FEATURED PHOTOGRAPHER: Justbelightful
the path to the dream
In this image, early morning steam rises as hot geothermal waters pour into the cool Yellowstone Lake. The wooden path leads from the dim twilight into the promise of a glorious dawn. I chose this image because it feels to me like an invitation, somehow appropriate at the start of an interview.
This is a collage made from images I created using a panning technique I’ve been using for the last year or so. I always wanted to be a painter, and it was with great excitement I discovered I could do so with a camera. Long exposures allow the colors and shapes to blur together in a painterly way as I move the camera as if it were a paintbrush. I like the impressionist and abstract effects I can create with this.
1: How long have you been involved in photography?
I've been actively making photographs for about 3 years. However, photography’s been a part of my life from childhood. My father, a blue-collar worker supporting 8 children, would spend late nights in the darkroom making pictures after everyone went to bed. We would have weekly slideshows of his work with the family gathered around, during which he would critique his own work, discuss possible crops, and choose images for competitions in his camera club. I finally picked up a camera in the 1980’s and started to do my own photography, and because of the early exposure, I kind of just knew what to do. I dabbled for a few years then, but it wasn’t until the digital revolution that my interest in the art blossomed. What made me more serious about photography was a trip I made to Iceland in 2006 – with a very limited point and shoot camera I am embarrassed now to admit – and the place just blew my mind with its visual earthly wonders. I got a new camera when I got back (have since upgraded a few times), joined Flickr, and have been learning and developing my craft since.
2: Equipment you use?
I am currently photographing with a Nikon D90. My lenses are the Nikon 18-200 for general use, Tokina 12-24 for wide angles, and Nikon 105mm for macro. I also have a couple of old manual/non metering lenses from the film days that I use occasionally. I develop my pictures with Apple’s Aperture and Photoshop CS4, with Noise Ninja, Nik plugins ,and Photomatix for their special uses. The respectable Canon G9 is my pocket camera.
These are my tools, but I believe the person who said, “The most important piece of equipment is the user.” I always try to keep my eyes open and my imagination sharp. That’s key.
3: Mac or PC?
I love my Mac. But I’m not a snob about it. : )
4: What inspires you?
Patterns, forms, shapes, golden light, a sense of movement in something that is still, the earth and its amazing forms…I also enjoy looking at other people’s images and learn a great deal from them.
5: Preferred subject matter?
Most of my images are of the natural world – landscapes, plants, rocks, water, sky. I especially love abstract patterns, the repetition of forms, finding and framing pleasing visual designs. Anything with great light is hard to resist. For my “impressionist” photo-paintings, I tend to go for scenes with strong shapes and contrasts. But it helps in this and all other image-making to photograph something I feel especially moved by.
6: Name one thing you haven't caught with the camera that you REALLY want to capture.
I would really like to see and photograph the Northern Lights. Someday I’ll go back to Iceland with a “real” camera and try my luck.
7: When in doubt about your art, whom do you confide in?
I still discuss photography with my father, who is 89 and unable to get around much. I bring my laptop (the ultimate portable darkroom!) to his bedside and he gives me great feedback and advice. I am also fortunate to have an encouraging boyfriend who happens to be an awesome (and very knowledgeable) nature photographer.
8: Qualifications/training in anything? ie: Photoshop
Like I said, I learned a lot by osmosis growing up. A couple years ago, I took a photoshop class. (Okay, I’ll admit it: I’m dating the teacher now! That’s helped my education for sure.) Also, although this may sound strange, I think the modern dance training I’ve done has helped me a lot with my photography: I’ve studied improvisational dance, which develops the ability to be intensely aware of the present moment and the immediate physical reality…and it builds the ability to respond fluidly and imaginatively to these things. I can click into that same mental place when I am photographing, and it helps me with “the art of seeing.” I also notice I compose more by feeling than thinking – it’s like I feel in my body if an image is all lined up right or not. I think being a body-aware person helps that.
9: Plans for the future?
I’m not planning to quit my day job as an elementary school teacher any time soon, but I hope to prepare enough prints to have my own show in the not-to-distant future. I still have bare walls in my apartment, so I better get cracking.
10: In one word, describe your photography.