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Frequently Asked Questions

A few days ago an earlier self portrait taken during the same elevator trip as this one featured on the Flickr blog. In the course of the two days during which it was on the front page of the blog, I received 100,000 hits, hundreds of new contacts and so many emails and messages that it's not possible for me to respond to each one of them individually and so, while I apologise for the impersonality of it, this caption will serve as a standard reply, which I hope everyone who contacted me finds helpful.


Firstly, to those who sent kind words, thank you and I hope you continue to enjoy my work.


As for my equipment, it is listed here in my profile page. The lens I most often use is a 50mm f/1.4 D, usually shooting at f/2 and opening it up to f/1.4 in particularly low light.


When it comes to processing, I use Adobe Lightroom, and do not use any presets, because the requirements for each photograph are different. If I am to analogise my processing with cooking, then I will not reveal my recipe. This is in part for reasons which, while obviously selfish, are I'm sure understandable. Secondly but separately, I genuinely believe it is better that you find the way yourself. I used to admire photographs I saw on Flickr and would have loved to know exactly how they had been processed, but if I had found out then perhaps I would have imitated and stopped pushing to improve my technque: instead, I continued - and continue - to experiment, and eventually found a recipe of my own, with surprises I couldn't have imagined when I set out to develop it; a recipe with which I was very happy and which I think is uncommon and distinctive.


Postprocessing is an important learning tool: in my experience, playing around with all the possibilities teaches one how to understand more deeply and how to notice more readily light and colour. Having processed hundreds of thousands of photo's on an individual basis, I can now look at an image I have taken and know what I want to do to it: I can say that the balance of blues is fine, but the red balance is off: that the shadows are too dark but that the highlights are too flat. If you just work with presets or by imitating someone else's technique without analysing and understanding what you're doing, then you will learn nothing.


To those who asked, I hope this is helpful!


Glasgow, 2011.


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Taken on June 7, 2011