I’ve recently had the pleasure of interviewing an extraordinarily talented landscape and nature Photographer from beautiful Southern California. His name is Ed Clark and he finds inspiration for his work with his love for the beauty of the world and finding new places to explore. Ed, thank you for allowing us to learn about your passion for photography and for allowing us to get to know a bit about you. Your body of work is truly inspiring.
Can you please tell the readers a bit about yourself?
I am a retired Systems Engineer from the Aerospace Industry. I am 61 years old and have been married for 41 years. I have two adult sons, Daniel 34 and Steven 28, who live about an hour away. My other interests include bowling, hiking and woodworking.
Where is home?
I live in a city called Torrance which is in southern Los Angeles county, in Southern California.
What inspired you to be a photographer?
I originally got interested in photography back in the film days. A couple of friends from work were photographers and they invited me to a model shoot. I started using my mother’s Canon AE-1, but the time demands of family and work, not to mention the cost of developing film caused my interest to wane. About five years ago my brother got into digital photography when he received a Nikon DSLR. It was the conversations with him about photography and my need for being creative that renewed my interest in photography. This time I really had the bug. I couldn’t learn enough. I was constantly online learning what I could.
Is photography your full time career or a hobby?
Photography is still a hobby for me even. I do sell my images on micro stock websites I really don’t want the pressures of making it a full time job as I am enjoying it too much as it is.
Are you formally-taught or self-taught?
I am more or less self-taught. What I mean by this is I never took any classes in a school or university. Though I did learn a HUGE amount from classes on a website called Creative Live. One instructor in particular, John Greengo, did a great job of using visual tools to explain photography in great detail. I still sometimes go back and watch classes to reinforce what I had learned.
In regard to marketing, how much of your time do you dedicate to social media? Do you use any special programs or services?
When I first got into digital photography, I did a lot of marketing in social media. Lately, I don’t spend nearly as much time marketing my photography as I used to. I do use an app called Buffer. It allows me to easily post a page from a website to several social sites at the same time.
What has been the easiest part of learning about photography?
As I had said, learning photography from John Greengo on Creative Live made understanding much easier for me. I guess the engineer in me likes the details. Also, the immediate feedback of seeing your image on the LCD screen and the ability to take a lot of images almost for free allows for a lot of experimentation.
What has been the most challenging part of photography?
The most challenging part of photography for me is that I live in the big city. Except for the coast, getting out into nature takes a lot of effort. Also, deciding on the best composition is not always easy. Of course there are times that I look and just know this composition will be a good image. Other times I wonder if I should shoot this angle or that, should I include this foreground element, etc. In this day and age its easy to shoot thousands of images (i.e. spray and pray) with the hopes of getting good shots, but I try very hard not to do that. One last thing I sometimes struggle with is the selection of the best images. I find this is easier as my brother and I review and comment on each others images. Sometimes I have to put away my work for a few days and come back to it to get a fresh perspective.
What is your favorite part of heading out to a new location?
First of all, I love the great outdoors and exploring new places. So I would do this even if I wasn’t into photography.
How do you keep yourself motivated and your photography fresh?
Being that I have other interests that don’t require much travel, this is pretty hard for me. I have slowed down in the past year.
Who or what inspires you in your personal life and work?
As I have said my brother inspires my photography. When we review each others images, we don’t always agree, but I respect his point of view. His insights have made me a better photographer.
Share with us your favorite image and why.
The first image is one of my favorites. The second image is straight out of the camera. It shows what you can do with an image if you can get creative with lighting and color. I must give my brother credit for the original idea for this one though. I probably would not have published this image had my brother not suggested the edit.
What type of camera(s) do you shoot with? What is your favorite lens?
I currently have 2 cameras I shoot with. My first DSLR was a Canon T5i. This is a crop sensor camera and I learned digital photography on it. I recently have bought the full frame Canon D6 Mark 2. I find this camera is much better in low light situations is as often needed in landscape photography. The lens i shoot the most with now is the Canon 24-70 mm f/4. I like it because of the great results I get with it and it is not nearly as heavy as the f/2.8 version. On my last outing I had to hike a mile through the rain forest and then climb over many large driftwood logs. The heavier lens would have made this much more difficult.
What is your favorite photography accessory, other than your camera?
One of my favorite accessories is my remote shutter release. It is actually meant as a off camera flash adapter, but it also functions as a wireless shutter release. Its easy to use and I don’t have to worry about causing vibrations from a wired shutter release. I also have a very nice carbon fiber tripod made by Benro. It’s a good combination of height and light weight.
What is in your camera bag?
I normally use a backpack designed for photography equipment as my bag. I used to try to carry everything but I have learned only to carry the basics of what I will need. The weight is just too much. Now what I carry depends on where I am going. The longer I have to hike the less equipment I carry. Besides the camera, lens and tripod, I will always carry extra batteries, extra memory cards, a couple of head lamps. a flashlight and lens cleaning equipment.
What piece of equipment would you most like to get but don’t have yet?
My next equipment purchase will likely be a high quality fast fixed aperture wide angle lens. Besides using it for landscape, I could also use it to experiment in night time photography including Milky Way images.
Do you use Lightroom, Photoshop, both or other?
When I got back into photography, I was shooting in JPEG and using Photoshop Elements. Now I shoot in Camera Raw. So I always have to make some sort of adjustments and I usually use Lightroom for that. If I want to get really creative or want to create a composite image, I will switch to Photoshop.
Can you tell me about one of your favorite or most memorable photo sessions? What made it so great and why did you like it so much?
Actually, my last photo session was my favorite. My brother and I went to the north-western most tip of the United States. We went to 2 places, one called Cape Flattery and the other called La Push. What really struck me was how beautiful these 2 places were, each for their own reason. Cape Flattery was all sandstone cliffs where the ocean had carved out many caves. At La Push we went to Second Beach. Second beach has many sea stacks and is so flat that the water recedes over 100 yards between high and low tides. Both places require hiking through beautifully green rain forests. I have never seen anything like it.
Do you have any projects that make you look back and shake your head? What made the experience so unpleasant?
I have been pretty lucky in this area. I have not had much bad luck. What I hate the most is seeing a scene that I know will make a great shot and not being ready to capture it. Luckily it doesn’t happen often but it does happen.
What do you think the future holds for you? Where do you see yourself in the next few years?
So for now I am somewhat content where I am at now with my photography. Do I sometimes wish I could do more, of course. My wife is planning to retire in a couple of years and we plan to do some traveling to the National Parks and other places. I expect my photography to take a big leap then.