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What California students learned photographing desert tortoises could -- and did -- fill a book

October 4, 2010 | 10:19 pm

TortoiseBook Thirteen Southern California high school students are the artists behind a new photography book that explores the lives of desert tortoises, a species considered vulnerable to extinction.

The publication of the book, "Tortoises Through the Lens: A Visual Exploration of a Mojave Desert Icon," culminates an 18-month, $27,000 project sponsored by the nonprofit National Parks Conservation Assn.

Students from Barstow High School, Needles High School, Desert High School, Excelsior Education Center, Victor Valley High School, Pete Knight High School, the Academy for Academic Excellence and a home-school program participated in the project. 

"It was all about perspective, illumination and snapping the shutter at the right moment to get that ultimate shot," Victor Valley senior Keya Cason, 17, told The Times. "The shot that says, 'Tortoises -- elders of the desert' and the land in which they live are important. " Cason now aspires to be a wildlife photographer.

The students' photography was also exhibited for several months at the Mojave National Preserve's historic Kelso Depot Desert Light Gallery. Proceeds from "Tortoises Through the Lens," which retails for $14.95, benefit tortoise conservation efforts.

Learn more about the project at The Times' environmental blog, Greenspace.

-- Lindsay Barnett

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