What’s your background? How did you move into what you do now?
I’m a photoblogger based in Sligo. I started taking photos in an Internet group in 2007. We were taking a photo a day for a year. The others fell by the wayside but I was firmly bitten by the photography bug and it’s now a passion of mine. I started the blog in 2009 at the time I had a little compact camera, followed by a Fuji bridge. A few years ago I persuaded Canon to lend me a DSLR because I’d never had a try of one. They sent me a 1000D, followed by a 100D and also a Legria. Last year they sent me a Canon D30 (waterproof camera – which I loved!) I was blown away by the quality of the DSLR and of course had to have my own. I’d like a 750D, that’s on the wish list at the moment.
What do you like about Irish landscapes for shooting pictures ?
I love the way the light and the whole feeling of a landscape can change within a matter of minutes. We also have such beauty all around us which I think some people don’t see. Each trip out is an adventure, you never know what you are going to get. In particular I was on my way to Ballina when two wild goats appeared in the middle of the road – of course the camera was with me and I had to stop the car to get a shot.
What camera(s) do you use? Which do you prefer for which occasions?
I have a Canon 100D with a zoom lens which is great in low light and just being inconspicuous. I also have a little Nikon S33 which is a waterproof camera and is handy for snorkelling and other water adventures. I’ve just got a Fuji S1 bridge camera, which I’ve yet to test out properly. It’s weatherproof so I don’t have to worry about the rain. It also has WiFi so I’m looking forward to putting it through it’s paces. I have to say I love my Huawei P8 phone too, the camera on it is brilliant.
What are your favourite shots, why?
It’s hard to pick favourites, it would be like picking a favourite child! The one that went viral was a snowy photo of Gleniff Horseshoe here in Sligo. It was just a quick snap I got with my phone during a blizzard, I was trending on Twitter for a few hours!
What gear do you use that helps you on location?
I have a little gorilla pod which I find really handy. I can’t be bothered lugging a big tripod around with me. I now have a waterproof coat too as I was always getting drenched. I have a few little mobile battery packs too and a netbook so I can upload quickly.
Emerging tech, what new things are you using?
The WiFi on the Fuji S1 is new to me. I can also use my phone as a remote control for it, so that’s pretty cool.
— Val (@magnumlady) February 7, 2016
What tech do you wish was already available for you to use?
I’d love a drone and a GoPro. I’d love to have a try of all different cameras, I’m a real technology geek. Most women go window shopping for fashion, you’ll find me in a gadget or camera shop. In an ideal world I’d like to design my own camera so I could have all the features I like.
Have you used drones yet to take pictures, is this an area you might do more of?
I’ve never had a go of one and I’d really love to. I went on a couple of flights over Sligo and love aerial photography so a drone would be amazing. I photographed a derelict stately home and one of the owners had a drone. It got some amazing footage.
DSLR vs smart phones, pros and cons from your point of view?
The Huawei P8 smart phone really does have a great camera and I can just stick it in my pocket. Of course it doesn’t have the manual features that a DSLR has but it’s handy to have around, great to be able to upload to the Internet as well. The DSLR can be heavy if you are carrying it around with lenses. You’d never get up close to wildlife with a smart phone though. Going back to the Gleniff photo I took a shot with the DSLR and the phone…the phone was the best one! Also for photographing street scenes no one looks twice if you have a phone.
— Val (@magnumlady) February 8, 2016
We take more pictures, we share more, do you feel sometimes we are over documenting and not being in the moment? What’s your take on this?
I suppose a lot of my style of photography is documentary and I’m at my most comfortable when I’m behind my camera, so I don’t think I’ll ever change. It is nice to go out with friends and family and just talk though instead of snapping everything! I don’t get the point of people who go to concerts and see the whole thing through a phone or camera, it sort of takes the fun out of things – and 9 times out of 10 they are miles away from the stage so they are just filming a blob.
Highlights of my photography have been having some photos shown on RTE weather and in national papers. I also had a couple featured in America and Taiwan. I won the Rabodirect #Tweetiepic category in 2013. The Daily Edge listed me in the Top 25 Irish Instagram accounts to follow last year.