Hi, my name is Gil Helland and I started this group, the Oregon Wisconsin Photography Group, for many reasons. First, let me tell you a little about myself. I was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and at the age of 21 I joined the United States Air Force, where I spent eight years (two terms) with the military. I was stationed for five years in Oklahoma and three years in Illinois (not far across the river from St. Louis, MO). I learned and worked in the Information Technology field my last three years in the service and continued in that field for an additional 27 years. I retired a few years ago and found myself spending too much time on my computer (habit – haha!) so I volunteered my time at several places in Madison, Wisconsin. Too many hours of travel to and from my residence to the places I was volunteering, fighting the Beltline traffic (if you live in the Madison area – you know what I’m talking about), caused me to re-think my efforts to help with volunteering. At the end of 2018, I had left the five places I volunteered with that year and concentrated my efforts on volunteering in the town where I currently reside – Oregon, Wisconsin.
I reached out to several places in town asking if they needed some assistance from someone who wanted to volunteer with them. I had hoped to assist mostly with IT skills, but open to other opportunities. Here is where I currently volunteer and the tasks I'm involved with:
I really enjoy helping people and organizations and being retired affords me the time to do that. All these things seem like a lot, but being very organized - I've got it all under control and seriously - I still am looking to fill some more of my time. None of the opportunities above take a lot of my time (for now).
So, with my interests in life and experience in the working world – I will be helping organizations and people with several of the things I think I’m good with. Those are Information Technology, Photography, Gardening, Teaching, and being around people. I even owned a business where I made and sold crafts – candles and gift baskets. That business lasted about five years before I gave up on it. As you can see, I have a wide array of interests and experience and volunteering my time with organizations will be a win-win for all of us.
How does this all relate to photography then? I have been taking pictures for more than 55 years. I wanted a camera when I was either five or six years of age and my parents gave me one as a birthday present. I’ve been taking pictures ever since. As a teenager, I was on the photography staff at my high school and even had my own darkroom setup at the house. I learned a lot about photography and darkroom procedures during those years. Through the years I’ve taken pictures of a lot of things, but my interests are Nature and Wildlife. There was a time where you’d almost never see me outside the house without a camera coming along with me. Now-a-days, my cell phone suffices as a quick way to take pictures out and about. I own three other cameras and use them for a variety of things. My Pentax K2000 is one where I use for pictures that I can do setup and take some decent photos. Nature photography is a great example. With this camera, I almost always am shooting in manual. I own a Nikon Coolpix P900 camera and use that for functions and events. If you know anything about the P900, you know that it has a ridiculous telephoto capability and it’s easy for me to zoom in and out quickly. I use this when at events or functions or family gatherings. I’m the ‘family photographer’ for example and take at least 1,000 pictures a year of our family get-togethers. I then share those pictures with family, which has worked out nicely through the years. Family members can enjoy their time at the gathering and not be too concerned about taking pictures – because they know I share those with everyone. Plus, it keeps me out of almost all the pictures (haha!). My last camera is a FujiFilm Finepix F500EXR, which is a pocket sized camera that I sometimes will take along with me in case I will be taking some pictures. It has a small zoom to it and is better than the iPhone I sometimes use.
You might be wondering why I started a photography group, right? Well, my love of photography is high and I like to share information about photography with others. Forming this group will, I hope, give me a chance to be with people who enjoy photography and want to learn and discuss this subject with others. I’m hoping there will be a point where this group will have enough people interested in having regular meetings, outings, and sharing information on not only the website and Facebook page, but also when we get together. There will be some unique things to this group compared to others. First, this is a group and not an organization of any kind or a business. It’s a place for photography enthusiasts to interact with one another to learn and enjoy photography even more. There will not be any membership fees/dues and we will be focusing more on the education and fun of photography rather than being concerned about making money to support a business or organization. I’m hoping there will be a willingness from everyone to share information from experiences and from things found online. There will be a little bit more emphasis on computer technology with this group. We’ll not only have a website and Facebook page, but we’ll be using newsletters, emails, surveys and sharing of photos by way of an online presence. Some of the photography organizations and businesses I volunteered with were (are) run by people who are actually holding back their efforts because of the lack of interest in using computer technology. Yes, photography is our main focus (no pun intended ---- okay, pun intended), but utilizing IT knowledge and skills will benefit everyone in our group. Therefore, you may on occasion see me off on a tangent that is more tech related than arts/crafts related. There is a place for both! As I mentioned, with other photography groups I was associated with, people with closed minds were holding back those groups from really blossoming. With this group, I will do my best to keep an open mind with any ideas, suggestions and/or complaints about what we are doing.
We are all in this together! I don’t mean to ‘slam’ the efforts of any other photography group because we all know things, like things, and do things in different ways. I just find that using computers to advance efforts in our lives is easy and benefits everyone. With that, you’ll find that I include references all over this website for and about those other photography groups, organizations and businesses. People should have choices and if that means you belong to several photography groups – that’s great! One group may have an outing to a location that we all will enjoy or offers a class on a particular topic – so let’s take advantage of that opportunity and participate with that group. Who knows, maybe we’ll have an outing, event or class that members of other groups will be interested in – and join us.
I hope you enjoy the website I put together. Because of my IT skills and building many websites in the past, I was able to create this website from scratch in just a few days – I coded nearly everything you see on this website. I found paying someone to develop and maintain a website to be nonsense considering my IT experience. I found templates online to be expensive, restrictive in nature, requiring coding to be left in place promoting the developer, and more. When I created that website for the ‘Welcome Neighbor Oregon’ program, the woman running it wanted some forms included on the website. Getting a form online, even a basic one, was expensive and restrictive. I simply used Google forms and there are three different forms on that website today.
I’m not an expert – at anything! I know a lot of things about a lot of topics and have some good experience in many fields, but I will never tell anyone that I’m better than you about anything. I can talk ‘geek’ with you, but I also know how to talk in a way to teach computer skills to people and I prefer the latter. I can talk photography with you and get technical or I can just share with you the enjoyment of seeing something fun to take a picture of. I enjoy gardening and wish my backyard was bigger – for more plantings. I worked part-time at Jung’s Garden Center for three years and learned a lot about gardening. I like to teach and looking forward to my time in photography classes and at the ‘Tech Tutor’ sessions. I like helping people get enjoyment from life.
Lastly, in what has become a blog instead of an About Me page, I enjoy these things very much:
If you find anything you’d like to see on this website, an event or outing, a class – please contact me so we can discuss things further.
New Website Launched
March 1st, 2019