park’s resident moose and thunderous herds of bison and elk in relative solitude given the off season, the idea of leaving without at least a glimpse of the peaks felt akin to going to a movie theater only to experience the popcorn. Thankfully, the morning of my departure, the clouds finally rose and as they departed so too did the Snake River’s role as the area’s primary attraction.

As a photographer, the Tetons are empowering to photograph but also wildly humbling. The range’s scope is such that one struggles to find a shot that a better version hasn’t already appeared on countless postcards and posters for a century. Fortunately, on this day, when the clouds broke, I stumbled upon this group of horses grazing in front of some low fog, revealing only the mountain’s peaks. I’d found the shot that I was looking for. The Tetons did exist and did so in a grand fashion. It was time to enjoy the movie.

I hope you enjoy the image as much as I enjoyed taking it!

 

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405 Magazine: Pawhuska, Oklahoma: where the cowboys and the Osage gather with the bison on the Tallgrass Prairie

Horses and Cowboys is downtown Pawhuska

Horses and Cowboys is downtown Pawhuska

Before I moved back to Oklahoma, a trusted travel writer and friend of mine said that among the most beautiful places he’d ever been was the Tallgrass Prairie in Northwest Oklahoma. In addition to the thousands of acres of blue stem and three thousand bison, several Prairie Chickens called this prairie home and it was a hell of a place to watch the sunset.

Sunset at the Tallgrass Prairie

Sunset at the Tallgrass Prairie

Bison and the sunset at the Tallgrass Prairie

Bison and the sunset at the Tallgrass Prairie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eager to see it, I made a point to visit after doing a small piece on Ponca City, an hour or so away. After getting lost and wandering down several dirt roads for considerably more than an hour, I finally came across a cattle guard and a sign warning morons that it is best not to try and touch buffalo. I’d made it.

Barn outside Pawhuska

Barn outside Pawhuska

After a beautiful drive and a visit to the visitor center, I came out the other end (the correct entrance/exit) into the charming town of Pawhuska. Not only was this the (correct) entrance to the Tallgrass but one of the most soulful and up and coming towns in Oklahoma.

night sky at the Tallgrass Prairie

night sky at the Tallgrass Prairie

In and around this magic little town clouds dance, the prairies beckon and cowboys still walk their horses down the street. Bison graze and the sun and stars playfully try day and night to outshine one another.

Buffalo on the Tallgrass Prairie

Buffalo on the Tallgrass Prairie

Read more about Pawhuska and the Tallgrass Prairie here.  And enjoy more photos below.

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Cowboy working a herd at sunset.

 

Working cowboys outside Pawhuska

Working cowboys outside Pawhuska

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