Gallery Member Spotlight - rjvc

In a brand new series, we cast the spotlight on members of the PhotographyBLOG Gallery and ask them about their photography. The sixth member to sit in the interview chair is rjvc.

Rachel Scott-RenoufWhat do you enjoy most about the Gallery?

There are two things I like about the Gallery which stand out for me. The first (which is the selfish option) is the chance to let other people see my photos and give their views on them. The second (and slightly less selfish option) is to be able to look at other peoples photos and, where possible, give my own views or guidance. I use the word selfish not in a bad way of course, as I'm sure the majority of members, like myself, log on with the prime purpose of reading the feedback on their latest upload. It is good to get feedback, both positive and constructive, and to be able to see what others think about your photos. I am grateful to everyone who leaves comments for me, and so I do try and give clear and honest feedback to others as well. The fact that I am able to see other peoples work in comparison to my own gives both the opportunity for me to help others and also to learn from them.

Do you think being a Gallery member has helped improve your photography?

I have been a Gallery member for just over a year now (when I bought my digital SLR) and I feel that my photography has benefited greatly from it. Before that I had tinkered with photography over the years, but never that seriously. I do have a film camera but used to waste that many shots that I gave up for about 10 years. I think digital was invented for me! So, as a relative newbie I have had a lot to learn and have found this site to be invaluable. There are so many little things that I have learnt from comments left for my own photos as well as from comments left on others. Just looking at members photos can give me ideas and inspiration for my own shots.

Rachel Scott-RenoufNature is obviously your favourite topic - what is it that interests you so much?

Photographing nature for me can be a means of escaping the normal humdrum 9 to 5 grind. On saying that, I have always been interested in nature and wildlife and would never miss the likes of a David Attenborough special. In the past I would have made done with watching television programmes or looking at other peoples photos in books; but now, photography has given me the impetus to get up off the sofa and go and capture nature myself. Since my parents retired, they have joined the National Trust and the RSPB. This has given me the opportunity to visit many places in Northern Ireland that I hadn't even realised were on my doorstep and which offer the chance to see nature and wildlife up close and personal.

Having no garden and working in an office 5 days a week means that the weekends are my only opportunity to photograph nature. This means that I now appreciate my surroundings more. I can think of nothing better than heading out to the country and spending several hours meandering through forest or field with camera ready to capture landscape or animal. The escape I mentioned in the first line has become a sort of catharsis for me. I suppose I have become more at one with nature. Now I can sit for an hour or two with my camera at the ready just waiting for a bird to land on a twig in front of me. Even if one doesn't come along, I know I will be back all to soon to try again. Nature can unearth a patience deep within, it can dissolve time and envelope you in its beauty. And not forgetting - richly reward your new found patience with a wonderful photograph.

Rachel Scott-RenoufWhat kind of equipment do use now, and what did you start with?

I currently use a Canon 350D with a Canon 17-40mm L and a Tamron 28-300mm XR DI. I also have a Sigma EF-500 DG Super Flash Gun. I have no real problems with this camera and the pictures it takes. The only niggle would be that it is a little small for my hands. It is not uncomfortable by any means and is very portable, but having tried a 20D recently, I found that it did fit much better in my hand and felt more comfortable. Ideally I would like to get a Canon 30D but I am in no real rush and am content to wait for the price to drop a bit.

Presently I am toying with the idea of buying a lens for wildlife photography, as the 300mm end of the Tamron doesn't quite give me enough. I do have a x2 kenko MC7 teleconvertor which I have tried to use on this lens but I am not that good with manual focusing yet. From reviews I have read, 2 possible options are the Sigma 50-500mm or the Tamron 200-500mm, but as yet I am undecided. My first camera was an Olympus Trip 35 which I really enjoyed using. I then bought myself an Olympus OM10 which does take good photos (when they are in focus!).

Have you sold any of your Gallery photographs?

Having only been taking photos for a year or so now, I haven't felt confident enough yet to attempt to sell any of my photos. To be honest I wouldn't even have a clue where to start. Yes I would love to sell some of my photos, but it still feels more like an ambition rather than a reality at the moment. I have read how successful Tootsie has been and so can see that it is possible. At least I have something to aspire to.

Rachel Scott-RenoufWhat is the one piece of advice that you would give to other budding photographers?

With the advent of the digital age, I would guess that most budding photographers would have a digital camera. I have found their versatility over film cameras to be of great advantage to me personally and a great help to making me a better photographer. As such, the piece of advice that I feel most comfortable giving would be simply to take as many pictures as you can. When you see what you think is a good shot don't just set the camera to automatic, point it and press the shutter release and move on. I know this is the easy option sometimes but it really wont let you expand the potential that the camera offers. I would suggest taking 10 or 20 shots of the same scene (I have been known to take double this!). Change the ISO, change the shutter speed and the F-stop. Take one with a little more sky and a little more ground. Zoom in a bit and zoom out a bit, move to the left a fraction then to the right. Try it kneeling down or lying down if possible. The list could go on!

Basically, and this is speaking from experience, you want to give yourself the best chance of capturing the best picture. This is where the digital aspect comes in the most useful. It is always easy when sitting at your computer to delete all the out of focus, overexposed etc. images - but it is not always easy/possible to retake a photo if you get it wrong. I also find it useful to check the properties of the good images to see what settings I used. From this you can see the results of what a certain Fstop or shutter speed gives you.

You can see more of rjvc's photographs in this User Gallery.

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