1) How did you start in photography? What got you involved?
I’ve had a love for photography most of my life as my mother was a wonderful photographer in her own right during the 35mm film days. When I was a child our family spent many vacations traveling around the country enjoying beautiful vistas, particularly in the southwest…so I grew up knowing the difference between “snapshots” and “photographs”. However, it wasn’t until about 4 years ago when I was finely able to afford really decent camera equipment that the quality of my photography dramatically improved…that and the addition of good editing software.
2) Is there something that attracts you specifically to landscape photography?
I love to travel and to be outdoors, so landscape photography fits into that niche nicely. There are beautiful landscapes almost anyhwhere, and I pride myself on seeing things that perhaps others might not. Photographing landscapes allows me to capture the wonderful things I see so that I can take them home with me. I have a particular love for ocean and sunset photography, mainly because the “mood” of those subjects is constantly changing. And even better, landscapes usually require no special lighting equipment or makeup, and most of the time they stay in one place!
3) What is your favorite lens and camera?
I recently upgraded to a Nikon D750 DSLR and absolutely love it. Despite the infinite buttons, dials and menus, it’s intuitive and fairly easy to master. I just recently purchased what I consider to be my “all around” lens: a Nikkor 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 zoom. It has the versatility to be a great wide angle lens and powerful enough to zoom in on that elusive animal off in the distance.
4) Can you offer any tips to other photographers for a great landscape shot?
Landscape photographers often have the advantage of returning to a particular location at different times of the day (or night) in order to capture a scene under different lighting or weather conditions. However, since you can’t always count on a sunset, or beautiful clouds in the distance, or a sky that isn’t dull and gray, there is a lot of luck involved as well, not to mention patience! Shooting ocean scenes either in the early morning or late afternoon almost always, in my opinion, provide the absolute best lighting, which in turn reduces the amount of post processing that would otherwise be required to make an average photo into a great photo worthy of hanging on a wall. It’s also important to note here that when shooting in low light conditions, a tripod is an absolute must. It is virtually impossible to get clear, good quality photos if you are trying to shoot handheld after the sun has gone down.
5) What is your typical photography workflow? What software do you use for post-processing?
After downloading my photos (always onto a 2 tb external hard drive), I always cull my photos and delete those that just aren’t good candidates for editing, usually due to poor composition or other factors. The ones I feel to be of “editable quality” I put into a separate folder of their own. I almost always start editing in Lightroom where I adjust for exposure, contrast, clarity, shadows, etc. (I am still currently using Lightroom 4 which I feel does everything I need it to do). I then send the photo into Photoshop (I use CS6) where I do most of my final editing. Lately, I’ve also been experimenting with compositional layering and photo artistry, so depending on the photo I might go a step further and do some fine tuning using the Topaz filters. The Topaz modules are powerful editing tools that I feel are worth mentioning because oftentimes they can help further elevate your post processed image.
6) What is your secret to the beautiful beach photos?
The photo of the foamy waves was taken late one afternoon on a small, infrequently visited beach near Santa Cruz, California. The beach is surrounded by high rocky bluffs on both sides which force the waves onto the narrow sandy beach area, often creating an opportunity for some wonderful surf shots. On this particular day, we just happened to be there when the surf had created wonderful sea foam. The harmless foam, we later learned, was caused by decaying organic matter (and most likely the dead algae blooms that have plagued the Pacific coast for several months) that mixed with the salt water and was then churned up by the heavy seas from recent storms. It’s a phenomenon that isn’t very common and was a sign that the ocean ecosystem was returning to a healthy state. It never seemed to do the same thing twice. It was just by chance that I was able to capture this “angle” shot of the foam when the retreating water was forcing it back to the surf line. The photo was taken handheld without a tripod. There was still plenty of light so with my ISO at 1000 I set my camera on manual an used an aperture setting of f/11 and shutter speed of 400. The sky was still a bit stormy looking but I was pleased when some natural light rays played on the rock stacks at the surf line. I did some minimal post processing in Lightroom with this shot to bring out the hint of color in the sky, and to add a bit more contrast and clarity to emphasize the foam.
The photo of the beach with the shell was taken in Maui on a very warm September morning…I purposely got up early so that I could photograph the beach without having to worry about any people wandering into my shots. I took this opportunity to use my tripod so I could use a slow shutter speed and my circular ND filter in order to get the best light, color and the soft, almost ethereal mood of the breaking waves in my photo. This shot was taken at f/22 at an 1/8 of a second using an ISO of 100. For effect, I layered the seashell onto the beach during post processing as I felt it made the scene more interesting.