Retired California State Park ranger shines a spotlight on West Marin and its wildlife

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  • Courtesy of Carlos Porrata

    Inverness resident Carlos Porrata has spent his retirement photographing the beauty and wildlife of West Marin.

  • Photo by Carlos Porrata

    Carlos Porrata’s photo of a peregrine falcon won the award for best exhibit in the recent WildCare photography competition.

  • Photo by Carlos Porrata

    Carlos Porrata has presented his photography in group and individual exhibitions.

  • Photo by Carlos Porrata

    “All my career, I have learned about wildlife and its behavior, and I knew that it is in nature that I feel at peace,” says Carlos Porrata.

  • Photo by Carlos Porrata

    Carlos Porrata does his photography mainly in West Marin.

  • Photo by Carlos Porrata

    Carlos Porrata captures the beauty and wildlife of West Marin.

  • Photo by Carlos Porrata

    Birds are frequently the subject of Carlos Porrata’s photography.

  • Photo by Carlos Porrata

    Photo by Carlos Porrata of a coyote preying on a ground squirrel.

Carlos Porrata has always dabbled in photography. But, after her young grandson was diagnosed with stage 4 rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare type of cancer about eight years ago, and his son-in-law died suddenly soon after, taking a photo became a source. of comfort and peace for him during this difficult time. .

After the treatment his grandson improved, but the longtime Inverness resident never stopped photographing the breathtaking wildlife and beauty around him in West Marin. Since then he has presented his work in group and individual exhibitions throughout the county and has been featured in publications for environmental nonprofit organizations in the Bay Area.

Porrata, who retired in 2004 after a three-decade career as a California State Park Ranger, including 25 in Tomales Bay State Park, brings that experience to his job, capturing everything , from birds to bobcats to coyotes and moose to the west. The beautiful landscapes of Marin.

Since the native of Puerto Rico arrived in West Marin over 40 years ago, he has been active in the community, serving on the boards of the Marin Community Foundation, Tomales Bay Watershed Council, Shoreline Unified School District. and the Point Reyes National Seashore Association.

Q You first studied psychology and counseling. What inspired the career change?

A When my wife, Rebecca, and I decided to come from the East Coast to California, where she is from, we only had one of our daughters, Alexandra, at the time and she was 3 years old. We stopped at many national parks across the country. I kept staring at these guys dressed in green, talking about the birds and being outdoors, and appreciating people at their best, as I worked with people in their worst condition. I came to California and decided to try and become a state ranger. It took me about six months. I liked it. It wasn’t a career, it was a way of life. My first assignment, I fell in love with the redwoods here at Samuel P Taylor State Park, and from there I came to Tomales.

Q Why focus your photography on wildlife?

A I have always been in love with wildlife. All my career, I have learned about wildlife and its behavior. I knew that it is in nature that I feel at peace. After spending 30 years as a ranger, being a steward of the land, and taking care of the parks, it was just a natural step to take.

Q You are a self-taught photographer. What did you learn as you went along?

A I am much further from the animals than people might think when they see the photo. If you really care about the animals you photograph, you want to protect them and not stress them out. You don’t want to interfere and part of the reason is you won’t get a good shot if the bird pulls away from you or a bobcat walks away from you. Find a great place where you know there is a lot of activity, sit back, relax and don’t move. It’s all about patience and perseverance.

Q You recently won the Best in Show award for WildCare’s Living with Wildlife Photography Contest. Tell me the story.

A I had been going to see this peregrine falcon for probably a month. I was at the beach and he landed in the sand and I put my tripod really low and I set up to take a picture of him in the sand and get ready if he was flying. The bird decided to come in my direction, not only at the same elevation level, but straight towards me. The odds of something like this happening were about one in a million.

Q How has living in West Marin inspired your work?

A It is paradise. There are some really beautiful places, but the beauty of West Marin is that not only do we have this amazing natural beauty, but we also have a wonderful community.

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