HUDSON — When Michele Barker photographs an animal, place or event, she captures every detail, from every hair on a large black bear’s face to a Gray Cracker butterfly’s exquisite camouflage to a hot air balloon’s extraordinary colors (inside and out).
Fast-flowing water “feathers” at Small’s Falls near Madrid. A man steering his canoe and canoe mate across the falls on Hampden’s Souadabscook Stream puffs his cheeks. A male cardinal spreads his wings as he flares into a landing on a branch.
In these and so many other images, the details and composition reveal that Barker, a Hudson resident, is a professional dedicated to the photographic arts.
Employed in technical support at Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems, Barker said she had always been interested in photography. She said she has been more into it since 2000, when Scott Nadeau, her boyfriend, gave her a new Canon Rebel 2000 SLR for her birthday.
A film camera equipped with a 28-80 mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens, the Rebel 2000 “worked okay,” but “I quickly found myself wanting a better, bigger lens,” Barker said. She soon purchased a Canon Elan 7NE, which also shot print film, and acquired a Canon 28-135 mm f/3.5-5.6 lens and later a Canon 100-400 mm f/4.5-5.6 lens that works with film or digital cameras.
Every dedicated photographer develops an interest in particular venues; for Barker, “I was more into the landscapes at that point,” yet she “wanted to do more with wildlife.”
In 2005 Barker purchased her first digital camera, a Canon 5D. “It was becoming more a need to keep the expenses down,” she said, citing the cost of buying and developing film as a major reason for converting to digital photography.
And once she did, Barker was hooked; there was no turning back to film photography. She sharpened her skills through articles on the Internet, and by looking at other people’s photography. Barker also joined the Eastern Maine Camera Club.
From 2003-2006 she took an at-home camera course offered by the New York Institute of Photography. “The course wasn’t a focus on any one area,” Barker said. “It made you open up and broaden your skills.”
“I received my certificate of graduation in professional photography from them,” she said.
Barker broadened her photographic skills in 2006 by volunteering to photograph LifeFlight of Maine operations and personnel. She also became the photographer for the all-volunteer Hudson Fire Department; “I have a pager,” Barker said. “I go on their calls with them when I’m available.” She also attends fire department meetings and training sessions.
“Almost every weekend and every spare moment I’m out doing photography,” Barker said. She shoots with a Canon 5D Mark III and two Canon lenses, an EF 24-105 mm f/4 lens and the 100-400 mm f/4.5.
“The bulk of my photography is not wildlife; it’s the whole of nature, the scenics,” Barker said. “I don’t consider myself strictly a wildlife photographer.”
Barker has worked hard for many photos, especially those involving wildlife. “I’ve spent many hours waiting for wildlife to do something,” she said before recalling watching a bald eagle that perched in a tree in Orland for two hours. Suddenly the raptor exploded into action while pursuing a fish; the result for Barker was an outstanding one-of-a-kind photograph.
She often waits patiently for scenes to develop. “It’s so relaxing, watching a mother fox take care of her babies,” said Barker about photographing fox kits at play, then suddenly realizing the vixen had arrived nearby. The mother fox examined Barker, decided that she posed no threat, then took care of the kits.
Meanwhile, Barker photographed the action.
“I keep my distance and keep the respect of the animals in mind,” she said. “That’s what a zoom lens is for.”
She enjoys “being able to share those [photographic] experiences with everybody who views my photography. The reality is a lot of people can’t hike into Sandy Stream Pond or get down on the rocks to see the lighthouse” at Bass Harbor Head on Mount Desert Island.
As for a time of day for her photography, “I like sunrises, very peaceful that time of morning,” Barker said. “The sun is starting a new day, and the light is changing all the time.”
She plans her photography expeditions, including a recent Veterans Day weekend excursion to New Hampshire that saw her capture on film a wood duck just starting to take flight. That image has become her favorite wildlife photo.
“Most of the time I take off is for a specific reason,” Barker said. “I shoot mostly alone.”
The images displayed at her website, mbarkerphotos.com, reveal an eye for detail, color and composition, all vital factors in professional photography. Her galleries encompass a broad spectrum of Maine wildlife, landmarks, pets and scenic locations, as well detailed photographs of firefighters in action.
To learn more about Barker’s photography, call 299-6871, email email@example.com, go to mbarkerphotos.com, or follow on Facebook.