Self-taught photographer, Joanne Brown has been capturing images since the time dropping off film for processing was the thing to do.

Her love for capturing images of the great outdoors picked up when Joanne started going on horseback pack trips into Tonquin Valley located in Jasper National Park. 

Since her retirement six years ago, she has taken her passion a little more seriously. "I bought a Canon DSLR and just for a while worked with the lens that it came with and did some landscapes. Then winter came along and although I continued to take some landscapes and pictures of moose and all that, that is when, for some reason, I got into the birds."

Signing up for a bird watching course hosted by Fish Creek Park in Calgary, Joanne says the group ran almost daily during the week and would include visiting a different park each day. "I didn't know Calgary had so many parks, I also figured it would be a lot of little old ladies, but I was surprised to learn it was probably more men than women into bird watching."

Although Joanne had to upgrade her lens, she says capturing imagery of birds through the program was great in many ways. "It was an awesome course; not only are you learning something but you are getting exercise as you are walking for three hours and you meet some people with a common interest."

Now that Joanne has more knowledge in regards to identifying species, an eye for knowing what lighting is needed, and where some of the best sites are, she usually just ventures out on her own. 

Capturing wildflower images is also high on her list of interests, and she enjoys heading out to the horticultural oasis of Reader Rock Garden and the botanical gardens located in Silver Springs. 

While some photographers look to sell their images, Joanne's passion is strictly for hobby. "I do it for personal growth, and sometimes I will look back at my work and think 'oh, I have improved'. I do make calendars and cards, but mostly for my myself and friends, it's not really my focus. Plus I think that it is a really hard way to make a living because there are so many awesome photographers out there."

Photography keeps Joanne fit, continually learning, and appreciative of our great outdoors. Capturing the best images is not something that comes over night but takes patience, time, and a willingness to always self improve. "You can't learn if you don't try, that is the great thing about digital. So what if you take 50 pictures and none of them turn out?! Just delete them, and I will try another day."

As a self-taught photographer, herself, she says the advice she could offer to someone just starting, is just to shoot. "Shoot, shoot, and shoot. Ask questions, I have found that people are so willing to share, read, and they do say some rules are meant to be broken."

Catching birds in flight is something Joanne will personally continue to work on this year as practice makes for the perfect shot. is Cochrane's only source for community news and information such as weather and classifieds.