Yosemite Conservancy
Autumn Light Outing, October 22-25, 2016

Participant Profiles

Bill and wife Judy Cormier live in Valencia, California. Judy was raised on a farm outside Marshaltown,Iowa, before moving to California as a legal assistant and to attend college. Bill was born in Los Angele and grew up in the San Fernando Valley. They met at UCLA where they both worked and where Bill went to school. Judy was a financial analyst and is recently retired. Bill, a lawyer, is still at UCLA heading a compliance investigation unit, but will be retiring soon. Both are interested in photography as hobby. ]

Judy has been into video photography for several years now but considers herself still a novice. She will be carrying her Canon Prosumer video camera, but she will also be carrying her Sony RX100point and shoot camera and she is hoping to improve her basic camera skills with that in Yosemite. Bill will be carrying a D800E and a D810 and has been a Nikon camera and multi-lens user since acquiring his first Nippon Kogaku (Nikon) Nikkormat FTN while in Southeast Asia in 1966. Bill likes landscape photography but time with his DLSRs has been limited mostly to a few travel weeks a year with Judy. He plans for that to change and his photography skills to improve when he is retired.

Judy and Bill are both reasonably adept using Adobe editing software, Elements and Premiere Pro for Judy and Photoshop and Lightroom for Bill. Both are looking forward to meeting the group and improving their photography skills with the “Autumn Light” team in Yosemite NP.

Betty Hovenden: For years I enjoyed point-and-shoot photography with my Olympus Stylus 9000 and used Windows Movie Maker to put together various DVDs of vacation pics. That all changed in a big way back in February when I decided to “take the leap” into DSLR territory with a Nikon D5500. Thrilled with my new acquisition, I enthusiastically sent my sister Judy, who is also attending the workshop, a photo of some blooming azaleas taken from our backyard. Those two decisions have started me on a wonderful photography whirlwind adventure of learning and exploration. Judy was finalizing her daughter’s botanical garden wedding, when her photographer fell through.

Right about then, an azalea photograph appears in her inbox and a light bulb goes off in her head. Judy is well acquainted with my point-and-shoot work, so suffice it to say after a brief bit of panicking on my part, I began to get acquainted with my DSLR in a very big way. Gulp! In case you are wondering, the wedding photographs turned out rather nice, though that started me on an additional leap. Besides giving my niece and her husband copies of their wedding photos, I also wanted to make a special wedding DVD for them. So, I upgraded from Windows Movie Maker to Pro Show Producer. 

Fortunately, I have the time for these learning curves, as well as currently taking two photography classes over at our local community college. You see, I retired a bit early in life from a highly enjoyable teaching career. I taught primarily 6 th grade in elementary school in LA and then switched over to 6th grade core in middle school after relocating to the Bay Area. I have many treasured memories of my students, including an opportunity to take a group of my LA students to Yosemite through what was then the Yosemite Institute and is now the Nature Bridge program.

This will be my third Conservancy workshop I have attended with my sister Judy. I am greatly looking forward to learning more about photography in a place I dearly love and have been visiting since I was a toddler.


Jim Becker: I retired from my 38-year career in engineering a little over a year ago but have had a lifelong interest in photography as a hobby. I started using my first (Kodak Brownie) cameraat age 6, graduated to an Argus 35mm rangefinder at age 10 and set up a darkroom when I was in high school. As a recent convert to digital photography, I’m still getting used to auto-exposure, auto-focus and auto-white balance. I’m looking forward to new cameras when they introduce auto-composition and auto-critical moment functions.

I mostly enjoy scenic, architectural and concert photography but lately have been working on more street/people photography. I’ll occasionally take on a paying gig as an event photographer. Earlier this year I fulfilled a long time desire by going on a photo tour of Cuba. For me, this was the trip of a lifetime.

I am always looking forward to more photo adventures. I am a long time Nikon user, but lately have been shooting a lot with Fuji mirrorless cameras. Being an old guy, I still prefer cameras with knobs and dials to those with multi-level menus.

You can see some of my photos on flicker at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jcbecker1/albums/with/72157666814756736. Or you can find me on Facebook by searching for Jim Becker in Torrance, Ca.

Mark Leatherman: I am a retired middle school science teacher from Washington, DC. I shoot with Nikon bodies and lenses: D750, D7100, 16-35mm F4, 20 mm F1.8, 50mm F1.4, 70-200 F4, and 200-500 F5.6.


John Beach: I am 63 years old, am recently retired and live in Reno. I have been shooting digital photographs for the past 10 years after a hiatus of several years from film. I consider myself a serious amateur and am comfortable with technical aspects of the photography. I most often shoot landscapes, landscapes with the moon, architecture, nighttime, and, occasionally, action and portraits.  I can take and process reasonably-well composed photographs, am trying to get to the next level, working on composition and style, and refining my photographic voice. I currently shoot a full-frame Nikon DSLR.  I have a rather ramshackle Flicker site here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jfbeach/ .  

