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Where Inspiration Takes Flight: An Imaging USA Experience - PPA Today

Where Inspiration Takes Flight: An Imaging USA Experience

By Steve Furlong 

For me, Imaging 2017 was equal parts intensive introduction to an exciting new area of photography, a fabulous refresher on a wide variety of established photographic techniques and a very satisfying coalescence of my passions and the continuing themes in my life. To provide a little background, I've spent most of my career as a basic research scientist in the life sciences. However, I knew I wanted to be a scientist on the day a junior high school science teacher introduced my class to developing film in the darkroom. I will never forget watching as that first image magically appeared in the developing bath! As I progressed through my undergraduate and graduate degrees in the life sciences, I always found ways to include my passion for photography. Sometimes I used photography to document research projects. Other times I explored photographic techniques through the microscope. In a few cases, I was even lucky enough to get cover images published along with our publications in scientific journals. (pictured, Harrier Jet Demonstration at Airventure 2015 in Oskkosh, WI)

Fast forward many years (I won't tell you how many), I found myself working in R&D for a pharmaceutical company. By this time, I was mainly sitting in meetings all day and knew that I needed other avenues to explore my creative side. The advent of digital photography provided the perfect outlet and I dove in with both feet. One of my favorite topics as I worked on my digital photography skills was airshow photography. My adult children claim to have been traumatized by the many times I dragged them along to airshows with me! Since I was a child, I was always fascinated with airplanes and doing airshow photography seemed like about the most fun thing I could imagine - until I was offered a training opportunity to become a pilot myself. I took it!          

Here's where it comes back to Imaging 2017. In 2014, I left the pharmaceutical industry and in 2016 we moved from Wilmington, Delaware back to my wife's childhood home on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. "The Cape" is a fabulous place to do landscape photography and I've done some of that. However, I wanted to again combine my passions and scientific training, so I contacted a local non-profit that works on whale conservation. My offer to them was to help with aerial surveys and photography. To my surprise, they were more interested in me helping them set up a drone program than with anything I could do for them in an airplane.

After purchasing a drone in December, 2016 and becoming FAA certified to fly it, I still had many questions about how best to use this new "camera platform" so I was thrilled to learn about the "Drone Zone" track at Imaging 2017 in San Antonio. I can't say enough about how useful I found the drone presentations. In addition to seeing stunning images produced with this relatively new type of aerial photography, the information provided by the presenters has helped immeasurably as we set up the drone program for this non-profit organization. Almost a year after the San Antonio meeting I am still in touch with some of the presenters to get their suggestions. Incredibly helpful!

(pictured, left, Image of Humpback whales feeding off the coast  of Cape Cod, October 2017. In this feeding behavior whales create a net from bubbles that corrals the baitfish. The image was captured with a Phantom 4 Pro drone.) 

Beyond the drone presentations, the bonus for me at Imaging 2017 was the opportunity to hear so many great presentations on more traditional types of photography and (to my wife's consternation) to be able to add to my photography wish list based on what I saw at the exhibits. I can honestly say that my learning from the San Antonio meeting didn't end there but has really carried throughout the year. Access to PhotoVision and the other great learning tools online through PPA, which I learned about at the meeting, are particularly valuable.  In short, we are already making our plans to attend Imaging USA 2018. See you all in Nashville!


Steve Furlong is a scientist, pilot & photographer and lives on Cape Cod. 


About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Professional Photographers of America (PPA) published on October 17, 2017 11:38 AM.

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