Photo Reviewed by Tony & Chelsea Northrup

Getting feedback on your photography is a must for growth, and when it is positive it can really lift your spirits. My fall Dutch still life was reviewed on YouTube yesterday by Tony & Chelsea Northrup, click the link below to view, my image starts at 32 minutes.

https://youtu.be/uKy5HX2T4EA?t=32m16s

Wildflower's Creations History

Wildflower's Creations was started in 1999 as a platform for my artwork. I first started off selling jewelry, then with the recession after 9/11/2001 the business got put on a back burner. Over time I tried to finish my AA in ceramics and transition the business into that but with a work injury affecting my entire right arm in 2004 I was forced to find a new art medium. Over time it became obvious that my new medium would be photography. Photography has a great ability to document history, life events, and the beauty of the natural world. I went back to school in 2011 to get an AA in photography. I finished my photography certificate at Foothill College in the fall of 2014 and I am currently on track to finish my AA this spring. My journey at Foothill College has been a life changing one, as well as an empowering one.

I started blogging for the Boulder Creek Insider( http://bouldercreekinsider.com/author/rachelwooster/ ), a local news blog, in July of 2013 and in December of that same year my first articles were published in the local paper. I am now a regular reporter for the Santa Cruz Mountain Bulletin. A position I never thought I would have, me, someone with dyslexia, learning disabilities, and now physical disabilities (my right arm). I would not be here if I hadn't started blogging, or if Wendy hadn't asked me to start writing for the paper. It still is shocking to me more than a year later.

Now that graduation is coming closer I am finally going to be able to focus on my photography. I am planning on writing tour guides and other educational materials. With my writing skills and photography skills intertwined I will be teaching others about the beauty that is all around us. Continuing to inform the local community with my reporting for the paper. As well as serving my clients with their photography needs (portraits, product, and weddings).

These next dozen posts are going to be the articles of mine that have been published since December 2013. Enjoy reading through my journey as a reporter, seeing some of our local happenings, and the wonders of the Santa Cruz Mountains. May the journey never end!

SCM Bulletin - Artwork For Change

Newspaper, Santa Cruz Mountain Bulletin, “Artwork For Change”, Boulder Creek CA, Volume 3, Issue 10, Art & Music page 14, author & photographer

Searchable PDF image of printed article

Santa Cruz Open Studios is a wonderful annual event were you get to meet and see artists in action. The artists in the Santa Cruz Mountains don't always get the same amount of attention as those in Santa Cruz. So to change that I did two things, first did a blog post on Boulder Creek Insider listing all of the artists, making them easy to find in the sea of artists in this event, second I found an artist in our mountains that I thought had the strongest message this year. It was an honor to write about Marc Shargel, point out his countless hours of volunteerism, and his mission as an artists. The article below tells a little of his story.

Open Studios is a way for the public to get a glimpse into the diverse world of the artists that live among us, and this year is no exception. The San Lorenzo Valley has 22 artists participating this year in Open Studios Art Tour sponsored by the Santa Cruz Art League. For a full list of these artists visit www.BoulderCreekInsider.com.

For me one artist stood out from the rest, Marc Shargel. He shows us how artwork can make positive change in the world. He is a photographer and conservationist based in Felton. He has been here for 30 years, been diving for 36 years, and been a professional underwater photographer for 26 years. In that time he has seen progressive change in the oceans and volunteered countless hours to protect them. His focus has been the California coast which has had marine reserves since 1973. In 2000 he started his conservation endeavors helping to form two marine conservation organizations. From 2004 to 2006 he served on a state panel that was charged with creating a network for marine reserves along our entire coast. These marine reserves are like small refuges in the oceans were marine life can breed and grow old. Some marine life such as rockfish have to reach 40 to 50 years old before they are in their breeding prime, thus making these marine reserves very important for diverse and healthy ecosystems.

He did not stop there though, with the marine reserves now in place scientists needed to study them to see if they were effective. Not all of the marine reserves were implemented as advised, so he turned to art once again and started writing books to communicate to decision makers and the general public their importance. To date he has four books published, three in the Wonders of the Sea series, and his most recent Yesterday’s Ocean which is a history of marine life on California’s central coast. All of his books do a wonderful job of combining his underwater photography with historical images and easy to understand factual information to inform the reader and show them what is at stake.

Scientists now feel that the marine reserves from Mendocino county to Santa Barbara have been successful. In the rest of our coast however, (from Mendocino county to Oregon and Santa Barbara to Mexico) the marine reserves are spaced too far apart and are too small to be effective.

