Correct me if I’m wrong but I don’t think we have had a Pentax shooter on RAW before. Not that it really makes much difference but I always find it fascinating to see what camera system someone decides to use.
Tell us a little about yourself?
I am a visual person.
I started taking pictures in the late 60s, I started doing photography in the 1970s. My development continued through the early ‘80s, in college at St. Lawrence University, and as a photographer’s assistant for Michael Furman Photographer, Ltd. ( http://www.michaelfurman.com/ ) in Philadelphia. After college I moved to Vermont and first worked at a ski resort. Next, I worked as a resident hall director at Johnson State College prior to attending the University of Vermont where I earned a Masters of Business Administration degree. I married my wife in 1988, the same year I opened Advantage Video. From 1988 to 2008 I produced videos as owner of Advantage Video, LLC. While that was my vocation, my avocation has always been still photography. After 20 years it was time for a change, so I closed the video business and decided to focus on photography in 2008.
I see in color.
I appreciate beauty, and I try to convey that appreciation in my photographs.
What inspired you to get started in photography?
Photography has been part of my life for as long as I can remember. Beginning with instamatic cameras in the 60s, then an Argus C3 hand-medown from my father, and in the late 70s, a PENTAX K-1000, I’ve always had a camera nearby. The positive feedback I received for the pictures I took encouraged me to get better. While working in Philadelphia I had the opportunity to meet Ansel Adams at a book signing. His work has impacted me greatly. His composition, lighting, and craft have inspired me to emulate him.
Most recently, my choice to switch from video production to photography was facilitated by the availability of affordable digital SLRs that finally exceeded the resolution of 35mm film. I love being able to control the entire process of photography from the click of the shutter to the print on my Epson 4880. I’m an artist, not a chemist.
What gear do you take to each shoot and what lens can you not live without?
My location kit includes two Camera Bodies:
PENTAX K5 and PENTAX K20D
Eight Lenses & Adapters:
PENTAX DA * 16-50mm F2.8 ED/AL (IF) SDM – This is my workhorse!
PENTAX DA * 50-135mm F2.8 ED (IF) SDM
PENTAX DA * 200mm F2.8 ED (IF) SDM
SIGMA 70mm F2.8 EX DG Macro
SIGMA 50mm F1.4 EX DG HSM
SIGMA 50-500mm F4-6.3 EX DG HSM
SIGMA 10-20mm F4-5.6 EX DC HSM
SIGMA 2.0X Teleconverter EX APO DG
Each lens has a Promaster Digital Circular Polarizing filter
Hoya HMC ND400
Hoya HMC ND8
Tamrac Expedition 6x camera bag
Manfrotto 3221WN Tripod with a Manfrotto 322RC2 Grip Action Ball Head
Often I carry my GigaPan EpicPro, as well.
How do you market yourself and has social media been an important part?
My online presence includes a website www.stephenbeattiephotography.com, a redbubble site http://www.redbubble.com/people/stephenbeattie, a 500px site http://500px.com/StephenBeattie/photos, a Model Mayhem site http://www.modelmayhem.com/1956884, a facebook fan site https://www.facebook.com/pages/Stephen-Beattie-Photography/74336426441, and you can follow me on twitter.
I’m a member of several professional arts organizations here in Vermont, and I exhibit in galleries and art shows throughout the area.
What’s your favourite photo that you’ve taken and does it have any significance?
“Catching Rays, Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA
This is arguably my favorite image. It combines the first light of dawn with the otherworldly scenery found throughout Yellowstone, and for all the visitors who photograph this area each year I’ve yet to see an image that captures Mammoth as well.
Select a photo you have taken, explain how it was taken and how did you edit it?
This image combines 40 separate exposures into one 240 megapixel photograph. First, I received permission from the U.S. Coastguard to stand on the breakwater. Then I brought my GigaPan EpicPro out to the the area directly across from the central harbor. I stood out there for several hours shooting various panoramas. This was the final panorama of the evening, a 5 by 8 matrix, shot with the 200mm lens and my K5 body.
The images were stitched together using Gigapan Stitch software and lightly massaged in Photoshop CS5. The massages included cropping the overall image and tweaking the contrast.
This photograph won Best in Show at the 2011 Lake Champlain Maritime Museum – Lake Champlain, Through the Lens photo show.
What processing tool do you use and do you believe in the camera doing all the work or in post?
I use DxO as a RAW loader most of the time. I always used it when I shot with the K20D, but have found the RAW images from the K5 don’t require as much tweaking as the older body. I use Photoshop CS5, but I generally don’t add or subtract elements in the images. I take responsibility for everything in the frame before I release the shutter. I compose my photographs to fill the frame and rarely crop. My philosophy is to process the images I shoot as though I was printing in a darkroom, cleaning up dust, tweaking contrast, color, tone, shadow/highlight, sometimes dodging and burning, and vibrancy/saturation.
Whats your favourite photography accessory other than your camera?
I believe one should always use the best glass one can afford, a great lens is more important than the number of megapixels. So, my lenses are number one.
A close second would be the GigaPan EpicPro, it allows me to shoot gigapixel resolution images very efficiently… Very cool!
Where do you prefer to post your photos online and why there?
Redbubble is a terrific website for posting images. The community of artists provide valuable feedback, and the fulfillment services are top-notch. I’ve sold numerous prints, posters and cards.
Do you ever get photographer’s block and if so what do you do to get inspired again?
I rarely have difficulty being inspired, but when things are not as interesting as they might be, I often try something new. Either I’ll head to a new location or I’ll bring a model into a familiar scene and make a different kind of art. The GigaPan is another tool that offers a new variety of challenges.
Is there anything you wish you had done when you first started in photography that would of made a difference?
I’m actually pretty pleased with my transition from video to still photography, it was made when the quality of affordable DSLRs exceeded analog. I would love to be able to afford to have a marketing manager, someone to keep my web sites up to date, submit my photographs to appropriate publications, and distribute my prints to galleries… So I could spend all my time making and refining my art.
Any advice for new photographers wanting to go pro?
Embrace the technology, but know the fundamentals! There is no substitute for excellent composition and lighting. Especially now, when nearly everyone has a decent camera on their phone, it’s the high quality lenses and professionalism that differentiate us from any old guy with a camera. Know your tools, and try to keep current. Make every shoot an opportunity to learn, and keep learning!
Visit Stephen Beattie – website, redbubble, facebook and twitter