What I love about David J Nightingale’s photos is the way he makes the subject look extraordinary, whether it be a discarded cup on the beach, an everyday portrait or a spectacular location.
Along with his wife Libby, they run Chromasia, a successful online photography school and photo library (based in Blackpool). Flush the Fashion spoke to David to get some tips on taking better photographs and to find out more.
How old were you when you decided you wanted to be a photographer?
I don’t think that I ever decided that I wanted to be a photographer, it was just something that I did, and enjoyed, and then ended up doing professionally. For many years it was just a hobby – I was a full-time lecturer in Psychology in a UK university – but as time went I became more active as a photographer, got commissioned for a variety of projects, so decided to pursue it professionally.
What was your first camera?
My first ‘real’ camera was a Canon A-1, bought in 1982.
What sort of things do you teach on your photographic courses?
I teach a whole variety of topics on our photography courses, from introductory photographic classes through to advanced post-production workshops. For example, our online training is mainly concerned with post-production (click here) – and I cover a broad range of topics including black and white conversions, HDR, working with portraits, digital workflow, advanced masking techniques, and so on. I’m also running a couple of workshops in Austin, Texas in February – one on HDR photography, another on creating dramatic images – followed by some 1-2-1 photography and post-production training in the UK.
After that I’ll be heading out to Dubai in March to be an instructor at the Gulf Photo Plus training event – www.gulfphotoplus.com. While I’m there I’ll be running workshops on landscape photography, how to create HDR images, portrait retouching, and a range of other post-production seminars.
Can anyone learn to be a good photographer?
Good question, and I don’t think there’s an easy answer to this one. What I will say is that if a person can tell the difference between a good and bad photograph, then yes, they can learn the various techniques that they need to master in order to create good photographs of their own.
What sort of camera would you recommend to a beginner?
If you’re starting out in photography and trying to decide what camera to buy I’d suggest that you go for one that will allow you to control the exposure. When you start out a point-and-shoot camera is great – you just need to worry about the composition, the camera does the rest – but they are limited. As such I’d suggest an advanced digital compact camera or basic DSLR that will allow you to use exposure compensation and alter the shutter speed and aperture. That way you’ll have a lot more control over the appearance of your images and the scope to vary the settings to achieve particular creative outcomes.
With the advancements of Photoshop, how important is being able to develop your own photographs?
For me, being able to ‘develop’ my own photographs in Photoshop (or using other image editing software) is central to the way in which I approach photography: i.e. the original in-camera image is nothing more than raw material, the starting point of the creative process. That isn’t to say that all of my images look vastly different to the original captures – they don’t – but I’ll often produce an image that’s a lot more striking than the original.
What is the most common mistake beginners make when taking photos?
I’m not sure that there’s a ‘most common’ mistake that beginners make when taking photographs but suspect that most are technical rather than creative errors, i.e. not understanding how to use their cameras effectively, not realising that the camera doesn’t see the world as we do, and so on. That isn’t to say that reading the manual will make you a great photographer – there’s more to photography than just technical competence – but, as with any other craft, failing to understand how to use the tools at your disposal will almost certainly mean that you end up being disappointed with a lot of your shots.
Where is your favourite place to take photos?
My favourite place to take photographs is the beach, particularly around my home town of Blackpool in the UK. I love wandering along the shore, photographing the waves, clouds, and debris along the shore.
Which picture are you most proud of?
I don’t think I can pick a single image, at least not one that would remain the one that I was ‘most’ proud of, but I can point you in the direction of some of my favourite images taken during the last couple of years, one from each month for 2009 and 2010.
All pictures © David Nightingale Photography.
For more info on their courses and more amazing pictures visit www.chromasia.com