Hi there! My name is Catherine. I’m Sam and Darwin’s photo slave (er… assistant). If you come to a workshop or talk done by oopoomoo you’ll probably meet me. Don’t tell Sam and Darwin I told you, but I’m really the brains behind the operation over here! I will be writing some beginner’s tips here and there; I hope you enjoy them!
In September, Sam, Darwin and I spent a fantastic weekend with the Grande Prairie Camera Club. During our weekend workshop, we met lots of great people from Grande Prairie, nearby Peace River and even as far away as Vancouver! It was a great crew, and we shared many laughs (and some tears after Darwin stomped on my foot! I’m going to start asking for danger pay!)
I know I promised a blog post about buying a tripod, but right now another topic is closer to my heart. On Sunday, during the Q&A time in Grande Prairie, the words “believe in yourself” were spoken several times, both by the oopoomoo team and the workshop participants. Here is my unabridged Believe In Yourself story I shared with the group that day.
As you read in my first blog, I mentioned that I have been interested in photography for many years taking pictures of my boys, special occasion shots and vacation snaps. I have no formal photography training. That changed about two years ago when I attended a SNAP Workshop in Canmore, Alberta and was mesmerized by Darwin, Sam and John Marriott. After that weekend I knew I wanted to include ‘hobbyist photographer’ in my retirement plans.
Off I went to some photo workshops and tours. As my photography knowledge base grew, my camera bag bulged and my bank balance shrank. I participated in the Extreme Saskatchewan Tour with Sam and Darwin in 2010 and I absolutely loved all the venues our trusty leaders had previously scouted (even though everyday we had to dress like east coast fishermen on a stormy day since we experienced the worst flooding conditions in 100 years!) The prairie landscape is very appealing to me. Old buildings, rusty machinery, crumpled car relics, grasses gently bending in the breeze, a single sunflower in a wheat field, and ladybugs on flower petals are like gifts just waiting to be unwrapped and played with.
Last September I attended Darwin’s Fall in the Rockies Tour. The fall colors were at their prime. The weather and skies couldn’t be better and, with those majestic Rockies as the backdrop, I had to take time to stand on the deck at Aurum Lodge just to soak it all in. For almost forty years I have lived within one hour of the Rockies and I never fail to look to the west and soak in the view. I would observe the increasing amount of snow in the winter, the beginnings of green tinges in the spring, the golden carpet in the fall and the awesome pink skies. Before I retired, it was truly a challenge to get work done in my office since I had a window looking west with an unobstructed view of the mountains. In the summer, on Sunday after church, my boys and I would pack a lunch and drive west to have a picnic, fish, tour Nordegg or hike. I LOVE the Rockies! So why did I have so much trouble making images while on the Fall Tour?
Darwin took us to some astonishing places during the tour. The first morning we were at Abraham Lake waiting for the sun to show its glowing face. The clouds were playing their role perfectly. Filters were being slipped out of their covers and placed in front of lenses and cameras started to click. I was once again blown away with the sight of a sunrise in the Rockies. But I wasn’t feeling happy or fulfilled with my images. I previewed them and thought, “Yeah, they’re okay, but….” I looked around and saw that other photographers were still taking photos of the mountains. Smiles on faces, tripods being moved around, different lenses, filters and angles of view being tried out. I hung my head and thought, ‘So what am I going to do for the next hour?’
Suddenly…WHOA! My eyes widened and a smile spread over my face. Little pebbles, twigs, sticks and yellow leaves were right under my feet and calling to me. I took my camera off the tripod and was in my glory making images of the earth’s carpet. I was moving all around the shoreline making images that made me feel good! ‘Yeah, this is neat!’ Then a photographer walked by me and said, “You’re taking pictures of sticks and stones!?!?!” and shook her head as she carried on. ‘Umm’, I thought. ‘Maybe I do look stupid doing this. Maybe it is kinda crazy making images of tiny little objects when I’m in a prime location to make images of iconic mountains. The mountains are why we are here so I better get with it.’ I reluctantly put the camera back on my tripod and tried to find images of grand mountains. My smile and good feelings were gone. For the rest of the tour I continued to make big landscape images but often went off to places where I couldn’t be seen and did ‘my thing’.
After working with Sam and Darwin for the past eighteen months, I hear a recurring message. BELIEVE IN YOURSELF and make images that please you. Don’t spend time in the field worrying what you look like as you crawl along in the dirt with your nose to the ground and your behind raised in praise to the sky! Find your style and don’t be afraid to share and display your images. Everyone may not appreciate your work but hey, differences make the world go ‘round!
Therefore, for now, I am continuing to make images of sticks and stones…and leaves, single feathers, berries on the forest floor, sea shells, footprints in sand and cracks in the dirt. Guess what! I’m having a ball! Currently, I’m playing with impressionistic images of the world. If you see me shaking my camera up and down in a forest or twisting and turning my lens while it is aimed downward, don’t fret….I’m just doing my thing and lovin’ life! Impressionism is the type of art that you either ‘love it or hate it’. I have included a few of my images in this post; all effects are achieved in camera. Let me know what you think, or if you have a ‘sticks and stones’ memory to share!