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Thread: Interview with BPN Member Cheryl Slechta

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    Moderator Julie Kenward's Avatar
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    Default Interview with BPN Member Cheryl Slechta

    Cheryl Slechta is a native Floridian who currently resides in Micanopy, Florida. She is recently widowed and is slowly adjusting to her new lifestyle with the help of her dog, Buddy and her blue-crowned conure, Petie. Cheryl has also lived in Washington, DC and Maryland during a three-year stint after college, but returned to her home state of Florida where she’s been hanging out ever since.

    Cheryl recalls having a camera in hand most of her life. She bought a used Canon A2 film camera years ago but only started to get serious about photography with the introduction of digital cameras to the market. You can find more of Cheryl's creative images here at BPN in her Album Gallery.

    So let's get to know more about Cheryl!

    Do you consider yourself to be a professional, semi-pro, or student?

    I consider myself a student – I learn something new every day.

    If you’re not a pro, what’s your day job?

    I’ve worked for a veterinary pharmaceutical distributor for the past 23 years but am planning to retire this July.


    What do you do when you’re not out with a camera in hand?

    I love to read, garden, hike, and bird watch. Hopefully, once I retire, I’ll have time to do all of those things AND my photography!


    What make/model of equipment do you use on a regular basis?
    I currently own a Canon 7D and Canon 30D that I had converted to IR. I own and use the Canon 100-400mm, 70-200mm, 100mm macro and the 10-20mm most often.

    What editing software do you use?
    I use Lightroom 3 and Photoshop CS5 for my main processing, as well as Nik, Topaz, DAP and Photomatix plug-ins.

    What classifications of photography are you primarily known for or interested in?

    Out-of-the-Box (OOTB) – I love transforming an image into art work. I especially love blurs (long exposures) and anything with birds as the subject. Besides OOTB, I also frequent the Landscape and Avian forums.


    Would you say your biggest strength lies in your technical skills with the camera, your artistic expression, or your post-processing skills?

    I’d say my artistic expression is my strength. My post-processing skills are a work in progress! I work really hard on my technical skills and enjoy doing bird photography but I’m drawn to more abstract visions (maybe because I’m a child of the 60’s?) and I’m always looking for opportunities to do blurs or to change an image into something with a “painterly” look to it, whether that’s in camera or in Photoshop.


    Do you conduct any classes, seminars, or workshops?

    No, but I sure take a lot of them! I always attend the “Birding and Photography Festival” in St. Augustine, FL and have taken many great classes and workshops there. Deb Sandidge gives a great IR class which inspired me to convert my 30D to IR. I enjoy whatever Charles Glatzer teaches as well. I had the pleasure of taking a two-hour (which stretched into four hour) workshop with Arthur Morris last year at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm; that was also one of my favorites! I’ve also learned a lot from Denise and Artie’s e-books.


    Have you ever been published? Won any awards?

    No, but I’ve been a finalist the last two years in the City of Gainesville Photography Contest. I also exhibit my work at Gainesville Fine Arts Association shows and have been fortunate to sell quite a few pieces there.


    What was it about photography that first drew you in?

    I love art and I’ve painted a little so I think it’s mainly an impulse to capture and interpret what I’m looking at. I’m particularly fond of the Impressionists and my favorite artists are Monet, Renoir, Van Gogh, and Degas.


    What keeps you coming back for more?

    The beauty of nature and birds - and my love for being outdoors. It seems like there’s a new technique to learn every day and I love to learn new things. I’ve learned a lot about Asian art from Dan Brown here on BPN. (Asian Week is my favorite theme in OOTB.)


    Whose work do you most admire and why?

    Artie Morris, of course, and Denise Ippolito. Outside of BPN I like William O’Neill, DeWitt Jones, Tony Sweet and Mark Lissick.


    Do you have any current mentors or muses? Anyone who’s rocked your world with their knowledge or style of photography?
    Denise Ippolito and the late Dave Phillips. Their knowledge and creativity blows me away. Everyone in OOTB is a mentor – they are an amazingly talented group of photographers.

    How have you personally grown and/or changed because of your love of photography?

    I think I’ve gained a lot of confidence in my ability to create. I also hope I’ve gained some patience as it’s not my strong point!


    Has your photographic style changed over time? If so, how?

    Yes, it has. I’ve gone from literal to interpretive in my approach to a subject. I used to take a simple photograph of a bird but now I’ll stop and think about how it would look as a high key image or a silhouette or a line drawing, etc.


    How has holding a camera to your eye changed the way you interact with the world around you?

    I see so much more now. I’m always looking for a composition, a line, or a color. I appreciate the diversity of nature much more. I used to see the “big picture” but now instead of seeing the whole tree I’ll see the lichen or the texture of the bark or a tiny insect. I’m much more tuned in now. I’m also more aware of the habits of birds. They are my favorite thing in the whole world – it’s a very visceral, emotional attachment for me.


    How long have you been involved with BPN?
    I started out here on April 22, 2009 so about three years ago. BPN is like family to me. I’ve never been around so many people who are so generous with their time and talent. I like having the different forums so I can stretch myself as a photographer. I’ve recently become more interested in macro and studio setups so I hang out in the Macro forum from time to time, hoping to soak up some of that knowledge.

    How has being involved in our forums changed your photography?

