Robert Clark, photographer extraordinaire

Robert Clark—an award-winning photographer for National Geographic and other major magazines, who’s just published a book, “Feathers: Displays of Brilliant Plumage”—recounts key milestones of his career, including starting to shoot as a young kid, later winding up as a staff photographer Feathers flat coverat the Philadelphia Inquirer, then leaving that paper to join his Inquirer colleague (and Pulitzer winner) Buzz Bissinger in a project that became a little book called “Friday Night Lights: A Town, A Team, And A Dream.” Clark charts his professional path from Odessa, TX (the location of Permian High School, whose Grey_Peacock_Pheasant_III_revfootball team is at the center of “Friday Night Lights”) to New York City, where he relocated afterwards and began working for National Geographic. Some of those National Geographic assignments—which, he explains, initially tended to have an emphasis on science, paleontology and archeology–spurred his interest in feathers, notably including “Feather Evolution: The Long, Curious, and Extravagant History of Feathers,” written by Carl Zimmer, author of The New York Times’ weekly “Matter” column, and who wrote the preface of Clark’s new book. Clark explains what fascinated him about feathers, how the publisher, 150218_Encenitas_Trip_01362-Cockatoo_revChronicleBooks, proposed the idea for “Feathers,” and how he determined a structure and set of guiding principles for the images included in the book. This veers into enthusing about the work of Charles Darwin, very much including Darwin’s efforts in breeding pigeons as a way to test out his then-developing theory of evolution—and the important role biologist Alfred Russel Wallace played in helping Darwin advance his work, as a long-distance collaborator. Clark touches on other topics, from the likely audience for “Feathers,” to the state of photography in journalism. Photos by Robert Clark. (www.robertclark.com,  www.instagram.com/robertclarkphoto/)

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ALSO: I spoke briefly with Carole Baskin, founder and CEO of Big Cat Rescue, the Tampa non-profit educational sanctuary that houses abused and abandoned big cats, who offers some observations about the incident days earlier in which a tiger killed his keeper at The Palm Beach Zoo.(http://bigcatrescue.org)

COMEDY CORNER: Paula Poundstone’s “Cats Puff Up” (www.paulapoundstone.com)

MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” instrumentals

NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE: Steve Miller Band’s “Fly Like An Eagle”

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About the author
Duncan Strauss is the producer-host of “Talking Animals,” which he launched at KUCI in California in 2003, combining his passions for animals, radio, journalism, music and comedy. The show has aired since late 2005 on Tampa’s WMNF. Strauss lives in Jupiter Farms, FL with his family, including four cats, two horses and one dog. He spends each day talking to those animals, and maintains they talk right back to him, an as yet unverified claim.

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