The ILFORD website is more beautiful than ever in May with the ILFORD monthly website photo competition winner Donna Martin’s beautiful image of a puffin featured. We caught up with Donna after a recent trip to Utah to find out more about her and her photography. She was also good enough to share more of her beautiful images with us including the one that won this month’s contest.
ILFORD Blog: Tell us all about this month’s winning photo!
Donna Martin: I’m deeply honored to receive this recognition. I found out about your monthly flickr contest just a few months ago and decided to submit some images each month, just for the fun of it. I was stunned and quite happy to get the news about winning!
I captured the puffin photo on a trip to Alaska in the summer of 2011. We were part of a small tour group (Natural Habitat Adventures), and we visited interior Alaska, as well as coastal regions such as Kenai Fjords and Katmai.
IB: What caught your eye when you captured this paticular image.
DM: I have always adored puffins, but never seen one in person until this trip. I think they are a bit comical and endearing in appearance. This particular bird was quite cooperative and photogenic. I was very careful to blur the background, use a high shutter speed, catch the light just right, and wait for a look in my direction. I particularly liked the the backlighting on its beak.
IB: Did you wait for the shot or did it just appear serendipitously?
DM: I waited! I think patience is an essential virtue for nature photography. I have great admiration for bird photographers because it has to be one of the most difficult specialties.
IB: How long have you been photographing?
DM: I have dabbled with film photography off and on since my youthful days in the early 1970s. It’s hard to believe now, but I went a few decades without ever taking a photo! The advent of affordable digital photography equipment renewed my interest. I started doing photography on a regular basis again about five years ago, right after I retired from an engineering career. I quickly found out that the digital
medium is a completely different world than film. I was unhappy with the quality of my images, and couldn’t figure out how to do satisfactory editing. So I decided to embark on a personal mission to learn and improve, with particular emphasis on post-processing. I’ve had a few struggles, but it has been great fun. With new technological advances and digital software modifications, learning is an ongoing process! I am more pleased with my work now, particularly images that I have created in the past two years. Also, I just recently started to participate in various flickr groups for essential feedback and fellowship.
IB: Do you enjoy traveling as part of your photography?
DM: These days, we head out on big journeys about two to three times per year. We usually sneak in some extra little road trips too. Our Nikon camera equipment goes wherever we go! My husband is a great photographer (retired professional), so we enjoy the hobby together during our travels.
IB: Do you have a favorite type of subject matter?
DM: I try to mix it up as much as possible, just to challenge myself. But I particularly adore nature photography, landscapes, and architecture. I started photographing wildlife only a couple of years ago and developed a particular fondness for bears. I would watch animals and photograph them all day long if I could!
IB: Tell us about printing your images.
DM: We print our photographic images at home with an Epson R2880 inkjet printer. It gives us beautiful results. I print selected images every month or so. We have standard sized metal frames and mats for the photographs that decorate our walls. It makes it very easy to change out our prints on a regular basis. I also print up greeting cards and have compiled a few photo books for personal use.
We have used the ILFORD GALERIE Premium Gloss. The paper brings out the richness of colors, and it also gives stunning results for black and white images.
IB: Tell us more about your personal philosophy of photography.
DM: I consider my photography skills to be a work in progress. I’m never completely satisfied and always striving to do better. I like to set personal goals on a regular basis to learn something new. I also forgive myself up-front if I make mistakes. Mistakes are an essential part of the learning process. Also, a good photographic image tells a story. So I try to keep that point in mind every time I click the shutter. Additionally, it’s essential to carefully study the work of other photographers to better understand how certain images are interesting and captivating.
You can follow Donna Martin’s photography adventures on her blog Cottage Days and Journeys. And be sure to check out her ongoing personal project that she invites you to join called A Personal Photo Challenge. Each month she hosts photography challenges that provide an opportunity for folks to expand and practice their photography skills. Join her in the quest to continue to learn and grow.
Congratulations to Donna Martin! We’re so glad we met you through the ILFORD Monthly Website Competition.