Wildlife photographer Thomas Mangelsen to host art reception at his Steamboat gallery | SteamboatToday.com

Wildlife photographer Thomas Mangelsen to host art reception at his Steamboat gallery

Nicole Inglis

Sandhill cranes roost on the shallow water of the Platte River in Nebraska as others take off into an early morning spring snowstorm. Thomas Mangelsen, who photographs the cranes each year at his cabin in Nebraska, will appear at his Steamboat Springs Images of Nature gallery on Friday for an annual reception.

— For the past two weeks, Thomas Mangelsen's cabin on the Platte River in Nebraska was the center of a flurry of peaceful, ancient birds, the creation of art and the appreciation of natural beauty.

Every year, Mangelsen returns to the cabin, just like the hundreds of thousands of migratory sandhill cranes, alongside primatologist and anthropologist Jane Goodall and a host of bird enthusiasts and friends.

It's a fitting annual pilgrimage as it was the area in which Mangelsen grew up and the place where his illustrious nature photography career began.

"It's my favorite bird," Mangelsen said wistfully about the cranes and why he ventures to photograph them each year. "They're beautiful; they're big; they're ancient. Their call is amazing. It's very wild."

Now, the Jackson, Wyo., resident will make his way to Steamboat Springs this weekend for an annual reception at his local Images of Nature gallery in downtown Steamboat Springs.

The reception is from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday at the gallery, which is one of eight galleries across the United States that exclusively sell Mangelsen's work.

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Mangelsen's annual appearance comes on the heels of Steamboat's own migratory sandhill cranes, which began arriving in the Yampa Valley in the past few weeks.

He said he plans to stay in Steamboat Springs for three days to photograph Yampa Valley landscapes.

"I'm going to get Todd (Savalox, the local Images of Nature owner) to take me out to a couple of his favorite places," Mangelsen said.

Mangelsen is coming off a trip to Kenya and Tanzania, where he photographed elephants, leopards and abundant birds. But his favorite moment, he said, came floating thousands of feet in the air above the heart of a wildebeest and zebra migration. He said there were two million wildebeests and one million zebras stretched out as far as the eye could see.

"It's very hard to capture on camera," he said. "That was a highlight."

But exotic animals aren't his only indulgence. As a photographer who makes his home in the West, the iconic mammals of the West are close to his heart. He once spent 42 days shooting a family of mountain lions in the National Elk Refuge.

"They elusive. They're very spiritual in a sense, and you never see them."

And he loves photographing birds of all kinds, especially the majestic sandhill cranes. The key to photographing fowl is understanding:

"You obviously have to have some long lenses. You have to have the right equipment," he said. "And you have to know the behavior. You can take pictures of birds, but the more you know about a particular species and the behavior and their habits, it's helped me a lot."

Mangelsen is offering a seminar in Denver in April, and several of his Africa images can be viewed on his Facebook page. For more information visit http://www.mangelsen.com.

To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or email ninglis@ExploreSteamboat.com

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