After 40 years I am still a novice photographer

aurora borealis, aurora, northern lights, fisheye, landscape, Dan Jurak, Alberta, prairie, stars, long exposure,

I never really knew my father. He died when I was seven years old so in a sense I knew him but only as a small child can know their parents.

He was an avid hunter, fly fisherman and photographer.

I never looked forward to the Saturday evenings when he had us dress up in our Sunday school clothes, set up flood lights in the living room and pose us for family photos. I found it boring. I would rather have been playing with my younger brother instead of boring photography AGAIN.

When dad passed away in he left five of us kids and a young wife in her early thirties. Money was tight and so most of the photo equipment was advertised in the paper and I can remember strangers coming to visit and walking away with dad’s stuff.

The equipment had been sold but we still had thousands of black and white negatives, prints and color transparencies. Those pictures were a part of who I became. Maybe it is what got me interested in photography? After all, I did take up fly fishing and hunting as a young man, why not photography?

In elementary and junior high school I would pore the library looking at photo books and old National Geographic magazines. Little did I know that seeing all of those images would make a life long impression on me.

After quitting university, I found it boring and not for me I worked as a labourer for a few years and realized that it was a dead end occupation. Did I really want to do this for the next forty or so years of my life so I ended up returning to school for a couple of years and enrolled in photography.

God or maybe it is just good luck has followed me my whole life because immediately after finishing school I was offered an evening job in the dark room at the Edmonton Journal while photographing advertising during the day.

Like I wrote earlier good fortune has followed me and somehow I stumbled into being a fashion, food and editorial photographer, a web designer when only a few people had dial up modems and then in my last few years a print designer. All jobs that I was invited to accept.

When I enrolled in photo school I had dreams of becoming a “professional” landscape photographer. I had already had a few magazine covers and photos in books and felt that I was on my way. Little did I know that I would not return to landscapes until some thirty years had passed.

The internet, Flickr in particular got me interested when I kept seeing these weird landscapes taken with HDR photography. My appetite had been whetted and I was on my way again and what a trip it has been.

One of the joys of photography is learning new things. I love to learn. Even at 63 years of age put a new program in front of me or show me a new technique in Photoshop and I am hooked.

Landscape photography is much the same. There is so much to learn.

We are the accumulation of our life experiences and whenever I take a photo unconsciously I am recalling those thousands of photos dad has taken, the many faraway places from National Geographic and the magnificent colour landscapes of Elliot Porter whose photos convinced me to shoot landscapes with large format colour cameras.

My latest passion is aurora photography. They are the easiest thing in the world to capture if you know the basics but there is so much more to them than that.

Photograph them under a moonless sky and the land is black or almost black and without detail. Photograph them under a full moon and the landscape looks like it was taken during the middle of the day.

aurora borealis, aurora, northern lights, lake, reflection, clouds, landscape, Dan Jurak, Alberta, prairie, stars, long exposure,

Everyone photographs the aurora it seems under clear, cloudless skies. Weather, the right kind can make an average aurora scene stand apart from the crowd.

There is so much to learn after forty years of photography and that might be the biggest reward.

Life has always been about the journey and it has been a great ride so far!

Happy shooting,



~ by Dan Jurak on September 29, 2017.

9 Responses to “After 40 years I am still a novice photographer”

  1. very beautiful aurora photos.

  2. Thank you Vicki. It’s too bad that they happen at night. LOL Not enough people get to see them. šŸ™‚

  3. once in awhile they are visible where I live on Vancouver Island but not knowing when they start I always miss them.. šŸ˜¦

  4. Vicki, you can sign up for free to this website operated by one of the fellows at the University of Alberta to get an email or text notification when there is a good chance of them appearing.

  5. thank you very much..

  6. Beautiful photographs. They have got an Impressionistic quality about them, too.

  7. Thank you so much for the kind words.

  8. Gorgeous photo!

  9. Thank you Curtis.

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