Have you ever seen a loon?

Richard Charpentier Notes from Rich, Photography 6 Comments

loonThat is a serious question.  Have you ever seen one?  Up close and really personal?

I have.  And it’s been on my mind.

A good bit of Thursday was spent thinking about what I’m doing lately, and why I’m doing it.  Why have I gotten so into taking pictures?  And why do I enjoy it so much?

Answers weren’t too hard to find in the thought process.  See, I’ve seen a loon.  Up close and really personal.  Close enough to see the red eyes, even through drizzle on a small pond in New Hampshire.  Close enough at times where I back paddled in my kayak to keep the loon from hopping in!

Little Diamond Pond.  Ever been there?  I have.

The other week I was really inspired by Zack Arias’ video Transform.  It hit so many cords with me.  And it left me wondering about exactly what I’m up to these days.  Then to heap self inspection on top of the current thought process Zack started putting up some very interesting critiques which left me asking myself even more.

My own look inward has led to two simple questions.  What am I trying to do with the images I’m generating?  And what is it that I really want to work on now?  Fortunately for me, the answers aren’t too hard, and that’s a good thing I think.

Since I first picked up a camera in college I used it for extremely specific purposes.  I wasn’t the guy at a party documenting all of the people standing around getting saucy eyed.  My camera was never broken out at family events, social gatherings, birthdays, or anything similar.  The cameras that traveled with me literally “traveled” with me.  I’ve always taken pictures of the places I’ve been and the things I’ve seen.  That’s what I like to share.  And it’s still that way today.

The bulk of the days in my former life were spent indoors, designing national networks, figuring out tarrifs, programming telecom switches, and playing with every big digital gadget under the sun.  My cameras never went into work.  Nothing exciting to share there (well, in my mind at least).  But whenever I had moments away, hikes into the wilderness, big trips, and even little trips, the cameras were present.  Thinking back I realize that the pictures weren’t for me, but they were taken to share with friends and family.

mooseMy starting point for wanting to become a good photographer was simple.  Places & things (so, I’m a places and things photographer).  Stuff that most people don’t get to see.  The kind of stuff I loved adventuring out to find.  Moose, Loons, remote ponds, 450,000 acre woods, and stunning vistas that most people can only find in photographs.  I’ve always been happy to go and find those places, and no place was ever too remote….until something changed.

In 2005 as many readers know I became extremely ill.  Bottom line, I was housebound at points.  No travel, no new places, unable to get very far at all.  Looking through my portable drives I realized I took less than 200 photos in the entire year.  What was I going to show you?  The view from the couch?  9 ways to stack candles on my coffee table?  20 portraits of Dana Dog?  🙂  Actually, those would have been good I’m sure.

So, in 2006 with a diagnosis in one hand and a divorce coming to the other hand I headed out to find my new home with my Airstream in tow.  It wasn’t the easiest trip, and at first the camera documented very little.  I was shakey, confused, bummed, sad, and wandering.  I passed by many interesting sites and left with few images to share.  But as the trip progressed I documented more, shared the journey through my old blog, and through my photography.  Heck, I even made hoaky video podcasts that gave me a kick!

steveYou know the rest of the story.  March 13th of 07′ I found Prescott, and I knew I found home.  I found a job, not a career, and kept looking for what I was to do next here.  And you know that part of the story too!  I’m now a happy printer / photographer who spends most of his time at the Old Firehouse in downtown Prescott printing for other talented folks in the area, and sometimes I print my own stuff to!  😉

So, I’m pretty clear on what I’m about with my photography, and what’s next.

I love sharing places that I’ve traveled to, and I love presenting them to you in my own way.  Sure, you might have seen some of the places, but I bet you haven’t seen them the way I have.

What’s next?  Well, more ghost towns of course.  Lake Powell, West Clear Creek, West Fork, the Painted Desert, Hovenweep, Monument Valley, Lowry, Bodie, and more.  Some places you’ve seen images from before, but I’ll see what I can do to present the places in my own way.  Some places you’ve probably never heard of, and maybe it’ll inspire you to get out there and do your own exploring.

The bottom line for me.  I’ve got a lot more to see, and while I get to go see it I’ll make sure to share it with you.  The whole reason I started really wanting to improve my photography the other year wasn’t for my own benefit.  I wanted to really show the folks back home what I was seeing, and I needed to improve my photography if I had any hope of making them say wow just like I said it when I saw a thing for the first time.  I’ve got a lot more work ahead of me to achieve the “wow” factor, but I don’t mind that kind of work!  😉

Looks like 09′ promises more learning, more experimentation, more destinations, and some fun along the way.  Selling the photos isn’t the big part.  Showing the places is.  Cross your fingers that I continue to improve.  I’ll keep working on the “wow” factor!

And just so you know…..today’s photos were all shot back in 2004.  I was becoming sick then, I actually felt it coming on but ignored it (dizzy spells in kayaks aren’t fun).  I went to The Great North Woods often that year.  Paddled a kayak, met loons, met moose, and occasionally met a few nice folks who were doing the same thing I was.  The photos here are unedited (although they are cropped).  Looking at these shots now I do want to edit them.  Actually, knowing what I know now about my camera I know how I should have shot them.  But I still like them, and they can stand on their own as they were part of my learning process.  Each image has stayed with me, and I didn’t need to pull them up on my computer in order to remember the day or the scene.  Those things will always be with me.  But I thought you might like to see them……

Comments 6

  1. Being from Michigan, I’ve seen a few loons, elk, wolves, coyotes, foxes, more white-tail deer than can be imagined, black bears, bald eagles, several types of hawks (predator birds are making a *huge* come-back in Michigan).

    I never seemed to have a camera though. I was usually hunting and I don’t multitask, so the camera was home.

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    Ah Ric, you’ve seen all the fun stuff I have. Well, no Elk or wolves in NH, but I’ve seen them elsewhere. As far as deer….dodged many while driving home. Take a trip to WV and you can dodge a deer every 15 minutes or so on the highway!

    I never took a deer photo while dodging the deer…..muti-tasking issues as well!

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  4. Wow – those photos were a welcome blast from the past! I know how much you enjoyed the Pittsburg area… I still wish I could have made it that far north with you.

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