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Tom Lynn Photography bio picture
  • The blog of Wisconsin photographer Tom Lynn

    I am a Wisconsin based environmental photojournalist.

    My passion for photography began 30 years ago. It was handed down from my dad, who had a love of art and a collection of cameras and photography books. Around my sophomore year in college I began to embrace photography as a journey, studying his collection more closely, and absorbing the imagery and techniques that were intriguing as well as inspiring.

    Little has changed for me since first opening those books and learning to appreciate the art of photography. My goal is to make photographs with feeling, to bring out emotion in a subject, whether it is a story of someone’s life on a rough sea off the coast of Alaska or “walking” an audience through a restored prairie in rural Wisconsin. I seek to connect people to the natural world, to honor its true and often untamed beauty.

    For the past 28 years, I've professionally worked as a staff photographer for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. In doing so, I have been witness to the power of the human spirit, unspeakable sadness and extraordinary splendor across the country. My work has been featured in Sports Illustrated, The New York Times, Time Magazine, Newsweek, and National Geographic World Magazine among others. These efforts have resulted in numerous awards, including being part of a team honored with being named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

    More recently, my journey has taken me down a unique and personally quite rewarding path. Aligned with my desire to work with natural landscapes, I have been commissioned by the International Crane Foundation to create a book on their 200-acre prairie in Wisconsin.

Finally Some Good News

After weeks of waiting and hoping for the remaining D.A.R. Whooping Cranes to migrate, finally yesterday some good news.  The good news does not come without a price I’m afraid, last week ended with some very sad news.  Four of the 2013 D.A.R. Whooping Cranes have died.  With all the hard work and dedication and effort from the members of the International Crane Foundation,, in the end tragic news of the deaths was unavoidable.

I have been documenting the 2013 D.A.R. Whooping Cranes for a project titled “Hatch to Release”.  I have become attached to the Whoopers just as many members of ICF have.  I have spent one day each week visiting the cranes and documenting there growth.  It has been an honor to do so and such an important story to tell.  Endangered species reintroduction is unfortunantly not always going to work as planned, there are many variables to over come and this year was no different.

Tuesday December 11, 2013 I joined a team from ICF at Horicon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge.  The goal was to find the 4 remaining Whooping Cranes capture them, check on their health and ship them south.  Something that has never happened before.  With winter freezing over the marsh and a dwindling food supply it was a drastic measure to keep from loosing the remaining cranes.

Once on site tracking began by picking up a strong signals for all four of the whoopers.  Shortly after the initial tracking we detected that they were moving south and they kept on moving not just to the south end of the marsh but on migration.  Great news.  Really the best outcome possible.  After an hour a beacon was detected that one of the cranes had returned but only one.  The other three were still on there way and were detected in  norther Illinois at this point.

The capture of the returned crane was made by Kim Boardman with the help of Anne Lacy both of ICF.  It was a truly heroric effort as temperatures were in the single digits with below zero wind chill.  They tracked the crane in a corn field and made the capture.  Dr. Barry Hartup of ICF completed the check up determining that all was well and today the final member of the 2013 D.A.R. Whooping Cranes is being transported south.

It really was a fantastic ending to a very tragic week.


Members of ICF move Latka (59-13) into the van for transport.


Kim Boardman receives a hug from Anne Lacy after the capture of Latka (59-13).


Kim Boardman puts Latka (59-13) into the container.


Anne Lacy searching for Latka (59-13).


Kim Boardman carries Latka (59-13).


Anne Lacy puts a hood on Latka (59-13) as Kim Boardman carries her out of the corn field.


Kim Boardman and Anne Lacy put on the crane costumes for the capture.


The tracking vehicle finding a location.

Latka (59-13) returns to a corn field near Horicon Marsh.

Latka (59-13) returns to a corn field near Horicon Marsh.


[…] there was good news reported December 12th, and documented by photographer Tom Lynn. The previous day WCEP staff […]

One Step Closer to Release

Today was moving day at the International Crane Foundation.  The Whooping Crane chicks in the Direct Autumn Release Program (D.A.R.) were boxed up from their iso location at ICF and moved to remote area of Horicon National Wildlife Refuge.  All nine of the chicks were boxed one at a time and loaded into vans before being driven to Horicon.  The release was quick and anti-climatic.  Costumed aviculturists lead the Whooping Cranes to their new pen and let them settle in.

