20 January

I Needed A Break…And I Got One!

We all know how hectic life can get at times. Careers. Housework to be done. Children or spouses to chauffeur. Groceries to be bought. Emails to write and answer. Coffee dates with friends. Special occasions to get ready for. Dogs to walk. On and on and on! On December 16th I decided I needed a break from the daily chores so Zerrin, our Golden Retriever, and I decided to go for a walk.

It had snowed most of the weekend and the landscape was a beautiful, clean white blanket. The blue Alberta sky showed off the Rocky Mountains in all their glory. Half an hour into our walk I got my break. However, it was not the break I was looking for. I slipped on some ice which was secretly hiding under the ‘beautiful clean white blanket’!  DOWN I went. I landed like someone who was preparing to make a snow angel. On my back, arms and legs spread eagle. My body was taking up much more property than needed. My first thought was, “I’m still alive!” My oopoomoo First Aid Training immediately took over my brain. “Hi. My name is Catherine. I know First Aid. Can I help you?” I took inventory of all body parts. Head? Good. Legs? Good. Back? Good. Bum? Sore. Arms? Umm. Left arm is good. Still have dog attached by means of his leash. Right arm? Not so good. The wrist was a wee bit sore. I finally opened my eyes and saw Zerrin’s big brown eyes staring down at me seemingly asking, “What ARE you doing?”  I managed to pick myself up, dust off the snow and muster up as much pride as I could, at the same time praying that my ice-jig was not witnessed by anyone.  Diagnosis? Broken wrist in two places, needed to be reduced (too bad it isn’t as easy to reduce a waist as it is a wrist!). Seven hours later I walked out of the hospital with a festive green and red cast on my right arm.  I have some choice words for how I feel about this very restrictive clump of fibreglass on my arm but I won’t use them because it may tarnish my good girl image Sam and Darwin have of me.

Needless to say, I feel very helpless. Can’t zip my jacket, tie my shoes, do up the button on my pants, floss my teeth, cut my food, handwrite… well, you get the idea. BUT the one thing I can’t do, that bothers me the most, is USE A CAMERA!!! AND…..here is the clincher……I’m going to Joshua Tree Park, California before I get this cast off!

“Okay”, I thought, this cast is not going to get the best of me! I WILL write my January  oopoomoo post and I WILL take photographs! I put ALL my cameras on the table and sat down for a ‘fitting’. How frustrating! Too big! Too small! Too heavy! Not a good grip! The Rolleiflex is a definite no go. My Canon 60D is also a no go. Samsung Galaxy has to be held upside down and I can’t reach the power button.

frustration 2

My hubby Ed helped take pictures of my dilemma…


Still puzzled but narrowing it down…

After short-listing the point and shoots  I finally settled on my Canon Power Shot S110. The sleek style is comfy to hold and all buttons and dials are easy to control with my index finger.

My seldom used S110 will accompany me on my next trip. One nice bonus with taking a small camera is that it will fit into the purse and there is no need to carry a camera bag….with my DSLR, 40mm lens, 50mm lens, 70-200mm lens, 400mm lens, filters, filter holders, lens baby accessories. That equipment can go with me on my photo trip to Newfoundland this summer when I am cast free!!

27 December

The oopoomoo team – 2013 in Review – Catherine Byram

For this year instead of looking for my ‘best’ pictures of 2013, I thought I would share a themed body of work. That seems like an oopoomoo thing to do. After all oopoomoo really promotes projects and self assignments as a way to grow as an artist. So here I present the theme ‘prairies’ using images taken from 2013. Happy New Year everyone!

©Catherine Byram

©Catherine Byram – Trochu, Alberta

©Catherine Byram

©Catherine Byram – Trochu, Alberta

©Catherine Byram

©Catherine Byram – Rowley, Alberta

©Catherine Byram

©Catherine Byram – near Three Hills, Alberta

©Catherine Byram

©Catherine Byram – Oberon, Manitoba

©Catherine Byram

©Catherine Byram – Arizona, Manitoba

©Catherine Byram

©Catherine Byram – Rowley, Alberta

©Catherine Byram

©Catherine Byram – Rowley, Alberta

©Catherine Byram

©Catherine Byram – Oberon, Manitoba

©Catherine Byram

©Catherine Byram – Rhein, Saskatchewan

11 December

Their Stories – Catherine’s Project

Hi I am Catherine, oopoomoo's favourite photo assistant!

