Interview with PeterB666

Discussion in 'Member Interviews' started by Streetshooter, Jul 2, 2010.

  1. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus Subscribing Member Charter Member

    Dec 15, 2009
    Phila, Pa USA
    Peter has accepted my invitation for an interview.

    At the end of the questions, members will be allowed to post questions to Peter.

    Let's get started.
     
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  2. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus Subscribing Member Charter Member

    Dec 15, 2009
    Phila, Pa USA
    Peter, Thank you for agreeing to this interview.
    Please take your time with your answers.
    There is no pressure.

    Question 1.

    Peter,
    What inspired you to become a photographer?
     
  3. PeterB666

    PeterB666 Mu-43 Top Veteran Charter Member

    780
    Jan 14, 2010
    Tura Beach, Australia
    Real Name:
    Peter
    Thanks Don

    First off, I would like to say I am very honoured to be interviewed. Possibly others see more in my photographs than I do for I think that I have just started out on the path of properly exploring photography.

    I have had a long interest in photography in an on-off sort of way.

    I received my first camera, a Kodak Brownie Starlet (of something like that) around 1965 and would take that to the beach and anywhere else I was taken – being fairly young, I was totally dependent on my father deciding to go for an outing in those days. I became an expert in chopping off heads and having sloping horizons.

    Around age 13 or so, my brother gave me a Balda 2 1/4" 120 format camera which was a rather neat device with its Prontor-SVS shutter that allowed me to shoot as breathtaking speeds of up to 1/300 second. Unfortunately the shutter broke after a couple of months and my father’s attempts to fix it resulted in a scratched lens.

    To make amends, sometime after that, my father decided to get a SLR camera. My father has always been interested in photography and use to take photos at army social events and stuff and he built his own enlarger out of a large jam tin, used a lens off an old camera and the only part he needed to buy was the condenser element. My father was very resourceful, being a child of the Great Depression and always poor. I don’t know where the money came from for the camera, but my father bought a Konica Autoreflex T which was the latest thing out. Everyone else at the time was buying those screw mount Pentax things. It was a great camera but unfortunately my father wanted it as the same time as I did so I wound up being given a Kodak Instamatic.

    I didn’t really get into photography seriously until I was at university in the mid 1970s. I bought a Nikkormat FT2 with the standard 50mm f/2 lens which I found totally useless. I added to that the newly released 28-45mm f/4.5 zoom which was the first wide angle zoom in production, and the 85mm f/1.8. This was my standard kit and would generally use the 28-45 as my walk-around lens. My main interest was in architectural photography and I would photograph just about anyone that would stay still. I use to get invites to photograph new-borns and stuff like that and I did pretty well with photographing people.

    Unfortunately, my Nikkormat and lenses were stolen and this was replaced by a Nikon F and 35mm f/2 and 85mm f/2 lenses which were my main kit for almost 30 years. A couple of years later, I added a Nikon FM to that as the Nikon F did not have a proper meter in it (I had acquired a Nikon Model 2 clip on meter but it was fairly slow to use and not suitable for low light).

    I don’t think my photography ever improved much as the cost of film and processing were often a problem and after I got married, I bought a cine camera which I enjoyed greatly – especially the post production of splicing and editing and adding sound. I did dabble with classic range-finder cameras from time to time and acquired a Robot Star IIa with a lovely Schneider lens (which I still use today with my Olympus E-P1) and got into black and white developing.

    Unfortunately, over time photography drifted into the background and I eventually regressed into a snap-shooter and lazy photographer.

    About 8 years ago, a friend lent me her digital camera which she was no longer using. It was a Kodak DC215 with a massive 1 megapixel and a fixed focus 2x zoom lens that went from the equivalent of around 29mm to 58mm. It produced great results indoors and at moderately close distances but unfortunately the fixed focus just didn't work with distance shots. Just not good enough but I could see the potential and fell in love with digital photography. I loved the immediacy of being able to review the images rather than having to fill up the roll of film then heading down to the camera shop or chemist and waiting for it to be developed / printed (and handing out buckets of money).

    I decided to buy a small Pentax camera with a fold out LCD. It was a neat camera but the results were a problem with dodgy AF and severe metering problems with backlit scenes etc and although it had a 3x zoom, it started at 38mm.

    I started to get serious about photography again but I didn’t want the bulk of a SLR. I instead bought a Sony DSC-V3 which I preferred over the Canon G6. The Sony DSC-V3 was a great camera and the size was just right and it could do all I ever wanted. Quite frankly, there wasn’t anything that I couldn’t do with it that I could do with my Nikon FM so the Nikon got left in the drawer.

