Neil was another fantastic find on 500px. Although he is not a pro his work is of top quality and his advice rings true for any sort of photographer.
Tell us a little about yourself?
I’m a landscape photographer based in Cochrane, Alberta, Canada. I work as an automotive technician, and have been interested in photography from an early age. My location in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies puts me within easy reach of some of the most spectacular landscape there is.
What inspired you to get started in photography?
My father’s hobby was photography and I was lucky enough to grow up in a house with a darkroom where we developed, and printed, black and white images. From day one my biggest inspiration was Ansel Adams. To this day I still revel in a good black and white landscape.
What gear do you take to each shoot and what lens can you not live without?
My main camera is Nikon D700. I vary my gear I travel with a great deal depending on my mode of transportation. My absolute minimum kit is the D700 with an older 28-200 nikkor made originally for film cameras. My large kit includes the D700 body, my 28-200 nikkor, a 70-200 nikkor, a 20mm nikkor, and Sigma 50-500mm. My favourite lens is the 20mm for landscapes. I’d rather not be without it.
How do you market yourself and has social media been an important part?
I pretty much suck at the marketing end of things and that’s probably the main reason I’m an amateur photographer not a pro. I use social media mainly to keep in touch with family and friends.
What’s your favourite photo that you’ve taken and does it have any significance?
My favourite image that I’ve taken is a black and white image of Elbow Falls in Alberta’s Kananaskis Country. All the elements just came together for me in that shot. The sky was fabulous, the weather was perfect, and the light was a photographers dream. This shot has a great deal of significance for me as it was a goal of mine to reach a high level in black and white landscape photography, and I feel that I have achieved that with this image.
Select a photo you have taken, explain how it was taken, and how did you edit it?
This one’s a color image of Elbow Falls. I photographed this one using my Nikon D700, and the 28-200 nikkor lens. I shot three separate images; one with exposed for the highlights, one exposed for the midtones, and one exposed for the shadows. I post I process each image in Lightroom to optimize the area of exposure. For example for the highlights I process the image to maximize the highlight detail, set the white balance specifically for the highlights, adjust contrast for the highlights, and set the saturation for the highlights. I do the same thing with the image I exposed for the midtones, and for the shadows. I then hand blended the images using layers and masks in Photoshop CS5 to get the ultimate image that I had envisioned. The final step was sharpening in Niks Sharpener Pro.
What processing tool do you use and do you believe in the camera doing all the work or in post?
My primary tool I use is Adobe Lightroom. Most images I develop, or process if you prefer, starts off in Lightroom, then into Niks Sharpener Pro, and if it’s Black and White image I’m doing I’ll process it in Niks Silver Efex Pro, or in Photoshop CS5 if I can’t achieve the results I want in Silver Efex. I do believe that your better off to maximize the image in camera first if possible, but I do whatever it takes in post to get the result I want. I’m not a purist despite my love for Black and White images.
Whats your favourite photography accessory other than your camera?
My F-stop Satori backpack is an absolute dream. I spend a lot of time on the trail, in a variety of seasons, and the F-stop allows me to carry all the gear I need for photography, and basic survival, in comfort.
Where do you prefer to post your photos online and why there?
I post my images to two different sites. I post my images on photo.net, and 500px.com generally. These two sites have vastly different audiences, and I can get a real good idea of the appeal of an image from these two sites. Photo.net gets you less comments, but they are usually vigorously critiqued there, any flaws pointed out, and constructive suggestions are generally made. On 500px.com you get a lot of comments, but you get your feedback more on overall numbers in the end. Both are superb communities, and are a very good way to sharpen your skills.
Do you ever get photographers block and if so what do you do to get inspired again?
Certainly there are days that I get out there, where the weather hasn’t co-operated, and I lack inspiration. On days like that I usually switch my mind to black and white mode and see if I can get anything out of that. Often I can come up with a decent black and white image when the weather is drab and overcast. Mostly it’s just a real pleasure to get out and shoot. I have more of a problem limiting my shooting time than I do finding inspiration. In short I love photography.
Is there anything you wish you had done when you first started in photography that would of made a difference?
Well I do wish I’d been born rich so I could afford more gear! LOL. Seriously though I wish I’d got into the Pro world as a younger man.
Any advice for new photographers wanting to go pro?
The best advice I can give is to do what you love. You can’t go wrong there!
Visit Neil Jolly – website