Category Archives: Dreams

Featured in The Hum….

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I have the incredible good fortune to be the featured artist in the September issue of The Hum – a fabulous monthly arts, entertainment and ideas newspaper that promotes people and events in small towns and rural areas in the Ottawa Valley. You can subscribe to The Hum or pick it up for free at one of the many businesses in Almonte, Perth, Carleton Place, Westport, Pakenham, Carp, Arnprior, Smiths Falls, Burnstown, White Lake, Renfrew, Balderson and also Ottawa.

When I was contacted by The Hum journalist, Sally Hansen, I thought she’d ask me the typical questions about what kind of camera I use, what kinds of photography I like to do, my favourite lenses etc. Short and sweet. Instead I had the most wonderfully engaging time with Sally, sharing stories, and talking about deeper things such as my sources of photographic inspiration, what motivates me to make the images and do, and what I do with those images. She wanted to know ‘my story’. I was really thrilled to provide it as one thing I’ve always loved is to find out what makes people tick – what’s their story, their life experiences and the things that makes that photographer, writer, artist or whomever, produce the kind of work they do. It’s context. I still like to know the details of the medium they use (e.g. kind of camera they use, for photographers, lenses they shoot with, etc.). But knowing something about the person fosters a greater connection to their work and an understanding of why they produce what they do. So, a very big thank you to The Hum and to Sally Hansen, for the opportunity to share my story.

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I’m extremely grateful to Sally and The Hum for highlighting how I use my photography to enable my passion for environmental education, conservation, and environmental communication. Being able to combine my career and passion as a biologist, with my passions for photography and the environment is a dream come true and hopefully a pursuit that will continue for many more years.

The Hum article also highlights that I’ll have some of my work on exhibit and for sale as part of the Perth Autumn Studio Tour. I’ll be exhibiting at Rita Redner’s studio at 549 Brooke Valley Road. The studio tour will take place over the Thanksgiving weekend, October 11th, 12th, and 13th, from 10 am to 5 pm. Click here to see a map of the tour and here to see the tour’s Facebook page. I hope you’ll come along on the tour to see the work of a number of very talented artists who will be exhibiting everything from pottery, to paintings to hand-made chocolate…. and so much more. See you there!

Perth Autumn Studio Tour

 

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Filed under Conservation & Environment, Creative Photography, Dreams, Exhibits, nature photography

Arctic Expedition 2014 – the story of our adventure… part I

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August 4, 2014 · 5:53 pm

Arctic Expedition 2014

Gee, I feel bad that it’s been forever since I last posted here. Especially bad when my intention was to post more regularly. Oops! But I have a good reason. Since March, I’ve been really busy fundraising, planning, organizing, and preparing. In 10 days I’m headed out on an arctic expedition. I’ll be one of 46 educators and support staff on a Students On Ice arctic expedition, with 86 high school students from around the world. Incredible!

It’s been a massive amount of work to organize and prepare, but I’ve loved every minute of it and am so excited that I’ll soon be on an amazing adventure. I’ll be teaching environmental communication to the students. Environmental communication uses photography and videography to creating environmental messaging – messages about the environmental issues our planet faces and what we can all do about it. I truly believe that the biggest impediment to making progress in addressing global climate change, habitat loss, species extinction, and other environment issues, is a lack of understanding and a lack of attention to the issues. Environmental communication strives to change that. The saying is, a picture is worth a thousand words and I think there is a lot of truth to that.

For the next little while, I’ll be cross-posting, putting the posts on my Biosphere Blog, here on my photography blog. I hope you’ll enjoy reading about my adventure and the launch of my Youth Environmental Ambassadors Program.

To read about the arctic expedition on the Biosphere Blog, click HERE.

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How YOU can help change the world

As you may know, from following the posts on my blog, I’ve been completely ensconced in a crowd funding campaign for the past 5 weeks. I’m raising funds to help defer the cost of an arctic expedition this July. Vacation? Nope.  Education.

As a biologist, the environment is really important to me. I don’t have kids and so I could say, “who cares, I don’t have kids, I don’t have to worry about what the next generation will have to deal with”, but that’s just not me. I don’t roll that way. I think everyone has a certain responsibility to the next generation, and the generation after that, and… Let’s face it, it’s my generation, my parents generation, my grandparents generation and to an extent, my great-grandparents generation that has screwed up the environment so badly. Don’t you think we owe it to the next generation to mop up some of the mess we created?

