As part of my learning log I am to study other photographers and study their ways of capturing magnificent moments in their photography. At first I studied famous photographers but now I want to do more. I wrote up an interview and asked on my photographic sharing website whether anyone would be interested. I was so pleased with the response and here is the first of the interviewees. Because there are so many amazing photographers out there that given the chance could excel at being a pro, it’s a hard market to go into, everyone has cameras nowadays whether on their phones or DSLRS. You have to have that something special and these people certainly do.
Lawrence James Cornell.
Here is some of his amazing work.
He captures the pure untouched beauty of nature through his photography, dramatic skies, brilliant contrasts and exceptional use of lighting produce such magnificent images. Whether he is photographing sweeping vistas of the Scottish highlands or prominent landmarks he captures them in his own unique and dramatic style. They whisk you away to new worlds of vibrant countryside and powerful landscapes. The images work together as they would in a book while individually each one has it’s own beauty. Anyone can take a photo of a landscape, many can look beautiful but Lawrence captures that unique character of the place that makes his photos stand out.
Lawrence James Cornell
This photo won the highest award on DeviantArt a DD. You can see why. The size and contrast of the boat and the mountains in the background create such a powerful sense of scale, the boat shot from below dominates the image, even towering over the mountains in the background. It also evokes a feeling of sadness, the boat tied up on the shore with no sight of land. Also the contrast of age with the ancient mountains in the background gleaming under sun and hiding their age, in contrast with this old boat battered and alone yet still beautiful in its own right.
As you can see by the size of this image, this is one of my favorites of Lawrence’s work. Most landscape photos are shot conventionally, horizontally but by shooting it vertically the image comes into it’s own. The mountains and landscape aren’t trapped between little space, it can stretch out right to the horizon taking you on a magical colorful journey through the ages, taking in the scarred and rugged yet beautiful landscape. This photo would look incredible in a landscape book, even better covering a wall in a museum. It feels like you can just walk into it.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I have been taking photographs ever since college. I am a partner in a business unrelated to photography and spend most of my spare time either taking pictures or editing them. I love travelling and, in recent years, have been concentrating on the UK as I felt I didn’t know it as well as I wanted to. It has been amazing discovering my own country.I live in the South East of England so usually I travel West or North for my photography. I use Nikon equipment and have done for years.
What first promoted your interest in photography and how old were you?
I started taking photographs in my teens trying to have a pictorial record of those days and my friends. I then did a Foundation Art Course after leaving school. Part of the course was photography and learning to use the dark room. I got hooked by the magic of developing my own film and prints.
That’s great. Photography really is like magic. Where did you learn your craft, was it instinctive, progressive or did you take a photography course?
Apart from being taught the basics of how a camera works and some dark room techniques at college for a couple of months I am self taught. It is always progressive (I hope) and I do work mainly instinctively. It may be a good thing to develop like this or it may not. I read a lot and have many books by photographers so I try to learn from them.
I think it is good developing instinctively because it helps you to create your own style without letting other photographers affect your personal voice. Would you make photography your career?
If I was financially secure I would make photography my career. I wish I had followed that path years ago but I didn’t. I would have loved to have become an established Landscape photographer like Joe Cornish.
Joe Cornish is an amazing photographer. His landscape photos are breathtaking Do you have a favourite subject to shoot such as landscape, macro eg?
I love shooting landscapes but I also have become quite interested in macro and flower photography. I really will have a go at anything. I love infrared photography too.
Infrared photography produces some beautiful photos, I might have a go at that. What was your first camera and your camera now?
My first camera was a Zenit E Russian film camera. I still have one in my collection. My main cameras now are a Nikon D3x and a Nikon D800. both of which are full frame which I like.
What are your tools of the trade? Do you have a favourite lens?
My most used lens is my Nikkor 24-70 f2.8G ED AF-S. I use this a lot. My second favourite lens is my Nikon 14-24mm f2.8 G AF-S ED . A truly magnificent wide angle lens. I love my Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G AF-S though I should use it more. My macro lens is the Nikkor AF-S VR 105mm f2.8G IF-ED. These are the tools of my trade.
Wow, that’s a nice selection. What camera accessories do you use, filters, tripod etc?
I use Lee Grey Grads and I have a polarizer. I also have a 10 stop ND. I do use a tripod though I also hand hold a lot.
Every so often I just get very strict with myself about what I am going to take out with me because you simply can’t take eveything. There is too much stuff.
What’s you dream piece of camera equipment.
Goodness. What a question. I actually like the new Nikon DF because it is the nearest I have seen to an old film camera filled with modern digital technology. It won’t be for everyone but it ticked a lot of boxes for me.
I think that sounds like a great camera. A camera that brings the spirit of the very first photography brought up to compete with the 21st century. In your opinion what do you think is the best camera?
My Nikon D800
Haha, of course 🙂 Apart from your camera what do you always take with you?
Lots of lens cloths, spare batteries, spare memory cards and my Epson Viewer for downloading pictures while out incase something goes wrong.