Oh no! I’ve set the deadline!

For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved listening to people talk about ‘times gone by’. When I was a youngster my father would tell me stories about his childhood in rural Northern England. As a teenager, I volunteered at a Senior’s Home. My job? Listening and chatting with the residents.  They were always eager to reminisce! During my university days, I worked in the geriatric ward at the University of Alberta Hospital. Once again, I was able to listen to numerous remember when stories.

My only regret is that I didn’t keep any records of the people or their stories. Many stories, world wide, have been recorded as family memoirs, documentaries, novels and scrapbooks.  However, even more stories have been forgotten, never to be shared again.

Even though my parents told me stories of their past, none of it was written down.  My brother and I have boxes of old black and white photos dating back to the early 1900s. We have no idea who some of the people are, where the photo was taken or how the photo relates to our family history. Peter and I are now the ‘Seniors’ of our family. We only have a chapter or two of  family history  to pass down to the younger Browns.

My oopoomoo project is to interview three ladies of the prairies and tell their story. You will be introduced to Freda, 94 years old,  who lives in Manitoba, Elizabeth, 93 years old,  in Saskatchewan and a yet to be found Alberta Pioneer lady. They will tell us about the trials and tribulations of living in the prairies  in the early 1900’s and how ‘modern’ conveniences  helped or hindered them….

WHOA!!!! STOP THE PRESS!!!! I just came back from a road trip to Saskatchewan\Manitoba and I’m interrupting this post. I’m changing my mind about my project. (Hey! I’m a photographer and I’m entitled to change my mind when I see something in a ‘different light’!) My husband and I went to Neepawa, Manitoba to pick up his mom, Freda, so she could come to Alberta and spend a week or so with us. While there, I met numerous people for the first time. I had a visit with my mother-in-law’s twin sister (these ladies are 94 years old!!) their grade 3 teacher (106 years old!), my husband’s cousin who is an antique collector , a portrait photographer and  a fellow who has a snowmobile museum in his back yard quonset . I was very fortunate being  able to visit with these individuals. Of course I had a million questions for them!

Don’t tell Sam and Darwin this, but I was a photographer’s assistant while on my trip. (They may think I’ll be wanting a raise.) Mitch was working on his own that day and I helped out with the lighting while he took portraits of Freda and Florence with their teacher.  I felt at ease with all three ladies and was chatting with them throughout the session. Mitch told me that I was a natural portrait photographer…..

FLASHBACK to about October 2011 when Sam and Darwin gave me a challenge: “Catherine, you have a knack for chatting people up.”

(Was that a nice way to say I talk a lot?)

“We’ve noticed though that you steer away from using that all important  skill when taking photographs . How many portraits do you have in your portfolio?”


“Well, we’re giving you a challenge. Take 3 portraits by the end of December.”

This challenge has yet to be completed. As mentioned in one of my other oopoomoo posts, they did not tell me WHICH December!! Oh, avoiding something that makes you feel uncomfortable  is extremely easy isn’t it!?  Soooo…I am setting the date today. By December 2014 I will have 12 or more portraits in my portfolio. I will also have stories to go with the photos. These photos and stories will be available in an oopoomoo ebook.  Oh my! What have I done? I believe this is called a commitment and it’s out there on the internet for all to see and pull up when I try to deny it!! I have a tummy ache.

 However, I have all my fans out there in oopoomoo land who will support me along the way! Right? Follow my project as I collect twelve or more portraits of people between the ages of 4 and 94 and they share  Their Stories. If you would like to help me out with my project, please feel free to get in touch with me at theirstories2014@gmail.com. But – be prepared for lots of questions and laughs!!

©Catherine Byram – Freda and Florence and their Teacher!


28 March

Lessons in Seeing…Good Photographers Take Time to ‘See’

Hi it’s Catherine again. Let me tell you a little story about seeing:

“Mommmm! Where’s the ketchup?”

“In the fridge, on the first shelf.”


“Seek and you shall find!”

