As many of you know from reading my blog, I love photography and I can be found shooting photos around my coastal area when I’m not writing. So I have a real treat for everyone today — and it’s a little break from serial killers, and murder and mayhem from crime thrillers.
Friend, personal trainer, and awesome California photographer Tony Britton stopped by to answer a few questions and to share some of his work.
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Jennifer Chase: Welcome Tony Britton. *I’m smiling* Before we get started, please share a little bit of your background and how you became interested in photography.
Tony Britton: I’ve operated a mobile personal training and martial arts business since 1989. Regarding my interest in photography, my wife and I have always enjoyed the usual array of backyard bird feeders and I simply wanted to capture the variety of daily visitors to our feeders. The birds certainly provided the motivation and sparked my interest in digital photography. It was then that I decided to purchase my first digital camera and this allowed my new-found interest in photography to really take flight, so to speak.
Jennifer Chase: California has so much to offer visually. What inspires you the most?
Tony Britton: The opportunity to create a visual souvenir of a day well spent observing and enjoying nature. I’m always honored when a wild bird, for example, allows me to stand so near to it, and through this wonderful encounter we share the same moment. To simply be in the presence of nature is an endless source of inspiration.
Jennifer Chase: Your photography is breathtaking and so inspiring. I really feel that you capture the native beauty. What type of camera do you shoot with?
Tony Britton: I’m still enjoying the world of point-and-shoot cameras. My current cameras are the Canon SX40 HS, which I use primarily for wildlife photography, and the Canon G11, which I use primarily for macro-photography. The quality in the point-and-shoot category is greatly improving and this type of camera currently serves me quite well.
Jennifer Chase: I think I know the answer to my next question, but I’m going to ask it anyway. You have quite a variety of photographs from flowers, landscapes, and native wildlife to silhouettes and statues. What’s your favorite photo subject?
Tony Britton: Clearly, it’s birds. There’s such a pleasing and colorful variety of birds to observe and photograph, and birds such as egrets and herons can strike incredibly dramatic poses that create interesting and exciting photographic opportunities. These types of birds are also wonderful subjects in that they can hold themselves so amazingly still, providing a better chance to capture extremely sharp images!
Jennifer Chase: I’m torn between color and black and white images. I seem to gravitate toward the black and white image because of the drama. What do you prefer, color or black and white images?
Tony Britton: I always shoot in color so at least I’ll have a choice if I decide I’d like to present a photograph in black and white. Certainly, committing to shooting using the black and white mode on the camera forfeits this choice. I simply decide to convert a color photograph to black and white using a software program and this decision is based purely on the subject of the photograph. Silhouettes, landscapes featuring billowing clouds or trees with dramatic, twisting limbs, or weathered statuary one might find in a cemetery present well in black and white. On the other hand, while the contrasting textures and design patterns in the feathers of a Peacock would look fine in black and white, I feel a stunning bird such as this would be much better represented in color.
Jennifer Chase: I try to learn something new about the art when I spend some time out and about shooting photos. What is the biggest photographic challenge for you?
Tony Britton: Lately, it’s been a “self-imposed” challenge. I have two galleries on my photography website that feature photographs that were taken with my Canon SX40 HS, which is my most recent camera purchase. These photos were taken “straight-out-of-the-box” meaning there was zero internal enhancements such as increasing the sharpness or contrast levels, and zero post-processing of any kind, including the cropping of an image. I believe it’s helping me become a better photographer because this forces me to get everything from the proper exposure to the final composition of the subject just right, before I press the shutter. I can’t simply “fix” it later. To be sure, with this approach some images will be stronger than others but that’s how I’ll continue to learn. Incidentally, I have absolutely no issue with the use internal enhancements or post-processing as my previous cameras not only thrived on it, they required it! I just wanted to try something new and challenging with my recent camera purchase.
Jennifer Chase: Unfortunately this interview is coming to a close, but I wanted to ask you one last question. Do you have any advice for newbies to the photo world?
Tony Britton: As an amateur photographer I approach photography from the standpoint that it is first and foremost a hobby, and if I recall correctly, hobbies are supposed to be fun! You can spend a great deal of money or a small amount of money on a camera and neither of those choices guarantees you’ll capture consistently good photographs. It’s unreasonable to expect a camera to excel in every situation so always take the necessary time to practice and learn the strengths and weaknesses of the camera you decide upon. That way you can allow the camera to work under conditions it’s comfortable with, thereby maximizing its potential and minimizing its faults and acquire a collection of photographs you’ll enjoy viewing for years to come. This is important as I’ve yet to read about, or use the “perfect” camera. Well, at least within my budget! Beyond that, take the time to truly consider the subject you’re about to photograph. Determine if you’re in the best possible position to capture an interesting and pleasing angle that might enhance the overall impact of the photograph. This will teach you the art of photographic composition and regardless of budget, it’s something you cannot buy.
Jennifer Chase: Great advice and I’ve learned a few things today that I’m going to practice on my next photo adventure. Thank you Tony for taking the time out of your busy schedule to be here today.
I encourage you to check out more of Tony Britton’s breathtaking photography.
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Emily Stone Thriller Series TRIVIA: I personally trained with Tony in kickboxing and self-defense moves that I incorporated into my novels for my feisty, vigilante heroine. Keep your eyes open when you read any of the books to pick out these scenes.