In the Gäbler family, religion, photography and love for travel have passed from father to son for generations.
Like his grandfather and father before him, Michael Gabler is a pastor and he has the same passion for travel and photography that they did. He was born and raised in Tamil Nadu, in South India, and lived there until the age of 7, when his family returned to Germany. Together with his wife of 38 years, he has traveled through Europe, Asia and North America, pursuing his passion for capturing his travels through the lens of a camera.
In August 1997, Gäbler traveled with his wife to the U.S. and visited the Kolob Canyons. This part of Zion National Park is accessed by a park road about 20 miles south of Cedar City, Utah, off Interstate 15. The Kolob Canyons are part of the Colorado Plateau region of the Zion National Park and are well-known for their colorful beauty and diverse landscape.
While driving through the canyons, he stopped at a vista point, his Olympus OM-4 in hand. There, he “stood before a vast green valley with towering red mountains.” In the foreground he saw a dead silver-colored tree beside flowering bushes, “with millions of year-old indestructible crimson formation and wildlife.”
“In my profession as a Lutheran pastor, I often experience the simultaneity of life and death,” said Gäbler. “It is my professional duty to help others, to endure this juxtaposition of life and death and accept it in faith. The simultaneity of the present and past lives in this picture fascinates me.”
After his retirement, Gäbler decided to freely share his images on Wikimedia Commons and his knowledge on Wikipedia, where he started editing in 2004. His photo of the Kolob Canyons is the 77th of his images to be recognized by the Wikimedia community as a Featured picture, a designation given to the finest images in the database.
Though Gäbler shoots with a Nikon D300 now, he has kept his slides in dark boxes in an archive room in his house, where he is digitizing them with a scanner. He is pleased that the colors of his slides, like those in the Kolob Canyons photo here, have not changed in decades.
You can view more of his photos here.
Alice Debois-Frogé, Wikimedia Foundation Communications volunteer