I recently asked 5 photographers to share about their work by sharing 5 images and answering 5 questions. Today, meet Mike Hardisty who blogs at Say It With A Camera.
All photographs in this post are by Mike Hardisty, Say It With A Camera.
About Mike Hardisty
Based in North Wales I create images of the scenery around me. An unusual word to use with photography, create. But it’s true. It’s very rare that I post an image S.O.O.C. (straight out of camera).
Think about it. Why should I let the software geeks and ultimately the processor inside my camera dictate what the final image will look like? It’s my photograph, my vision. That’s why I’m a firm believer in using software like Photoshop and PhotoMatix to create HDR images.
Right from the start I learned how to shoot in Manual, TV, AV — you know — all those fun modes. Why let a machine make the decisions? That’s how SKYNET started and we all know how that ended.
I’m not into the whole Canon versus Nikon versus Sony argument. I leave that to others more suitably qualified. The Pentax K-30 is a great camera; it suits me and my needs and I’ve no intention of changing it in the near future. Oh! And another thing. I use a PC not a MAC. Sorry if I’m disappointing anyone, but a good fast PC will do the job just as well as a MAC and it’s a lot cheaper too.
Nowadays all of my photographs are licensed Creative Commons which means you are free to use them as long as it’s non commercial. All I ask is that you provide the proper credit by mentioning Mike Hardisty and Say It With A Camera.
1. How did you become interested in photography? What has kept you interested in it?
In the early sixties (I’m showing my age now) I was going on a school trip to Spain and Italy from the UK. I bought a small camera, probably Kodak, and some film. Later when I was working abroad I bought a Yashica — now there’s a name from the past — Through-the-Lens film camera. I stuck with that and had an on/off relationship with photography until the nineties when I bought a Praktika SLR.
The coming of digital was a revelation to me. It meant I could experiment without worrying about the cost of developing film and if something didn’t work I could just delete it off my hard disk.
Ynys Llanddwyn or Llanddwyn Island is a small tidal island off the west coast of Anglesey, North Wales. The island is very rich in legends, and in particular the association with Dwynwen. The name Llanddwyn means “The church of St. Dwynwen”. Dwynwen is the Welsh patron saint of lovers, making her the Welsh equivalent of St. Valentine. Her Saint’s day is January 25 and is often celebrated by the Welsh with cards and flowers
2. Describe your photography, e.g., what do you like to shoot the best, how would you describe your style.
Landscapes, especially here in the Snowdonia National Park, Wales. I’m lucky to live very close to the sea but the National Park is a short drive away, Beautiful scenery, but wild, rugged and sometimes dangerous at the same time.
I use HDR in a lot of my photography; to me it’s just another tool in the digital arsenal that’s available to photographers nowadays. I try to keep the photographs looking natural though. It’s what you need from a landscape.
Dolbadarn Castle is a fortification built by the Welsh prince Llywelyn the Great during the early 13th century, at the base of the Llanberis Pass, in North Wales. The castle was important both militarily and as a symbol of Llywelyn’s power and authority. The castle features a large stone keep, which historian Richard Avent considers “the finest surviving example of a Welsh round tower”. In 1284 Dolbadarn was taken by Edward I, who removed some of its timbers to build his new castle at Caernarfon.
3. Do you assign yourself photography projects?
Funnily enough, I have just completed a project to photograph outside and inside most of the historical churches that lie in the Conwy Valley and surrounding hills. North Wales is steeped in historical buildings; we have castles, abbeys, churches, some dating from the 8th Century although many are 11th and 12th century.
I’ve had to pay more attention to using the available light; some of those churches are really dark inside with no flash allowed. Composition plays a big part as well. Instead of shooting straight down the central aisle, I’ve been using angles and also bringing in some foreground interest. For many of the photographs my camera is set to manual, takes me out of my comfort zone, but necessary to cover the available light. Of course HDR has also helped by enabling me to capture some of the detail in the highlight and shadow areas.
Pentrefoelas was originally part of the parish of Llannefydd. It became a separate parish in November 1810. There is evidence of a “chapel” at Pentrefoelas in the sixteenth century. A new building replaced it in 1766, but it was not consecrated until 23 June 1771. T here were additions in 1774. The church was completely rebuilt in 1857/59.
4. What do you know now about photography that you wish you knew when you started? How would this be helpful to someone just learning about photography?
Maybe not so much when I started, but don’t put yourself in harm’s way just to get a photograph. I was in the National Park last winter, visiting a well-known and much photographed lake. I wanted photographs of the lake with the snow-covered mountains behind it. Stupidly, I ignored all the warnings: build up of clouds, light snow falling intermittently, wind getting up. I got caught out on the side of the mountain. The clouds came down, it started really snowing. Fortunately, I was standing on a well established path, knew the trail would lead me to safety, about 500 metres, but it was frightening at the time. The falling snow covered the icy patches on the trail making it dangerous to walk on; I could so easily have slipped.
Seriously, NO photograph is worth taking a risk for.
The Miners’ Track was built to serve the Britannia Copper Mine on Snowdon and is ideal if you want to walk on Snowdon without going all the way to the summit. The path starts off wide and even, climbing gradually past Llyn Teyrn to Llyn Llydaw, where the ruins of the old copper mine can be seen.
5. What was the best piece of advice/information give to you as you were learning photography?
Read the manual for your camera, know what all the functions are and experiment, experiment, experiment.
I still experiment. Talacre Beach with the lighthouse is my favourite outside location and our local cathedral is great for trying all things inside.
Sunset on Talacre Beach silhouetting the abandoned lighthouse
More about Mike: here. You can follow Mike’s blog on Facebook and at Say It With A Camera.
You can find all of the 5 + 5 X 5 series here.