Photocrowd winner Simon Lewis talks light painting, benefits of the digital age and being overwhelmed by the amount of photographic talent on the Internet.
Simon won the Crowd Vote in Photocrowd's The Great Brtish Journey contest with his image titled 'The Hill'. Here Simon kindly answers our photography questions as part of our weekly interviews with Photocrowd members.
1. How did you get into photography?
I only took up photography last Christmas when I was lucky enough to be given a Sony bridge camera by my partner. I had expressed an interest before, but this was my first "serious" camera that would require a bit of learning to get the best out of it. I quickly realised that I was thoroughly enjoying taking pictures and very soon outgrew the Sony.
2. How often and when do you take photos?
I like to use my camera as much as possible now, and one trick I have very quickly learned is to always have my camera with me! Some of the best shots you can take are the impromptu ones that you didn't planning. Whenever we have a day out now I always pack the camera bag first. I also like to go out shooting with a friend of mine around once a month doing light painting photography.
3. What is your technical set up?
I now have a Nikon D7000 which is still a fantastic camera and suits my needs and skill level perfectly. My lenses are a Sigma 17-70mm, Nikon DX 35mm 1.8G, a Tamron SP90 272E 90mm macro lens and a Tamron 70-300mm Telephoto lens. All are fitted with UV filters to protect the lens.
My tripod is a Benro and is suitable for most outdoor shots. Other tools I carry around with me are my selection of torches, EL lights and wire wool for all the light painting shots I do.
There are some very odd-looking gadgets amongst them but they are vital for getting the best shots. I shoot in RAW format mainly and use Photoshop CC to process and tweak my shots.
4. How do you educate yourself to take better pictures?
I think one of the best ways to learn how to take better shots is through trial and error. I am pretty much self-taught and have only been a photographer for a little over a year.
The internet has a vast source of information on photography with many sites dedicated to giving tips and advice on improving things like composition, getting the most out of post-processing etc.
I also read a lot of magazines which have loads of little lessons in them that help to expand your shot taking ability whilst also learning to understand the set up of those particular types of shots better. I would say I am now a competent picture taker but I am still looking for my own particular style. The benefit of the digital age of photography is that it allows amateurs like me to have a much easier route into the hobby than has ever been possible before!
5. Whose work has influenced you the most?
Well, to be honest there are so many great photographers out there today that I couldn't name anyone in particular. Access to incredible photographers and their work is so easy that you can be overwhelmed a little by the sheer amount of talent out there!
6. Among your works which one is your favourite and why?
I think my shot of Pulteney Bridge in Bath is my favourite. I never get tired of looking at it. Conditions were not perfect for me the night I took it. It is comprised of two exposures blended into one, which taught me a lot about improving a shot in post-processing. I also like the one of a fairground ride entitled 'Light of Speed' as it’s the first one that was featured in a magazine!
7. What do you get out of being a photographer?
I think for me it is about unlocking my creative self. I have always been artistic and I find channeling that through my pictures very rewarding. I can see myself improving all the time. I have recently got a macro lens I have some ideas I want to try out using it. I also like how being behind a camera helps you meet a lot of new people and make new friends too. The one thing I do find myself doing now is always looking at things and asking myself "Would that make a good shot?' It drives the family wild on days out! But ultimately I just really enjoy the hobby.
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