Marc is now expanding the focus of his art beyond politics to the public. He wants to communicate the amazing beauty of our coast to as many as he can. As the person who has seen the changes in our oceans for almost four decades he now wants to share that more intimately with the general public. He is having his first ever underwater photography class in February, to show people hands on what he has seen and learned. He also is continuing with his books, canvas prints, and postcards to get the word out there. To see his artwork, register for his upcoming class, purchase his books or other artwork please visit www.LivingSeaImages.com.

SCM Bulletin - China through local eyes

Newspaper, Santa Cruz Mountain Bulletin, “China through local eyes”, Boulder Creek CA, Volume 3, Issue 7, Art & Music page 15, author & photographer

Searchable PDF image of printed article

At first I was hesitant to write this article. I am not one to toot my own horn, I would much rather be in the background. I was quickly convinced to do so since at the same time I had a gallery show going of my China work. The best way to get the word out there to new viewers is through the news.

Also on my return home from China I was quickly reminded of how beautiful and amazing the place I live in is as well. As you will read in the article I am planning on writing travel guides for Zhangjiajie, China as well as our local state park of Big Basin. Since this article was published I have made some good strides towards my travel guide for Big Basin and I am hoping to have something to show the public by the end of this year.

Show Page - Huangshan & Zhangjiajie, China, Photographs of Land & Culture

Zhangjiaie, China Portfolio

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Rachel Wooster. I am a photographer, writer, college student, Godmother, proud Boulder Creek resident, and now a traveler. Earlier this year I took my first trip outside of North America, and traveled to central China. This trip was a lifetime in the making, growing up our family had foreign exchange students from China and I have always been interested in eastern cultures and religions.

I traveled with my photography professor Kate Jordahl, Oliver Klink, the owner of Incredible Travel Photography, and nine other experienced world travelers. We spent eight wonderful days exploring the Zhangjiajie area of Hunan, China, including Tianmen Mountain and Zhangjiajie National Park. Zhangjiajie is China’s first national park established in 1982 and became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992. A photograph and small article about our trip was featured in the local paper.

The landscape of this region is absolutely breathtaking and these mountains were the backdrop for the movie Avatar. The area is filled with sandstone pillars which go straight up for thousands of feet. On Tianmen Mountain the path you walk on is made of concrete and rebar and was constructed onto the side of the mountain. You don’t actually walk on the mountain itself, but around the mountain, with nothing below you for thousands of feet. All of this was made by hand and all of the materials were also carried by hand. It is not a hike for the faint of heart! I tried to keep my mind focused on what I was photographing not on what wasn’t beneath me. The highlight of Tianmen Mountain is the gateway, which is a natural opening in the mountain.

Zhangjiajie National Park is almost twelve thousand acres and has over 30 million visitors yearly. We were there during their off season and the park was still filled with thousands of people everyday. Each day consisted of waking up around 6am or earlier, walking five to seven miles a day of stairs, taking around one thousand photographs a day, and hopefully going to bed around 10pm. It was an exhausting trip, and completely filled with inspiring cultural and visual experiences. Even on my last day on top of the mountain I still could not believe sitting there, that it was thousands of feet straight down. There just aren’t any mountains like this in North America.

Initially when I returned to the States I wanted to write a travel guide, with maps, photographs, and basic information about the area. The travel guides I purchased for China before I went there only had four pages on Hunan China and they didn’t even mention anything about the Zhangjiajie area. The internet isn’t much better, there are some pictures and maybe a paragraph or two. Most people who travel to this area either have to have a private guide as we did or do group tours because there is no good guide for Chinese, Japanese, or Korean speakers, which are the three main groups of tourists.

I have found that this same problem exists for Big Basin and many other state parks in the Santa Cruz mountains. I haven’t been able to find a good travel guide in print or e-text. The closest I have come is BigBasin.org and it has excellent reference information, but almost no pictures. So I am now embarking on writing travel guides for local locations as well as foreign. The trip has really taught me how little public knowledge there is out there about many parks and I am hoping in the coming years to change that. I currently have my Tianmen Mountain portfolio done, and am hoping to have a Big Basin portfolio done by the end of the year. Then the process of writing will begin.

Two of my images are currently on display in the Krause Center for Innovation gallery in Los Altos. It is a group show which ends September 26th with a closing reception. This experience has been amazing, but most of all it reminds me of how lucky I am to be living in a redwood forest in such a progressive and inclusive community.