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Area photographer published by prestigious journal

Area photographer Mark Lewer is seeing his work pay off with many wildlife and landscape images appearing in National Geographic Magazine. A photo gallery of his work can be found on the Bemidji Pioneer website, Pioneer Photo/Monte Draper1 / 2
This photo of a scarlet tanager, taken by Mark Lewer of rural Laporte, appeared in the National Geographic Bird Guide.2 / 2

To become a professional photographer takes patience, perseverance and passion, and Mark Lewer has all of those.

"It's fun when you get out there and capture something that works," said Lewer, of rural Laporte. "You have to have the willingness to grow with the technology, whether it's the camera, computers or software, it's just as important."

A goal for him was to be published in National Geographic Magazine. It has happened several times for him with photographs of a winter's night scene of the Potlatch stud plant, a picture of the birth of a lady slipper and, most recently in the National Geographic Bird Guide, an image of a scarlet tanager. This is the second song bird that's appeared in this section.

The winter image of Potlatch earned him the Photo of the Day, April, 2010. He pointed out the image online, referring to the National Geographic logo on bottom left of the image and said, "That's priceless."

Lewer has a gallery of his wildlife and landscapes on the National Geographic website under "Your Shots." Lewer said he does not get paid for his submissions, once submitted photographers give up the rights to the images. He said he checks the website every day because he never knows where they might be used.

According to Lewer, the many images he's captured are in his backyard or on his travels back and forth from work. He is a multi media specialist for Leech Lake Tribal College. He has the perfect wildlife sanctuary with open fields for the deer, a large pond for the waterfowl and a natural walkway for hungry bears. He has constructed several blinds on his property. It does help that he planted clover in his field, built a floating structure on his pond and has plenty of berries in the woods around him. Patience is still the key, he said. He sometimes gets up at 3 a.m. to hide in a blind to get the early morning photo of a buck.

"Most of the stuff (photos) out there makes you drool," said Lewer. "In some fashion, I'm a firm believer the majority of shots are set up."

He likes his images to speak for themselves, displaying an image of a yellowtail butterfly on a white blossom, he said he took 700 images until he got the perfect photo, with the correct lighting, depth-of-field and angle.

With a new Ghillie camouflage suit and lens, a Canon 500mm f/4, he plans to travel to Grand Portage this summer with a guides help hunt for moose.

"It's not tough when you have the right equipment," Lewer said. "Being at the right place and time does help."