Monday, February 6, 2023     Volume: 23, Issue: 49

Santa Maria Sun / Art

The following article was posted on August 13th, 2014, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 15, Issue 23 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 15, Issue 23

Photographer Donald Quintana shows off local wildlife at the Dunes Center


Donald Quintana captured this image of sparring bobcat kittens one morning at Oso Flaco Lake.

On the first November morning of 2013, wildlife photographer Donald Quintana parked at the Oso Flaco Lake Natural Area and began preparing his camera gear. While getting ready, he was approached by Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Center administrative coordinator Lindsey Whitaker, who asked him if he was part of an incoming third-grade field trip.

“I thought, because there was going to be kids, I better get out there,” Quintana said. “As I was walking away, Lindsey came running and called me, ‘Bobcats!’ she said, which is always something I like to hear.”

Back on the road, which is flanked and shaded by groves of trees, three bobcat kittens huddled together. Quintana and Whitaker weren’t alone in beholding the wild felines; the third-grade class had arrived, but literally wasn’t making a peep as Quintana set up his equipment.

“These bobcats were sitting in the middle of the road, it’s kind of like a tunnel of willows, and they were sitting in the only place where there was light,” he said. “I came over and set my camera up and the 30 third graders were all quiet, and so a total of four bobcats came through, three kittens and an adult.”

That morning was the day that Quintana first connected with the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Center, which is currently featuring his photography in The Dunes Are Alive! The show is one of the first exhibits in the Dunes Center’s new, permanent art gallery installation.

Quintana has been honored by the Sun multiple times in the annual Winning Images competition for his wildlife and nature photography.

“Everybody has different interests and learns differently,” said Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Center Executive Director Doug Jenzen. “By bringing in the arts, it allows us to access a much more broad audience and expand the value and appeal of the Dunes Center to the community.”

The latest exhibit is a perfect example of what motivates Quintana to trek the Central Coast capturing shots of native flora and fauna. The show is designed to provide viewers with an up-close view of local wildlife they may never get the chance to view, and hopefully bring some attention to more than what’s in the photos.

“If I can bring someone awareness of wildlife, or if I can bring attention to an animal that is losing its habitat and get people aware, that is my mission,” Quintana said.

As a member of the North American Nature Photography Association, Quintana follows the groups’ ethics, which includes no calling or trapping of animals. Shooting wildlife in such a way involves a lot of patience and subtlety. Though Quintana does use a sophisticated and powerful lens, he still gets as close as possible without disturbing the animal in order to get the most full and detailed shot.

The Central Coast is filled with birds, like this Lazuli Bunting that Quintana captured in Los Osos, where he lives.

“I like to capture them doing a natural behavior,” he said. “If they see me and catch me with eye contact, I like it, because they are aware of you and you get to see that awareness.”

Dune critters

The Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Center presents The Dunes Are Alive! Art Gallery Opening featuring the photography of Donald Quintana showing through Sept. 8 at the Dunes Center, 1055 Guadalupe St., Guadalupe. More info: 343-2455 or


Arts Editor Joe Payne does his wildlife photography with an iPhone. 
Contact him at

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