    There was one area where the Sony DSC-V3 was a let-down and it was image noise. ISO400 was marginal and ISO800 not usable. I wanted a dSLR but not the bulk. I didn’t mind the size of some of the camera bodies but the AF lenses were bulky creatures compared to my old 35mm f/2 and 85mm f/2 lenses.

    When MFT was announced, I thought it would be the solution to my wishes (and it has been pretty much). I went to the PMA Sydney show in June 2009 and played with an Olympus E-P1 and the 17mm and kit zoom lenses. It was just what I was looking for and I already had one on order. A couple of months later, I had my camera and it was great.

    Over the years, I had become increasingly reclusive and have recognised this as a problem and decided on a life-changing move. The new-found interest in photography gave me an opportunity to do this. I discovered a number of photography forums (including Mu-43) but there were others some of which I had been a member of for a number of years. One of those was the Australian Photography forum (AusPhotography) and I started going to & arranging meets with other members.

    One of the first meets I went to, a seaside dawn shoot. I met up with someone that I had known for quite a long time on a more general forum which also had a photography thread. I had long admired his work and interestingly he was just coming out of a dry patch (photography wise). We had a chat and have since done a few dawn shoots together. In many respects, this is where I get my current inspiration but that is not the full part of it.

    Probably more than anything else that inspires my photography at the present is just getting out at before dawn, before most people are up and enjoying the peacefulness of it. I love the changing light, how within the space of an hour, you can come up with half-a-dozen completely different lighting moods as you go through from night to post sunrise.

    The other thing that I like is just how nice and friendly many people I have met at these unusual times and I have had many a fine conversation about cameras and photography. As well as the photography, I am very interested in the mechanics of it and have a passion for old cameras.

    As well as the seascapes which I have concentrated on, I also have a fascination for night photography and am – after an absence of around 25 years, getting requests to take photographs at social events and for work related stuff which I quite enjoy.

    That’s where I am now.

    Cheers

    PeterB666
     
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  4. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus Subscribing Member Charter Member

    Dec 15, 2009
    Phila, Pa USA
    Thanks for the concise answer Peter.
    That actually in a way answers many questions I have but ....

    Question 2

    Peter, you've explained much about cameras and even about some inspiration spreading a good long time line. So let me get more personal or get you to be more internal.

    What does all this image making actually mean to you?
     
  5. PeterB666

    PeterB666 Mu-43 Top Veteran Charter Member

    780
    Jan 14, 2010
    Tura Beach, Australia
    Real Name:
    Peter
    I will respond to that tomorrow. I have to go to bed for an early morning shoot. It is almost midnight in my world and I turn into a pumpkin if I don't get to bed soon.

    Cheers

    Peter
     
  6. PeterB666

    PeterB666 Mu-43 Top Veteran Charter Member

    780
    Jan 14, 2010
    Tura Beach, Australia
    Real Name:
    Peter
    OK, I'm back. Had my beauty sleep and done a dawn shoot where the sun didn't want to co-operate.

    At the moment, capturing the image is not always about photography but about recording something few see and the sharing with others. I like the peace of night and the early morning, the transition of colour from darkness to daylight and unfortunately it is something that few really get to see or appreciate. This is can be a magical time.

    The image is my means of prolonging the magic. I am not really into sunsets - possibly because I am on the East coast of a large country and the sun doesn't set over water. No, more likely I think it is that each dawn in the birth of a new day, while the sunset heralds the end of that day.

    The image produced is important but that is the by-product of what I really want which is to experience the event. It is a tough call because when you are behind the camera you can become obsessed by the photography and miss so much. I try to balance that and will frequently pause and take in my surroundings. The end result is that I do miss quite a few shots, but at least I enjoy it.

    There is another side of it. I am interested in form and function although artistically I find myself a little challenged. I can generally recognise a good picture but cannot always get the composition right in itself. In that respect, I am still very much learning and getting better but it is not a natural talent. I am interested in patterns, perspective and geometry. This isn’t where I have really ventured again since returning to photography but where I came from when I first started taking photography semi-seriously in the1970s. I expect that that I will be returning to that but for the time being it is seascapes which are my focal point.