Oh, the number of times I had that conversation with my sons!  If they weren’t looking for ketchup, it was socks, underwear, homework, lunch kit…and so many times they were staring right at the item they were looking for! They just couldn’t see it!

Darwin finds something hot in the fridge!

Darwin finds something hot in the fridge!

Recently we had some posts here on oopoomoo on the topic Something From Nothing that reminded readers to not just look but look to see.  This is not a new lesson in photography but it’s one that many of us have to stop and think about when we’re out shooting.  Perhaps you’ve driven miles to get a great shot of the sunrise or wildflowers only to be disappointed with a grey morning or were too early in the season for nature’s beautiful multicoloured carpet. What did you do when you arrived at your destination?  Throw your arms up, say To heck with it! and drive to the closest coffee house for a cup of java? Or did you stay and make lemonade with the lemons you were given?

When Sam was talking to a group of people at a workshop she said,  “Sometimes I like to just sit down on the ground and take it all in. I take time and look at the intimate details of my surroundings.”   In his post on the Something from Nothing theme, Olivier Du Tre  mentioned that he was looking at the light for a bit before deciding to photograph it. Ian McGillvery showed us the magic in the mundane of a typical kitchen! Tom Robbins said he likes to wrestle something from nothing but it requires a good long look.  Are you getting the theme here? TIME. Take time to see the ketchup on the first shelf! Take time to make and enjoy lemonade with dem lemons! Take time to see something outta nothing! Take time and send us some of your Something out of Nothing photos! (send them to darwin@oopoomoo.com – 585 pixels in the long dimension is sRGB colour space along with your story in making the photos plus your website).

Be sure to check out oopoomoo’s latest workbook on Learning to See (it may help you find the Ketchup as well!)

Following are some quotes about seeing. Hopefully they will inspire you to stop and think about slowing down to see.

The question is not what you look at, but what you see.
– Henry David Thoreau

Look hard at what pleases you and harder at what doesn’t.
– Colette

Seeing is a gift that comes with practice.
– Stephanie Mills

One looks, looks long, and the world comes in.
– Joseph Campbell

There’s a saying among prospectors: “Go out looking for one thing, and that’s all you’ll ever find.
– Robert Flaherty

The contented person enjoys the scenery of a detour.
– Author Unknown

If you look at a thing 999 times, you are perfectly safe; if you look at it for the 1000th time, you are in danger of seeing it for the first time.
– G. K. Chesterton

Many eyes go through the meadow, but few see the flowers in it.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

When there’s nothing to see, look.
– Dakota Indian saying

I have also included a snapshot I took last summer with my cell phone. I took the snap because the lady in the red blouse reminded me SO MUCH of my mother who passed away two years ago. The likeness was unbelievable! I was so focused on getting the shot to show my brother, that I didn’t take time to SEE. Do you see the laughable moment?  I think Sam would call this a ‘pokie’!!

Take Time To SEE. ©Catherine Byram

Take Time To SEE.
©Catherine Byram

24 December

Darwin Won’t Be Home For Christmas

The other day, while I was sipping on my ‘usual’ at a local coffee house in Cochrane, my husband phoned to report some news he had just read. “I guess Darwin won’t be home for Christmas.” he said.

” WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? DID SOMETHING HAPPEN TO DARWIN? Oh my gosh!!” Ed and I only know one Darwin,so I was positive that he was referring to Kennel Boy.

“Well,” Ed continued, “It’s right here in the newspaper. I’ll read it to you. ‘Darwin was apprehended after he was found wandering through a parking lot looking rather ‘lost’. Although he was fashionably  dressed in a nice fuzzy coat, the officials were concerned for his well-being so he is now behind bars. Loved ones have been given permission to visit him for thirty minutes however there will be no physical contact. Family has stated that the longer Darwin goes without seeing loved ones, the faster he will lose his bond with them. They are hoping that Darwin will be released before Christmas Eve because his new Christmas outfit and bow tie are waiting for him at home. It is beginning to look doubtful that Darwin the Monkey will be reunited with family before Christmas.’ “

“Darwin the MONKEY?!? I thought you were talking about Darwin WIGGETT!”

