Vandergaag’s passion for photography

Long-time member of the West Kootenay Camera Club encourages Castlegarians to join in on the fun

.

Chris Stedile

 

Castlegar News

 

In anticipation of the West Kootenay Camera Club’s upcoming 25th annual photo show, the Castlegar News will be running periodic features on prominent club members. The first entry highlights a charter member, Nel Vandergaag.

“Photography makes you see everything in a different way,” she says. “When I was in a car accident, instead of thinking, ‘Oh God, now what?’ I’m sitting there thinking, ‘This airbag is yellow, that airbag is pink and this airbag is blue.’ You get to really look at things.”

Vandergaag, a veteran photographer, is a mentor to the club’s newer members.

She explains her humble beginnings with the club were accidental.

She took classes in the early 1980s and dabbled in photography for a few years until it came time again to have her spool developed.

“I went to get my pictures developed one time and the guy working there had started a camera club in an old photo shop downtown that’s long gone. He said, ‘Why don’t you join?’ and I thought ‘Yeah, why don’t I?’”

What started out as a simple hobby only grew from there.

Vandergaag has since won numerous awards, ribbons, and special honours. Just the other year, her photograph Looking Across at Lion’s Head was used in the Home Hardware 2014 charity calendar. Over 450,000 copies of the calendar were distributed.

“That has never happened before that’s for sure,” said Vandergaag. “I’ve been judged for 25 years. I once had my Christmas cards chosen by the Columbia Basin Trust. I don’t know how many they print but I’m sure it’s not 450,000.”

She’s never been in it for the money, Vandergaag admitted. She’s sold some pieces but most of her work has been donated to silent auctions and lotteries.

“The nice part about this hobby was I always made just enough to pay for my chemicals. It was never about earning but rather a hobby that didn’t cost me anything.”

The chemicals of course, were used back when darkrooms were needed to produce pictures.

Her husband built her a room in the basement of their old house when she was first starting out over 30 years ago. With the phasing out of darkrooms, Nel chose to donate her equipment to J.L. Crowe Secondary in Trail where it saw significant use over the years.

“I miss it to this day, though. I can’t do my black and whites as well as in the darkroom,” she confessed.

When she’s not out taking field trips with the club, or working on her own photography, Vandergaag is a great help to aspiring camera enthusiasts.

“That’s why you join the club. We all start with lousy pictures and they teach you composition, to keep it simple. I find one of the biggest [mistakes] is people have too much in their pictures. There are two or three pictures in one. I’m always willing to help. Join us, we have a wonderful bunch of people.”

One thing she does caution about is the criticism that can and will be given out. It’s all constructive, but you can’t get better without someone telling you what’s wrong. She says some people just don’t have a thick enough skin for the judging.

In conclusion, Nel’s message was “Photography is wonderful. You really look at things differently and notice so much more.”

 

Just Posted

Nine fires burning in West Kootenay

All fires considered to be lightning caused.

PHOTOS: Castlegar swimmers at Trail meet

Castlegar swimmers took part in the Greater Trail Stingrays meet last weekend.

PLACE NAMES: Rossland neighbourhoods, Part 1

Early Rossland townsite built on top of mining claims

Castlegar mayor releases FCM itinerary

Bruno Tassone delivers promised report on activities at Quebec City municipal conference

Castlegar watering restrictions start this week

No watering or car washing allowed between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m.

10 facts about Father’s Day

Did you know that the special day for dads was first celebrated in 1910?

B.C. VIEWS: When farmland protection doesn’t protect farmers

Secondary residences aren’t mansions, families tell Lana Popham

Bombers down B.C. Lions 33-23 in season opener

Former Lion Andrew Harris leads Winnipeg with 148 rushing yards

Northern B.C. family remembers murdered Indigenous woman with memorial walk

Still no closure for Ramona Wilson’s family 25 years later

B.C. university to offer mentorship program for former youth in care

Students using the provincial tuition waiver program will soon be able to form a community at KPU

You might not know these B.C. records are public

Hired a lawyer to file a civil claim? Those are published online

B.C. bus driver loses case to get job back after texting while driving full bus

An arbitator ruled that Tim Wesman’s phone usage was a “a reckless disregard for public safety”

Revamped B.C. Lions set to battle veteran Winnipeg Blue Bombers

The Lions’ first test of the season will be a big one

No business case for Trans Mountain expansion, says former environment minister

Cabinet is expected to announce its decision on the expansion of the Alberta-to-B.C. pipeline by Tuesday

Most Read