A local photographer had one of her pictures chosen to be a Ducks Unlimited Hunting Dogs Screensaver.
"More than 300,000 DU supporters across the country will have the opportunity to download this screensaver and enjoy your photo on their desktop," an e-mail informed her.
Louisa Hickman's photo is one of 15 hunting dog pictures on the Ducks Unlimited Web site for free download. It is of her two granddaughters' golden Labrador retriever puppies sitting side-by-side in a chair.
"I think from the standpoint of being an amateur photographer, anytime you put things out there and people like it, and they buy it or it's a screensaver, then it validates what you do," Ms. Hickman said. "It's just a nice reflection that people enjoy what I'm doing. I know that I'm doing something right."
Because she grew up showing dairy cattle, Mrs. Hickman said she understands the types of posture and poses that make a good animal picture. Since the puppies were so young, Mrs. Hickman said she chased them around for about five minutes to wear them out before attempting to take their picture.
"So they would sit still and they wouldn't be chewing on each other ... and once I got them in the chair, they stayed put and I talked to them and took pictures and they stayed still long enough for me to do that," she said.
The puppies were a gift from Santa to granddaughters Maecy Meadows, 7, and her sister Ciara, 10. Mrs. Hickman said Santa left the girls a note on Christmas morning saying their puppies were not yet born, and he would let their parents know. Santa kept his word, and they arrived in May.
A longtime McDuffie County resident, Mrs. Hickman said she has been a photographer "it seems all my life." She started in the 1980s and even had a darkroom for black and white developing and printing. Since then, her talent and creativity have grown with the help of digital photography and the editing program, Photoshop. She used those skills to create small bandanas bearing the Ducks Unlimited logo for the puppies to wear in the photo, which she took with a Cannon digital SLR camera.
"There's just so much out there that you can do. I tell people that for me, it is a hobby I can never outgrow," she said. "I can always improve. There's a challenge to it. I cannot ever imagine it being boring. I just couldn't get tired of it. I guess it really is a passion."
To view Mrs. Hickman's and the other hunting dog screensavers, go to www.ducks.org and click the "multimedia" tab and scroll down to find the "free DU screensaver wallpaper downloads" link. To see more of Mrs. Hickman's other works, along with that of other McDuffie artists and photographers, go to www.mcduffieartscouncil.org.