A Past President of PSRI and an Avid Naturalist and Nature Photographer
Getting Deb Page to sit down and talk about her photographic path takes a bit of persistence. But patience and persistence are qualities Deb understands and uses to great advantage in her quest to learn about and document her observations of the natural world. A longtime member of PSRI and a past president, Deb has contributed her skills to a variety of needs at PSRI.
Evolution of Photographic Passion:
In her teens Deb had a passion for bird identification but found something lacking. While stalking, sighting and recording her observations she found she wanted something more. Finding photography a natural complement to her birding activities she began to document her sightings. More and more she began to analyze her photographs for technical quality and then naturally progressed to compositional elements.
Primarily self-taught through reading the available literature and studying the published nature images of professionals her photography began to show improving technical skill and compositional evolution. Deb discovered the work of Art Morris and his book “Birds as Art”. (For more information, you can browse: http://www.birdsasart.com/about.html ) Art Morris is a prolific American nature photographer who has published more than 11,000 photographs in virtually every major publication. Studying Art’s work fueled Deb’s passion to improve her photography and moved her to think of her photography as “Art”. An exciting new direction for her.
We met at Lincoln Woods on a pleasant spring day. Deb could not help but position herself to advantage so she could take in all the nature around us. As we talked about her naturalist tendencies and her photographic art Deb would almost absentmindedly point out various flora and fauna she observed. Her keen awareness of the nature around her and her focused photographic eye serve to make her aware of new opportunities for her photographic activities.
It was this awareness for her surroundings that led Deb to begin to see beyond birds to other creatures and photographic opportunities. It was then that she began to study the work of John Shaw. (For more information, you can browse: http://www.johnshawphoto.com/ ) John Shaw has been a nature photographer since the 1970’s and has published several books and is published in virtually all the major magazines. Unlike Art Morris though John Shaw has a broad focus on nature, with works spanning birds, animals, habitats and stunning landscapes. It was only natural that Deb would be drawn to John Shaw’s work as she began to broaden her interests beyond just birds.
Over the past year, Deb has been intrigued by the opportunity to experiment with astrophotography. Recently shooting the milky way over a lighthouse on Cape Cod. As you can see Deb’s passion continues to drive her and her curiosity of all that nature has to show her provides new inspiration.
Deb uses a variety of resources to identify shooting locations and sightings of specific birds.
A few of her favorites are:
The Ocean State Bird Club is a primary source of information for Deb. (For more info, you can browse: http://www.oceanstatebirdclub.org/ ) By joining organizations like this you can gain great insights into where and when to shoot. The folks involved in these organizations have a wealth of experience and knowledge and a desire to share what they know.
The Massachusetts Camera Naturalists ( http://camnats.org/abt/ ) is an informal organization founded in 1959, dedicated to the appreciation of nature and the natural environment. Through its members, it seeks to promote a greater appreciation of nature through the exchange of ideas and techniques for nature photography and observation. Of course, the Audubon offers additional opportunities to learn and share information.
Competitions also serve to help sharpen technical expertise and compositional skills. By listening carefully to judging critiques of both your own work and the work of others you can gain useful insights into ways to improve your art.
Workshops are a favorite learning opportunity. Not only do you learn new skills but you meet new people and are exposed to new and interesting ways of seeing. Deb has always subscribed to the Arthur “Weegee” Fellig adage: “F8 and be there” ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weegee ) and there is no better way to be there than to plan to be. Workshops help to focus time and effort in the best possible way.
Equipment and Workflow:
Deb shoots Canon, specifically the 7DMKII with a 100-400 and a 500 for nature. She also uses a 100 and 180 macro when necessary. For her astrophotography efforts and many landscapes Deb uses a fast Tokina wide 11-16 MM F2.8 AT-X Pro DX. As always, a sturdy tripod is key, whether a Gitzo or Benro. A Wimberly sidekick helps support the big lenses. Of course when special “gizmos” are needed Deb says there is always Really Right Stuff (http://www.reallyrightstuff.com/ ).
For post processing Photoshop and Lightroom are her go to workflow programs. As with many of us who grew up with Photoshop it tends to dominate the post processing workflow. But as Lightroom continues to evolve and become more capable that will likely change. Deb subscribes to the “do it correctly in the camera” philosophy. So wherever possible Deb tries to minimize the need for post processing by using good technique and solid composition.