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Capturing Nature

B. W. Wells holding his camera at Carolina Beach
ca. 1926

Throughout Wells' career, photographic documentation of the plants and landscapes of North Carolina were integral parts of his publications, lectures, and public presentations. Although his camera was large, heavy, and cumbersome, he carried it with him throughout the state, in a variety of field conditions, over rocky roads and unmarked paths.

Ecological camp
ca. 1930
When not teaching, Wells spent much of his time in the field making observations and documenting the landscape. This often meant extended camping trips to remote parts of the state. His work involved long, rigorous days outdoors, a pursuit that he enjoyed and continued throughout his career and into retirement.

Chionanthus virginicus L.

Dwarf locust
Robinia nana Elliott

Salt marsh rush
Juncus roemarianus Scheele

To illustrate ecological concepts about which he was writing and lecturing, Wells captured a variety of views with his camera. Photographs of specimens placed in front of dark backdrops illustrate structure, while field shots emphasize the plant in its natural surroundings. His landscape shots capture entire ecosystems.

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