IBMer Peter Relson Photographs Wildlife in its Natural Habitat
IBM Senior Technical Staff Member Peter Relson connects his career to his passion for photography and nature watching.
Peter Relson poses with his camera, which has accompanied him on several wildlife excursions, Image by Peter Murphy
By Keelia Estrada Moeller09/02/2019
Growing up, Peter Relson always enjoyed being outdoors and bird watching. The 41-plus year veteran of IBM recalls that he went through his “indoor phase” when he was younger, where his interest in the outdoors fell away. But that changed when he and his friends began planning a trip to Africa. “It rekindled my interests. And I realized that if I was going to go to Africa, I would need to bring a camera with me,” the IBM senior technical staff member says.
The trip to Africa was eventually canceled, but by then, Relson had purchased a camera. He ended up going to Muir Woods, a redwood sanctuary in California, to practice photography. “That was the first time I experienced a personal feeling of awe and wonder. There are so many amazing things out there to see,” Relson says.
Now, Relson brings his camera wherever he travels. He particularly enjoys the challenge of photography. “The things I photograph aren’t sitting there like a still life waiting to be composed. Getting the right shot can be lucky, but it helps to position yourself to maximize your potential for luck.” Relson also collects artwork, sometimes commissioning local artists to create pieces based on his original photography.
I'm much more patient than I used to be, and it might be because I've spent so much time just observing and watching.
This year, Relson travelled with his wife to Northern Canada and Brazil. They hoped to see polar bears on the Canada trip, and the Brazil trip was for seeing maned wolves. Although these trips had a specific focus, some of the best parts came from other natural wonders. “We didn’t see the polar bears in Canada until our last day, but we got to see the Aurora Borealis, a beautiful arctic fox and a couple of wolves. In Brazil, we saw different kinds of monkeys and an impossibly bright orange cock-of-the-rock (a bird).”
When Relson travels, he focuses on wildlife—and that can mean sitting, waiting and watching for long periods of time. The patience required for nature watching translates into Relson’s professional career at IBM. “I’m much more patient than I used to be, and it might be because I’ve spent so much time just observing and watching,” he says.
The need for a knowledgeable mentor or guide is also important for both nature watching and work. During an East Africa trip, Relson and a group he travelled with encountered a mother cheetah. Their guide knew she was looking for her cubs and knew to keep a distance until she found them. After several hours, she found her cubs, and brought them right next to the group’s vehicle. “The importance of having a great guide in the wildlife is analogous to the importance of having a good mentor at work,” Relson says.
Relson’s favorite experiences come from unexpected moments. He advises: Enjoy the moment, because you never know what you might see.
Keelia Estrada Moeller is the managing editor of IBM Systems magazine, IBM Z.
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