Today I’m very pleased to introduce, Mike Grable, an incredible photographer who captures the beauty and magnificence of water through his breathtaking photography. Whether it’s a ferocious wave pounding the rocks, still serene reflections that slow everything down or watching the sun disappear into the depths of the water his work enthralls and inspires all. He is a huge idol of mine.
Hi Mike, thanks for joining us today. What first promoted your interest in photography and how old were you?
A high school photography class is what sparked my interest in photography. That was 20+ years ago. I drifted from photography as life took another path. I rekindled my love for photography about five years ago when I picked up my first D-SLR camera.
Where did you learn your craft, was it instinctive, progressive or did you take a photography course?
The photography course was little help to me. I took that class when film cameras were still around. I am completely self-taught.
Would you, or have you, made photography your career?
No, not yet. That is the dream for those of us who have this passion.
Do you have a favourite subject to shoot such as landscape, macro eg?
Water, for sure. Waterscapes are always different depending on shutter speed & other factors. I like to be well rounded though. I dabble in all subjects when it comes to photography.
Ah, I should have guessed that 🙂 What was your first camera and your camera now?
My first camera was a Canon XSi. I now have a Canon 60D.
Hey, we have the same camera. What are your tools of the trade? Do you have a favourite lens?
My favorite lens at the moment is my 24-105mm. I also have a 17-40mm for wide angle shots. That is a great lens too. I recommend both of them.
I’ll look into those. You do a lot of long exposure work. What camera accessories do you use, filters, tripod to help you?
A tripod is essential for doing long exposure work. I have a Giottos carbon fiber model. Filters are a great tool as well. I use neutral density filters & polarizing filters. A cable release. Sometimes an intervelometer when shooting star trails.
How do you cope with the conglomeration of equipment?
I carry a large backpack. I also have a small shoulder bag that has all my back up equipment in it.
What’s you dream piece of camera equipment.
I am happy with my lenses. A Canon 5D Mark II body would be the next camera on my list.
In your opinion what do you think is the best camera?
Canon has newer models that the Mark II but for what I do. That would more than satisfy me.
Apart from your camera what do you always take with you?
My gear is pretty heavy so I tend to not carry extraneous stuff with me when I shoot. Plus there is usually a good deal of hiking involved with getting to some of the places I shoot. Water & snacks, I would have to say.
What settings do you use? I love wide apertures. Do you shoot on auto, manual, programme, av, tv etc?
I am a manual shooter all the way. Manual focus, all of that. Really it is the only way to properly learn this craft.
That’s definitely true. I know you do a lot of water photography but what other type would you like to try?
I do shoot portraits but not nearly enough. I would like to spend some time focusing on that to be a more well rounded photographer.
How does your photography stand out, what’s your personal style and how have you developed this?
Processing your images helps to put that personal stamp on my photos. There are quite a few minor things you can do with a photo to make it more appealing to the masses. Also to differentiate your work from the work of others. Processing is hard work. Especially in the beginning. Lots of time & practice.
How do you go about shooting? Talk me through composition, lighting set up etc (if appropriate.)
I will usually stay a ways back & survey my scene. The composition that speaks to me is the one that I try to shoot first. I do take many photos & many compositions of the same scene if I have the opportunity. Since I shoot landscapes for the most part. Trying to get out when the weather is overcast is my rule for shooting waterfalls. That will give you the same light throughout your whole scene while losing the glare from the sun which is a photo killer when trying to shoot falling water. On sunny days, I head to the coast.
How do you use colour?
Most folks don’t know this about me but I am color deficient. I try to represent the colors that mother nature provides to the best of my ability.
Gosh, I would never have guessed that because the power of colour you bring into your images is remarkable. What is your goal to achieve when you take a photo?
My goal would be to try & draw the viewer into the photo. To take in the whole landscape. Not just a part of what it is that I am trying to shoot. That is why taking your time with compositions is crucial.
Do you try and achieve a story or a mood?
That would depend on the subject or the atmosphere of the shot. I would be considered more a mood photographer than one that tells a story with his photos.
That’s actually really interesting, mood and stories are two different things, something I’ll research more into for the course. What would be your ultimate dream shoot, money and place no object?
I would have to say New Zealand. That country has almost everything a photo hound wants. Great beaches, waterfalls, mountains, & glaciers. Shooting the aurora would be a dream come true too.
What unusual photos do you like, abstract etc?
I like abstract photos. I also like to experiment with different types of long exposure photos.
How do you think photography affects us? Do you feel it can change or help our world?
Photography does help mold our world. There is nearly no way to tell how it is that global warming is effecting our planet. I watched a documentary recently about a photographer who was taking time lapse photos of glaciers in different parts of the world to show just how fast these giant masses of ice are shrinking. It brings the point home like no other medium can.
That’s brilliant and very inspiring, it’s amazing how many uses photography has.
What are your worst photography disasters?
Thankfully, I have had no catastrophic mishaps while out taking photos. Working around, in, or above water can be extremely hazardous though.
What do you use to protect you camera from the water?
I don’t use anything to protect my camera. I have a piece of protective equipment that will cover my entire camera. It is from a company called Kata but I rarely use it.
Have you ever had any funny moments shooting?
Nothing in the funny category really pops to mind. I do love happy surprises. The animals that you didn’t expect to encounter along the trail.
Can you think of the most memorable and surprsing animal that crossed your path.
I have seen a mountain lion & brown bear. Both times I was in the safe confines of my Jeep. I was a bit thankful on both occasions.
That must have been amazing, though scary too.
Do you use Photoshop, or any other editing software, extensively?
I use Photomatix for my HDR work. Lightroom & Elements as well.
Do you have any personal tricks or tips you’d be willing to share about photography?
Remember what I said about shooting waterfalls when it is overcast earlier in the interview. People often get out to take photos when the weather is nice. Just because the weather is great for a hike does not mean it is the best conditions to shoot photos in. I wish more people knew this. Mirror lock is another good tip. Helps you get more clear & crisp images. And don’t auto focus. Use the magnifier button on your camera to zoom in to a scene so that you can manual focus & get the most crisp image you can.
And the right weather can really reinforce a mood. It’s great doing this interview because I”m learning so much, thank you. You are one of the photographers I really look up to. Which photographers have inspired you and who do you admire?
Ansel Adams, of course. Marc Adamus is another great landscape shooter from here in Oregon. Jeffrey Scott would be my favorite portrait photographer. There a too many amazing photogs out there to list.
Can you recommend any good photography books?
Being self-taught, I never read any books about photography. I learn using my own skill, intuition, or trial & error.
Where do you see yourself in ten years time?
Hopefully working full time in the photography industry.
I hope you achieve that dream. Where do you see photography in ten years?
Photography makes such leaps & bounds in short periods of time. It is hard to tell where the industry will be in ten years time.
What does photography mean to you?
Being a landscape artist. Photography is my escape from the world. My time in the wilderness is all about solace. Getting away from the masses of people & communing with this planet.
What has photography taught you?
Photography has taught me to slow down. Enjoy the little things that I would otherwise miss. The way the sky looks. Colors, shapes, & the small details. Those things that most of us overlook.
Thank you so much for taking part. I really appreciate it.
You’re welcome. Thank you.