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Greater scaup in flight

Featured photographer: Danielle (Dana) Kornitz

10:57 am  |  Topics: featured artist


Introduction by Eddee Daniel

I first learned of Dana’s work when a stunning image of an eagle in flight showed up in my Instagram feed. Making it even more enticing, the image was shot in Lincoln Park, right here in the Milwaukee River Greenway. Clicking “follow” then led to a daily treat of local wildlife, among other lovely things. Here is a small example of what Dana posts each day…

After admiring her work for a while, I invited her to meet in Lincoln Park, which we did wearing masks and staying six feet apart! Turns out that she lives near the park and is self-taught as a photographer. She is modest about her skills and expressed surprised that I would invite her to be featured in The Natural Realm. But you can see for yourself why I was captivated. Here in her own words is her story and a selection of her images.

Adult bald eagle in flight
Adult bald eagle in flight

Artist statement by Danielle Kornitz

Before I became a photographer, I was an avid—some might say crazy— cyclist. Not in a competitive way; it was a reason for me to get outdoors. In high school I would get up on Sunday morning and ride the “76 Bike Trail,” which is now the Oak Leaf Trail. During my college years, getting married, and raising two wonderful children there just was no time for riding. Then in 2014, after a series of hardships, I got back on the bike and started riding again.

American White Pelican
American White Pelican. Cleared to fly – If I could walk on water!

This time while out riding, because the advent of cell phone cameras, I began to stop at places that looked interesting and took pictures. Sometimes it was a park, other times it was a simple marker on the road. You can learn a lot this way.  For example, in Grafton one day I stopped at the “THE BLUE TRAIL: PARAMOUNT RECORDS” and learned that some of the most important recordings for “Mississippi-Blues” where made in a chair factory at that location in 1920’s.

Going out fishing as the sun rises.
Going out fishing as the sun rises.

On September 13, 2017, I had an unfortunate bicycling accident, which resulted in a serious traumatic injury that continues to impact my short-term and working memory. Through the ongoing process of recovery, I turned to my Canon camera and began to photograph more seriously. Before long, I realized that anything we see—a flower, a bird, an animal, water, or anything else, depending on your vantage point—can make for an interesting photograph. I learned the value of being in the moment and exploring the simpler things in life.

Green Heron
Green Heron

I started to share some of the photos on Facebook and Instagram, as a way for me to remember where I was or what I was doing on any given day. To my surprise, I found that people liked some of the photos. For me, a problem solver with a background in Information Technology, it was a strange feeling to be called a photographer, or an artist, as I have never thought of myself of being creative.

Milwaukee Art Museum - Calatrava.
Milwaukee Art Museum – Calatrava.

In 2019, while in some of the local parks, people began to come up to me and say, “You are the woman that takes all of those wonderful bird pictures,” or affectionately, “You are the bird lady.” Some even addressed me by name. While the anonymity I once had was gone, it has been and continues to be one of the most rewarding things in my life to have people recognize me for my photography; something I considered a coping skill for memory loss, depression and anxiety.

Parent bird flies away.
Parent flies away.

I spend a lot of time photographing wildlife. I like to say, if it moves I can photography it. Most people take that to mean birds in flight, but I truly enjoy all kinds of photography. It is peaceful to watch the sunrise or sunset over the water or with a city skyline. While I do a lot of nature photography, I also do architecture, candids of people, night photography, macrophotography and astrophotography. I particularly like photos that tell a story. 

Ominous Skies Behind Observation Tower
Ominous Skies Behind Observation Tower, Mequon Nature Preserve.

I tag my photos with “Expedition4Life” (also the name of my website). The tag represents my belief that life is a journey, a way of finding oneself regardless of the struggles and triumphs we have experienced in our lives.

Great Blue Heron at sunset with the rising moon.
Great Blue Heron at sunset with the rising moon.
It's snowing in April!
It’s snowing in April!
Juvenile Bluebird snagging a berry.
Juvenile Bluebird snagging a berry.
Milwaukee Skyline Valentines Day Panorama
Milwaukee Skyline Valentines Day Panorama
American Kestrel female
American Kestrel, female, with a vole
American Kestrel, male, with its next meal
American Kestrel, male, with its next meal
Sunset at Discovery World
Sunset at Discovery World
Greater Scaup with Gulls and Water exploding over the Breakwater.
Greater Scaup with Gulls and Water exploding over the Breakwater.
Great Blue Heron and the Dragonfly.
Great Blue Heron and the Dragonfly.
Two Male Redhead Ducks in Flight
Two Male Redhead Ducks in Flight.
American Redstar on the hunt
American Redstar on the hunt.

See more of Danielle’s work at Expedition4Life. And find her on Facebook and Instagram!