Another great find from 500px, Greg happens to live in a beautiful part of the world, capturing some stunning landscapes among other things.
Tell us a little about yourself?
I’m 31 years old, born and raised in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Northeast Tennessee. Although my degree is in computer engineering, I have focused more on photography the last several years.
What inspired you to get started in photography?
In 2001 I attended a seminar and received a free digital camera (a Dimera 3500). It was quite primitive, .35 MP and only the most basic of functionality. At the time though I thought it was the most awesome thing in the world to snap pictures and be able to download and see them right away on your computer screen. I was hooked.
What gear do you take to each shoot and what lens can you not live without?
I always have my camera, 18-55mm, 55-250mm, graduated neutral density filter, 2 polarizers, remote control, tripod, and headlamp. Along with some miscellaneous things that have found their way into my camera bag over the years. The landscapes of Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia lend themselves well to photography, so I would have a hard time without my 18-55mm lens, although my 55-250mm is indispensable for general use.
How do you market yourself and has social media been an important part?
I often get approached with questions and comments by people when I’m out photographing, so I always have my business cards with me. And I always try to take time to talk with people, because you’re selling yourself as much as you are your photographs. While there is certainly value in that kind of tradition offline marketing, you can reach a much larger audience online. Consequently, the vast majority of my marketing is via social media.
What’s your favourite photo that you’ve taken and does it have any significance?
My favorite changes from time to time, but currently it’s a black and white I took in 2010. It is a photo of a couple of fishermen silhouetted against the fog on a summer evening. I actually ran into them one year later at the same spot, almost to the day the photo was taken. I talked to them for a while and one of them ended up buying a print of the photograph.
Select a photo you have taken, explain how it was taken and how did you edit it?
This photo was taken very early on a frosty November morning last year. I got up about 5:30 that morning to beat the sunrise. When I arrived at the location it was still dark, everything was covered with a layer of frost, and I noticed the mist rising from the surface of the lake. I took many shots before and after sunrise, but this one was taken just as the sun rose over the horizon and back lit the mist. I used my graduated neutral density filter upside down to keep from blowing out the highlights on the bright mist. In post I used the adjustment brush in Lightroom to further bring down the highlights, added some fill light for the shadows. Then some noise reduction and sharpening. And finally, converted it to a sepia tone that I thought fit the mood of the scene.
What processing tool do you use and do you believe in the camera doing all the work or in post?
I shoot exclusively in raw format, so my photos require post processing. There are people that insist on doing everything in camera, but I’ve always looked at raw files as raw material to be shaped into my final photographs. It certainly is important to get the things that you can’t change later (or easily) in editing right in camera, such as depth of field, motion blur, composition, and the exposure right so that there are no highlight or shadows issues beyond the limit of recovery in your raw converter. I use Lightroom for most of my editing tasks, and Photoshop for compositing and the heavier editing that Lightroom isn’t capable of doing.
Whats your favourite photography accessory other than your camera?
My graduated neutral density filter. It really helps even out exposures, and if you cover the lens with the darkest part it doubles as a regular neutral density filter, allowing for longer exposures.
Where do you prefer to post your photos online and why there?
I’ve been using 500px primarily for the past several months. Photos generally seem to get more exposure there, and the design of the site and presentation of your photos is, in my opinion, more professional than Flickr. I’ve used Flickr for years though and it’s good for posting general photos.
Do you ever get photographers block and if so what do you do to get inspired again?
I have had photographers block on occasion over the years. It doesn’t happen very often since there is always something new to try in photography. A new editing or shooting technique, a different way of looking at subjects, a new location, or just go for a walk in nature and you’ll invariably find something to photograph.
Is there anything you wish you had done when you first started in photography that would of made a difference?
Honestly, not really. If anything, I would have wished to discover photography earlier in life.
Any advice for new photographers wanting to go pro?
Just keep going, keep shooting, learning and practicing. There are so many photographers these days it’s very difficult to get noticed. And as I mentioned earlier, you’re really marketing yourself as much as your photographs.