The voting results are in and the new PFRE Idol contest winner for January 2009 is Michael Yearout, AKA extreme wide angle in the PFRE flickr group, of Breckenridge, Colorado. Congratulations Michael! Those of you that frequent the PFRE flickr group will recognize this as one of Michael's distinctive images with the great Rocky Mountain views. Michael's comments and bio are as follows:
My first camera was a Kodak 8 mm motion picture machine that I used to photograph go kart races (I’m revealing my age here). It was really my parent’s camera, but they let me use it. I grew up on a farm and we built a race track for all the 13 – 15 year olds to race their karts. I still have a few of the short silent films (my mother had them put onto VCR tape some years ago).
Growing up on a farm, I always had an interest in the outdoors and capturing images of nature. At the University of Kansas I received a degree in Journalism and that was where I really learned film photography and photojournalism. I fell in love with it. My first “real” camera was an Olympus OM-1 and I still remember it (gave it away some years ago to a deserving youngster). After college I worked for a newspaper for a couple of years. My most exciting moment was interviewing Caesar Chavez and taking B/W photos of him for the story. He was in Kansas City promoting his farm workers protests in the early 70s.
My wife and I moved to Breckenridge in 1974 and I really got into outdoor photography. Each summer I would go back to Kansas to help my father with wheat harvest. Every day I would pack up that old OM-1 and it would ride around with me in the Combine harvester all day until sunset. I would then stop the machine and shoot the sunset from the middle of 200 acre field.
My wife became a full time realtor in 2003 and I bought her a Canon point and shoot to take photos of her listings, etc. I was so impressed with the quality I asked her to get me one for Christmas. Under the tree that year was a Canon Rebel DSLR. And I fell in love with photography all over again. I began to look at all the photos on the MLS and the photos my wife was taking and thought, “these people need help. They’re trying to sell million dollar homes with awful photos.” So I took some of the shots I’d done for my wife, printed up a flyer and hit the streets. It was slow going for a while, but around that time I discovered PFRE. And I started soaking up the shared knowledge from everyone like a sponge. I joined the local MLS and got their email list and began an email campaign. The jobs started coming in. I upgraded to a Canon 30D. I kept learning and the jobs kept coming in. In 2006 I went full time and have loved every minute of it since.
I have learned so much from the great photographers on PFRE – the critiques of my photographs has helped immensely. The discussion group shares a wealth of knowledge – freely. I would not be where I am today with the help of PFRE. I sincerely thank all of you.
About the photograph: Taken with a Canon 30D, EF-S 10 – 22 lens set at 12 mm (19.2 mm equivalent, f/9 at 1/250, ISO 400. CL and CR 580 EX’s on light stands shot through translucent umbrellas (about 8 feet above the floor and at +2 power), on camera 580 with Fong diffuser, 580 on floor in front of couch, bounced off floor at -3 power. PS to clone out the umbrella reflections in the large windows, Lightroom for fill light, Nik Efex Color Polarizer and Nik Sharpner at about 25%. (That’s the best I can remember, as it was a few months ago).