Loon images preserved for modern age

From 1969 to 1987, Kip Taylor photographed and filmed loons on backwoods ponds that are now part of the St. Regis Canoe Area.

Those thousands of photographs were recorded on slides and represent the biggest known collection of loon photographs in the Adirondacks from that period. The images and film were recently given to Nina Schoch, director of the Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation, by Taylor’s wife Sharon. Taylor died in 1997.

Schoch is hoping to digitize those photographs and film and make it all available for the public to view. She is doing that through Adirondack Gives, the crowdfunding site for Adirondack region nonprofits.

The three-part fundraising campaign has already met its initial goal of raising $250 to purchase two external hard drives for storing the digitized slide files. It is now in the second phase, which is to raise $1,000 to purchase a high-quality slide scanner to digitize Taylor’s slides. The third campaign will seek $6,000 to support digitizing Taylor’s extensive video footage at CinePost, a firm highly experienced in restoring and digitizing 16mm film.

“It made so much sense for me to digitize them and make them available to the public,” said Schoch, who is based in Ray Brook. “I think that he would really appreciate that.”

Once Taylor’s images and film footage have been digitized, the original slides and film will be donated to the New York State Museum. Schoch will also work with the museum and The Wild Center to make the items available to the public in exhibits at museums and on the web.

She will also work to include Taylor’s photographs and video in the loon conservancy’s educational programming, including its website, public presentations, annual newsletter, and displays at the Paul Smith’s College Visitor Interpretive Center and the Adirondack Interpretive Center in Newcomb.

What makes Taylor’s photographs and films unique is that loons were rarely observed on Adirondack waterways during that period, and his images documented their natural history and behavior.

“They have slides of chicks hatching and footage of chicks hatching and loons swimming underwater and catching fish,” Schoch said.

Prior to his passing in 1997, Taylor published a book, titled “Loon,” which chronicles his excursions to photograph these distinctive birds and displays many of the images.

“I was fortunate to have been introduced to the woods and waters very early in life,” Taylor wrote in “Loon.” “My parents instilled in me an appreciation of all of nature’s treasures. When I entered the film business in 1968, I wanted to find a film subject that had not been done and redone by previous photographers, and also one that was available in my Adirondack area. I chose loons. I guess I’d always had a secret love affair with the loon, which to me is the symbol of the wilderness water. My initial research revealed that there were only three references on loons in the Library of Congress. The field was certainly wide open. Off and on from 1969 to 1987 I followed loons in their summer habitat in the Adirondacks. Some years, the study was intense. Other years, I tried to fill in with pictures I previously missed.”

Taylor goes on to say that he took almost 25,000 feet of movie film and more than 6,000 slides of loons, although many of those were discarded because of poor quality.

To learn more about this campaign visit www.adirondackgives.org and click on “Help Digitize Historical Adirondack Loon Slides.”