News from BDSJS and Facing Climate Change

Christine’s Story

Posted 14 March 2015 by in Announcements, Multimedia, Photography

Play Christine's Story

We are excited to launch the final two films in our series TEAM Stories: Profiles from an early warning system for nature. In addition to Badru’s Story and Patricia’s Story, we’ve added a final chapter, Christine’s Story, and a short introduction to the series. Each film profiles a different protocol and we definitely saved the highest for last.

Christine Fletcher checks a UV sensor on the climate tower. 307TM0789

Site manager Christine Fletcher must overcome her fear of heights to monitor climate in Pasoh Forest Reserve in Malaysia. Her work is part of the TEAM Network, a global web of field stations that provide an early warning system for loss of biodiversity in tropical forests. TEAM’s climate protocol measures temperature, humidity, rainfall and solar radiation to help researchers understand the effects of climate change on biodiversity.

The climate tower. 307TM1848

Christine Fletcher relaxes 170 feet off the forest floor. 307TM1955

The climate station in Pasoh is located at the top of rickety aluminum tower that climbs 170 feet above the forest floor. (Not all sites have one of these; it was just the simplest way to avoid shading from vegetation at this particular site.) Over a week we made seven climbs up the tower to film Christine at work and to place various time-lapse cameras. It was exciting every time.


Though our focus for this film was the climate protocol, all field sites collect camera trap, vegetation and climate data. A second objective for Christine’s Story was to show how these disparate protocols can work together to help guide conservation action at local, regional and global scales. Together with the talented folks at Globaïa, we designed a motion graphic sequence that uses real data to illustrate how 18 field sites continuously feed three types of information to TEAM’s central servers over the course of a year. The data is then available to the public in near real-time.


Watch Christine’s Story and the new introduction to the series »

Chasing turtles

Posted 1 March 2015 by in Announcements, Multimedia, Photography


We’ve been following ecologists around the country for a new film we’ll release this August at the Ecological Society of America’s centennial celebration. The project has taken us from downtown Minneapolis to the wilds of Yellowstone, and from sand prairies along the Mississippi River to vacant lots in Baltimore. Shooting is complete, 22 hours of interviews are edited down to minutes, and as of this week, the picture is locked. We can’t wait to share this new film with you!

UW website wins gold

Posted 6 February 2015 by in Announcements, Photography

The University of Washington College of the Environment website, that we developed with Elegant Contraption, was recently awarded Gold in the Case District VIII communication awards. The site includes an interactive directory that profiles all 200 faculty members and sorts them by 13 cross-disciplinary research themes such as freshwater, climate or conservation. Learn more about our work on this project and how we made 200 10-minute portraits in this post.


Collaborations for Cause 2014

Posted 1 October 2014 by in Announcements, Multimedia, Photography


For the third year in a row, an innovative community of photographers, change-makers and communications professionals gathered for two days of inspiration and discussion on the collaborative future of storytelling. Collaborations for Cause, Blue Earth’s annual conference, was held September 25-27 at Impact Hub in Seattle’s Pioneer Square.

Jason Houston and I produced this year’s program and we were excited to make the transition from hundreds of emails, spreadsheets and HTML to a buzzing room filled with smiling faces, big ideas and inspiring work.

A huge thanks to all the presenters and donors who made this year’s convening such a success, and a special shout-out to Blue Earth’s Sara Finkelstein who managed all the logistics and sponsorships with grace.

Stay tuned for details on the next gathering to be held in 2016!

New photos from solitary confinement

Posted 25 September 2014 by in Announcements, Photography

For five years we’ve visited Washington State prisons to document a project to bring restoration ecology and green jobs training into corrections centers. A few years back we photographed a solitary confinement facility that was thinking about bringing nature imagery into their window-less exercise yard. Nothing ever transpired in Washington State, but when Dr. Nalini Nadkarni spoke about it at a TED Talk, a corrections officer in Oregon liked the idea and things started to happen.

Now, at the Snake River Corrections Center outside of Boise, Idaho, inmates in solitary confinement can choose to go to the “Blue Room” to watch one of 30 nature documentaries during the 40 minutes they get outside of their cell each day. There are no windows or televisions available so these films are the inmates’ only opportunity to connect with the natural world. Do the films change behavior? The staff thinks so and Nalini is now helping them set up a study to find out. TIME magazine has already listed the Snake River Blue Room as one of the 25 Best Inventions of 2014.