This was a big step in the eventual release into the wild of this years D.A.R. birds.

Marianne Wellington leads a Whooping Crane into a box for the move.

Marianne Wellington leads a Whooping Crane into a box.

The boxed birds are taken outside and loaded into a van,


The birds are weighed upon arrival to Horicon.


Released from their boxes.


Hawkeye takes off at Horicon National Wildlife Refuge.


Hawkeye takes off at Horicon National Wildlife Refuge.


Hawkeye takes off at Horicon National Wildlife Refuge.


Hawkeye takes off at Horicon National Wildlife Refuge.



Soaring high above Horicon National Wildlife Refuge.


[...] Hatched at ICF for release this fall, the nine DAR Whooping Crane chicks were introduced to their new home at Horicon National Wildlife Refuge in central Wisconsin early last week. View more photos from the release. [...]

81 Days to Fledging

What a great day.

Dressed in an all white Whooping Crane suit, with my camera rigged into a pillow case, I was given the opportunity to take a marsh walk with 4 of the oldest Whooping Cranes in the Direct Autumn Release (D.A.R.) program at the International Crane Foundation  Marianne Wellington escorted me out into the prairie  to see how the Whooping Cranes would react to having a third person in a suit for the two hour walk.  After she was sure that they were comfortable with it she left and the remainder of the walk was led by Kim Boardman and Veronica Bienaime.  This was my first opportunity actually walking along side of the Whoopers.  Up until this point I had been in a blind using a long lens, which was fine but there is no substitute for being truly up close and along side these magnificent birds.  An hour and a half into the walk I noticed that “Squiggy” was well behind the 3 other cranes.  After Kim made few calls he took off, not to fly a few feet but to sail past Kim and Veronica and the other three Whoopers on his way to officially fledging.  Any flight over 100 meters is considered fledging and on his 81 first day “Squiggy” fledged.

It was a great site to see and the second of this years D.A.R. chicks to do so.

Enjoy a few images from today’s walk.

Marrianne Wellington with Veronica Bienaime and Kim Boardman

Marrianne Wellington with Veronica Bienaime and Kim Boardman

The watchful eye of the Whooping Crane puppet.

Two of the Whoopers start their take off.

Kim Boardman and Veronica Bienaime start to run and the Whoopers follow.

A beautiful morning on the prairie with the Whooping Cranes.



Squiggy gives me a look moments before fledging.

Squiggy fledging.










42 Days Old and Still a Bit Small

It was 42 days ago that I photographed the Whooping Crane “Latka” hatching inside of an incubator at the International Crane Foundation, for the start of my project “Hatch to Release” the story of Whooping Crane Reintroduction.  ”Latka”, named after a character on the sitcom Taxi, was out in the prairie for some exercise yesterday and was noticeably much smaller than the others in the same age bracket.  It is of great concern for Marianne Wellington, Aviculturist and Chick Rearing Supervisor at the International Crane Foundation (ICF), as well as Dr. Barry Hartup, Director of Veterinary Services at ICF.  During a vet check yesterday measurements were made of the legs to see just how much smaller “Latka” is compared to others at the same stage.

As an environmental photojournalist my job is to document this whole process but there is a bit of a connection between “Latka” and myself as I was there watching during the hatch. I know everyone is hopeful that “Latka” will have a big growth spurt soon.  We will have to wait and see if that happens.  There are no guarantees in this business that is for sure.

Enjoy a few photos of “Latka” from yesterday.

"Latka" pips his shell 42 days ago.

“Latka” pips his shell 42 days ago.

Vet Check

“Latka” in for a vet check at ICF.


Marianne Wellington releases “Latka” back into the chick yard.


Latka walks behind another Whooping Crane approximately the same age.


Latka looking around inside of the chick yard.

Whooping Crane Reintroduction, Oh How They Grow

Four weeks ago I photographed one of the last Whooping Crane’s hatching from it’s shell for my project “Hatch to Release”.  Now I am photographing them running through the southeast pen at the International Crane Foundation, exercising their wings for an hour at a time.  I can’t believe how fast they are growing.  It sure is a fun project for me as an environmental photojournalist to see this process.

Take a look at a few new photos from the morning of July 4th.


Wing Check


Wing Check


Wing Check


Grooming Time.

A view from the blind.

Snack time.

Time for a rest

Wait for me