It was a win-win night at the Crag Law Center "Wild Shots" benefit auction in Portland. With the purchase of only one -- count 'em, one -- raffle ticket (albeit for $25), I scored a beautiful Mark Gamba photograph.
And Crag ended up raising quite a bit of money.
Along with other professional photographers, and one amateur, Gamba had donated artwork for an oral auction. The grand prize of the raffle was being able to walk away with any photograph before the auction started.
Showing how my wife and I often differ on the optimism front, after I bought the raffle ticket I said to Laurel, "Let's go look at the oral auction items so I'll be ready to choose one when my ticket is picked."
Laurel said, "You're crazy. You aren't going to win."
Well, she was half right. But I won.
I didn't hesitate when Crag Law Center co-director Ralph Bloemers called out the winning number and it was mine! I headed right to Mark Gamba's remarkable photo of a whale surfacing next to a kayaker in Glacier Bay, Alaska.
Hopefully Mark won't mind me sharing this screenshot of the photo that I captured from the "whereabouts" section of his website.
I respect copyright law, but wanted to show the photo in all of its glory, and couldn't get a decent image of my framed photograph given my minimal camera skills.
Plus, Crag currently has this very photo on the front page of their web site, where I first saw it when I was looking for info about the Wild Shots auction.
What instantly attracted me to the photograph was the moment. The whale tail is a now you see it, now you don't deal. And having the kayaker in the shot makes us realize that a human (in addition to Mark Gamba) was there in the moment.
You can see other terrific photographs that were auctioned off on the Crag Law Center Wild Shots page. I liked many of them. The whale photo was the only one that I loved.
Photographer King Wu captured the scene in China. As with Gamba's image, both shots show itty-bitty people in the big wide world of nature.
Which is as it should be.
We Homo sapiens need the natural world to survive; the natural world, on the other hand, did just fine without us for billions of years.
The Crag Law Center's goal is to support "community efforts to protect and sustain the Pacific Northwest's natural legacy."
Ralph Bloemers and other Crag staff have done a great job helping our neighborhood fight a Measure 37 subdivision that threatens to dry up wells and a community-owned lake with senior water rights.
Groups like our neighborhood's Keep Our Water Safe committee would find it much tougher to battle environmental threats without the help of Crag's lower-cost legal help.
So thanks, Crag Law Center. For all the good work that you do for the Northwest. And for the photo that gives me enjoyment every time I look at it.