Guest Photographer: Helen Pine

As promised, a new feature of my blog, “Sincerely, Dr. Dan,” will be a monthly presentation of images from members of the Boynton Beach Camera Club, a club where I have been privileged to be a member for the past six years. I have already explained in a previous post that before becoming a member, I used to think that I was a good photographer. My patients used to enjoy seeing my images that I captured while traveling which I would post on the walls of my office. When I retired and had more time to devote to my hobby, I realized that I still had a long way to go to become a better photographer. By observing the high quality of many of the other members’ work along with their encouragement, my photographic skills have improved.

In appreciation of the high level of talent in our club, I will be interviewing one member at a time. I have requested that they choose their favorite images from their vast collections. They will explain why the five images that I have chosen demonstrate their special skills as a photographer.

My first featured Guest Photographer is Helen Pine, half of the “Chuck and Helen” team which has contributed so much to the success of the Boynton Beach Camera Club. Their pre-Pandemic soirées at their home were legendary and were often the inspiration for many new members to pursue a deeper interest in photography.

Helen’s interest in photography dates back to her childhood in the 1950s when she received her first gift of a Brownie camera. In the 1990s, she became more involved when she joined a camera club in New York City and was inspired by other members’ encouraging comments.

Helen is an expert in post-processing techniques using Photoshop, Topaz Studio and Nik software, to name just a few of the programs she uses on a regular basis with her images.

Since Helen and Chuck have traveled extensively, she has thousands of images to which she enjoys returning to discover another one which possesses her award-winning potential.

“The photograph is just the beginning,” Helen explains modestly. She can take an otherwise busy, crowded image and transform it into a masterpiece.

I would describe Helen’s style as “minimalist” since she is able to distill the unnecessary extraneous details from the original image in order to produce her unique version with that desired “Wow! factor.

“Great Egret Preening”

In Palm Beach County, we are blessed to have several outstanding locations where herons, egrets, spoonbills, wood storks and many other species congregate in man-made, but naturally appearing sites.

Trim Castle Arch, County Meath, Ireland

Helen’s expertise in blending the color of the sky with the silhouettes of the people passing through the arch is seen in this image. The detail of the stone arch is brought out nicely.

“Great Blue Heron With Catfish”

Many of our club members are skilled at capturing bird images at Green Cay or Wakodahatchee Wetlands. The combination of the bird and its catch is what makes this a special image.

“Red Tulips”, Keukenhoff Gardens, Holland

Helen captured this image by placing the camera on the ground at exactly the right angle to position the central flowers against the blue sky with the distant flowers serving as a frame on either side.

“Rainy Day on Daytona Beach”

My favorite image of Helen’s is called “Rainy Day on Daytona Beach.” This location is one of Helen and Chuck’s favorite places to capture images of people and birds with the background of the Atlantic Ocean. I especially love the position of the child’s back foot and leg as she walks across the sandy beach. Helen uses the blank “white space” on the right side of the image to her advantage as a minimalist technique, forcing the viewer to focus on the child.
Helen and Chuck have taught many photographers to concentrate on subtlety. As Chuck often says, “Less is more.” Enhancing the small details in an image without being obvious or heavy-handed is the skill seen in all of Helen’s work. Each of the above images demonstrates the “Wow! factor” that all of us photographers are seeking in our own images.

Thanks to Helen Pine for allowing me to feature her work.

My Favorite Life Hack

One of my favorites “life hacks” is to offer to take a picture of a whole group of tourists with their camera so that it includes the person taking a picture. Before the days of “selfies,” photographers like me always had a whole collection of travel photos of everyone in their group except for them!

My favorite “success story” was a few years ago near where we live in South Florida.  We were showing some out-of-town friends a popular site called Blowing Rocks Preserve in Martin County. I heard a father talking to his children in an Eastern European language while he was preparing to take a picture of his family. The teenagers, however, were speaking English.

My wife calls it being “nosy.”  She can tell when I am ignoring her rather than paying more attention to a conversation that I am overhearing.   I love to guess where people are from or what language they are speaking.  If it is a language I know, it’s fun to practice speaking their language.  It is also such a good icebreaker!

It turned out that the family was originally from Poland but had lived in Dublin, Ireland for the past 13 years.  We were getting ready to go to Dublin about two weeks later.

at Blowing Rocks, Jupiter Island, Florida

After taking pictures of them with their camera and with my phone, I told them that I would send them my pictures from my phone. I asked their teenage son, Damian, to put his contact info in my phone.

Within an hour, I heard from him, and he and his family offered to meet us in Dublin so that they could show us some of their favorite places that most tourists don’t see.

They met us at the cruise port and took us to the mother’s favorite estate and gardens, Powerscourt Gardens,

On the grounds of Powerscourt Gardens, Ireland

and then to lunch at the father’s favorite restaurant, Johnnie Fox’s Pub.

At Johnnie Fox’s Pub

It was a fantastic day for us. They even invited us to stay overnight in their home in Dublin and then drive us up to Belfast the next day, about two hours away!

These “personal experiences” happen now and then because I consciously work at finding them.  They are usually more memorable than many of the usual tourist attractions that we have visited.

We have kept in touch with this Polish/Irish family.   They have offered to meet us in Poland some day so that they can take us to see some of their favorite places in their homeland. We have told them that we will do the same when they come back to the US.

Just imagine… international friendship born from an offer to take a photograph!

Our friends, the Gluszkiewicz family