Epson viewer is a great idea. What camera settings do you use? I love wide apertures. Do you shoot on auto, manual, programme, av, tv etc?
I usually have my camera set in Aperture Priority. For landscapes often I am looking to use low ISO and small aperture so a tripod is useful. In the garden I will be using wide apertures for shallow depth of field. I love how creative it can be to use shallow dof.
What photography would you like to try?
Proper astro photography
That would be amazing, the results are stunning. It’s amazing how every person can take a photo of the same subject yet it will always differ slightly. How does your photography stand out, what’s your personal style and how have you developed this?
I don’t know if my photography stands out. I like my pictures to tell a story if I can. I want them to tell you how I felt when I took the picture. I try to be careful to compose my pictures well. I actually do struggle to know if I do have a style where you can tell it is one of my pictures.
It’s hard trying to see your personal style, but from an outside point of view I can definitely tell which photos are yours. How do you go about shooting? Talk me through composition, lighting set up etc (if appropriate.)
Ideally on a landscape shoot I will have found my location and will be able to wait for good light. In practice, because I am always limited for time I tend to shoot all through the day and hope the strength of my compositions will carry the picture through. You can’t argue with good light though. It will always add so much to the image. Although I am familiar with the rule of thirds I am not at all afraid to go for different compositions if I think it works. Location, location, light, light, composition, composition.
When shooting flowers I try to get a good clean background if possible and use a shallow dof to help keep it non distracting. I may use a burst of fill flash if it helps though I prefer to use natural light.
A great idea. How do you use colour?
It depends on the situation. On a bright blue sky day it is possible to make a really strong rich and vibrant image. On a misty day I would try for something much softer and more peaceful.
My goal is always to make an image I am proud of.
Do you try and achieve a story or a mood?
Yes. All the time. I hope that my landscapes do convey the mood I felt when I took it and I love to try to tell a story too.
What would be your ultimate dream shoot, money and place no object?
I would honestly like to make a book of the mountains and glens of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. This would take a long time due to the weather. I would also love to go to Iceland, Alaska, Siberia, the list will never stop if I start it.
That would be amazing, and with your photography it would create such beautiful book. The raw untouched beauty of Scotland. Which unusual photos do you like, abstract etc?
I do like abstracts but my mind does not seem to find it easy to work in that way. I really love looking at other people’s images.
I love people who can use textures well to add to an image. Some of these styles are really beautiful.
Textures is a good idea to incorporate. I’ll look more deeply into that soon. How do you think photography affects us? Do you feel it can change or help our world?
They say a picture can be worth a thousand words and I think that is true. People can react very strongly to an image but they might not want to read two pages of words. It can help to change the world by showing people things they would otherwise never see with their own eyes.
What are your worst photography disasters?
I shot a roll of film at a concert and then opened the back of the camera before I had rewound the film into the canister.
I also dropped a camera in the Lake District which then fell a coupe of hundred feet down the hill before I caught up to it. The lens was damaged but the body was fine, just a little scratched.
Ah no, that must have been awful. I’d have been screaming and tearing after it. Thank god the camera body was ok but such a shame about the lens. Have you ever had any funny moments shooting.
I once spent the best part of a day trying to photograph someone wearing an elephant mask trying to catch a doughnut on the upturned trunk. Don’t ask.
Haha, ok. Do you use Photoshop, or any other editing software, extensively?
I use Photoshop CC
Do you have any personal tricks or tips you’d be willing to share about photography?
I don’t really have any tricks that I am aware of. I am not very methodical about what I do. I work by instinct so I guess I would just say read the rules of photography so you know them but then do your own thing and have fun doing it. If you don’t have fun then why do it?
Exactly, I love that! Which photographers have inspired you and who do you admire?
Inspired by Joe Cornish, Charlie Waite, Vivian Maier, Simon Marsden, Joel Meyerowitz and many many more
Admire Don McCullin
I’ll definitely research them. Do you have a favourite photography quote?
“I think about photographs as being full, or empty. You picture something in a frame and it’s got lots of accounting going on in it–stones and buildings and trees and air–but that’s not what fills up a frame. You fill up the frame with feelings, energy, discovery, and risk, and leave room enough for someone else to get in there.” Joel Meyerowitz
Light and the art of landscape photography by Joe Cornish
Unreasonable Behaviour by Don McCullin
Thank you. Where do you see yourself in ten years time?
Still trying to take my best picture.
Where do you see photography in ten years?
It is ever changing and always has been. I really don’t know. If you look back ten years and compare that with now you would not have foreseen how things would have changed. We may not even need our great big camera kits by then. Who knows. It will be fascinating to find out.
Agreed, it will be very exciting. Who knows, there may even be photographer classes on the moon. On a final note, what does photography mean to you?
It gives me an outlet for expression that I have not found in any other medium. I think it helps to keep me sane.
Thank you so much Lawrence, I learnt a great deal from you. Keep up the great work with your photography.
Check out Lawrence’s amazing work here