Welcome to another TPF Member Spotlight, everyone! These interviews are designed, quite simply, to showcase our members. It’s not meant to be a pretentious show, or make anyone feel self-conscious about their work style or artistic preferences. These interviews are casual chats just to get to know each other better - a celebration of our wide, diverse group of photographers who, despite coming from a variety of backgrounds, all come to TPF because of a shared love for photography. TPF is a wonderful community and it’s worthwhile to shine the spotlight on our members. This means YOU, reading this – don’t be surprised if you hear from us asking for an interview! Remember, each interview segment will be left open like a regular thread, so you can ask your own questions or comment on things you may have learned. This is our new way to highlight the skill sets and display the unique styles of our wonderful community. Enjoy! Now, onto our interview – member CheryIL! So, Cheryl - let’s start as usual by exploring your background in photography. How did you become interested in photography? My first point and shoot camera was when I was 7 years old. I’ve been the one to take family snap shots over the years. In 2002 I had an interest in video, transferring old VHS & VHS-C tapes and slides. I had borrowed a friend’s camcorder a few times in the 90’s and bought my first mini-DV camcorder in 2002. I added two mini-tape HD camcorders later. My interest evolved to motion graphics and slideshows in Adobe After Effects. AE is a 2.5 D program, and some say it is Photoshop on steroids. You can fly a virtual camera around the scene of photos. There are many templates available, but I preferred to make everything from scratch with key-framing and setting parameters for each movement/effect. It was a challenge, but rewarding to learn new programs. I have 2 overview videos of AE on Vimeo, if anyone has an interest. In 2012, I purchased my first DSLR. I wanted to learn photography to take better video and shoot time-lapse. I enjoy photography as much as video now. “My 2 grands met their baby sister for the first time. I turned off the lights in the hospital room and moved the crib to the window for light.” What’s your current gear? And - how often do you get a chance to get out there and shoot it? I have a Canon 5D mark iii, Fuji X-T4, Sony rx100iii & iv, an old GoPro Black 3+, And a Fuji XP125. I primarily use the Canon and the Fuji. The other cameras are mostly for travel video and time-lapse. I take photos weekly on nature walks. If the weather is bad I take photos indoors of the pups or pre-covid of the grands. I will get flowers in the winter to shoot. Usually Jan thru March is when I take online photography classes and clean up my computer files. Your studio shots with your Schnauzer pups are always terrific. How did they get to be such good little subjects? Are they as well-trained as they seem, or are you just good at controlling the mayhem? The pups are trained to sit and stay. If they are in a designated spot, like a rug or bench, that works best to keep them in place. I started by having them sit and stay for a few seconds and, each day for a week, added a few seconds working up to a minute. They now equate the camera with treats. If they are not in a photo mood, I do not force it, and wait another day to shoot. I set up my shot before I brush and put them in place. The sessions are generally only a few minutes. Sometimes while I am brushing one the other two are wrestling around and I have to re-brush them. It is much easier when my husband helps me. "Pups Christmas" I mentioned your studio set-ups with the pups. Do you prefer studio work over other kinds of photography? If so, why? The studio shots are fun a few times a year, but I prefer shooting in natural light. I started with a sheet taped to an old projector screen as a backdrop. I have added items each year like a backdrop stand, bench, and foot stool. This year I added a cheap light kit with two lights and it was much easier than trying to use only one flash. I think the pups like the lights better over the flash. I’ve used natural light in the living room for the pups with a white 3 fold board as a backdrop. I bought a black curtain panel a few years ago that I use often. I drape the cloth over a board for flower shots. With Covid precautions this year, I set up my Christmas set in the garage to shoot the grands. It worked out, and I may do that again because it gave me more room to shoot with a longer lens. "One of my miniature photos. The grands like posing for these type of photos." Other than getting out to shoot, do you have other hobbies? What else do you enjoy for fun and adventure? I like going to festivals in the area. Because those have been canceled and we are not traveling, we have been visiting local nature trails and parks. Last winter I made a list of places to explore within one hour drive. Video is my second hobby. I shoot video of my grands’ events and edit down to about 3 minutes. Some are set to music. The birthday videos are their favorites. I try to get shots of everyone present, the singing, a little of the gift opening, the decorations and fun shots giving an overview of the event. Same recipe for school or church events. Christmas is usually longer at 8 minutes. I include short interviews so when they look back 20 years from now they can hear what they were seeing or feeling in that moment. Another yearly video is an interview of the first day of school. Their last interview I built a makeshift set in the living room. The set had a backdrop and table with chairs set up like a late night TV show. The oldest did the interviews with the younger two grands. I bought a clap board which they all like shouting “quiet on the set”. I transfer their edited videos to a tablet for the grands to watch when they visit. They like looking at their photo albums that I add photos a few times a year. I enjoy making miniature photo composites, travel videos, art videos, old photo retouching, and creating graphics in Photoshop for note cards. I don’t sew much anymore, but will make special requests from my daughter. "Nature shot from one of the local trails." What are three things you can’t do without? (This is no time to get mushy on us, btw – we all know the family members are irreplaceable. Let’s hear about non-sentient items, the things that make you say “Gimme”.) Confess!! I love my Wacom tablet! So much easier to paint or mask out subjects in Photoshop. I have several neoprene Velcro wraps I use instead of a camera bag. I wear my camera and use the wrap over the camera and lens. Easy on and off, which works great when I want to store in my day backpack. The women’s black rapid cross-body strap is on the Canon 5D, and is very comfortable. For the Fuji, I have a cross-body strap that is cushioned and has some elastic give to it. For one of the Sony cameras, I have a cross-body camera case that has one side that flips open easily. I love the Manfrotto monopod for video, and the Joby Gorillapod for time-lapse. "Mexico, iguana" If you could travel anyplace in the world, where would it be? Why this place? If I were younger, I would like to go to Machu Picchu. My favorite place to visit is Mexico. I love the people and the culture. The light and colors are wonderful for photos. "Mexico, Tulum archaeological site" You do seem to visit Mexico often, and I’m curious: how did you get started on these trips? You get some great shots and it always looks like such fun. Does the whole family come along, or is it just you and your husband? We first went to Mexico 16 years ago with our daughters. We went as a family a few times. Later as empty- nesters, and after both our Moms passed, my husband and I started going twice a year. We met a private guide who has an environmental science degree that would show us places off the tourist areas. He is knowledgeable in the region’s history and plants. Some tourist areas he would get us there before the big buses arrived and it felt like we had the place to ourselves. We have explored the jungle and cenotes or lunch on the beach at a boutique place. Other times, I would research an area of interest and we would take a ferry and taxis to explore on our own. Last year we took our adult children and their families to Mexico. It was fun to see things from a child’s perspective. The grands liked taking photos and video with the Fuji XP125. In closing, I have enjoyed the TPF weekly challenge. It has helped me to try shooting something out of my comfort level or skill set. That's great to hear! Those weekly challenges are fun. Thanks so much for participating with the Member Spotlight, Cheryl! Reminder: we’re encouraging our TPF members to also participate! If you have any comments or questions for CherylL, by all means, take it from here! "Pups - a normal day"