2 Guys Photo is pleased to introduce you to David Patterson, a photographer, traveler, dog lover and family man, whose images you will certainly enjoy. If you’re a blogger, you’ve may have run into David already, as I did when he first visited 2 Guys in response to a photo I posted from Acadia National Park last year. He was kind enough to “like” my photo, so I visited his blog in return, and was immediately humbled. See why…
David, before we get into your photography, please tell us something about yourself.
I appreciate the invitation to participate in your featured photographer segment. Born and raised in Ireland but now living in Maine, I feel very fortunate to now be able to call such a beautiful state my home. I live relatively close to Acadia National Park, one of the most beautiful places on this earth, and an absolute jewel of a national park. Acadia holds a special place in my heart, and I visit it every chance I get. Landscape photography is a passion of mine, and what better place to enjoy it than there.
Monument Cove in Acadia National Park, Maine, by David Patterson
Although I love living in Maine, I still miss my original home, Ireland. Growing up in Ireland, I always knew it was a beautiful country, but I don’t think while there that I truly grasped just how incredibly scenic it is. Looking through a more mature lens, it’s only now that I have a better appreciation for the character and splendor of my original home, and I always look forward to returning with camera in hand to try and capture some sense of place, history, and beauty.
The Dark Hedges, an interesting stretch of road in Ireland, by David Patterson
How long have you been photographing and how did you get started?
I have always had an interest in photography, and can remember as a kid pouring over old family albums filled with black and white pictures of long lost relatives and places in Ireland we would visit on Sunday afternoon drives together. Many of the family photographs were also in the form of slides, and I can vividly recall asking to use the slide viewer again and again to the point where I think it annoyed my parents. My dad always had a camera close by him, and he loved taking pictures, especially of the family. I found what he was doing incredibly interesting, and one of my fondest memories of him would be where he was standing in the back yard peering down into the viewfinder of his camera telling a joke to get everyone smiling as he was making a family portrait.
Bass Harbor Lighthouse in Acadia National Park, Maine, by David Patterson
Like with most people, education, career, and family obligations came on pretty hard for a while, but about ten years or so ago, right before digital cameras became all of the rage, I felt the pull of photography once again. I firmly believe that everyone needs a creative outlet, something that they love to do, and more importantly, something that they can get good at. So, I bought myself a camera and started spending time exploring the beautiful landscape of Maine, and along the way I made a few photographs too. I was using Velvia slide film at the time, and although I now appreciate and am hooked on the advantages of digital photography, I have to admit there was something special about the anticipation of having slides developed and displayed on a light table.
Mesquite Sand Dunes in Death Valley National Park, California, by David Patterson
You’re known for your landscape photography and recently, your adorable retriever Oliver has been getting a lot of attention. What do you like to photograph and why?
My affinity for landscape photography is largely based on being able to explore and spend time in pretty places where I can experience nature and a sense of calm. Photographically speaking, I’m happiest when perched somewhere along the coast of Maine waiting patiently for the first light of the day to arrive. Most of my landscape photography happens around sunrise – there’s something special about early morning light – and I also enjoy the solitude that can often be found at that time of the day.
Portland Head Light in Portland, Maine, by David Patterson
As for Oliver… what can I say! Until recently, I was never really a dog person, but a few months ago, we made a family decision to get our first dog. We researched what it takes to care for such an animal, though little did we know what we were getting ourselves into! It’s a lot of work to look after a puppy, though now that Oliver is nearly five months old, we are all settling into a routine. From the moment we brought Oliver home, I have enjoyed photographing him grow and develop from the cutest of puppies into a handsome young dog. Oliver has been my own personal iPhoneography project – I’d say 90% of the photographs I make of him are made with the camera on my phone. There’s a lot to be said for always having a camera with you 🙂
My baby Oliver at about 10 weeks, by David Patterson
Your images of Acadia are stunning. What is your process for seeing and creating these beautiful images?
Thanks for the very kind words about my Acadia photographs. Acadia National Park is an extremely beautiful and willing subject, and I’m pretty sure most people who visit leave having made photographs that they are proud of. I visit Acadia often, and I visit specific places within Acadia often. It pays to really get to now a particular location. For example, one of my favorite locations anywhere on this earth is Boulder Beach below Otter Cliffs. I return again and again to this familiar place, always in search of a new perspective. Apart from the fact that the ocean is literally re-shaping the land, in an attempt to make a decent photograph of this place, I will constantly make adjustments to my compositions, and the height of the tide and surf will make a difference, as will the the time of day, the time of year, and most importantly, the quality of the light. Living so close, I can get to Acadia within about an hour, so I pay attention to the weather forecast and the tide charts. If ever it looks like some good early light might be coinciding with interesting weather, I’ll set my alarm and be ready for an early start. The conditions don’t always work out as hoped for, but who cares… even if I don’t come away with a photograph that I like, there’s nothing better than standing on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean before dawn breathing in the cool sea air.