    Cheers

    Peter
     
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  7. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus Subscribing Member Charter Member

    Dec 15, 2009
    Phila, Pa USA
    Peter,
    That's a very good answer. I really like the idea that you are connected to your subject matter in a way that keeps you in the here and now. I guess we could call that, "Being in the Moment". So many shooters get disconnected when they hold a camera and work.
    It's refreshing to see you are not that way.

    Question 3

    What are your recurring themes?
     
  8. PeterB666

    PeterB666 Mu-43 Top Veteran Charter Member

    780
    Jan 14, 2010
    Tura Beach, Australia
    Real Name:
    Peter
    I mainly do landscapes at the moment and as most that browse these forums would realise – predominately seascapes. Living close to some great shoreline helps there. I guess my main reoccurring theme would be light and reflection.

    There are certain things that I tend to do on a regular basis, for example the Sydney International Motor Show – however, that are now only once every two years. I don’t go out of my way to photograph cars and you could probably describe my images as uninspired. The problem with photographing at such events is that people tend to get in the way.

    Trains, and in particular steam trains would be another but I haven’t ventured into that for quite a while. There isn’t a lot of that stuff around anyway.

    A more general theme would be strong geometry such as converging lines and repeating shapes.

    Street photography is another theme I have dabbled with but I never get the results I want. It is certainly on the agenda to return to at some time in the future.

    I tend to stick with one dominant theme for a while and pursue that to my satisfaction before moving on to something else.

    Other than landscapes, I tend to be quite an opportunistic photographer. For that reason I like to have a camera with me most of the time and that’s one of the reasons I went with the Olympus E-P1. The 20mm Panasonic lens was a great asset to portability but has now largely been replaced by the 9-18mm lens.
     
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  9. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus Subscribing Member Charter Member

    Dec 15, 2009
    Phila, Pa USA
    Peter,
    You've made a very interesting remark in your answer.
    "I don’t go out of my way to photograph cars and you could probably describe my images as uninspired. The problem with photographing at such events is that people tend to get in the way."
    Is that a reason that you find Solitude and Peace in your images of Landscapes/Seascapes? The fact the people are not in nor have had much effect on your subject matter seems to me to be your actual Theme. I guess Man and the Environment.
    That could explain why you are not getting the results you speak of on the street or at an event with people.

    Just an observation, I'm not being critical at all.....

    Question 4

    What do you think is the Actual Intent of the current work?
     
  10. PeterB666

    PeterB666 Mu-43 Top Veteran Charter Member

    780
    Jan 14, 2010
    Tura Beach, Australia
    Real Name:
    Peter
    My actual intent of photography is to produce something of interest to me of which I feel a suitable level of accomplishment. I am not after perfection but I am getting pickier and finding more difficult to get what I want out of a shoot. The bottom line is that photography is to entertain me and share with others.

    While there is often solitude at a dawn shoot (and I enjoy that solitude when it is there), I more often than not go with one or two others. In a relatively warm place like Sydney, you also get to meet a lot of people at the oddest times. It is not unusual to find a couple of people swimming in a rock pool at 5 am in the morning. You also find a lot of people, particularly older people out walking at that time, sometimes as couples, sometimes by themselves, sometimes with a dog et al. As the hours go by, you then get middle aged and younger people and finally families.

    Because the world seems to operate at a much slower pace at 5 am in the morning, you are also far more likely to become involved in a conversation with a stranger. It is a particularly fine time of the day, especially in an urban environment.

    There is no intent to exclude people – deliberately or subconsciously. I frequently shoot with people in my images but as I currently tend to shoot wide most of the time, they tend not to be a dominate part of the image.

    A motor show has a very different. With something like a motor show there are large numbers of people you cannot control and it is just difficult and frustrating at times when trying to compose a shot. If you wish to photograph people looking at cars, which I sometimes do, then there no problem. If you wish to take a photograph of a car and there are a dozen or so people milling around it, then there is a problem.

    The issue I have with street photography is that sometimes you can shoot a thousand images and may find there is only one that is a keeper. That’s frustrating. On the other hand, I can go out to a pre-dawn shoot and even on a bad day, come back with something worthwhile.

    My favourite night images of my Sydney Vivid night shoots a couple of weeks go included people as a key element of the image.


    Cheers

    Peter
     
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  11. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus Subscribing Member Charter Member

    Dec 15, 2009
    Phila, Pa USA
    Peter that is really a good example of intent. The fact that you are aware of a viewing audience of your images as you create them. This is not easy for many shooters or even artist in any medium to remember. It seems that you are kind of like a filter from a reality in front of you to the reality your image presents to your audience. This leads to my next question.