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The past 5 weeks has been revealing for me. I knew it would be a hard, hard slog raising the funds. My campaign is in the education section of the Indiegogo crowd funding website. Strike number one. I know this sounds pathetic, but the vast majority of people who would even consider donating to a crowd funding project don’t give a rats furry bottom about projects in the education or environment section. I’m not trying to be rude. That’s just the way it is. If you have a cool electronic gizmo to develop and sell, you’re golden. Tons of donations come in if you have a half decent campaign. But education and environment have typically been poorly supported. But why? I’m an optimist and a realist, but my experience with crowd funding has allowed a shade of pessimism to creep in. The sad truth is that not many people truly care about the environment or about education. They say they do, but when it comes right down to it, most people would much sooner have a way-cool, cutting age piece of electronics in their pocket, rather than build a school in Africa or support something that helps the environment. And to me, that is really sad.

Yes, there are people out there who think education and the environment are important – thank goodness. And I am SO grateful for those people, regardless of whether they supported my funding campaign with a donation or someone else’s funding campaign. The fact that people care, matters to me a lot. But I still can’t get that bad taste out of my mouth about the lack of support or caring from the general public, about the environment or education. That just has to change if we’re to have future generations that don’t live in a cesspool.

Species like polar bears will go extinct unless we reverse global climate change to a large extent.

Species like polar bears will go extinct unless we reverse global climate change to a large extent.

As a scientists, I do believe that the earth has not yet reached her tipping point. I do believe that we can reverse a lot of the nasty things that we have done to the environment. And I do believe that it is possible for humans to live sustainably. But that means change. And let’s face it, most people hate change! I personally, thrive on it, but I know I’m a rarity. Most people despise change. They like things just the way they are. And so asking people to give something up, to change some aspect of their lifestyle to better the planet, is frankly, asking too much, it seems. At least for my generation. Frankly, I put my money on the next generation. They are the ones with their whole lives ahead. They are the ones that may have to live in the cesspool we leave for them. So they have to care. If they don’t, their lives will be a whole lot less pleasant than mine, or my parent’s, or my grandparent’s for that matter. And I hate that thought. It’s just downright wrong! But how do we get people to care?

I think I have a solution, well, actually, a small step toward a solution. And that’s why I’m fundraising. And it’s why I’m putting $8,000 of my own money (I hear retirement’s way over-rated anyway….) into paying my own way on an arctic expedition. Why? Some people think I’m nuts doing this. After all, I’m not getting paid to run my Youth Environmental Ambassadors Program on an arctic expedition. It’s purely volunteer. And I have to use my precious 2 weeks of annual vacation leave from work for it. But I choose to. Why? Because I care. Because I think each and every one of us, in some way or another, has to do something to reverse the damage our lifestyles have done to the planet.

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I’m a biologist, I’m passionate about nature, the environment. And photography. And so I created the Youth Environmental Ambassadors Program.  This is the program I’ll launch on the arctic expedition. It’s unique. I’ll be teaching 90 high school kids how to take photos and videos of the environment. The goal is for them to document the things they are seeing, the human impacts on it, and then share their thoughts, their concerns, and their hopes for the future, through their own images and videos. The goal is, at the end of the expedition, to have a video containing the student’s images and video and environmental messages. I’m also hoping to organize an exhibition of the student’s images. And I hope to publish some articles about the program and the students as well as an e-book. I want this program and experience to connect students with nature, to combat the ‘nature deficit disorder’ that Louv so adeptly describes. To encourage students to care about their planet and to inspire them to do something about it. That’s my hope. Whether it works or not remains to be seen. But I’m sure going to try.

Help to inspire kids to be the Generation of Positive Change - only they are the ones who can clean up the environmental mess we and the previous generations have created.

Help to inspire kids to be the Generation of Positive Change – only they are the ones who can clean up the environmental mess we and the previous generations have created.

