by Gillian Crowley –
Matt Hardy, English landscape and wildlife photographer, says: “Beauty can be seen in all things; seeing and composing the beauty is what separates the snapshot from the photograph.”
Three photographers from Saanich and the Saanich Peninsula area – Leah Gray, Mike Wooding and Daniel Rondeau – have developed that special eye. Their images (on this page) are part of Canada’s entry in the prestigious Four Nations photography competition with submissions also from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Each country enters 80 photographs in four categories: Nature, My Country, Open and Monochrome. Remarkably, Canada has won first place for the last four years running.
In a rigorous process, the Canadian Association of Photographic Arts (CAPA) selects the top images from each of its competitions followed by an independent judging panel that re-scores the images to select the very best for submission into the Four Nations competition.
Wooding, Gray and Rondeau are all members of the Victoria Camera Club, which Mike describes as a “vibrant” club that offers workshops and the chance to chat with other photographers. For these three camera buffs, their long-time hobby has turned into a passion.
Retired for 13 years, Mike Wooding considers himself a naturalist as well as a photographer and has run a nature photography website for the past eight years. His subjects are primarily birds and he loves the wide diversity in the region. During summer’s heat, when birds are less active, he turns to photographing insects, particularly dragon flies and damsel flies. These attractive insects like to perch, which gives him time to compose the shots. His advice to neophyte photographers is to get on the same level as the subject and have the composition tell a story. “You’re always looking for the ‘Wow’ factor.”
Leah Gray’s photographic skills developed 15 years ago when shooting pictures at her son’s football games. She credits that experience with teaching her how to anticipate, establish the camera settings quickly and be fast on the shutter. Involved with horses for many years, Leah finds they are a natural subject for her photography. In the selected image, she likes that it captures the white of the horse’s eye at the moment it looks right at the viewer. This photograph, entered in the Four Nations Open category, was originally submitted to CAPA’s Fine Art competition where it received an impressive 29.5 points out of 30.
Daniel Rondeau’s passion for photography goes hand in hand with his love of hiking and the outdoors. Even on shorter walks he’ll take along his camera “just in case.” By being prepared, he was able to capture his photo of a garter snake swimming in duckweed in Swan Lake. “I saw something in the water about 10 feet away and lay on the dock to get an eye level view for the shots.” It wasn’t until he enlarged the photographs at home that he realized he had caught the reptile with a cricket and waterfleas sitting on its head. He says: “Although I was at the right spot at the right time, it’s also about knowing your equipment and how to quickly adjust it to properly capture a fleeting moment.” The photos by Daniel and Mike are entered in the Nature category and must follow strict guidelines. Few adjustments can be made to the original “raw” image other than colour saturation and sharpness modifications.
These talented photographers see and compose the world around them in images that let the rest of us appreciate the beauty too. We wish them success in the Four Nations competition.
Photos at left, from top: Emma’s Dancers, by Mike Wooding; Garter Snake, Its Friend and Their Meal, by Daniel Rondeau; Wild Dance,
by Leah Gray.