What’s your background?
I’m a 30 year old self taught frontend web developer and photographer based just outside of Derry City. I’ve been interested in photography since I was about 17 (2003) but never actually used a DSLR camera until middle of 2013 when I decided to spend a month’s wages on a Nikon D7000. I think it’s safe to say that it was a good risk as I’ve been completely hooked since!
I left my full time frontend web development job at the start of November last year so I could concentrate more on my photography.
Tell us what a light and snow chaser is? How is it going for you?
Photography is all about capturing the right light and if you can use it to your advantage, you’re halfway there to producing great imagery! I would say that I’m keen in making sure I shoot in the right light, whether that is before/during sunrise/ sunset or it could be on those days where we get plenty of showers in between the sun!
I like rainbows so I will always take advantage of those showery days where there is plenty of sunshine and plenty of showers – and just a tip… rainbows always appear 180 degress of where the sun is so keep an eye out for those showers!!
Some people will call me stupid, others admire my passion for the white stuff! I gotta say my most memorable moment was in April 2013 in the Antrim Glens chasing snow at 2am in the morning! Blizzard conditions, no one else about, snow drifts covering the roads, snow drifts maybe 10 foot high and almost getting stuck in the hills and having to do probably a 150 mile detour to get home because the road was blocked by fallen trees and snow drifts!
I guess since then I’ve found myself with a severe attraction/obsession to the arctic regions and hope someday soon to be able to go and spend time there.
In the meantime, I will have to settle with just chasing snow here in Ireland! Where there is snow, I will try to be there!
How do you do astro photography?
It simple terms it you need clear skies (rare here in Ireland) a fast lens, a tripod and the ability to do long exposures! Obviously it’s not as simple as that but it would require an entire article on it’s own to learn! Want to learn In detail? I hold night sky workshops where you can learn how to photography the cosmos! Come along to one of my night sky workshops I hold regularly! (See here for details).
Mullaghmore Million Star Hotel, Donegal, Ireland
Downhill Demesne, Co Derry, Northern Ireland
Mussenden Temple Aurora, Co. Derry, Northern Ireland
What camera(s) do you use? Which do you prefer for which occasions?
My main camera is a Nikon D610 with either a Nikkor 14-24 or Nikkor 24-70 attached to it. I would use the camera on my Samsung S5 to take images of behind the scene and more recently I’ve purchased a GoPro Hero 4 for some video work. My 14-24 f2.8 is used primarily for my night shots and my 24-70 would be used for most of my day shots!
What are your favourite shots, why?
My favourite shot would probably be the next image I take! But seriously, this is a hard question to ask any photographer, I’ve got so many images I’ve taken over the last few years it would be hard to narrow down my favourite but I’ll choose 5 recent images from both Ireland & Iceland I do love, but my best of the best are probably all on my website!
Vestrahorn, Stokksnes, East Iceland – this was the reason I went to Iceland, I seen a picture of this mountain and it just asked me to come and visit it, so I did. Sitting here at 12am, with my girlfriend sipping on a few beverages was just complete bliss.
Kirkjufellsfoss and kirkjufell Mountain, Snæfellsnes Peninsula, West Iceland – I took this on the last night of my week camping trip around Iceland, couldn’t have asked for the light to be any better.
Slieve League, Donegal, Ireland – if you haven’t seen these mountains with your own eye then it is hard to explain just how big these sea cliffs are, they are the tallest in Europe. The textures, the ruggedness, the way the setting sunlight hits the rocks, just perfect!
Marble Arch, Horn Head, Donegal, Ireland – Remember I said earlier about how light is everything in photography? I had this astro image planned for a long time and just as recently as 2 weeks ago everything was perfect for the shot to be taken -, clear skies, gentle to no breeze, and a moon to light the landscape.
Lough Auva, Donegal, Ireland – I took an image here back in February 2014 but the light in the scene was very poor, wasn’t any real depth to the image, just looked flat. I got a chance over the weekend to head back here and managed to get the scene in better lighting conditions, although with a slight worse for wear pier. The orange on the left of the image is actually the sun starting to rise around 5:30am with the stars and also the moon.
What gear do you use that helps you on location?
This probably doesn’t help me on location, but it helps me when getting to some locations, it would be F-Stop Tilopa bag! It’s probably the best thing I’ve bought – after my camera of course!! It allows me to carry all my camera gear, tripod, and camping kit on my back with comfort, and the bag itself is 100% waterproof so protects all my gear.
Emerging tech, what new things are you using?
I use Google Maps/Earth a lot when scouting out potential photography locations. Sometimes that location could be off the beaten track and hard to find. I’ve recently got myself a Suunto Traverse which is a GPS outdoor watch with versatile navigation functions for hiking and trekking. It has also sunset/sunrise times and storm alarm.
The watch allows me to transfer over my location using topographic maps which I can then navigate to using the watch, the other interesting feature it has is it allows me to save POI (points of interest) which are added to a google map which I can then checkout in the future!
The other thing I’m using is a Peak Design Capture Clip Pro, so many photos have been missed because my camera has been in my bag, the camera clip pro allows me to have my camera attached securely on my cameras back pack strap.
Have you used drones yet to take pictures, is this an area you might do more of?
No drone usage yet, but it is something that I hope to get sometime this year. My only issue with the drones is that I can’t use it for any commercial use unless I’ve done a course which is around £1500! (ed. about half the price of that with iFlyTechnology)
DSLR vs smart phones, pros and cons from your point of view?
The only time I use my smartphone is when I’m taking a behind the scene shot or I don’t have my camera with me (which is rare). With my S5 I can’t control much about the image, I can’t shoot in raw, they don’t have very much dynamic range, and generally the picture quality is poor compared to anything I shoot on my DSLR – I want to maximise the quality of my images!
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?
Call me old fashioned, but when it comes to family time I intend to try and enjoy the moment more than snapping a picture, I want the memory to be in my head and not a picture I share with the world. I see it everyday, I watch other people’s children grow up on social media, their first steps, their first tooth etc – those moments should be stored in your head.
Now this isn’t to say you shouldn’t take pictures share it with people, there is a time and place for everything. For example, my own daughter has special needs and at times could be in hospital with a serious health issue or she could be getting an operation. Rather than having to repeat to people how she is getting on, I will upload a picture or a status updating all my friends and family on how she is getting on!
It’s also a good way of documenting her life and being able to show her them when she is older.
You sometimes have to learn when to put the camera down and as you say, enjoy the moment, time and place for everything, just don’t over do it!
Anything else we should have asked you / you’d like to add?
Just a bit of advice for beginners really, Rome wasn’t built in a day and it takes time to learn how to use your camera and also to follow the basic rules!
Don’t sit in and read tutorials all day everyday, the best way to learn is to get out there and just take pictures, take a picture everyday, keep shooting shooting shooting! The good thing about the digital age is that you can see the pictures instant on the back of your camera or phone, if you don’t like it, you can just delete it.
Practice, practice practice!!
Where can you find me?