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Medford's George McLean captures wildlife with his lens

Posted by Your Town  July 1, 2010 10:04 AM

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George McLean strives to capture Medford's natural beauty with an opened lens that has opened eyes.

An award winning photographer, the 77-year-old West Medford resident is a master of his craft, with 50 years of film development that has captured the Boston area with artistic style from the historic streets of Beacon Hill to the natural wildlife in Medford.

See a gallery of his work here.

He has lived in Medford for 35 years, and he is drawn to the city as a photographer because of its historical value as well as its wildlife. The artist can currently be seen taking pictures in Medford's Oak Grove Cemetery, the Mystic Lake dam, and even on a Route 93 billboard, but his favorite place to capture pictures is the historic Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge.

"Mount Auburn is a great place for scenery. After being the first garden cemetery I've found a variety of birds and even a hawk family to capture," said McLean.

A passionate environmental activist, McLean spends a typical three to four hours in one photo shoot capturing at least a thousand pictures at a time. In a recent project, McLean spent three months watching and taking photos of a family of red tailed hawks nesting at a Fresh Pond Parkway building.

The photographer has also captured shots of Medford's notorious coyote population, wild turkeys, and even bobcats.

"It's great to see what Medford has to offer when it comes to wildlife. I've had some great winter shots of the Mystic River as well as a wild turkey shot from Oak Grove that hangs in the mayor's office," said McLean.

McLean's style is similar to Japanese paintings in which the subject's colors and composition is enhanced in order to fade out the background. Over his many years of experience, McLean has worked with chemicals in dark rooms and with slower cameras from the 70s, but he is excited about the world of digital photography.

"It's so much easier for a photographer to edit, and create detail as if they were working with a paintbrush," said McLean. "The picture is automatically less dull and more up close and personal."

One of the more prominent award was for his image of Jewish Russians arriving in America after years of detention. The shot, "Let my People Go," won "Best Picture of the Year" for the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston in 1975, appearing across the globe in calendars, newspapers, and magazines.

McLean has spent 27 years as a public relations photographer for Regis College and has also photographed at countless Jewish colleges and universities.

Besides photography, McLean is also known as "The Mayor of Canal Street'' because of his famous block parties that brought the street's residents together for some good times. Self taught, he is passionate about reading and learning about the areas where he captures photos.

On the subject of advising amateurs trying to break into photography, McLean had powerful words of advice:

"Make mistakes! Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder."

You can take a look at some of McLean's work at his website.

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