- Category: Interviews
- Published on Tuesday, 03 May 2011 20:54
- Written by Super User
- Hits: 903
Interview with Mike:
I know that each photographer must have several lenses and/or cameras; do you have a certain preference pending on the genre you’re shooting? What are they?
For my nude work I prefer a 70-200mm F2.8 lens but will occasionally use a 24-70mm at about 50-70mm for a closer more intimate perspective. I am a Canon user and these are the Canon L series lenses and they are both great lenses. I use the 24-70 for the majority of my landscape work also - it works for me and I only occasionally go wider with a 17-40 F4 lens [also and L series lens and very nice]. For all that work I use full frame digital cameras - either the 1Ds Mk3 or the 5D Mk2. When shooting my wildlife work I obviously use longer lenses. I used to use a 600mm F4 but more recently I am shooting more easily approachable subjects - e.g. birds at the coast and I use a 300mm F4 or a 100-400 F4.5-5.6. Again all are L series lenses and are superb.
What would you say would be the essential kit of lenses that any self-respecting photographer should have?
I think it really depends on what you shoot - you can never have enough lenses though in my thoughts as they all do different things and allow different ways of thinking. So, if you shoot Fashion you may not NEED a 600mm - but you could use one to great effect for a different type of shot!
The difference between many artists that I have seen and your photography is that the people have so much life and expression in their faces. I see photographers digitally manipulate their models to the point where they look like dolls. How much manipulation do you do prefer to do with your models?
I try to do very little - I like my models to be real people in real situations whatever they may be. I was always influenced by Bob Carlos Clarke who shot amazing, sexy, erotic pics of real women. There is a lot of manipulation going on out there to make the girls skin almost plastic looking - it makes them look unreal. I will of course clone out the odd spot or blemish and occasionally soften the skin areas slightly but I still want them to look natural.
When shooting nudes, how much natural light do you prefer to use? Do you try to work around the light or manipulate it to your liking?
For the most part I try to use natural light. Because of my background in Nature and Landscape photography I am more at home with natural light. I do occasionally shoot with studio lights or bounced flash but I really like daylight where possible. I will try to use daylight by itself both indoors and outdoors where possible and do different styles of image depending on the quality and quantity available.
What do you look for in the model when casting?
I like models that look as natural as possible but I do like them to be well toned [but not overly muscular]. I do like models to be well proportioned - again natural as much as possible. Other than that I look at their previous pictures to get a feel for how comfortable they look shooting nudes [and in general - that is the most important thing by far. I don't shoot very explicit style images but occasionally models who do that regularly can be much more comfortable shooting any nudity as they have no hang ups about being nude for the camera. That is not to say that other models are not but the more experience they have the more comfortable they usually are.
Lately, with the release of the newer, bigger and greater DSLRs, a lot of photographers started shooting on Automatic settings. With your photos, did you switch to Automatic or do you still use fully Manual? Why?
I shoot both. Some situations make it easy to shoot auto as the camera meters correctly - other situations e.g. backlight or a large really dark background with light toned model in front make the camera meter incorrectly by quite a lot - in these circumstances I meter manually so that I don't have to push files too much when converting from Raw.
I have noticed that your nudes are all taken in Black and White while your Landscapes and Wildlife are all in color; any particular reason?
I prefer people shots in Black and White for the most part and particularly nudes. I don't really do Glamour nudes which are mostly done in color but try to do either Fine Art or Erotic style pics and for me they are always better in mono. For my landscape and nature work I favor color but do shoot some mono landscapes and probably have quite a lot which aren't up on my website yet. I am currently shooting some work on film again - in mono!
When you first started out with photography, did you have a favorite subject that you wanted to shoot? What was it? Has it changed since then?
I was always interested in nature and birds particularly but all wildlife. I still love this but also enjoy my landscape and nude work now. I am looking at a portrait project also at the moment. I don't really want to be labeled as a certain type of photographer - just a photographer.
What program(s) do you like to use to edit your work? Any particular reason?
I just use Photoshop and use Adobe camera Raw for raw conversions and Bridge to sort stuff out. I have been using Photoshop since version 3 [that's 3 not CS3!!] and have never really bothered with anything else - just kept upgrading [Adobe should make the upgrades cheaper] as it improved. I think that if you find a method that suits you its fine to just stick with it.
One of my favorite shots that you have, one of the newer ones, is the Nesting Gannet. Can you tell me what it took to get that shot?
It was on the Saltee Islands in Co Wexford here in Ireland where there is a large Gannet colony. It didn't take as much planning as it looks perhaps as the birds do this protection thing all the time as other birds pass their nest. I did not want to disturb the bird too much so just moved in a little close once with the camera on fast motor drive mode [pre metered and set on manual exposure] and when the bird lunged hit the button. I moved away straight away after this. It worked well but it has disappointed me since as I have seen a number of amateurs copying it and they have not been as worried about the bird - I have had reports of photographers practically sitting on the birds nest to make them do it and for a long period of time. This is bad so the picture has been a little bit of a double edged sword!
There is a lot of competition out there, what did you do to break away from the pack considering all the competition out there?
Just try to find different and new pictures all the time - and be as technically good as you can while doing it. Look for strong graphics in images whatever the subject - get the viewers’ attention!
If a person has never picked up a camera in their life, but wanted to get into photography, what advice would you give them?
Look at the best photographers in the world and see what makes the images work - then go out and use all the best techniques you have found - but do not copy them - find your own style and specialize in one genre to make your mark.
At this point, we would like to take the time to sincerelly thank Mike for taking his time to answer our questions. We hope you find this interview as interesting and enlightening as we did. We are really looking forward to seeing more of his work in the future.
Serge and the Unhive Team