“No Dear, Darwin Wiggett doesn’t wear bow ties! This story is about a monkey, called Darwin, found in an IKEA parking lot.”

Well thank goodness ‘our’ Darwin is okay. It is always a heart stopping moment when you think something bad has happened to a friend. This brings me to our Christmas message. Ed and I would like to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and all the best for 2013. During the Holiday Season, please make sure not to drink and drive – unless you are having my regular, a skinny latte!  Also, watch over those who have had a little too much Christmas Cheer. No one wants a heart stopping moment.  Talk to you next year!

Oh yes, Zerrin, our Golden Retriever, would like to wish you all the best too.

Typical four year old!!

Typical four year old!!

16 December

Catherine’s Ah Ha Moment – It’s a Wiggly World!

I can hear you all saying, “Another post from Catherine so soon?!” Well, there are several reasons for this post.

First, Sam and Darwin are trying to take some time off this month. As you read in Kennel Boy’s post, he was crazy busy while at Gone Wild Kennels.  Sam slaved over the computer most of the time except one day when we both toodled off to Canmore. We spent some time strolling down the main street, stopping for a nice creamy latte and then heading to the deli to purchase a turducken for the festive season.

Christmas Dinner

©Catherine Byram – What do you mean, “Guess who’s coming to dinner?”

Keep your eye on the oopoomoo posts because I can see a story here!!! One day last week,  Sam and Darwin went out into the forest just to have FUN. No further explanation was given.  I don’t believe cameras were involved, so I guess we will leave the definition of ‘fun’ to our imaginations! They deserve some time off so I’ll  help them out by doing this post.

Reason two for this post is that I had one more assignment to complete for my Instructor at SAIT (Southern Alberta Institute of Technology). He told us that he was so impressed with our creativity that the doors are wide open for our last assignment. The one restriction is that we cannot do any post production. While working on my assignment I came across  a ‘discovery’ that I thought I would share with all of you.

The third reason is that I am not running around buying chocolate, marshmallows, candied fruit, dates and all the other goodies needed for the Christmas sweets. I am not out in the woods looking for a six foot tree which, by the time it gets into the house, is ten feet!!!! (it looked so much smaller in the forest!)  AND…I am not fighting off crowds of people, listening to crying babies who are all bundled up in strollers like wee  cocoons, or standing in line for one hour only to find out that the 2012 Christmas gift fad is all sold out!! Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE Christmas!!! We celebrated ‘Christmas in July’ because it’s so difficult to get all family members home in December.  Yep, this year we had our Christmas Polar Bear on our front lawn, some strands of lights in the trees, our Christmas tree dressed in its best, presents waiting to have their outer skin ripped off,  stockings hanging and the wonderful, delicious smell of ……………barbequed hamburgers. Hey! It’s too hot in the middle of July to have the oven on for five hours while the bird cooks!!! We enjoyed our meal on the back deck with family and friends and some even enjoyed a soak in the hot tub! Our neighbours thought perhaps Ed and I had really lost it when we were decorating the front yard with Christmas decorations on July 10th .  They were convinced we belong in the loonie bin on July 14th when we were on the deck unwrapping Christmas gifts !!!

Soooooooooooooo, I have some time on my hands. What better way to spend some of that time than writing an oopoomoo post?

Now, to my AH HA moment. The pressure is on. Twenty Continuing Education Students need to be photographically creative. We are a competitive group, in a friendly way, and this is our last chance to  ‘show our stuff’. However,  I don’t know if I can top the RED BRA in a snow covered  tree image shown last week in class. NOOOO, I did not submit that photo.

I should work on my Portrait Challenge Sam and Darwin have given me and kill two birds with one stone. The challenge is to be finished by the end of the year and the portraits are to be of strangers. I need to develop a rapport with them prior to ‘shooting’ them. But, I’ll tell you a secret if you promise not to mention it to Sam or Darwin…….They neglected to tell me how many portraits I am required to hand in. Ha ha ha! I know I can grab one image of a person before New Years Eve so I’m not in a big panic.

For my SAIT assignment I decided to do some water droplets on glass photos. I have never done this before so I knew there would be some trial and error happening.

The first step was to find a small piece of glass. Downstairs I went. After rummaging through some boxes I saw just what I needed – an 8×10 piece of glass from a broken photo frame.

