Interview with photographer Andy Gibb

Misty Daybreak

Misty Daybreak

I was very pleased with my recent opportunity for a chance to interview Andy Gibb, a wonderful Scottish photographer from Inverness, Scotland, UK.  Andy’s photography is extremely ethereal and painterly in style, and his sweeping vistas of the Scottish Highlands and other worthy subjects, transports the viewer into a spectacular world of splendid color and dream-like scenes.  I am very impressed with Andy’s work, which can be found at http://www.redbubble.com/people/andygibb.  Andy has allowed me to share some of his lovely photographs with you, interspersed throughout this article. This in mind, on with the interview!

Hello Andy, please tell me when did you first get into photography?

I first took an interest in photography at about the age of 13 (I’m 41 now – going on 21!) when I got a Kodak camera for Christmas; one of the ones with a 126 film and a flash cube that would burn your forehead when you took the shots, remember them?  I have always had an interest in the process, and how an image can stimulate a memory or an emotion, how you can capture something beautiful on film or by digital means, and capture the image for ever and share it with loved ones.

Autumn Sunset

Autumn Sunset

Great answer Andy! So tell me, what inspires you artistically?
I am a sentimental romantic, so the things that inspire me are beauty…not just traditional beauty but the ability to see beauty in things. This can be a landscape view, an animal, a person, or an item, something that makes me think “I’ve got to capture that.”  I love color. I love the way color can be manipulated in nature, for example the sky on water, reflections of autumn trees, the light in an individuals eyes, and living in Scotland, I have the advantage of the same view, a view you may see every day of your life, looking different in every season and in every time of the day.

You certainly do have a wonderful vantage point living where you do!  Now, as far as techniques are concerned, please tell me what influenced you explore the HDR technique you do.

HDR ( High Dynamic Range ) Photography is the technique that I explore the most just now. I like it because it does to my shots what I have described above. Photography is art, an art form where the artist produces an image that “he/she” sees. I have an impressionistic vision of the world, and highlighting the color, bringing out the sky’s shape tone and color, or accentuating the light and shade of my view, is how I want to represent my canvas.

Late light

Late light

What kind of camera and lenses do you use? (Can you be specific about the models, etc?)

Olympus D500 Digital SLR, Olympus 14-45mm Digital Zoom, Olympus 40-150mm Digital Zoom, Optimax 300mm Telephoto.

Autumn Flame

Autumn Flame

What kind of tripod, if any, do you use?
Hey a tripod is for keeping your pictures steady!  Maybe it’s because I’m Scottish (here comes the stereotype!!), but I don’t believe in spending a lot of money on something that has only got one specific use: if it works, and is cheap, good!  It’s like a watch. What does it do? It tells you what time it is. I’d rather have a £20 watch that works, on my wrist, that I can wear everyday, than some £2000 time piece I’d be scared to wear!  So my tripod is a Star 42 Tripod from Argos!

Lucinda Green

Lucinda Green

If there was no limit on your budget for photography equipment, what would you buy (include name brands and models, etc.)?

This question took the longest for me to reply to, because I am happy with what I have at the moment (but if any company exec from some other camera company wants me to try their equipment for them then please get in touch!!). I am in my comfort zone with it, know how it works, know its limits, know where I want to set it without looking down.

However one thing I sometimes wish for is movement to my work. I have a real desire to make movies so the thing I would buy would be a Sony Handycam DCR-VX2100 movie camera – so there is £1500 spent right away!

Christmas is coming ...

Christmas is coming ...

What, in your opinion, do you think has contributed to making your photos excellent (and your photos are truly excellent Andy)?

Are they excellent?  Photography is a very subjective art form, and my style is even more so.  Some people love it, some people hate it. What I do love is the comments and feedback I get, from “I love that beautiful work” to “When are you going back to your ‘real’ pictures? I liked them better.”

One piece of advice I will give anyone reading this is that all the work I exhibit, be it in galleries, shops or on the web are shots that I like.  I NEVER put work out solely because I think “Oh that will sell.”  That to me would be cheapening all that I love photography for– expressing my interpretation of the world around me.

Apocalyptic Rosemarkie

Apocalyptic Rosemarkie

Do you use any filters on your camera lenses?  If so, what kind?

When I take my shots, I tend not to use any filters, as this can sometimes affect the HDR in a way I don’t really like.  I take my shots “as is” and then play around with them later.

Your post-processing technique in HDR sounds interesting.  Can you give a few specifics about what you use (Photoshop, Photomatix, etc.), and how you accomplish some of the magnificent effects you get in your photos.

Believe it or not, I do not use Photoshop!  I own it, but I don’t use it at the moment.  After I shoot my original pre-processed shots, I open them with Picasa 2, which is a free program from the Internet that lets me do the basics, such as crop and straighten, etc.  Then, the program I use for my HDR work is Dynamic Pro HDR, which is a purchased, downloadable program from the Internet.  I don’t really have any specific techniques that I can share as such, because for every picture that I process, I have different ideas about that.  For example, the Lucinda Green shot was one I wanted to be quite smooth, but I also wanted to bring out the intensity of the rider’s and the horse’s faces while also emphasizing the water splash.  On the other hand, in Apocalyptic Rosemarkie, the sky was heavy that day, and I wanted to bring it out to make it look even more oppressive.  Each image I capture and process, I have a different vision of how I want it to look.  However, like a painter that has an idea of how their finished canvas will look, or an author of how a book will end, this idea sometimes changes as I process it.  Sometimes I will do something as I process it and think “Hmm, that look is more dramatic than I had originally planned.”  So, the advice I give to anyone trying this process is to play as much as possible, as far as experimenting with all the settings, tones, contrast, saturation, etc.  Save five or six versions of the finished image, then look at them full screen and then choose one, the one that ‘ticks all the boxes you wanted ticked, then delete the rest!

Rut

Rut

Do you have any favorite photography books, and also favorite photographers?
Photographers, well some you will have heard of and hopefully some you will investigate further.  For landscape it has got to be the obvious Ansel Adams, but also Ian Wallace, and for portrait it has to be Annie Leibovitz, who has produced some of the iconic portraits of my life time, and also Will McBride.
So Andy, in closing this fascinating interview with you today, please tell me and our readers what is your ‘real’ profession, or is it art/photography?

My “real profession” is as a support worker with Sense Scotland, working with adults who have communication support needs because of deaf blindness, sensory impairment, learning and physical disabilities.  It is a very hard, tiring sometimes emotional, but ultimately rewarding role, and also helps fuel my outlook and enjoyment of my life.

That sounds like a wonderful and rewarding career Andy.

Thank you so much for allowing me to interview you, and for the use of your lovely photos!

 

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