Here are a few sides I use when helping people learn the functions of their cameras. These may help you get away from auto mode and start experimenting with the other settings on your camera.
Ten years ago this week my daughter boarded a flight to start her trip from Michigan to Bethel Alaska. Bethel is located 400 miles west of Anchorage and it is far removed from the road system. To reach Bethel the last leg of the trip involves a flight over the Cook Inlet, two mountain ranges and a large expanse of tundra. Though Bethel has a population of roughly 6400 people it is not much more than a big village. It does have some things going for it that the smaller villages don’t. There are two major grocery stores, a hospital and a newly opened movie theater. The airport is large enough that supplies and mail for the region are funneled through it. But like many of the small Alaskan villages access is very limited....there are no roads in or out of Bethel. The weather can be fierce and cost of living is very high.
Mandy was going there to teach in the local high school. She found out about Bethel from a job fair at her college here in Michigan. The school district had sent representatives to look for new teachers. Many of these remote villages and towns have trouble keeping teachers for any length of time. Living conditions take a lot of getting used to, so teachers usually only last a few years. It is not a job for everyone.
It’s now been ten years….one decade.
As I look back over the last ten years I realize that, while Mandy is now living 4000 miles away, she is still teaching me some very valuable lessons. Not a day goes by since she was born in June of 1981 that she doesn’t teach me something. On that day so many years ago Mandy was born an extreme preemie. At birth she weighed just two pounds. Her mother lived with diabetes and we knew there would be risks involved. Mandy was born three months early and the first few months of her life we watched her weight drop before it started to rise again. We saw her struggle to breathe while hooked to so many machines. We spent long hours sitting by her incubator as she struggled to just live…..and we shed many tears. It took three long months before Mandy was ready for that first trip home in September. Two and a half weeks later her mom stopped breathing in her sleep. Mandy became my strength to carry on over the years after that.
Growing up Mandy faced all the challenges in her life with great courage, and there were many challenges to be faced. One of the biggest is that she lives with Cerebral Palsy. She has never been one to turn away from the difficulties life was dealt her. After watching her grow and becoming her best through her school years I wasn’t surprised when she came home from the job fair to tell me she was going to Alaska. That is just the person she is. Nothing and no one holds her back. After many years of struggles, disappointments and five surgeries she boarded a plane and flew into a new life.
Even though she now lives many miles away she has never stopped teaching me. One of the most important lessons she has taught me is to never give up on my dreams. It almost seems that society today is all about jumping on one bandwagon and riding it to the end with everyone else on there with you. We are constantly influenced by others who seem more than happy to tell us what we should think and who we should be. They feel entitled to tell us how we should live our life. We aren’t perfect and we never will be but that isn’t a reason to give up on the person you are. We all make mistakes and sometimes we will listen to others and do things that take us in the wrong direction but we are all able to correct that course. Don’t be afraid to live life for yourself. Live your dreams - Live your heart! The outcome in the end makes you a better person.
Mandy has taught me that sometimes it is more than OK to hit the reset button and start over.
* Some pictures from my first visit to Bethel Alaska *
Well the month of May is now half over. The display of my photographs at Margaret Runyon Gallery in Clio Michigan ran an extra week and has now ended. We had a very nice turnout during the time of my display. I would like to thank everyone who turned out to show their support and those who were not able to be there but sent good wishes my way. Thank you so much! You have no idea how much that meant to me!
As I was preparing for the display in Clio I was contacted by Little Curlew Press. They are an independent literary press that publishes works with a strong ecological undercurrent, including place-based eco-fiction, environmental nonfiction, and environmental journalism. Little Curlew Press has been working on a project with author Rebecca Lawton. The summer of 2014 will see the release of her book titled Steelies and Other Endangered Species: Stories on Water. Steelies is a collection of 15 stories that are linked by water and it spans from oceans and rivers to the people who love them.
I am pleased to be able to share with you that the cover image is a photograph that I took of Presque Isle River in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It is one of several that Little Curlew Press was considering for use on the cover. The cover itself was designed by James Knake.