Will I change the entire world with my program? Nope. But change happens one student at a time. Real change happens slowly. And my goal is simply to open up some eyes and some minds, make the students think, and then hand the reins over to them to let them decide what they will and won’t do to make the planet a better place. After all, if I’m lucky, I’ve got 30 or so good years of life left. But the next generation will have to live with the mess a whole lot longer. I wish they didn’t have a mess to clean up. But I’m happy to do my part to try to help and to make amends for my impacts on the environment. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not up on a soapbox. I drive a car. I burn wood in my fireplace. I use Propane to heat my house. My life does have an impact on the environment. I do what I can to lessen it. But society as a whole, has to change. And if I can convince part of society to think about changing the way they live and help them to convince others to do the same, then that will be worth everything that I’m putting into this program.

If you believe that we can and should make the world a better place and you have a few bucks to spare, I would love it if you could make a donation to our Youth Environmental Ambassadors Program. There are only 3 days left in our funding campaign. I’ve revised our goal, from $25,000 (for both me and my co-teacher to go on the expedition) to just me going and me contributing $8,000 of my own retirement money. If you can help get us to our revised goal of $4,500 (we’re less than $1,000 away from it), I would be immensely grateful to you. Donate by clicking on the link below.

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Using photography to teach environmental education

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I haven’t had a chance to post on here in a while, but there’s a great reason why. I’ve been really busy working on a BIG project. One that involves photography, but in a different way.

I recently opened up my own environmental education organization Biosphere Environmental Education. And within it, I’ve created a unique environmental education program. It’s called the Youth Environmental Ambassadors Program or the YEAP.

What does the YEAP do?

Well, we’re just starting out, but our program will take kids on expeditions around the world, to experience nature first hand, to see its beauty, understand how it works and how valuable they are. They’ll learn about the human impacts on it and what their generation can do to reduce those impacts.

Our program is different than other environmental education programs out there. It uses photography and videography to teach environmental ed. We’ll be teaching high school students how to shoot and edit photos and videos with impact. They’ll be documenting the environments that we’ll be experiencing, what’s unique about them, what’s beautiful about them, what’s valuable about them and what the human impacts are on them. And then we’ll teach them how to use those stills and video to put together stunning visual presentations that they’ll give to their schools, their clubs, their communities and most of all, their peers. So, we’ll be teaching them how to become environmental ambassadors, sharing their own messages about the environment and how we need to make changes to lessen the human impacts on it.

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Our mission…. is to mentor a new generation of leaders, innovators, and world citizens who believe that the long term health of earth’s environments is at least as important as profits and development, and who will guide their generation toward a sustainable way of living.

We’ve been given a golden opportunity. We’re collaborating with a fantastic organization called Students On Ice. They’re an award-winning organization that runs youth expeditions to the arctic and antarctic. They’ve been doing this for 14 years and have taken over 2,000 kids on these expeditions.

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Students On Ice has provided us with the opportunity to launch our Youth Environmental Ambassadors Program on their July 2014 expedition to the arctic. We’re so excited about this! But the expedition is expensive. It’ll cost over $10,000 each, for me an my co-teacher to be on that expedition, delivering our program. And so we’ve created an Indiegogo crowd funding campaign to raise the money we need to be on that expedition.

We would love your support! Click HERE to visit our funding campaign. Watch the video that tells you what we are doing. And then click on one of the ‘perks’ to donate. We have funding levels from $20 all the way up to $2500. Each and every dollar matters!

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We really need your support. If you can donate to our campaign, we’d be extremely grateful. And we’d also love it if you could share the link to our campaign with your friends – either by clicking on one of the social media buttons on our campaign website. Or sharing this post. Or emailing your friends directly.

Our campaign will be running for another 38 days. We’d love your support. Visit our campaign website and let us know what you think.

As many of you are fellow photographers, I hope you can see how using photography and videography to teach environmental education, can provide a new way to interest and motivate youth to learn about our environment and to take action to be the generation that does something big about the human impacts on it.

Thanks so much for your support!

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Coming Home…

Wow… I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to post here again! I think this is the longest hiatus I’ve ever had from my blog. I miss posting. But life has been crazy-busy lately. I have some new projects on the go, others that I am moving to the background. So my focus has shifted a bit. But my blog is just as important as always and not getting to post here frequently drives me crazy! So I’m really working to get back to regular posting. Honest! 🙂

Today’s posting is to announce that 44th Parallel Photography’s Photo of the Week is morphing into the Photo of the Month. I’ve just been having too much of a struggle to post an image and description weekly, so instead I’ve made it monthly. This way I can focus that time on more blog writing. 🙂

This month’s photo is, as I explain in the accompanying write-up, one of those images that conveys beauty to the eye of the beholder, rather that on its own, having a more artful quality. But that’s ok. I think the image and words together, convey how special this image is to me. And so I hope you, as the reader, get a sense of that; perhaps it even makes you think of your own special place and causes you to recall some wonderful memories of a special place.

