Stephen’s interest in photography began in the days when he was a student. He explained that during those early days he would often take up to 300 shots of his subject, but would then then delete 299.
Nowadays he feels that he takes 5, of which 1 will be to his liking. Those two short statements sum up Stephen’s approach to his art. He has spent many years striving to develop his skills. He plans his shots carefully, he analyses his images searching for the things that went well, and the things that went wrong. Stephen explained that he will often return to the same spot a year after his first visit with a clear plan of exactly what he is hoping to achieve in a repeat photograph, and importantly, how he is going to meet his aims of the shot.
This approach really works. Club members were astounded by the beauty and detail in the images that he presented.
It became clear during this wonderful evening that the secret to Stephen’s success is due in part to his disciplined approach to planning, research, composition and environment. He decides exactly what he is hoping to achieve before embarking on a photo shoot.
What started as a hobby has developed into serious photography. After holding some successful exhibitions of his work, Stephen’s reputation has grown and grown. He now takes on commissions, runs workshops, maintains his website and also offers the opportunity to purchase copies of his prints whilst still managing to continue with his personal projects.
Outdoor Photography magazine often features landscapes by Stephen and many images appear in other publications and advertisements.
To get such high quality landscape images takes planning, timing and persistence. Using maps and a Photographers Ephemeris to find the exact position of the sun at the location, a tide table for coastal shots and the local weather forecast together with his experience Stephen hopes all this comes together for the ideal shot.
Stephen also brought along some of his key items of equipment. Members were particularly interested in the tripod with extra-long legs, very useful on sloping ground and on rocks over water and the use of an ‘L’ frame making the camera very stable on the tripod even in portrait mode. A spirit level on the hot shoe together with one on the tripod and the electronic inbuilt level in the camera combine to make sure the camera is perfectly level. Stephen also explained the uses of a tilt/shift lens which can give front to back sharpness in difficult situations.
Stephen prefers to keep post production work to the minimum. Adjustment layers are used in Photoshop to balance levels, white balance adjusted, annoying dust spots removed and cropping if needed. Sometimes several images are blended together to give just the result needed.
You can see more of Stephen’s work, purchase images or sign-up for his workshops by visiting his webpage at: www.spraggonphotography.co.uk