It is difficult to find words which can adequately describe the great passion I have for making photographs. I often tell people that even when I do not have my camera pressed to my eye, I still hear the shutter being triggered in my mind’s eye. While some people may notice the brilliant colors of an autumn day, I see the way a golden leaf contrasts with a dark tree limb. On a summer day, a gaze across a field of wildflowers becomes a mosaic of colors and textures, light and shadow, and softness and sharpness. In my mind, I’m adjusting the f-stop, imagining a point of focus, and composing the image. Even the mundane can become a work of art, if treated with the reverence it deserves.
I’ve been interested in photography ever since I was a young girl. I can thank my grandfather (my “Pop Pop”) for exposing me to what was his passion. Pop Pop was the family photographer – the only family photographer. He was never without his camera bag – with its various lenses, film canisters, filters, flash and light meter, and a myriad of other gear – and I’d steal a look into his bag every chance I got.
Pop Pop had a darkroom in his basement, and when I’d visit, he’d invite me in and point out the different equipment. His enlarger sat perched on a table, different colored trays (white, black and red) held chemicals and wash – the special ingredients which turned tiny strips of negative into prints. A red bulb was screwed into the light in the ceiling, and a dark curtain hung over the door, blocking light from seeping in through the cracks.
He explained how the cyan, magenta, and yellow filters affected the color tone and saturation of the print, and encouraged me to help agitate the blank white papers in the various baths until images magically appeared. I wanted to do that someday!
My first camera was a Kodak 126 Instamatic and it used Magicubes flashbulbs. Later I moved to a 110 film camera. I waited patiently for my mother to have the money to send off my finished rolls of film in the self-mailing bags, and it seemed like forever before the postman delivered the finished product.
When I was 18, I was gifted my first 35mm camera – a Pentax (I still have it). I gradually added lenses to my bag, and started buying rolls of film in bulk. Then I became known to my friends as “the photographer”, and I was expected to bring my camera to every event and gathering. (Of course, I didn’t mind)
When the photography world made the leap to digital, I was thrilled. Being able to see my photo, without having to wait for it to be developed and mailed back to me, fulfilled my preference for instant gratification. Being able to delete anything that didn’t turn out as I planned, saved me a lot of money and time. I was in my glory.
My first digital was a Canon A20 – a good 2.1 megapixels (at the time) with optical and digital zoom. I bought a Canon G2 just before we began our journey to Alaska. I was only in AK about a year (maybe less?) when I realized I needed a more robust digital camera – an SLR so I could buy lenses too. I upgraded to a Canon Digital Rebel (the first one that was released). I burned out the shutter in a little more than a year. Taking 30,000+ frames will do that to some cameras. I made the leap to a “professional” 20D in 2005, and also invested in a huge zoom lens to better capture the bears at Katmai.
A few years later, I upgraded again – to a 40D. I also added additional lenses, one for portraiture, and a wide angle for shooting in low light conditions – which I use for the northern lights and night sky. In May 2010, I purchased a Canon 7D – which also has video capabilities. I’ve enjoyed taking it out in the field, but I sometimes forget that I can shoot video with it. I hope to hang onto the 7D for more than my usual 3 years, but there are no guarantees with how quickly camera manufacturers come out with new models!
I couldn’t live in a more beautiful location for breathtaking landscape and wildlife. While I am pleased with the gear I carry in my backpack, I am convinced that even the most high-tech camera, with all the bells and whistles, can not possibly capture what the eye, the mind, and the soul sees. The photos you see in my gallery are mere representations of what truly lay before me at that one split second in time.
To truly appreciate all that is Alaska, you must see it with your own eyes. Until you can, I shall do the best I can to bring it to you in my photographs.