Sometimes the angle, the lighting conditions, and other factors mean that we can’t always make the image we want. So instead, the challenge is in making the best image under the circumstances. And in this case, for me, capturing an image of this special place was far more important than the quality of light, etc. In other words, this is one of those images that I took solely for me. But I did want to share it with you. I think we all have at least one special place on this planet, to which we feel a deep and unrelenting connection.

Click on the thumbnail below to visit the Photo of the Month.

October 2013

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Perils aside… let’s talk about passion

My last blog post, a few days ago, was about the perils of following your passion, whatever that may be. In the photography world, many of us would quit our ‘day jobs’ in a heartbeat, to become a full-time photographer. That doesn’t necessarily mean you hate your day job. It just means that you have a greater calling. It just means that there is something you are really, really passionate about and that you wish you could spend all your waking moments doing it.

Like I said before, for me, photography (and the things associated with my photography such as writing, conservation, environmental preservation, and connecting with people) is oxygen. Sure, I find it hard that I can only ‘breathe’ part time. 🙂 But let me tell you, it’s better than not breathing at all!

"You conceive your world in your mind and then create it with your hands" - Chris Widener

“You conceive your world in your mind and then create it with your hands” – Chris Widener

To reiterate what I said in my last blog post, read Malcolm Munro’s article on the perils of following your passion. Then dial that message back one or two turns. I wholeheartedly agree with Malcolm. You NEED to be a realist. But at the same time, don’t give up on your passion. And don’t become disillusioned. Just be realistic about what you can do given your current circumstances.

The key is: find a way to make it work. Might not be the way you first envisioned it. But this is life. We don’t always get what we want, when we want, in the way that we want. So, instead, tweak your expectations. Trim your sail. Refine your course. You WILL get there. It’s just that the path you take may very well be different from what you first envisioned. But that’s ok. It doesn’t make you any less successful at achieving your dreams.

"Dreams express what your soul is telling you, so as crazy as your dream might seem - even to you - I don't care: You have to let that out" - Eleni Gabre-Madhin

“Dreams express what your soul is telling you, so as crazy as your dream might seem – even to you – I don’t care: You have to let that out” – Eleni Gabre-Madhin

Oh, and one more thought…. don’t give a rats fuzzy bottom what anybody else thinks about your passion for photography (or whatever else it may be that you want to do – as long as it’s legal and ethical). You’re following your passion for YOU. Not for them. For you. In doing so, however, just ensure that you meet your responsibilities to yourself and your family. You know, the important stuff like mortgages, food, vehicles, utilities. It’s hard to process images in Photoshop when your electricity has been turned off due to non-payment.

I’m only a part-timer, but I feel like I’ve been around long enough to be developing a pretty healthy view of what the photography world is really like and that, typically, it takes a massive boatload of hard work and long hours to make a living as a photographer, especially in the field of nature or wildlife photography. But don’t let that stop you. Be persistent. Be positive. Be determined.

Here are a few more great quotes – fodder to fuel your drive to fulfill your passion…

"The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can't fine them, make them." - George Bernard Shaw

“The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, make them.” – George Bernard Shaw

"The most fortunate people on earth are those who have found a calling that's bigger than they are - that moves them and fills their lives with constant passion, aliveness, and growth." - Richard Leider

“The most fortunate people on earth are those who have found a calling that’s bigger than they are – that moves them and fills their lives with constant passion, aliveness, and growth.” – Richard Leider

"For the first couple of years you make stuff, it's just not that good. It's trying to be good, it has potential, but it's not. A lot of people never get past this phase; they quit. If you are just starting out or are still in this phase, you gotta know that it's normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work.... It's only be going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions." - Ira Glass

“For the first couple of years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. A lot of people never get past this phase; they quit. If you are just starting out or are still in this phase, you gotta know that it’s normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work…. It’s only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions.” – Ira Glass

"The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can." - Neil Gaiman

“The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.” – Neil Gaiman

"Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary." - Steve Jobs

“Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Jobs

"To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it." - Kurt Vonnegut

“To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it.” – Kurt Vonnegut

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