The winner of a total of 112 Photocrowd awards (to date) including first place in our 'Flowers' contest, Kathy Medcalf is a worthy member of our Top 1000 photographers. Today, we speak to her about photographing nature, exposure techniques and early influences.
How did you first get into photography?
I’ve always had an interest in photography and studied it during my time at art college, however my real photography journey started in 2008 when I purchased my first DSLR.
You have some stunning photos of natural landscapes. In what way does the environment inspire you?
I’m inspired by extreme weather so it’s only natural that the weather plays a huge role when it comes to capturing the right conditions. I’m not afraid to face the extremes in the hope that I might be rewarded. Not always does it pay off, but when it does it’s the most gratifying feeling!
A lot of your pictures draw on dramatic natural features such as mists and clouds. What techniques do you use to capture these?
l usually do plenty of research before I head off to a location so I'm well prepared, I also keep a check on the weather forecast in hope of good conditions. When capturing clouds I use ND filters to add drama to a scene. Filters give me the freedom to control longer shutter speeds and capture a more dramatic image. Mist can be difficult to shoot, a scene dominated by light and bright mist is likely to fool your camera’s metering into underexposure. To battle this I add exposure compensation if it's needed.
Last year, you won our 'Flowers' contest with a gorgeous picture of a poppy field. What was the story behind this photo?
I was visiting Northumberland and heard that Bamburgh was home to a natural conservation area, and a selection of flowers which are not normally native to the coastline. I discovered these beautiful oriental poppies and attempted to capture them at sunset but the light wasn’t right. The next morning I waited for the sun to rise up over the dunes so I could capture the poppies waking in their first light.
Is there part of your photo equipment that you consider essential?
I think it all depends on the image I’m trying to capture. I’d definitely be lost without my tripod, also my ND filters are a necessity when capturing longer exposures.
Are there any particular photographers or visual artists who you take inspiration from?
Absolutely! Every photographer takes inspiration from others at some point during the early learning process. For me, my early influences were Mark Mullen, who’s landscape work gave me the inspiration to leave my comfort zone and get out into the landscape and experiment with long exposures. And Ged Hickey’s work inspired me to be more creative and shoot with extreme wide angles, his images of Yorkshire in the snow are among some of my favourites!
Are there any other Photocrowd members who you admire?
I think the work of Henrik Spranz is truly inspiring. With his creative and personal style, Henrik captures the personalities of wildlife to create dreamy images that are simply delightful to view!