Originally a Nurse and now retired from Dentistry, Bonnie Christensen is more at liberty for travel and photography. It is obvious that family has been an inspiration and motivation for her photography and projects. She has put together numerous albums and photo books from both the film and digital era to preserve the fun and beauty of her travels. Bonnie is a regular contributor on Nikonians and brings light hearted encouragement and praise to members with their contributions.
“I am part of the third generation of women in my family who have had a passion for travel and photography. My grandmother back in the 1970’s traveled the world (including Antarctica in 1976) and came back with amazing photos, which were even published in elementary books for children learning to read. My mother is the next photographer in the line who at 86 is still traveling the world (Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, Antarctica x3, Iran, etc.). Like them, I started photography with the idea that I wanted to be able to capture personally meaningful photos when on vacation visiting new places.
My first camera was a Canonette range finder that I bought in 1979, but I quickly learned its limitations and soon after bought a Canon A1. I loved that film camera and would still be using it if it had not broken twice on me when on vacation after 20 years of use.
My first Nikon was an N80. I used that while DSLRs were coming into their own, and I eventually bought a D200. With a big family trip to Namibia in 2016, I knew I needed to upgrade again and purchased a D500.
I live in west suburban Chicago, where I have discovered several local places to practice my photography. Near me, there is a forest preserve with an old water powered grist mill; a bit farther, there is the Morton Arboretum, which has acres of plants, trees, and flowers from all over the world (that also can manage to survive Chicago winters). Photographing nature is a new subject matter for me. In the past, I mainly used my camera for sightseeing and gatherings of family or friends. At times, I do also take the train into Chicago where I can photograph the lake, Millennium Park, or the marvelous architecture from a river cruise.
Last summer after a family trip to Namibia (3 generations and 7 people) I reviewed the more than 15,000 photos (from multiple iPhones, Canon and Nikon cameras) and put them into a 100 page book. It is a memory book that tells the story of our trip, not the best of the best photos from the trip necessarily. My brother and daughter did not get why anyone would put a memory book together vs. a best of the best until they saw the book and said ‘Wow, I forgot about that.’
I am still most passionate about travel photography. Although, after seeing so many amazing macro photos on the Nikonians website, I have a desire to explore that area a bit further, as well. Birds in flight and portrait work in a studio I know nothing about, but appreciate and enjoy what I see on Nikonians. Given the opportunity, I would still love to try them since I am sure I could learn something new, which could help me in other areas of photography.
I need to improve in all areas of photography, but I am currently concentrating on the basics of trying to imagine a photo and capturing what I visualize. This skill, trying to visualize what I want to create and then creating it, also carries over into post-processing with Lightroom and Photoshop.
One memorable moment when shooting was in 1979 at Wonder Lake campground in Denali National Park. I had lost my cable release. A perfect stranger lent me his and would not take it back. I still have that cable release, and it reminds me of the kindness of strangers.
During my internet searches for information on the “elusive D400”, I came across Nikonians and joined. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would find it to be such an informative and supportive site. Being a member of Nikonians has helped me both with technical learning as well as given me inspiration to go out and take photos of “everyday” things. This has challenged me to try to take sharp, technically correct photos and possibly see things in a different light. Whereas before joining Nikonians, my camera was mainly for vacations and otherwise lived in a drawer. I continue to be in awe of the knowledge members have, their willingness to share it, and the amazing photos that are continually posted.
As for a recommendation—I am probably a bit different in that I like to keep things simple and light. I travel with one body (I know it’s a risk—been down that road) and at most two lenses. I prefer f/4 lenses to f/2.8 for their weight and size. My D500 with the 16-80mm f/2.8-4.0 Nikkor lens is often in my purse when I go out due to it being smaller than an FX. (Yes, I am drooling over the D850, but it would not often travel with me so… [Title: it is probably better that I invest in another lens or two.)
A big thank you to Nikonians and all its members for all that I have learned, and the daily encouragement and inspiration to get out and shoot!”
It was great fun in working with Bonnie on this project. You have a great way of preserving memories for yourself, family and friends. This takes great effort and patience to produce such works but will provide adoring comments in years to come. Looking forward to seeing the directions your photography journey will take you.
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