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Jack Zaleski, Published January 07 2012

Zaleski: Beauty of North Dakota in photos

My late sister was an amateur photographer. When I settled in North Dakota, she would visit frequently, camera in hand, and photograph the state’s beauty, particularly sunsets and sunrises, which were not as spectacular in her native New England.

I was reminded of her North Dakota photos when I received a copy of Dakota Country’s “Prairie Scenes, Events and Beauty from North Dakota.” Dakota Country is the region’s best outdoor magazine. Editor/Publisher Bill Mitzel produced the beautiful book of North Dakota skies and landscapes in a large 10-by-13 format. It’s a nice piece of work.

The book is divided into several sections, each of which focuses on specific features of the land, wildlife and waters of the state. They include: The Prairie Through Time, The Weather Element, Waterfowl World, Wild Game on Back Trails, Prairie Color and several other classifications. The pictures are universally beautiful – skillfully composed and photographed. They hearken not only to the attractions of the landscapes and waterways but also to human impacts: barns, fences, roadways – all integrated into the unique attraction of open spaces and limitless skies.

Mitzel is among those outdoor journalists and photographers who not only makes pictures but spends a lot of time outdoors. An avid angler and hunter, he’s walked the land and traversed the waters in every part of the state. He’s on intimate terms with North Dakota’s wild side, and his photographs reflect his sense of place, his love of the land and his respect for the critters that live in the bush and beneath the waves.

Mitzel is concerned, as are many of us, that the values embodied in his photographs are being sacrificed, or at the very least eroded, by the rush to energy development. He writes in the book’s intro:

“It is my deep wish that future generations of North Dakotans will value this marvelous land, the people, the resources, the wonderful way of life we enjoy enough to keep it that way.”

Amen, Bill. His book of photographs underscores that sentiment. My late sister, having had a love affair with North Dakota’s sunsets and sunrises, would understand.

Mitzel has about 100 copies of the book left. He does not plan a second printing. They go for $29.95 a pop, plus taxes and shipping. Get one (or more) through Dakota Country Magazine, Box 2714, Bismarck, ND 58502. The website is dakotacountrymagazine.com It’s worth every dime.


Contact Editorial Page Editor Jack Zaleski at (701) 241-5521.