I shoot landscapes and wildlife with natural light and spend a lot of time watching how light washes over the landscape, whether I am talking photos or not. More recently I have embarked on iconic architecture putting my own expression to it in image processing. I continue to learn from others while developing my own style. It is important to me to develop my style and vision.
Looking at my work, many images stand alone but often I tend to sub-consciously build a photo-journalistic approach to locations or themes.
I have always taken photos but only really got interested in how the camera worked around 2000. I took an old Canon FTb (manufacture in the early 1980’s) with fixed 50m lens to an introductory photographic class, thinking if I started simple I could build from there.
While I learnt how to use the camera it wasn't until I worked with different focal length lenses that my photography really started to develop, as did my own style and vision.
I moved to digital around 2006 and currently use a Nikon D300s and three lenses ranging from 11mm to 300mm. I also have a 180mm macro lens, which I enjoy.
I use both the macro and the 300mm lenses for my close up work, as they give entirely different blurring effect to the background. The macro completely blurs the background while the 300mm lens gives a nice textured/mottled effect that can complement and give depth to a scene very well.
Backgrounds are very important whether you blur them or give clarity to the whole scene. The choice of lens can be critical in the overall effect you achieve. Knowing your equipment is important, as you can concentrate more on the scene and pre-visualising the image than the technicalities.
The human eye can see approximately twice the shades of light and dark that your camera capture but the problem comes with output, as your monitor can only see half what you capture and paper and ink can only print 75% of that. Learning to evaluate the light range of a scene (i.e. learning to see light) and knowing what you can do in image processing helps pre-visualising the end result.
With broader landscapes I do try to give depth to my images. My wider angle lenses are perfect for this work. I do this with composition techniques of leading lines, balancing an image with near and far features, depth of field, light differentials (i.e. bright spots), etc. I do not like lines that lead you out of the image. I like to have what I call a ‘visual full stop’ at the end of leading lines - you are drawn deep into a scene but stopped in the image. Your eye then works its way around the scene.
I do like sunsets but I try not to take all shots with a silhouetted foreground. I like a spill of warm evening light across the ground to add depth and interest in a shot. You might notice I did not mention sunrises – I am not a morning person.
I would like to say that I study these aspects when I frame a scene but I find most of my shots tend to be intuitive. It is only when I get home and look at them I say – gee wasn’t it good I did ‘this or that’. This probably comes from looking and many images and it is slowly becoming systemic. I have acquired a number of books but look at images in any publication.
I do think it is important to see how others view a scene and I often use the semi-still shots TV photographers/directors use as a dramatic effect. These are short grabs and it makes me evaluate the composition, light, etc. of a scene quickly. I try to work out if I like the shot or not and why. I am sure this helps me when in the field and one of the reasons why my composition is becoming more intuitive.
With my wildlife shots I do try to capture the character of the bird or animal and not just take a trophy shot. This does not always work; often they leave the scene before I do. I normally get some initial record shots away and then continue to work the shot until I get the image I feel reflects the personality of the animal. I also use this technique when asked to photograph people.