Interview with a photographer
Each month I discuss with different photographers about what makes them tick in the world of photography, their influences and how they came about doing what they do.
This month I am talking to Hibernia Landscapes by Stephen Wallace
I am Stephen Wallace, I’m 28 and am from Lisburn. I have been interested in photography for three years and bought my first SLR in 2011. My other interests include music, football, cycling and walking in the Mournes. I work in Belfast during the week and try to get out for photos whenever I can.
You can find me on facebook at www.facebook.com/hibernialandscapes or follow me on twitter @hiberniaphoto
Web site is hibernialandscapes.com
Q1. What or who inspired you to do photography in the first place?
A1. I had a sporting injury (as I often do) a couple of years ago that led to a free Saturday morning and I was at a bit of a loose end. It was snowy outside and so I borrowed my dad’s camera and walked up Divis Mountain outside Belfast to try to get some nice photos.
As it happens, I didn’t take any good photos but I really enjoyed it and decided to buy a small compact camera for about £150 to see if I would keep it up. One of the best ways I found to get into photography is to start a “52 weeks” project whereby you have to try and take one good photo for each week of the year. You really do see the progression over that period. By about June of 2011 and half-way through the project I bought my first SLR.
I also think working in an office during the week means you really want to spend your free time in the outdoors!
Q2. What kind of gear do you use?
A2. Camera body – Canon EOS 550D
Lenses – My prized Canon 10-22mm (currently broken!) and a Canon 18-135mm
Tripod– Manfrotto MH293
Filters – B+W ND110 but nothing else. I should get a UV filter.
Flash – None
Camera bag – Lowepro bag. It’s great.
Mention others, if any. – I would use a Gorillapod when on holiday.
Q3.What inspires you generally when it comes to photography?
A3. As I mentioned earlier, I love being outdoors and a lot of my hobbies such as mountain walking and cycling take me to scenic locations. Part of my reasoning for getting a camera early on was to try and capture some of the scenery I was seeing in the Mournes or when I was out cycling. Landscape photography is a great way to get outdoors and to explore some remote locations. It’s a very relaxing activity though it does require some very anti-social hours! Once you’re getting up for sunrise shots as part of a Saturday morning routine, you know you’re hooked!
One of my passions when it comes to photography is showing a place in its best light. I’m always looking out the window to try and predict colourful and dramatic sunrises/sunsets.
I’m from Lisburn and it wouldn’t be considered the most photogenic town but there are some beautiful public spaces and buildings that people maybe don’t fully appreciate and I also find that photographing a place helps you explore the cultural heritage and the history of a place.
Q4.What does photography mean to you?
A4. I think I am fairly obsessed by photography at the moment! I’m always on google maps trying to search new locations and calculating where a sunrise/sunset will be. A large part of landscape photography is planning which people maybe don’t appreciate when they first try it out as a hobby. Picturing and framing a shot before you even arrive on location helps a lot. Looking at weather forecasts and the phases of the moon for the perfect combinations is another thing that keeps me busy!
You often put yourself in stupid situations to take some photos as you’ve got it into your head that you’ll get a good shot and therefore nothing will stop you. In Thailand I was taking a sunrise shot on a very remote Thai beach, the exposures were long and I was surrounded by about a dozen angry looking and potentially rabid dogs! I really couldn’t wait for the exposures to finish. I’ve also had myself on some very precarious cliff-side locations. You do tend to find yourself ignoring all warning signs such as “Path closed due to landslide. Do not proceed” or standing in nettle bushes in shorts. Climbing mountains in the Mournes in the pitch black is always fun too.
Q5. Which is your favourite lens? Why?
- Without a doubt it’s my Canon EF-S 10-22mm wide angle lens that I would use for 99% of my photos. Unfortunately last week when taking photos on Slieve Martin in the Mourne Mountains a freak gust of wind blew my tripod over with my camera attached. It came down with an almighty thump and is currently in England getting repaired. I miss it a lot!
Q6.What is your biggest accomplishment in this field?
A6 That’s a difficult question to answer as I wouldn’t say I’ve accomplished much…. I’m a big cycling fan so the Giro d’Italia using one of my photos (Mussenden Temple) as part of their promotional activity was pretty cool! Also, 10 of my photos are also now on permanent display in my favourite local restaurant and so I like having a look around at them when I’m in enjoying a steak and a pint!
Q7. Whose work has influenced you most?
A7 The work that’s influenced me most has actually just been other amateur photographers on social media such as Flickr, Facebook and Twitter. I’m sure I’ll miss some great photographers but I love the work of Conor MacNeill (TheFella Photography), Alistair Hamill Photography, Curious Places by Matt Woodhouse and Steven Emerson. They all love shooting landscapes and have the dedication to be at location at the right time. I’ve also been inspired recently by Paul Martin and Martin McKenna who are fantastic at shooting the night sky and the aurora borealis.
Q8. Do you have a favourite time of year for photographing?
A8 I think it’s winter. Summer can have some glorious red/orange sunsets but the sunrises are at stupid hours and night shots aren’t as easy to fit in. Autumn is good for forest shots and waterfalls etc, spring good for bluebells/rapeseed fields. But with winter all sorts of different shots are possible and the sunrises are at 8-9am which is obviously a plus! I love the Mournes in winter.
Q9. What is the one thing you wish you knew when you started taking photos?
A9 How frustrating it can be! And how much patience is required! I’m very impatient and I can get a bit stroppy when a shot doesn’t work out how I imagined it! I think it’s still something I need to learn to accept that you win some and you lose some. But when you get up at 4am, drive to the Mournes walk up a hill because the weather said sunny and clear skies and it’s actually thick grey drizzle, it’s hard to see the positives!
Q10. 35mm or Digital? And Why?
A10. Digital. Purely because I’m ignorant and know nothing else.
Q11. Twitter or Facebook? Why?
A11. I love the reach that you can have with Twitter. A photo can be seen worldwide very quickly whereas with Facebook it’s more friends and friends of friends that will see a photo.
Q12. Among your works, which one is your favourite? Why? (Please supply the photo in low resolution)
A12. I am always changing my mind but I often come back to this photo I took a few years ago.
The photo is of Bád Eddie (or Eddie’s boat) which is a shipwreck of a fishing boat from the 1970s at Bunbeg in Donegal. I took it during my first year of photography as part of my “52 weeks” project so it is quite old now. Each week I tried to represent where I was/something that happened that week. That week my Granny passed away and she was from Donegal. I had to get a photo of Donegal that week.
I got a lot of luck for this shot as back then I would never have researched the weather/sunset locations and had no idea it would work out this well.