    I’ve learned so much about the technical aspects of every face of photography. Seeing other photographer’s styles and points of view are always helping me to evolve.


    What’s been the best piece of advice you’ve gotten here at BPN?

    Be true to yourself – both Denise Ippolito and Kerry Perkins have told me that and I try to follow their advice.


    What forum do you spend most of your time in? Why?
    OOTB – it’s a great group of wildly creative people. I love photography but interpreting an image and creating something other than just the original capture is really what motivates me.

    Got any advice for future photographers?
    Keep an open mind and try to be open to the possibilities. Also, don’t take criticism personally – use it, instead, as a learning tool.


    Where (or what) is currently at the top of your photography dream list?

    The Bosque del Apache is at the very top. I’m hoping to go next November. I’d also love to take a photography workshop at Giverny, France with William O’Neill. Oh, and add Alaska to the list!


    We’ve all heard the phrase, “You can’t take it with you” but if you COULD take it with you, what one camera body and lens would you strap around your neck for all of eternity and why?
    I’m a 105-pound weakling with a bad shoulder so as much as I’d love to have a mark 1-D, Mark IV and an 800mm lens the reality is that it isn’t going to happen so I’m pretty happy with what I’ve got now (except I’d love to add a fisheye lens.)

    Anything else you want to add?
    It was serendipity that brought me to BPN. I saw an image in a magazine that Arthur Morris had done so I started looking at his website. I came in to the Eager-to-Learn forum and the theme at the time was blurs. I posted a few that people liked and Denise emailed me and asked me to check out the OOTB forum and I’ve been here ever since.

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    Last edited by Julie Kenward; 05-03-2012 at 09:21 PM.
    Jules


    __________________________________________________ ___________________________

    I'm a girl with a camera fetish. The only designer label you'll ever see me wearing is Canon. :)

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    BPN Member Dan Brown's Avatar
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    Very nice to get to know you better, Cheryl! Lovely collection of artwork! We are overdue for an "Asian week" on OOTB!

    Thanks, Julie for another fine interview.

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    Lifetime Member denise ippolito's Avatar
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    Cheryl, It is so nice to read a bit more about you. I am looking forward to spending some time shooting together next February. You are so gifted and I have enjoyed spending my time with you and all of the folks in OOTB. Your flower blur above is still one of my all time favorites!
    Another great interview Jules!
    A Creative Adventure
    PHOTOGRAPHY by denise ippolito


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    BPN Member John Ippolito's Avatar
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    Cheryl, for me, your images are always inspirational. I enjoyed the interview and look forward to more!

    Best,
    John
    John Ippolito
    Alaska Wilderness Images
    www.alaskawildernessimages.com

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    Forum Participant Maureen Allen's Avatar
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    Great interview, Jules.

    I enjoy your images and your imagination, Cheryl It was fun spending time with you a couple of weeks ago at Dudley Farm.

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    Forum Participant Harshad Barve's Avatar
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    Great interview, Thanks, Julie for another fine interview.

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    BPN Member Kaustubh Deshpande's Avatar
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    Cheryl, it was nice knowing more about you. A great collection of shots here. loved the owl a lot.

    Julie, another fine interview. Keep 'em coming.

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    BPN Member Anita Bower's Avatar
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    I enjoyed getting to know you, Cheryl. The images included nicely represent your painterly style. Thank you to you and Jules.

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    Landscapes, Cityscapes and Travel Moderator Andrew McLachlan's Avatar
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    Great to get to know more about you Cheryl..always love to see your artistic creations...beautiful collection of them here to accompany the interview too.

    Thanks for the great interview Julie.

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    Hey Cheryl,
    Nice to get to know you behind the scenes but it was even better to meet you at the FBF!!!
    Keep em' coming Jules!

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    Super Moderator Daniel Cadieux's Avatar
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    Nice! Yet another enjoyable read. Very creative images, Cheryl. I especially like the nice touch applied to the grebes.

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    BPN Member Brendan Dozier's Avatar
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    Great to get to know you better, Cheryl! Always enjoy your wonderful, artistic & creative work and helpful feedback over at OOTB. Big congratulations on becoming moderator! Beautiful compositions, especially like that peaceful garden image.
    © Brendan Dozier 2012

    www.brendandozier.smugmug.com

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    BPN Member Juan Carlos Vindas's Avatar
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    Very good knowing more of you. Lovely images and very good interview.

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  26. #14
    Out Of The Box Moderator Cheryl Slechta's Avatar
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    Thank you all so much for your kind words and thanks Julie for doing the interview. It's an interesting process putting your creative urges into writing
    My BPN Gallery

    My Zenfolio

    " It is only with the heart that one can see rightly" - the Little Prince

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    BPN Member Stuart Frohm's Avatar
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    Thanks very much for the excellent interview, beautiful images and helpful participation at birdphotographers.net.

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    BPN Member Hazel Grant's Avatar
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    Good interview. As stated by those above, good to get to know you better. I've admired your work onBPN. Look forward to many more postings and interaction.

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    Forum Participant PhilCook's Avatar
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    That's one of the best things about digital photography...there are no limits to ones creativity as clearly indicated by your marvelous creations Cheryl. Certainly eye candy and the examples shown are marvelous....I'm particularly taken with the Grebe artwork. keep at it.

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