    Question 5

    What would you expect or hope the viewer gets from your images?
     
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  12. PeterB666

    PeterB666 Mu-43 Top Veteran Charter Member

    780
    Jan 14, 2010
    Tura Beach, Australia
    Real Name:
    Peter
    I am not sure I can answer that - or at least you are not going to get the answer you expect.

    As I do very little these days at the request of others (I guess stuff like the work Christmas party and social events would fall into that category), my photography is primarily for me and my pleasure.

    That sometimes others like what I do and some consider it worthwhile gives me a great deal of satisfaction.

    From an artistic perspective, I am client and principal audience. That's why I tend to stick to one predominate genre and for a while and then move on to something else.
     
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  13. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus Subscribing Member Charter Member

    Dec 15, 2009
    Phila, Pa USA
    Peter,
    Just the fact that you post images on threads lends one to believe you are seeking some kind of response.
    So my above question addresses that.
    In fact, if you see the work as more personal, that makes the question even more valuable.

    So, could you try to give an answer to that question as it is more important on a personal level than any paid professional level.
    Thanks....
     
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  14. PeterB666

    PeterB666 Mu-43 Top Veteran Charter Member

    780
    Jan 14, 2010
    Tura Beach, Australia
    Real Name:
    Peter
    No, photography is for my personal pleasure. I choose to share it but that is not a significant part of it. I would still do it if I could not share it as it provides me with a means of capturing a moment that I enjoy.
     
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  15. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus Subscribing Member Charter Member

    Dec 15, 2009
    Phila, Pa USA
    Thanks Peter,

    Question 6

    What is your favorite way to work?
    Could you explain a little about your gear and processing?
     
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  16. PeterB666

    PeterB666 Mu-43 Top Veteran Charter Member

    780
    Jan 14, 2010
    Tura Beach, Australia
    Real Name:
    Peter
    This is still an area well under development. Until the Olympus Viewer 2 software came out, I rarely bothered with RAW as I just couldn’t get anything out of the old Olympus Master software that was as good as the camera processed JPEGs. Minimal tweaking and some cropping was pretty much all I did.

    I was impressed by the Viewer 2 software from the first try. I normally output RAW to TIFF and may do some minor corrections, e.g. white balance in the process.

    Until recently, I would brighten up the exposure a bit in the long, night shots as these were invariably under exposed. It has only just sunk in that the E-P1 tweaks the image for viewing on the LCD far too much to get an accurate idea of exposure. This isn’t an issue most of the time but it sure is for night shooting.

    Until last week I would use either Picasa or Paint Shop Pro XI for processing. These are both great programs and exceedingly easy to use. Picasa is just brilliant at the things it can do but there is no noise control what so ever.

    I also started dabbling in HDR with tone-mapping and exposure fusion using Photomatix but to get optimum results I know I will have to start manually blending layers in something else. I am not a big fan of over-processed images and on the occasions I use HDR it is quite restrained. I find many HDR images have too much saturation and too much dynamic range and images that some rave about I find quite painful to the eye.

    Last week I acquired a copy of Photoshop CS5 and I have commenced a long and steep learning curve for that product. I really don’t find some of the terminology or the menu structure of Photoshop intuitive. I am using the Help system a lot and spend too much time for too little output. This is in stark contrast to how I was processing stuff out of Picasa and Paint Shop Pro. One thing (and the reason I went to Photoshop), is that I can retain a more detail than using Picasa and even Paint Shop Pro so I will be sticking with it.

    The other bit of software I use from time to time is Noiseware Professional.

    In general, my approach to post-processing is quite haphazard and this is only slowly improving.
     
  17. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus Subscribing Member Charter Member

    Dec 15, 2009
    Phila, Pa USA
    Question 7

    Have you ever exhibited works or do you plan to do so in the future?
     
  18. PeterB666

    PeterB666 Mu-43 Top Veteran Charter Member

    780
    Jan 14, 2010
    Tura Beach, Australia
    Real Name:
    Peter
    No and no.
     
  19. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus Subscribing Member Charter Member

    Dec 15, 2009
    Phila, Pa USA
    Question 8

    Peter,
    Do you have a preference for either analog or digital imaging?
     
  20. PeterB666

    PeterB666 Mu-43 Top Veteran Charter Member

    780
    Jan 14, 2010
    Tura Beach, Australia
    Real Name:
    Peter
    I haven't used film for more than 7 years. I still have a film camera but it will never see a film again. The running cost and the inability to review your work on the spot means it is a no go for me.