My Journey Into Photography.

As a young boy growing up in a small Northern Ontario community the natural environment was a major factor in my life. Many countless hours were spent with my father hunting and fishing. The object was to fill the freezer and pantry for the coming winter, but there was a connection far beyond just the practical needs of sustenance. I could feel it standing on the edge of a rapids fishing for trout or walking along bush roads hunting for partridge or setting snares for rabbits in the winter. During these moments, I was most at peace even though the feelings were not fully appreciated at the time.

At age 13 I was fortunate to be offered an opportunity for a higher education in Toronto. There, what I knew best; hunting, fishing, trapping and finding my way in the bush had no value and it was necessary to learn a new way of life; the life of an urban environment. The next several years were occupied with summer jobs in order to earn enough to cover tuition.

Upon graduating from University, a teaching position opened up in Ottawa and the next 33 years were dominated by raising a family and my teaching career.

After retiring, a friend who was upgrading his camera encouraged me to buy his old one and to accompany him on a few photo expeditions.

I was hooked!

All the feelings towards nature acquired as a lad re-emerged. Although my first efforts can best be described as pathetic, I found I had a good eye. Rather, it would be more correct to say; “the eye of my youth” was rediscovered. I upgraded my camera, bought a few new lenses, purchased a tripod and cable remote and have not looked back. Reading, looking at galleries, taking online courses, talking to other photographers all helped me to learn as much as possible.

I have not spent a lifetime photographing as many have and age is creeping up on me, so there is a sense of urgency to accomplish what I can in the years that are left to me. The Canadian photographer, Freeman Patterson has provided inspiration. Online courses with professional photographers have helped me with the basics. Most notably William Neill's online course on Portfolio Development has encouraged me to focus my energies towards those subjects that move me most. It has also trained me to develop a more critical eye towards my own work.

I photograph primarily for personal aesthetic satisfaction: it provides me with an important creative outlet. While walking in the forests with my faithful collie, Layla, I feel alive and at peace and it rekindles those magical moments experienced as a boy.

“If the spirit of the blue skies fills you with joy. If a blade of grass springing up in the field has the power to move you. If the simple things of nature have a message that you understand, rejoice for your soul is alive.” Eleanor Duse.

Photographs of majestic mountains, spectacular sunrises and sunsets and the sweep of open plains and oceans are common themes in nature photography. However, the beautiful photographs of Eliot Porter and William Neill have turned me in the direction of intimate landscapes and the art found in close-ups. Grasses, leaves, trees, flowing water, and the miracle of autumn, the wonders of snow and ice in winter, the magic of new growth in spring and the luscious vegetation of summer have a special appeal for me. My sources of inspiration are the shapes, forms, colours and patterns found in nature.

“Some of nature's most exquisite handiwork is on a miniature scale as anyone knows who has applied a magnifying glass to a snowflake.” Rachel Carson

My mantra was discovered in one of Dean Koontz's novels where he states: If you allow yourself to be enchanted by the beauty to be seen in even ordinary things, then all things will prove to be extraordinary.” My mission is to do my best to make my photographs reflect this voyage of rediscovery and reveal the beauty found in ordinary things.

Mike Bachman

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