By Jan Walker
Since this month’s Premier kit, Off We Go by Susan Bartolini, focuses on travel, it’s only fitting that this month’s spotlight is on Premier member and avid globetrotter Shirley Lewerenz, from Huntington Beach, California. (Or, as Shirley’s known in the Digital Scrapper Forum and Gallery, slewerenz.)
Her world travels have been documented in some very creative and artistic layouts!
Here’s a sample:
Gorgeous, isn’t it? We’ll share some more pages as we converse with Shirley about her travels and her scrapbooking journey, too! She took time out from her travels for an interview with me.
JW: How long have you been a Premier member, Shirley?
SL: Since April 2007.
JW: How did you get started with digital scrapbooking?
SL: I had been teaching a graphic program called PrintShop in a community college district (creating cards, calendars, and albums). It had the ability to handle layers and so I was essentially doing digital scrapbooking in a primitive manner, but I had never heard of digital scrapbooking. One day I heard the term “digital scrapbooking” and I Googled it and that was the beginning of a whole new world of working with photos. By that time, I was teaching Photoshop Elements so I could incorporate scrapbooking with my knowledge of editing.
JW: Were you a traditional scrapper before?
SL: No. I had a friend who was trying to get me interested, but I did not need another hobby where I had to store things in drawers or on shelves. I already had many hobbies including sewing, quilting, tole painting, embroidery, etc. that were filling my craft space. When I learned what digital scrapbooking was, I knew that was the solution for making my cards and albums.
JW: Tell us about your travels… where in the world have you been?
SL: My husband I have been to 43 countries on my last counting and will be adding three more, and possibly six, in the next nine months. It would take me too long to list all the countries here, but you can check out my travel pages in the gallery. We have always traveled in the states but didn’t go abroad until 1995. On our first trip abroad, we stepped out BIG. We took a cruise of the Seychelles, the Comoros, Madagascar, and Lamu as well as a safari in Kenya and Tanzania. That trip taught us how to pack light!! Then our first trip to Europe was totally on our own. We followed Rick Steves’ self-guided tour of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. Then we were really hooked!
JW: Was this an extended trip around the world, or lots of individual trips?
SL: Many trips.
JW: Have you always loved traveling?
JW: What kind of camera do you use for your travel photos?
SL: My first camera in 2001 was an Olympus. After that I went through a Canon S70, S80, and then a G7 before I bought a Canon Rebel (this is my third Rebel). I thought I wanted a smaller camera for traveling when we lugged our own baggage and hopped on and off of trains, planes, and subways, so I bought one and didn’t like it as well. Just this week I put all my Canon lenses on consignment at the local camera store and bought a single lens that covers 18-200. Now I don’t have to carry multiple lenses and I pack camera in my purse. So I’ll stick with my Rebel. Yes, it’s more weight, but better pictures.
JW: When you travel, what’s in your camera bag?
SL: My purse is my camera bag. It’s not a regular purse; it is a travel purse (weather-resistant, light-weight but strong, and it has a good strong strap). Along with my camera, I carry a polarizing filter, a lens hood, extra battery, a charger, a polishing cloth, and lots of SD cards. After my fall trip through New England, I learned that I should buy a camera boot so I can shoot in the rain but haven’t purchased it yet.
JW: What are your top 3 tips for traveling with camera equipment?
1. Think light! Multiple lenses are cumbersome and add a lot of weight.
2. Use a good stabilizing lens so you can avoid carrying a tripod.
3. Carry your camera AT ALL TIMES while traveling because you don’t ever want to miss that perfect photo op.
JW: What do you shoot mostly — landscapes, architecture, people?
SL: I love shooting landscapes and architecture. I am not a good photographer of people, but am getting better.
JW: Since you’re a seasoned travel photographer, what tips for successful shooting can you pass along to us?
SL: I am not a great photographer, but I have some guidelines:
1. First of all, read your camera manual.
2. Compose your shots to tell a story.
3. Don’t forget to look up and down. I shoot skies, tops of buildings, grass, cobblestone streets, door knockers, doors, and windows. You may get weird glances from others, but you come away with some interesting shots.
4. Avoid posed shots and flash.
5. Shooting from different angles is always good; different angles add dimension.
JW: What are some of your favorite spots to photograph?
SL: Too many choices!! France and Italy are wonderful for landscape photographs, but exotic places such as India, Peru, China, Bhutan, and Tibet are great for people shots.
JW: What was your most memorable trip, and why?
SL: LOL, again, too many choices! I have good memories of all of my trips, so I think that makes them all memorable. But the most memorable? Probably Peru.
JW: Your travel layouts are very artistic. What techniques or software programs do you use?
SL: I like to use filters, masks, and textures. I also love to incorporate all the wonderful tutorials at Scrapper’s Guide to broaden my skills. I make a lot of tonal changes with Levels (Enhance > Adjust lighting > Levels). Probably my favorite tools in Photoshop Elements are the filters, particularly the Artistic ones (favorite being Poster Edges). I am now into Topaz Labs filters, which are fabulous. They are plug-ins for Photoshop or Photoshop Elements.
JW: What inspires you when you shoot?
SL: It is an opportunity to capture a moment that I want to relive over and over again. It is also a chance to express my artistic side.
JW: Does your photo plan change for every location, or do you look for similar places and scenes everywhere you go?
SL: I never really thought about a plan. I just capture a moment as it comes up. But I do have this ongoing theme of doors and windows. I started that on our first trip (Africa), and everywhere I go I must have my doors and windows shots (and I’ve now added door knockers).
JW: What time of day is your favorite time to shoot?
SL: Late afternoon, early evening.
JW: Will you make a book from your collection of travel pages?
SL: Yes. I first thought that I would have it printed at either Kodak Gallery or My Publisher, but since I will continue to travel and want to add to it, I think that I will have individual pages printed and placed in a beautiful leather binder that a good friend gave me.
JW: Where are you off to on your next adventure?
SL: We leave in a month for Tuscany.
JW: (Gasp!) Tuscany…..!
SL: LOL. When we were there before, we didn’t have digital cameras so now we want some digi-shots. Can’t wait! Then in November we go to Chile, Argentina, and Brazil which is a replacement trip for our planned Japan trip. It’s not a good time to travel in Japan right now, so we substituted this trip. In May of 2012, we are planning to go to Israel, Greece, and Turkey, but that has not been finalized yet.
JW: Sounds like we’ll be seeing some more beautiful layouts from you, Shirley! Thanks for sharing your stories, your travel photography tips and your creative layouts with us! Oh… and if you ever need someone to carry your luggage for you… well, you know how to reach me!
Andrea Graves: I have to say, I’m loving that the fact of only having a non-digital camera when visiting amazing places was reason enough to go back with a good camera! I like the way you think! 🙂 I’m blown away by your amazing photos. You have such beautiful composition in each of them and such a great eye for capturing the most interesting tidbits and angles! Thanks for taking the time to let Jan interview you, it’s been a pleasure to learn more about you, and we’re so glad you’re a part of the Digital Scrapper community!
You can view Shirley’s Gallery here.