The second step was to get my tail over to the local ‘tires and everything else store’ to buy some Rain X  which causes water beads to form when water contacts the glass.

After washing, drying, Rain-x-ing and dropping little droplets of water on the glass it was now time to set things up. Camera was attached to the tripod. Small items to put under the glass included a lizard figurine,  red and green confetti, a red and white card shaped like a mitten  and one of Ed’s  treasured collectors matchbox cars (this is another secret, okay?)

©Catherine Byram

I held the glass between the mitten shaped Christmas card and the lens and  played around with distance from the card. I focused the camera on the droplets. Not bad…… good depth of field and you could see part of the card in some of the droplets. Snap. Ummm, what are those funny lines all over my image??? Okay. I need to keep the glass absolutely still.  Out come four small boxes. With the glass carefully placed on top of the boxes I snapped away again. Still wiggly lines! Wash, dry and a super polish this time. Snap. Nope! What the heck!?!? Must be poor quality glass!

I downloaded the images on to my laptop to have a better look at the wiggly lines. Ummmm, these lines remind me of something I’ve seen before…..???  Relaxed and stretched out in my recliner (I do my best thinking in this position) I was in heavy thought and staring up at the ceiling. That’s when I had my AH HA moment! WIGGLY LINES!!! ON THE CEILING!!! The textured ceiling was reflecting on the glass and because of the lighting I was getting a perfect reflection!

I replaced the red mitten card on the table, focused on the wiggly lines and SNAP. Here is what I got.


©Catherine Byram

I put the lizard under the glass and focused on the lizard through the glass. Here is an image of the set up.

©Catherine Byram

Then I focused on the wiggley lines.

©Catherine Byram

The images I shot today were not what I was hoping for but they are kinda neat. I won`t submit any of them for my SAIT assignment but I may come back to this technique at a later date and see what else  could be done with glass and ceiling. Perhaps when I succeed with my water droplets on glass project, I will share them with you.

25 November

Glow Little Glow Worm, Glow – Fun in the Dark with Catherine!

Last week, I was given a photography assignment, from a SAIT (Southern Alberta Institute of Technology) instructor, which sounded rather ordinary until we were told to “be creative”.  Ohhh, I like being creative and thinking outside the box. The assignment was to make one image which conveys motion.

I was not interested in photographing the typical car tail lights, cats pouncing on a toy, trains zooming by, or a football game. I thought back to the workshops and tours I have done with Sam and Darwin. I had a great time particpating in their Extreme Saskatchewan Tour in 2010. One day the rain just would not surrender and we were all “sent to our rooms” to do an assignment. “Be creative in your hotel room….photography speaking!” we were told.  I chose to photograph the ‘ghost’ in my room. Thinking back to that day, I thought for my SAIT assignment, I would make an image of a ghost walking in my house. Since I don’t have a strobe flash (I was using a flashlight)  my images were not showing a moving ghost, just a blurry mess. Now what?? After a few minutes of brainstorming I decided to play with glow sticks in a dark room. Off I went  to our local loonie (dollar) store to purchase a bag full of glow sticks.

Before supper I set the livingroom up for the shoot. Furniture was pushed aside and everything was taken off the fireplace hearth and mantle. A black sheet was hung in front of the fireplace (don’t worry, the fire was not ablaze!). This sheet covered all the shiny bits and pieces of brass and glass which might reflect in my images.

The camera, a Canon 50D with a 50mm lens, was on a tripod and placed approximately 10 feet away from the fireplace with a clear ‘running track’ made for me back to the camera. I manually set focus and then set my camera to an 8 second shutter speed, ISO 400 and aperture of f1.8. All that was left was to wait for it to get pitch dark and  for me to finish supper (the latter being most important for my ‘creative juices’).

