It’s a crisp, late spring day at the Whitemud Equine Centre on a Friday morning. Workers continue the construction of a new arena at the Edmonton riding facility about a block east of where Whitemud Drive crosses the North Saskatchewan River. The driving lane is a bump-pocked adventure toward the parking lot as the ground is still frozen at 9:30 a.m. The fresh air is imbued with a smell that is undeniably redolent of hay and manure. A lot of manure.
There’s precious little that words can do to describe the scene any better than that. You could use your imagination but this morning, more than a dozen members of the St. Albert Photography Club have chosen this spot for their regular Friday morning excursion. They make it a practice to find a different location around St. Albert or Edmonton every Friday, sometimes every other Friday, to walk about with their camera and learn the tools and artistry of photography.
“Photo Friday is special because we really try to see different parts of the city and the surrounding small towns and attractions and then have lunch at a neighbourhood restaurant. Comparing the images that we all get is also interesting and helps us to learn to really see our surroundings,” said club member Doug Petry.
For still developing photographers, there’s much to be said for a regular meetup that offers people the opportunity to take pictures and build camaraderie. Modern digital cameras are complex devices to master, so what better place to try different things and easily ask technical and artistic questions to more experienced friends than in such an atmosphere … that smells like a horse paddock?
“I love the photo club for a variety of reasons. There are a lot of talented photographers who don’t mind sharing their skills and knowledge with other members. We have lots of fun teasing each other about the superiority of various camera brands and there is a real interest in the differences between the cameras and lenses. It’s also fun to share your work with other photographers who can appreciate what it takes to get those difficult shots,” Petry continued.
“Each week, I look forward to our Photo Fridays for the adventure of photographing in new spaces and for being with like-minded people who enjoy photographing,” said Hedy Bach. “Each week, someone teaches me something new. As a self-taught photographer, I’m grateful for the new knowledge I bring into my practice as I continue to learn along the way.”
“The photo club is such a great source of inspiration and information. There are so many individuals with such a vast amount of expertise to draw upon,” Catherine Page said.
The experience of it, for me, was a really nice change of pace. It was a huge relief to be away from my desk on a Friday morning during the height of deadline panics. It was a good calming walk coupled with a chance to play around with a new camera, an instrument that I have a strong interest in yet have always felt hesitant about.
Regardless of the quality of the end results, I learned some valuable lessons about being a photographer in the digital age. First, I learned to make sure that I had either ample room on the memory card or even a spare card with me. Second, I learned that I should make sure to have a fully recharged battery. I failed on both counts but not before I was able to get a few dozen good shots in – ‘good’ being the operative term.
Paige Brenneis isn’t a member but her mom is, so she tags along occasionally. She said that she “extremely loved” this experience because of what she learned. It gave her some artistic insights on how to shoot inside a horse stable with only window lighting.
“I found that I was learning a lot about my own equipment with lighting as I found that where I was or where my subject was, the lighting always seemed tricky somehow. So learning about my equipment as I went along was very helpful and I am pleased that I got to learn just a little bit more what my camera is capable of doing.”
“Photo Fridays are the best of urban exploring with your camera and friends,” Barry Ryziuk said.
Brent Bromilow said that he loves meeting new people and discovering new, interesting parts of the city. “The photo shooting itself is just an added bonus.”
Best of all, they occasionally get to see places that aren’t normally accessible to the public. This week, they changed the day of the event to so they could take in a special behind the scenes tour at the Winspear Centre just as they did previously at the Arden Theatre. Check out what else they’ve got in store and learn about the other benefits of being a member from the club’s website at www.stalbertphotoclub.com.
For the most part, words just don’t do justice to the myriad ways that the members enjoy the club and their Photo Friday excursions. Let’s let their photographs speak for themselves.