Snake River Correctional Institution

Snake River Correctional Institution

Snake River Correctional Institution

Snake River Correctional Institution

The Wild Nearby

Posted 15 September 2014 by in Announcements, Photography

North_CascadesMountaineers Books imprint Braided River has published a beautiful new book on our backyard. The North Cascades: Finding Beauty and Renewal in the Wild Nearby contains stunning photography, profiles of northwest naturalists and a field guide to favorite hikes in the region. The 190-page book was written by William Dietrich with profiles by North Cascades Institute’s Christian Martin. I’m honored to have a number of photographs included along with Art Wolfe, Paul Bannick, David Moskowitz, John Scurlock, Ethan Welty and many more.
Learn more at

Badru’s Story wins award from Yale e360

Posted 2 September 2014 by in Announcements, Multimedia, Press


Badru’s Story, the first short film we produced for Conservation International’s TEAM Network, was awarded first place and $2000 in Yale Environment 360’s video contest. The inaugural competition was judged this year by editor Roger Cohn, New Yorker writer and e360 contributor Elizabeth Kolbert, and documentary filmmaker Thomas Lennon. We are big fans of this online publication and are honored by the award.

Firestorm at Storer Creek

Posted 30 July 2014 by in Announcements

It’s been an eventful summer for us so far. On the last day of June our son was born and three weeks later our house burned over in the Carlton Complex fire. I’m posting photos and updates from these new adventures on the Storer Creek blog.


Vital Signs Ghana

Posted 13 June 2014 by in Photography

Waste water from illegal gold mining operations in central Ghana. 403VS2651

I recently made a traverse of Ghana to expand an image library for Conservation International. We have been helping to tell the story of the Vital Signs monitoring network since its inception as a pilot project in Tanzania in 2011. The network will soon monitor agriculture, nature and human well-being in six African countries with plans for expansion to other parts of Africa and the globe. Conservation International, along with CSIR and Columbia University, is leading the initiative with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. (Watch our short introductory video.)

Our past work had focused on farmers and fieldwork in East Africa and, with Ghana coming online, the program needed new images that chronicled the culture, landscapes and team members in West Africa. Over 10 days I traversed from Accra in southern Ghana to the hot and dry cattle country of the north and back to make images of farmers, livestock, food and ecosystem services.

One major challenge Ghana faces is mineral extraction, particularly from unregulated gold mines. In addition to large multinational digs, the landscape is littered with small, illegal operations that have a significant impact on fresh water sources. I spent some time photographing a group of young men digging gravel out of such a site in central Ghana. They were understandably nervous about my presence but Dr. Anthony Duah, the director of Vital Signs Ghana, quickly put their fears to rest and I was soon splattered in mud like everyone else.

View a gallery of images from Ghana »
Daniel Kofi Nycrokoh loosens gravel at the bottom of a pit. 403VS2179
Issahaku and Fatawu compete with a calf during the morning milking. 403VS0627
Comfort Dankwa weeds her cassava crop at first light. 404VS4440
Asani Kwabena reaches up to train vines in his yam field in Okwabena. 404VS5110

A faculty directory for the College of the Environment

Posted 11 June 2014 by in Announcements, Multimedia


The University of Washington’s College of the Environment has 11 schools and departments that bring together a wide swath of the University’s natural science subjects from fisheries, forests and atmospheric sciences, to environmental policy and more. For prospective graduate students interested in interdisciplinary topics like climate change, conservation or resource management, cutting across these academic silos is increasingly important.

Together with Darin Reid at Elegant Contraption, we helped the College build an all-new website that celebrates the people, synergies and collaborative opportunities at the College. A core component of the project is an interactive directory that profiles all 200 faculty members. A searchable and sortable grid of faces displays everyone working on any of 13 cross-disciplinary research themes such as freshwater, climate or conservation.



We needed a cohesive series of portraits of all faculty members to make the directory effective. During three visits over the last year, Sara and I set up a small studio in the University’s “Halibut Garage” to make 200 10-minute portraits. It felt a bit like we were speed-dating professors, but we had a blast working with some familiar faces and getting to know new ones in this amazing academic community. »

Luc Hoffmann Institute launches

Posted 10 June 2014 by in Announcements

We’ve been working with Darin Reid at Elegant Contraption to build the website for the new Luc Hoffman Institute. Based in Gland, Switzerland, the Institute is a project of WWF designed to bring researchers, stakeholders and WWF experts together to find evidence-based solutions to tough conservation problems. Explore to learn more.

LHI Home

LHI Projects

Conservation International launches new website

Posted 9 June 2014 by in Announcements, Photography

Conservation International just launched a complete redesign of their web presence and we’re excited to see so many of our images from Tanzania, Uganda, Ghana, Peru and Malaysia featured in the visually rich design. Explore it at




Images from our home in the Methow Valley.

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