Aerial View of Unidentified Area of Panama with Rainbow, Panama, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Acc. 11-009, Image no. 91-18253.

Capturing Panama with Carl C. Hansen

Today is Nature Photography Day, so we’re highlighting the career and work of Smithsonian photographer Carl C. Hansen.

You’ll find just about every color under the sun in Carl C. Hansen’s photographs from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama during his time as its photographer between 1985 and 1992.

Hansen sits on a balcony ledge overlooking the water with another man. He is not wearing a shirt and

And although his role at the research center was his first, though certainly not his last, at the Smithsonian, Hansen had already proved himself to be an experienced photographer. During the Vietnam War, he joined the Army as part of a special unit trained in motion picture and still photography. During that time, he captured historic moments from the Tet Offensive and President Nixon’s visit to a combat zone. Following the war, Hansen worked for various newspapers and NBC News before packing up and heading to the Smithsonian.

After seven years in Panama, Hansen earned the role of chief of photography at Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. By 2008, Hansen served as the director of the Smithsonian Photographic Services when it was formally transferred to our collections at the Smithsonian Institution Archives.

For Nature Photography Day, scroll through just a few of the 10,000 images Hansen captured during first role at the Institution as photographer of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.

1 of 10

Frog, Panama, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, 1989, by Carl C. Hansen, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Acc. 11-009, Image no. 91-14856.

Mist Netting of Tropical Birds, Panama, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, 1986, by Carl C. Hansen, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Acc. 11-009, Image No. 86-2263.

Underwater View of Sea Worms and Coral, Panama, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, 1986, by Carl C. Hansen, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Acc. 11-009, Image no. 86-2641.

Biologist Nicholas Smythe with Peccary, Panama, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, 1986, by Carl C. Hansen, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Acc. 11-009, Image no. 86-5431.

Collecting Sea Snakes, Panama, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, 1986, by Carl C. Hansen, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Acc. 11-009, Image no. 88-6957.

Moths with Neal Smith, Panama, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, 1986, by Carl C. Hansen, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Acc. 11-009, Image no. 88-7147 .

Flora at Fortuna Research Station, Chiriqui Province, Panama, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, 1988, by Carl C. Hansen, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Acc. 11-009, Image no. 91-2675.

Documentation of Deforestation in Chiriqui, Panama, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, 1986, by Carl C. Hansen, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Acc. 11-009, Image no. 86-5902.

Documentation of 1986 oil spill damage from a Bahia Las Minas Oil Refinery, STRI, Panama, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, 1986, by Carl C. Hansen, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Acc. 11-009, Image no. 86-5767.

Aerial view of Barro Colorado Island (BCI), Panama, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, 1986, by Carl C. Hansen, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Acc. 11-009, Image no. 86-10908.

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