With all curtains drawn, ceiling lights turned off and the hallway night light unplugged I was ready to compose! OOOOOO it’s dark. Tread carefully Catherine! Crack, crack, crack went the first glow stick as I bent it in several places. One click on the cable release and off I went! Quickly making my way, on the left side of the camera, to the fireplace, I waved the stick in front of the black cloth for about five seconds. Excited to see my results, I made my way back to the camera via the track on the right side of the camera. THUD!  Zerrin, our Golden Retriever, decided to have a snooze where his blankie USUALLY is. What a kerfuffle! Both of us trying to get up and out of each others way! Me flailing in the dark to grab a tripod leg so that Zerrin wouldn’t knock it over during his frantic escape. Zerrin doing a hind leg split on the wooden floor and me laughing so hard I could hardly get up off the floor!  Dog, photographer and camera all survived!

I spent over two hours playing in the dark. Pink sticks. Green sticks. Orange sticks. Short sticks. long sticks. Tri color circles.  Numerous speeds and fancy movements with the glow sticks. Check out the images below and let me know what you think. Remember to put your mouse arrow on the images for the image title!

By the way, this would be a fun project to do when the snow is blowing,  the wind is howling and it’s just too darn miserable to do outdoor photography.

©Catherine Byram

©Catherine Byram

©Catherine Byram

©Catherine Byram

©Catherine Byram

©Catherine Byram

©Catherine Byram – I’ll be baaaack!


8 October

Catherine’s Beginners Tips: Sticks and Stones Are in My Bones

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.

Grande Prairie Museum Garden – © Catherine Byram

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?

Marsh Lake Fireweed – © Catherine Byram

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’.

Sticks, Stones and Leaves on Gravel Path – © Catherine Byram

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!

Island Lake Old Growth Trees – © Catherine Byram

Gwen’s Garden – © Catherine Byram

Always Look for the Little Gifts – © Catherine Byram


18 July

Catherine’s Beginner Tips: A Visit to Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland — DO IT!

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!

Me and Ed in Iceland eating the yummy ice cream!

As many of you may know, a group of 14 friends of oopoomoo went to Iceland in June. Some of us headed to Iceland a couple of days prior to the start date of the photo tour. On our first afternoon, while visiting the Reykjavik Tourism store, Ed and I decided to book a flight to the Westman Islands for a day.  The Icelandic name for the group of 15 islands is Vestmannaeyjar. We were going to go to Heimaey Island (pronounced Hay May) which is just a ­­­20 minute flight  south of Reykjavik. It’s the one and only Westman Island which is inhabited. Approximately 4200 people live on the island.

Here is the link to an intro video of Westman Islands.

We left the hotel around 8:00 am, picked up our tickets at Eagle Air and were on our way in a SMALL plane at 10 am.  17 seats is small to me!!! We sat near the wing, where I could keep an eye on the right side propeller! I kept fear at bay and stomach contents contained within, by concentrating on taking photos through the teeny tiny window.

Here we go!

Flight to Westman Islands

View of Eldfell – Mountain of Fire

Our bus tour of the island did not start until 1:00. The lady who picked us up at the airport said that her husband conducts the 1 ½ hour boat tour around the island and had space for us on the next tour. Why not! Right away one problem arose. We were dressed for a BUS tour. Usually on a bus tour your hair doesn’t get blown into an uncomb-able matty mess and you don’t get DRENCHED on a bus. What I am saying is that we were not dressed for a boat tour on a windy day. Ed tucked his cap away and zipped his jacket up to his neck.  I strategically stood behind a tall, broad shouldered man who broke some of the wind. Stop laughing…..I didn’t say he broke wind!!


26 June

Catherine’s Beginners Tips – Don’t Buy a Camera for Someone Else!

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! 😉 

Sam and Darwin made me eat Prairie Oysters as part of my job! They are so difficult to work for!

 I will be writing some beginner’s tips here and there; I hope you enjoy them!

On Buying a Camera for Someone Else

So, you haven’t taken any photos for umpteem years and you are itching to get back into the world of photography. Yes, you have taken photos before and yes, you have some photography skills. Back in your childhood days perhaps you were given a point and shoot camera for Christmas. You proudly show  some ­­­­square, glossy black and white photos to a friend. “See, the dot in the middle of the picture, that’s a black bear!!” The next photo is of a headless person.  Still another shot is obscured by a finger which unknowingly found its way in front of the lens. Umm, you think. Maybe I could use some help. But where do I start??

Start RIGHT HERE. Follow me through several articles while I take my husband back into the wonderful world of photography.