Mick answers our 5 questions and tells us about meeting another photographer who inspired him to help families who have experienced loss, his hope to be reunited with his piece of “dream gear,” and how he impressed his 13 year old daughter. . .
Where did you last find inspiration where you least expected it?
I tend to find inspiration in just about everything, trying to find an interesting take on a subject or object at hand. That’s pretty much an everyday event.
However, I think what totally surprised me was how I got involved in Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep (NILMDTS). I had never even though of something like that. I was selling a camera and was contacted by someone who wanted to buy it. It was around Christmas and the guy was from Washington, DC (or the other Washington, as we say around here). He was visiting family in Seattle, but we were unable to meet before he left. However, his father-in-law was a photographer, and asked could we meet to check out the camera. We did that (he approved) and just before splitting up he asked if I’d be interested in contributing some time to a different kind of photography. He explained NILMDTS, and my reaction was a mixture of “how odd’ and “what a great cause.” It took me a few weeks of thought and research to get used to the idea before I committed, but I am glad I met Ron Williams. He was so passionate about the good this photography could do. Unfortunately Ron has had to withdraw from the work, but his inspiration was incredibly powerful. I hope my NILMDTS work is 1/10th as valuable as his.
What has made you a better photographer?
Study! I actually found the New York Institute of Photography course to be a great way to learn a lot of basic photography information in a practical way, especially since I could not become a full-time photography student. I also read a lot and participate in online forums. Nikonians.org is a great resource for Nikon shooters, and c’t Digital Photography* provide excellent in-depth articles on specific subjects.
I shoot a lot and study my own pictures. Digital photography is great for learning. You can shoot a variety of settings to see and compare results, plus you get that wonderful exit data to remind you what was involved in a particular shot. Studying your own shots and learning what works for you is a great resource.
*We did not force Mick to say that, but we appreciate the compliment
What’s one thing you wish you’d have known when you first started shooting?
RAW Files and RAW conversion software. I grew-up shooting black & white images that I developed in the school darkroom. RAW files and good conversion software (I love Nikon Capture NX2) are the equivalent. Digital images benefit from the same care in the digital darkroom that film images did in the chemical one.
Do you have a “dream” camera or piece of gear?
I would love to get a Sigma 300-800 f/5.6 lens. I had one for a while and had to sell it for financial reasons a few years ago. I loved shooting animals with that lens. You can see some great shots in my gallery with that one. I can only imagine how good it would be on my D800e.
What motivates you to get out there and keep taking pictures?
I’m a semi-pro so sometimes it is money. But that isn’t that often. I just love to shoot and try to capture a unique perspective on something.
One of my images for this article is called “Fish-Eye View of Tall Stacks”. I took this about a year and a half after getting back into photography from a 12 year absence – it was after just getting a Nikon D80 immediately when they came out. I also used a fisheye lens. I was really gratified by the results of my efforts on that one. And best of all, I entered it in my first photo competition, which was for the 2006 Cincinnati Tall Stacks Festival. I was stunned when it won the Grand Prize, and my 13 year old daughter, who was with me at the show when the winners were announced, was even more impressed! All of that has led me to believe that I can take good pictures that people will appreciate… and every once in a while I prove it.
Featured Image – “Middle Waterway #1″
Camera: Nikon D3s, Lens: Sigma 8mm f/3.5 cicrular fisheye, Aperture: f/8, Shutter Speed: 1/400 (base), ISO: 200
Tacoma, WA, where I move to in 2008, has a reputation for being “gritty” due to it maritime and industrial heritage. This scene of a marine repair facility with a paperboard mill in the background capture that. The cloudy sky certainly helps. It was taken in February 2012 and is a 5 shot HDR image.
I’ve had some great complements on this picture. But my wife, who is a Tacoma native, hates it.
Please go check out all of Mick’s work on his website: www.mickklassphoto.com