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Matinee: Michel D'Oultremont in 'The Wait' Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

27 August 2016

Saturday matinees long ago let us escape from the ordinary world to the island of the Swiss Family Robinson or the mutinous decks of the Bounty. Why not, we thought, escape the usual fare here with Saturday matinees of our favorite photography films?

So we're pleased to present the 150th in our series of Saturday matinees today: Michel D'Oultremont in The Wait.

A rising star in nature photography, Michel D'Oultremont is the subject of this engrossing 10:45 minute video that follows him into the Carpathian Mountains of Romania to photograph bison, which are being reintroduced into Europe by the World Wildlife Fund.

"It's a huge animal. Massive," he warns. "When it looks at you, there's an incredible intensity. It gives you the shivers."

'You've got to be in place for a few hours to be forgotten by the nature surrounding you.'

It's also what D'Oultremont is waiting for, even if the opening sequences are exquisite bison close-ups, seductively coming into sharp focus very slowly. In fact, you won't actually see D'Oultremont's stills until the very end of The Wait (yep, something else to wait for), meanwhile marveling in John Ford's cinematography.

D'Oultremont, who speaks French in this subtitled video, talks about how he came to love nature watching rabbits from a tree house with his father's binoculars. He talks a bit about his approach to photographing birds and beasts in the wild as we see him perched behind the enormous (and covered) telephoto lens attached to his Canon dSLR.

The Romanian adventure begins about halfway into the film as D'Oultremont drives through the night.

He leaves the car behind and hikes into the mountains, pitching a tent that serves as his blind.

Then the real waiting begins. "Patience is one of the most important things to have," he reflects. "You've got to be in place for a few hours to be forgotten by the nature surrounding you." It can even take a week.

In the clips you see him disappearing into the landscape. Look carefully to find, not for Waldo, but Michel.

It rains and he thinks he could be nuts to be out there day after day doing nothing. Then the day arrives when you take 2,000 photos.

We see the bison looking at us. We see D'Oultremont looking at the bison. Eye to eye. A connection, an intense moment. "And the final click is what captures all that," he says.

A series of his stills ends the film, directed by David Hayes, who talks about the project on the film's Web site:

I think for most of us the pace of life is overwhelmingly fast. I know I find myself getting frustrated if things don't happen instantly. With Michel it's different; he is fully prepared to stay in one spot for hours and hours until all the elements within his frame come together for a perfect moment. I found that really inspiring and a very healthy way to think about the creative process.

You may, in fact, be so enamored with the hunt that you may be a little disappointed when The Wait is over.

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