Interview With Landscape Photographer Sandra McMartin

This evening I’m pleased to introduce the readers of my blog to photographer Sandra McMartin. Sandra’s photography is very enjoyable, and I like several of her “painted landscapes” like the one I’ve shown above and this powerful photo. She also has beautiful macro photos, like this one.

Sandra was willing to do a short interview for my blog:

1) How did you get involved in photography?

I have had a camera for as long as I can remember.  I have undeveloped film in a draw from when I was 10.  I have been the family historian, documenting the unfolding of our lives. Truly though my current growth has really been facilitated by the introduction of the digital SLR into my life.  I am a visual learner and being able to see immediately what changing my aperture, shutter speed, and ISO does to my image, has catapulted what would have taken photography school to learn, to learning by playing.

2) What is your favorite camera/lens combo?

Honestly it changes daily.  I have a number of different lenses, one body.  I shoot with a Nikon D7000.  I have the kit 18-105, 50 1.4, 55-300 Nikon lenses.  Then I have the Sigma 10-20 and the Macro 105.  I also have two Nikon D700 flashes and a number of softboxes and umbrella’s.  I shoot a lot with flash.  I like to use the wrong lens usually and see what happens.  I recently went on a portrait shot and shoot with my Sigma 10-20, with me lying on the ground shooting up.  Loved what it did to the perspective of the model.  I truly wish I could have a favorite, then I could leave my bag at home, as it is I always carry everything with me and return home with very sore shoulders.

3) What software do you use for post-processing? What is your post-processing workflow?

I shoot RAW, and start by processing in Adobe Camera Raw.  From there it really depends on the image. I use Photoshop Creative Cloud as my base program and then use a number of different programs.  I may do tone mapping with NIK HDR or I have developed a number of my own presets in Topaz Simplify.  I use all the OnOne modules, as well as Alien Skin.  The most import thing is how you finish your image with the correct sharpening, vignette and sometimes a border.  I blend all the different effects with the goal of no one being able to identify which effect I used.  I don’t want anyone to say, oh I know that filter.  I have all the Nik modules, all the Topaz modules, all the OnOne, Alienskin Snapart and Exposure, and Corel Paint Shop Pro X6.

4) What tips would you offer to rookie photographers?

Get out and shoot as much as you can.  I try to shoot 500 plus images a week.  Join a photo club or meetup group.  Join on-line groups where you have to post images by a theme.  I have found that the people who get better are actually out taking pictures!  The more varied you can be at the beginning the quicker you learn.  Even if landscape is your love, learn macro and portrait.  The skills you learn will make your landscape photographs better.  For example, you may not use a flash in landscape photography, but if you do portrait you may, then you take the knowledge and apply it to your landscape work, and all of a sudden your images are different.  Learn the rules so that you can break them effectively.

Personally I prefer to shoot alone.  I like to immerse myself in the environment.  I find I take better pictures when I am not distracted by social interaction.  Plus I can stay until I am satisfied that I have gotten every last shot there is to get.

5) If you could change one thing about your own photography, what would it be?

Wouldn’t change a thing except maybe be more free, experiment more, shoot into the sun, cut the tops off trees!  Having been a part of a photography club for the last three years where we competed monthly, with a pretty defined set of rules, I am determined to unlearn every rule I have ever learned.  I would like to approach my photography more as a painter.  My sister is an incredible painter and she see’s composition so differently than me.  She has painted a number of my photograph’s and it is interesting to see the difference.

6) Are there any new photography technologies that really excite you?

I update my software regularly.   I am always on the lookout for new post processing programs.  I love photography because it gets me outside in nature, but truly I LOVE working on my images.  I love the possibilities of what I can do once that image is on my computer.  So I will throw the question back at you, any programs you see missing from my digital darkroom that I really should have?