Monthly Archives: January 2012

after the game, originally uploaded by ken.udle.

Like many, I’m in at least one photo group. We challenge ourselves each week with a theme meant to inspire and get us out and actually taking pictures. Three of us were out at the end of week searching for a bench, in the process though I was reminded how easy it is to get caught up in the “hunt” and not notice what’s really there.

We made our way to a frozen river next to a park in a residential part of town and as usual each went our separate ways looking for our subject. As it turns out, there was only one, and I had my shot within 5 mins of arriving. Nevertheless, I did spend the next hour trudging through the snow, eyes peeled for distant benches. On the return trip I moved out onto the ice thinking a different perspective would help and it did but not in the way I expected.

The temperature was around -15 C, much colder in the wind, but I was dressed for the occasion. Having given up on benches, I began to look around at the light and new subjects. Turning the corner, I found what I wanted. The kids had already gone home, Mom was just picking up the shovel and heading back home too leaving me with a typical Canadian winter scene, a hockey rink on a river. The sun was dropping fast so I had to act quickly. Things may have been better with people or their tools but the consolation prize wasn’t too shabby either.

The easy thing is to get lost in one idea, our challenge is to keep at least one eye on the watch for the better situations. It’s up to us to make the best of them when they turn up. I’m happy I did.

By the way here’s a tip, to avoid condensation and possible damage to your gear during the winter, keep a large zip lock bag with some absorbent silica gel in your camera bag (those little packets you find in your purchases will work). When you’re done shooting, put your camera in the bag, squeeze out the air and seal it up and leave it that way until you’re inside and your camera has adjusted to the warmer air (at least an hour). The silica will take care of the moisture, and your camera will be dry and free from condensation. Oh and you might also want to keep the camera out of the wind when walking; my brother didn’t and ended up freezing his camera bits. He wasn’t happy.

Originally uploaded by ken.udle.

Lately I’ve been thinking about a number of things, I suppose that’s what we do at the start of a new year. I noticed this year, things feel different although I can’t quite put my finger on it, I think it has to do with a coming period of change.

Have you ever had the feeling that you no longer belong in the place you’ve occupied for a long time? Has it ever felt like a once familiar place has moved on in a different direction and your only noticing it now? I have and it’s little disconcerting. This blog is about photography so don’t expect any in depth analysis or explanation on the root cause for the sensation. What I think is worth noting is that when you find yourself in that place, there seems to be only two options. Either adapt and catch up by working harder to get back in sync with the others; or continue on your own path, in which case you best have an exit plan. Time will tell how quickly the transition will take but I’m comforted in knowing I have a plan.

I’ve been in the public service for than 34 years; I’m now at the point where most of the people I worked with are either retired, about to retire or are being promoted. Mostly I’m surrounded by Gen. Xer’s just coming into their own and beginning move things in new directions rather than following the lead of the Baby Boomers. In 2008, I had a glimpse at my own mortality and realized how quickly things can change. I also realized I had to accept certain realities, such as woodworking was not going to be as big a part of my life as I thought. I needed an alternative and decided that photography would be the basis of my next career; and following the advice of a retirement advisor, I started right away to make it a significant part of my life.

I figured there would be three phases to my plan. Discovery, Learning, and Growing. The first part came easy especially with my younger brothers along for the ride. It was focused on gear and software, discovering all the tools, experimenting with styles, and making lots of mistakes. The second year, at least for me, was centered around formal learning with workshops and courses at a local photography school. It was through immersing myself in the craft that I began to let technical decisions become second nature leaving me to explore what I wanted to create and why.

The last phase will last the longest, at least I hope it does. Growing as a photographer includes discovering new aspects of the craft and learning the skills to continue to improve on the results and keeping things fresh. I feel I’m at the beginning of my growth as a photographer. In recent months I have moved beyond the confines of where I live by establishing productive relationships with Ray Ketcham, my mentor on the West Coast of the US, and Sabrina Henry a blogger and photographer friend based in Vancouver. I have a detailed plan for what I want to achieve this year. Some of it I’ve been thinking about for a couple years, other parts are both scary and exciting at the same time. Most of the goals are achievable within the year and achieving them will help move me towards the longer term goals.

And that is really the point of this long post. Our day-jobs pay the bill and hopefully will end at a time when we don’t need to go to an office building every day or convince someone with money or credit burning a hole in their pocket to buy something they don’t really need. That day may come sooner than you expect and those who think ahead and decide what they’ll do next will be better prepared for that day. Those who begin now to work towards that thing, whatever it is, will have less of an adjustment to make. If Photography is your thing, make a plan, set some goals and work towards them. You’ll be surprised how great you feel when you pass those milestones.

So, which option will I choose, catch up or go my own way? I haven’t decided yet but I can see that the time to make a choice is getting short. Maybe I’ll take the fast approaching exit, or maybe I’ll wait and take the next one a little further down the highway. Either way I know I have a plan ready for the next place.