Raven’s Nest, Acadia National Park, Maine, by David Patterson
Who inspires you today and influences your work?
Like most people, I always admired the black and white work of Ansel Adams, and I can remember as a kid going into one of those poster shops that used to be in every mall just to look at the grand landscapes presented there. One image that I found as a rolled poster that always stuck with me was by William Neill, an assistant to Adams and a highly accomplished landscape photographer in his own right. He had photographed the round rocks at Boulder Beach below Otter Cliffs in Acadia at sunrise, and I couldn’t help but be amazed by the beauty of the scene he had captured. I’m not for one minute claiming that my version below is anywhere near as a good as his, but it’s mine, and that’s what matters most.
Boulder Beach, Acadia National Park, Maine, by David Patterson
With the ability to publish to a world wide audience using a platform like Google+, with the click of a mouse I can easily see the work of hundreds if not thousands of awesome photographers. However, instead of wishing I was somewhere else with camera in hand, I am more and more enjoying the work of local Maine photographers like Nate Parker, Patrick Downey, Moe Chen, Charlie Widdis and Dave Cleaveland. There’s something about recognizing places I’ve been, or places I’d like to personally visit, and the work being done by these local photographers is amazing.
If you could travel anywhere to photograph, where would that be and why?
The Internet is bursting at the seams with photographs of exotic locations, and it’s easy to get caught up in wanting to see and photograph all of the great landscape icons. Rather than daydreaming about being able to fly all over the world to see those colorful places for myself though, a few years back I made a commitment to really get to know Acadia National Park. I’m lucky that I live so close to Acadia. Unlike many National Parks, Acadia is subtle, soft and almost underwhelming… unless of course you spend time getting to know her. So, I enjoy spending time in my favorite national park, though if there was one other place that I have an itch to visit and try to photograph again, it would definitely be my home country of Ireland.
Devenish Island, Ireland, by David Patterson
What’s in your camera bag and can you tell us a little about your editing workflow?
In my bag I have a Canon 5D Mark II, and for lenses I have a 17-40mm, a 50mm, and a 70-20mm. The vast majority of my photographs are made with the 17-40mm f4 lens… I really like the wide perspective on at the full frame of the 5D. As for workflow, I use Camera Raw to convert the RAW files, and then spend some time in Adobe Photoshop with post-processing. I don’t use graduated neutral density filters when dealing with the dynamic range found in many sunrise and sunset landscapes. Rather than fiddling with expensive filters in the cold and dark, I prefer to bracket for exposure and blend when back at my computer in the warmth of my office. Blending using gradient masks in Photoshop gives me more control over the processing of the scene, and hopefully I can produce an image that is realistic and a relatively honest rendition of the personal experience I had when pressing the shutter. Though I like a colorful sunrise as much as the next guy, lately I have become intrigued by creating black and white images. Removing the color from a scene can often make elements within the composition much stronger, simpler, yet definitely more powerful. In addition to Photoshop, when working with the black and white conversion process, I also use Nik’s Silver Efex software. It’s is simple to use, and the results can be quite dramatic.
Otter Cliffs, Acadia National Park, Maine, by David Patterson
What advice do you have for someone who is either just starting out in photography and/or anyone wanting to improve their photographic skills?
Couple of things… firstly, get to know what your camera can and cannot do. I personally get a kick out of trying to understand the technical aspects of photography, and I think, for example, that knowing how changing the aperture impacts compositional choices will help you be a bit more nimble in the field when reacting to (or anticipating) good light. I’d also recommend getting to know your subject, whether that is a person, your dog, or a pretty landscape. I spend a lot of time exploring Acadia, and I’d like to believe that the familiarity that I am developing provides me with opportunities to make better images than if I just show up for an hour or two expecting to make a pretty photograph. Lastly, I’d say the most important piece of advice that I was given, was to make lots of photographs… lots and lots. They won’t all be masterpieces, but just by paying attention to what you are including within the frame, and then trying to decide whether or not to keep a certain image or delete it… by doing so you will learn what you like and don’t like, and you will soon develop your own style.
My baby Oliver at 5 months old, by David Patterson
David, thanks so much agreeing to be a 2 Guys Featured Photographer, and for sharing your inspiring work with us. Please be sure to visit David’s blog, Stories From Home, and what he refers to as his “real” website, Acadia and Beyond for more of David’s fine craftsmanship.