World class photographers are rare, and a lot of the time people assume that such mystical beings probably only exist in exotic locales, many miles away -- at least in terms of where they live. The actual taking of the photos in exotic locations themselves? Well, that’s just part of the job description.
Melville photographer Tracy Keretesh is decidedly more local, at least in terms of where she domiciled. That having been said, she’s taken plenty of pictures in exotic, faraway locales.
Her photography has been featured pretty much everywhere.
National Geographic, one of the time-honoured litmus tests as an indisputable mark of success in the photographic community, has published her pictures. Harley Davidson has run her work in HOG Magazine, the classic roadster manufacturer’s official publication.
The CBC also featured a spectacular image -- itself taken in Melville -- a magenta hued tendril of lightning captured perfectly in a storm cloud over the town.
Today, however, the locale remains in the Parkland, the subject itself being the province.
Tourism Saskatchewan, which holds its ExploreSask photo contest every year, receives thousands of entries showcasing the natural beauty of the area to bolster tourism. As one can imagine, the competition is quite stiff. Thousands of photographers send in stunning images --- one after another, to the point where it can feel difficult to stand out.
It often is.
The images are spectacular as a matter of course. There is no shortage, and the judge’s job is not particularly enviable, either. Trying to pick the best out of the tidal wave of spectacular images is virtually impossible.
Keretesh, however, captured the judge’s attention. Her images were selected by Tourism Saskatchewan for December.
Yorkton This Week caught up with Keretesh where she told us a little bit more about her craft..
One of her most famous images is the lightning image, and that’s one of the ones she talked about first.
“It’s the Canon fisheye,” said Keretesh of one of her special lenses.
“I had the Canon 8-12mm lens. I went out to do lightning that day so I wanted as big a sky as I could get. I’ve got, oh, I don’t know...five hundred lightning pictures from that day? Once I got through that, I didn’t have any other lens to go through. My cell phone picture was much closer than that – you know how wide a cellphone picture is.
“As soon as I got through it [the storm], I turned around, took a picture of it and I sent it to Sean [a friend] because I thought it was a hail core -- the white line, since it was hidden in rain. I was like, ‘where the hell are you’, because he followed a different cloud that day. He said, well, where are you?’”
He found out soon enough – she was a little too close to the storm clouds for his liking.
“He says to me, ‘Get the hell out of there!’ Well, I had already kind of gone through it,” Tracy laughs.
“I was down by the dome – the place out of Yorkton. So anyways, that guy that [has] that farm that’s in there, he lost the greenery in front of it. You know the big steel shed? That was no more after that [storm]. I mean, the storm died after that; I chased it down to Churchbridge from there. That just was weird, because I woke up the next morning and Toronto was phoning me; Calgary was phoning me. And I mean, Shawn had chased from here to almost British Columbia and back, and he’d been out for five days. I got up that morning with the family sitting at the lake, came back, was having a nap and the storm was over the house. So I left, and twenty minutes later I got the tornado, past Ryan Crouse [another storm chaser]. My thinking though was that if Ryan Crouse wasn’t going any further, I shouldn’t be going, either.
“He was on the side of the road right at the Sakimay reserve, and I went up to the dome. I had it on a tripod. I have a time lapse of all of that somewhere.”
Keretesh claims modestly, “I was just lucky with that lightning bolt on the tornado.”
Another famous image is the eagle.
“What I thought was really freaky was getting that eagle. I got three babies in the nest this year, but last year, since I just spent so much time out there she just got used to me.
“I took a biologist out there, Adam, from here in town and he texted me and says one day, ‘I’m a retired biologist and I have been photographing eagles and banding them for forty years,’ he says.
“‘How are you getting pictures of these eagles?’ he asked me. ‘Because it looks like you’re right next to them. How far away from the nest are you?’ I said, ‘Oh, I don’t know. Probably, twenty yards at the most? I’m on a bit of a hill, and I’ve got a fairly good telephoto.’ He asks me how far away is the mother. I say maybe about 30 feet, and he asks me, ‘and she doesn’t fly away?’ I said no, she’s sweet. She preens herself, she cleans herself. He says, ‘You’re joking.’ I say no, not at all. You can come out with me if you want. It’s private land, I’m the only one that has access, so come with me.”
Sure enough, the biologist tagged along.
“I parked the truck, but I didn’t have a good angle so I moved the truck. I moved it forward, I moved it back to his side of the window opening...and she [the eagle] slept through the whole thing.
“He said, ‘I can’t believe you can get this close.’
Keretesh also had her famous bison image, as well as one of a dancer, selected in the 2019 ExploreSask photo competition as an honourable mention. Canon Canada also recognized the bison image.
You can find out more about Tracy on her website: http://www.tracyportraits.com/ . She can also be contacted at (306) 730-8117 and is available for photo bookings.