It is an honor to be included in this project and be a part of something that draws awareness to the plight of the magical waters around us. I will share more details about the release of the book in the near future.
If you truly love nature,
you will find beauty everywhere.
Vincent Van Gogh (1853 - 1890)
These words were written over a century ago, but for me they could have been written yesterday. There is so much around us that is beautiful, if we just stop long enough to see it. But in our rush to get from point A to point B we sometimes don't see it. We don't stop. We don't look. We allow our lives to move too fast.
When I hike with my camera I slow down. I slow way down. Sometimes it's so easy to get lost in the big things we forget to look at the details. Big sweeping vistas can stop us in our tracks, but it's the times you look closer you see that everything is connected and it's all beautiful. One lone autumn leaf swinging on a bare branch, a dew drop hanging from a blade of grass or a bee working in a flower. These things and many others are so often overlooked but when they are combined they create the big vistas that originally stopped us.
When I take a picture I am taking a picture for me. In that moment when I am looking through the camera I am searching for what pleases me. The images I share all have a special meaning to me. A memory...a feeling...a reminder. And there is a part of me in every picture I take. When I receive feedback about my pictures I know somehow my picture struck a chord with another person. We could be exact opposites and we are often complete strangers but there was something in that picture we shared. Too often we forget how to connect with each other and we lose out on the big picture.
It's time to put down the phone, turn of the computer, grab your family and go for a walk. Explore the woods, sit by a stream, feel the wind on your face, talk to each other and take some pictures. You just might find the little things that make the sweeping vistas so beautiful.
Almost a year ago I started out on an adventure of a lifetime. To drive from Michigan to Alaska and back but for some is a dream. I was able to make that dream a reality. After I returned home I was asked if I would display some of my photographs for my friends in the Clio Michigan area. Almost 35,000 digital pictures needed to be viewed, edited and sorted. Those that make it to good pile are edited and sorted again. This step is repeated several more times slowly narrowing down the photos that make the final cut. It is a slow process and I often find myself spending many, many hours on the computer.
I call it work or editing but it really is a pleasure for me. With every image I re-live a small part of the trip. So many incredible memories are there for me and when I look at each picture I instantly remember where I was and what I was doing. And I smile! I have stood in flowing rivers, on snow and ice, in valleys and on mountains. I have wandered in the rain, sun, wind, heat and cold. I have lived every single moment. I have lived! The smells of wildflowers and salty ocean breezes, cool mountain winds and musty lowlands. The sounds of the many birds I met, grunts of animals, the babbling brooks and rushing rivers. These are forever a part of who I am. And I will cherish them always.
The pictures have all been edited and printed. I spent today matting some of those that need matting. I still have more to finish but I am seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. I should be finished by midweek. Preparing for this gallery show has been very exciting and fulfilling. To share a glimpse of what I saw and bring a small part of who I am to this show is a wonderful feeling. I am so fortunate to be allowed this opportunity!
Recently while messaging with a friend in another state he wrote, "you are a great story teller and every picture you snap another story is told." That right there is probably the greatest honor I have ever received in regards to my photos. When I see a photograph or a painting that I like it's because it causes me to pause. I feel something connecting me to that image. I feel a part of its story. If I am able to do that for someone else with my photographs then I know I am doing something right.
I am very honored to be able to share my photographs with you. I only hope they bring you some of the pleasure they bring me.
April is going to be an exciting month! On April 1st I will be featured in the Margaret Runyon Gallery in Clio Michigan. The month will officially kick off with a reception hosted by the Clio Area Art Society on April 4th. What an honor to be asked to show my pictures in the community where I have lived and worked most of my life. Seeing old friends will be like going home again and to be able to share with them something I love is even better. If you are in the area and would like to stop in please do! The Gallery is open to the public and everyone is welcome!
The Gallery is located at
434 N. Clio Rd. Clio Michigan
Gallery hours are
Thursday 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Friday 11:00 am to 6:00 pm
Saturday: 11:00 am to 4:00 pm
Also open by appointment
Friday April 4th 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
I hope you can join me for the evening!
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