Story by Stephanie Hounsell with photography by Ramtin Kazemi
Live and Learn
Outdoor photographer Ramtin Kazemi has learned more than one lesson the hard way
Ramtin Kazemi isn’t one to pretend he never makes mistakes. On the contrary, the Ontario-based outdoor landscape photographer is often the first to poke fun at some of the lessons he has learned in the field the hard way. He’s also the first to stress the importance of those lessons and the fact that learning never ends.
It was just four years ago that Kazemi tried out a friend’s DSLR, a move that completely changed his life. Now, he lives for his photo travels; capturing mountains — from Switzerland to the Canadian Rockies — is what gets his blood pumping.
Kazemi is a huge fan of Ontario’s night skies. “In the summer months, the brightest part of the Milky Way is visible and you can see it with the naked eye,” he says. This photo was taken at Bottle Lake in Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park, about an hour-and-a-half north of Toronto.
Although many a camper would be intimidated at the thought of camping amongst bears, Kazemi says he has always felt comfortable around the creatures, knowing he respects and acts wisely around them.
But during the trip when this photo was taken, Kazemi made a huge mistake. “It was in the middle of the night that I heard some really loud breathing noises outside the tent,” he recalls.
As the breathing became louder and louder, Kazemi realized he had forgotten to put some of the food away before going into the tent. “I peaked through the tent and, sure enough, there he was, one massive black bear just ripping through everything that smelled good to him in the campsite,” he says.
It was the one night he’d forgotten to hang the food up and away from the tent. After finding everything, the bear ambled off. Lesson learned. “Always follow the backcountry rules,” Kazemi reminds people.
Then there’s the importance of research. This summer photo was taken from the top of the Niederhorn in the Swiss Alps. Kazemi was on the peak with his girlfriend until midnight in order to catch the sunset and twilight hours, but the last gondola down had left at 5 p.m. What that meant was a five-hour hike down. “It was pitch black and we were going through forests not being able to see anything,” Kazemi says.
The pair had to walk through some private land, but the cows on one such patch weren’t as gracious as the landowners who typically don’t mind hikers passing through. “One of them actually came at me, but we were faster than it,” Kazemi says, laughing.
Where does the lesson come in? “Later we realized there’s a hotel up there with private rooms and a restaurant that we could have used. All because I didn’t research that area. But you live and learn.”
For more information, visit www.ramtinkazemi.com.