In addition to photography, I enjoy skiing (lift-served and backcountry), hiking, backpacking, and mountain biking.  Most of my career was as a environmental toxicologist working with hazardous waste site cleanups.  Over the past 3 weeks, I have been enjoying the fall colors of the eastern Sierra with 2 backpack trips and a 3-day expedition to the Bridgeport area, camera in hand, of course.  A photo of myself is attached.  

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I'm Judy Ghormley from Marietta, GA. I'm looking forward to attending the October Light Photo outing with my sister, Betty Hovenden. Photography is one of my hobbies. I've greatly enjoyed taking pictures all of my life but have only recently become more serious about developing my photography skills. I've taken a photography class at a local college and am looking for opportunities to broaden what I have learned. 

I'm originally from Southern California and love Yosemite. I can't think of a better place to learn more about photography than at Yosemite through the Conservancy. My attached picture was taken this past May when I attended one of the other Yosemite Conservancy outings.

Outside of visiting Yosemite whenever I can, I work in the procurement organization in the aerospace industry. I love to travel, engage in artistic activities and to try new things. I am also a musician, playing oboe and English horn in two local community orchestras and piano.  My husband (who is traveling to Yosemite with me but not attending the workshop) is retired from the aerospace industry.  We have two grown children.  

I am looking forward to meeting everyone and to the undoubtedly awesome October Light Photography Outing!

Mike Stone: I am from the Chicago Metro area and I work as a law enforcement officer for a municipal agency. I have always enjoyed photography and have learned a great deal over the past couple of years by challenging myself.  This will be my third workshop with Dave. Participating in these photography workshops has greatly enhanced my abilities to properly compose and "see" my subject matter before taking the shot.  I am ready to challenge myself further and think outside the box in how it relates composition. 

Bill Gilles: I have been taking photos with many different cameras since the days of Kodachrome 25 and 64. I have been using Canon cameras for a long time and currently use a 70D for my main camera and G7X for a pocket camera and I mostly take pictures while on vacations and of my family. I would like to improve on integrating people and backgrounds into a better composition.

For a while, I have used the mnemonic of IPA to try and remind myself about my goals before each shot. So I try to think about making the picture interesting somehow, so that others will be excited about the picture too. Then I try to remember to include people in the picture, which I often don't do and then wish I had. And lastly, I try to remember to using different angles of the shot (POV) to also make it more interesting. So sadly, I forget one or all of these for most of my pictures. I am looking to improved my pictures and their composition. Open to all suggestions.


John Stalmach writes about his photography that it’s “about capturing light. I have been at it since 1967 when I took a photojournalism course at the University of Texas at Austin. 

Took a break to raise a family; did some photography for work, but was primarily a graphic designer and editor.

Got back into it in 2011 following retirement, and this occupies about 35% of my time now.

My name is Walt Richardson and my wife Tanya Richardson are planning on joining you and the group this month.

I am a hobbyist photographer – getting back to the hobby after several years without shooting.

When I was in the Navy I was a broadcast photo journalist, but that was a long time ago. Vietnam to be exact. Shot a lot of people and activities – some under combat situations.  

I am retired from self-employment – we distributed video and computer based training programs to the Fortune 500 corporations, government and education etc.

Tanya, my wife is coming along mostly for the ride – photography is more my hobby than hers. She is interested in learning, but more to visit Yosemite.

Dennis Stover: The first 35mm camera I picked up was back in the late 60’s. Shot film up until Nikon introduced their Coolpix 880 camera back in the 90’s. 

After that purchase I sold all my film equipment. I specialize in Spherical Panoramas. These are the type of interactive pictures that give the illusion a web camera is floating in space and you have full rotational and some zoom control.  

I have been going on trips with Ken and Dave for years. Each time I learn something new. Here are some panoramas from the various trips/vacations I have been on:  http://dlsphoto.net/Panoramas.htm.

Since I have a Machinist background I make just about all the hardware required to shoot panoramas. Have lunch with me and I will share some photos on my tablet from previous trips.

Rob Simmons and Diane Wardrup: We are from Austin, Texas. I have been doing photography since I was a kid. I have had some of my work in galleries and done some commissions as well. I have worked with musicians such as Kenny Chesney and Everclear as well as featured on the Travel Channel. I will shoot sports and wildlife and concerts with my digital setup but for landscapes I will be bringing film. I also do astrophotography as well. 

Diane is learning photography and actually has a very good eye about composition. I have helped her get off of the Green Camera Auto setting and she is learning how to shoot with the A and P and M modes.