Picture This: An Artful Second Act
Photographer turns wildlife shots into works of beauty.
By Earl Nottingham
After retiring from a career as a high school home economics teacher, Carolyn Whiteside decided it was time to teach herself a new hobby — one that could be profitable, yet allow her to travel and enjoy the outdoor world. Photography was the natural choice. The seeds had been planted years ago when she received her first Brownie Hawkeye camera in junior high school and became hooked on photography while taking snapshots on a family vacation.
Her creative eye evolved as she employed several more cameras to document family travels to state and national parks and, later, as her teaching path required her to learn the principles of art and design. However, it was retirement as well as encouragement from seasoned artists that set her on a path to professional photography, culminating in selling her images at art shows around the state.
While much of Carolyn’s work consists of Texas flora, fauna and landscapes, her distinctive bird photos truly stand out. Working with a combination of photography and layered textures and graphics in Photoshop, she seamlessly blends the realism of a photograph with various painterly layers that accentuate the delicate and unique avian features of a given species.
However, any Photoshop technique is for naught without a good photograph to start with, and Carolyn chooses only the shots that work best technically and aesthetically, saying, “How the bird stands, position of the body and clarity of the image are all important in making a selection. The color of the species also has to work well with the chosen background.”
Each of her images is also a master class in composition and lighting. Carolyn and husband Bobby search for interesting props where birds can land and pose nicely. Bobby also searches for in-season berries and flowers to place near their yard’s feeding stations, which can be photographed from her “in house” bird blind. Her go-to combination for photographing birds is a Canon 5D Mark III camera with a 500mm lens along with a 1.4X converter. A Wimberley gimbal tripod head makes it easy to follow the animal’s movement. However, she notes that even with the proper equipment, patience is still the biggest factor in acquiring a suitable image.
For many photographers, the camera acts as a catalyst and offers a justifiable reason to get outside and enjoy nature. It allows us to slow down, reflect and possibly preserve a split-second of beauty. “I get to enjoy the world around me as I search for that perfect landscape or magnificent animal to capture through the lens of my camera,” she says. “I can go out by myself and be totally immersed in the moment, surrounded by peacefulness and solitude.”
Not a bad retirement package!
See more of Carolyn’s images at www.impressionspics.com.
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