Graduation – giving something back



Walkway on the Bog, originally uploaded by ken.udle.

My parents introduced me to photography at the impressionable age of 12 with my first camera and a basic darkroom kit. It became and still is a significant part of my life. Last year I had the chance to share what I’ve learned, and to give back some of the magic that comes with translating how you see the world into something that’s uniquely yours.

Mom has always been a creative person with hobbies ranging from blending coloured pencils to give depth and life to sketches of English country scenes, to decorating cut glass bottles with lead, and gluing dried flowers in tiny arrangements on notepaper, to the more traditional knitting and quilt-making. In recent years, though, I hadn’t heard talk of any new hobbies. When she mentioned last spring that she’d like to get a better camera, the glimmer of an idea formed. I talked with her about camera features and the differences between point and shoot, bridge and SLR cameras and was pleased when she decided to get a very nice bridge camera for their pending trip to NL. Before the trip, she asked if I’d give her a few tips. There was my opening.

Over the following months we talked about taking pictures and digital workflows and post processing. I gave her a couple of essential but not too technical books and was thrilled to learn she was reading them and trying the exercises. I have to admit too that I was surprised to see that not only had she been listening to what I said a week or more earlier, but was actively putting what I said to use. A milestone was reached recently when she told me she was bracketing her shots but didn’t find there was much difference with the results and that she was getting used to using the exposure compensation option. It struck me that she knew more about her camera and exposure than my brothers did at the same point in learning the craft.

We invited her to participate in our weekly photo challenges where we’ve seen her pictures get progressively better. A long forgotten energy was developing with this new creative outlet and I think it’s been fantastic for her. I don’t want to give away her age, but I’ll be 52 this month and I think it’s wonderful that she’s been able to adapt so quickly to digital photography and computers (a Mac of course).

Unbeknownst to her, Saturday past was like a final exam for year one of the course. We headed out to the Mer Bleue (a protected bog near Ottawa) just as the sun was coming up. There I watched a bit then left her to her own devices photographing reflections, landscapes (in tricky lighting mind you) and frost on the plants. Later over tea at Tim Hortons, we talked about compositions and depth of field. When I saw her pictures I could tell she was light years away from where she was last year. My picture above of the boardwalk isn’t as nicely composed as hers. I wrote to her that night to tell her she had passed year one with flying colours and was being promoted to year two where she’ll learn about shooting RAW and hopefully will be introduced to a DSLR.

The message for parents and their children – it’s never too late to learn, nor is it ever too late to give something back. In my case it was simply time, conversation and encouragement. Easy Peasy.

2 comments
  1. herpixx said:

    I was very pleased with what has been said. It speaks well of both Ken and his relationship with his mother. I feel much pride in both.

    • Ken Udle said:

      Thanks, as you can tell I’m proud of her accomplishments too.

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