Reflecting on the last 3 years...

3 years ago, I decided to start a website to share my photography with others. This journey into photography has been an incredible adventure, and I'm going to take some time as my first "official" blog post on here to introduce how this all came to be.

The first picture I took with my first DSLR camera.

 I have always had a passion for taking photos. I can remember camping up in northern Wisconsin with my family as a young girl. Now, that was back in the day when you loaded film into a camera, shot some photos, and hoped for the best when you developed them. In my case, my parents had given me control of the camera for the trip. We were on a fishing trip, and the intent was to use the camera to take pictures of the day's catch and people fishing. I had every intention of doing that, until I realized that there were a lot of cool creatures around our campsite. As an avid animal lover from a very young age, this was very exciting to me. I remember blowing through an entire roll of film photographing the resident chipmunk of the campsite, trying to get a perfect shot. (He was really cute, and I loved animals! What can I say? I was 10! ) I can still remember when my father came back from developing the pictures, and the expression on his face as he thumbed through them. Yep. 30 pictures of your common ground squirrel. Of course I thought some looked great, but not everyone agreed. I remember getting a lecture on the price of film, and "really, 30 pictures of 1 chipmunk?!" As my father still says to this day, "that's the most photographed chipmunk in the world." That story still gets a laugh.

In college, I had the opportunity to travel out west for the first time on a geology trip for my bachelor's degree. I had a point and shoot camera at the time (still before the digital age). I remember taking so many pictures of the landscape and mountains, and waiting on one hour photo developing (in whatever town we happened to be in) to see what I had captured. I can remember always thinking how pretty the pictures were, but also how disappointed I felt that they didn't seem to do justice to what my own eyes had seen.

Fast forward a few years later after that, and I was given my first DSLR as a gift. I was terrified of that camera. Coming from the land of point and shoot cameras, it was very scary looking. So many buttons and dials, how the heck was I to learn it all? I played with it for a few days, then got frustrated and forgot about it for awhile.

I had no formal photography training as I had never taken any classes in school. Finally, I decided I was going to learn this beast of a camera. I started traveling out west to take trips with my dad around this time, and figured now was the time to learn. I bought some books, learned from them, and did the best I could. The sound of the shutter being released and watching the LCD image pop up was amazing to me and I was hooked. Ironically, some of my first real shots with that camera were of a chipmunk in Rocky Mountain National park. Old habits die hard I guess!

I knew I wanted to capture mainly wildlife, landscapes and whatever unique nature I could find. My photography was limited to my trips out west whenever I could get out there. There was a learning curve, and it was painful at times. I found myself learning the balance between ISO, exposure, aperture and learning how to use the scary setting called "manual mode."

Sometimes I would capture what I thought was an amazing image, get all the way home to load it on the computer only to find out it was slightly out of focus, or the composition wasn't quite what I thought it had been. I would sigh and say, "maybe next trip."  There were many times I'd make it back to the same area a year later, and finally get the shot. I'd have a whole year to think about it in my mind to make sure I'd get it right.

Most of my traveling has been with my father. I don't get to see him too often, so the trips are great to reconnect.  He lives in Colorado, so it's a good central location for our journeys.  We've managed to hit many unique areas, and we've put almost 7000 miles on his FJ cruiser from our travels. He's been very patient with me as I've taken my shots. Up early for sunrise, shoot the morning light, wait for wildlife, shoot sunsets, and head out for stars. I've learned how to use new equipment, and every trip has taught me a different skill. I've learned how to read clouds and the weather, and properly stalk the light (at times.)

I've done some workshops and have met some amazing photographers and people. Along with that, I've also met very rude people and rude fellow photographers. I've learned so much from the kindness of other photographers who gave me 10 minutes of their time to help me with something, even when I hadn't asked. Some of the coolest things I've learned have been from a kind soul sharing advice on a shoot. I've also had the great experience of helping others learn something at times. Some of the best things I've learned on this journey have been in the early light of morning, or the dusk of sunset from other fellow photographers. There really is a great community out there. I've also learned a lot from the rude ones too (mostly how you don't conduct yourself on a shoot around others!) The more I've learned, the more obsessed I've gotten at getting out to shoot. I've come a long way from where I was 3 years ago, and it's been a wonderful journey that I feel is still just beginning. I don't by any means consider myself any sort of professional as I still have so much to learn.

I've always had a creative side, and photography is my outlet for that. My vision has been to share the best of what nature has to offer to others. Nature is where I go to heal, to think, and to feed my soul. Photos should stir up thoughts and emotions, while also sharing a vision.  I'm traveling more than ever now, and have so many more places that I want to shoot and see. It's an adventure every time I head out to shoot. Nothing makes me happier than sitting in a spot taking and taking in a scene. It's when I'm most relaxed, and have the most clarity in my brain. Surrounding myself in this wonderful world of Mother Nature is where I feel most at home.

Thanks to all that have been following on this journey with me! Your kind comments and support have been wonderful :)

I'll close with one of my favorite quotes...

"A great photograph is a full expression of what one feels about what is being photographed in the deepest sense and is, thereby, a true expression of what one feels about life in its entirety."

-Ansel Adams