A love of scuba diving led Grant McIntryre to an entirely new passion – he wanted to capture the beauty he saw and share it with the world! Grant created his business, 2stop images, and these days you’ll not only find him out and about taking photos of our local landscapes, but shooting stunning portraiture as well …
Hi Grant. What first inspired you to pick up a camera?
My love for photography started back when I was a teenager, when I took up scuba diving. I always felt frustrated when I saw these amazing sites underwater and could never really convey in words to family and friends why I got so excited about what I was seeing, then one day it hit me, ”Why don’t you buy a camera”?
My excitement with that idea soon turned to shock, when I discovered how expensive underwater camera equipment was back then; but after many months of saving, I purchased my first NikonosIV camera and underwater strobe. But again, my excitement turned to shock when I looked at the instruction manual! Once I finally came to grips with how to take a decent shot, I was hooked; it took my love for diving to a whole new level and my bank balance to a whole new low ha ha.
Who/what has helped you refine your skills as photographer along the way?
I’m the kind of person who gets totally absorbed in whatever it is I want to pursue, so for me my photographic knowledge has come from constant research, along with a lot of trial and error. From when I started with underwater photography, I was always reading articles in books and magazines like Underwater Geographic.
I then decided to start developing my own slide film (which I did in Mum’s kitchen sink) and then prints in my own dark room, so that was more study and research. Then came the digital camera and editing software like Photoshop, which totally changed photography – for the better I think, though some would disagree.
Even though modern cameras can pretty much drive themselves these days, I think if you really want to capture an image that stands out from the rest, you have to put your camera into manual mode, do your research and just experiment, and you`ll soon see your skills develop.
Landscape photography is a passion of yours … Why are you attracted to this type of photography?
To me, there’s nothing more satisfying than spending time planning a particular shot in my head, then researching the location on the internet. If you plan it right, you can almost see what your image will look like before you take it. Not only that, but some of the places that I go to in search of a shot are just beautiful – places I wouldn’t necessarily go to any other time.
I prefer sunrise to sunset for some reason, maybe because it’s the best part of the day; watching the sun rise and light up the underside of high cloud to me is magic.
Looking at your photos, you appear to use a long exposure for some of your shots. Tell us more about this technique. For the layperson, what does “long exposure” mean – and why do you choose to use this technique?
For those who aren’t familiar with photography lingo, long exposure refers to the amount of time your cameras shutter remains open, which allows the light in your scene to hit the camera sensor.
A typical shutter speed for an average photo would be something like 1/125th of a second, which will freeze most subjects within a shot; that would be classed as a short exposure.
For a long exposure, the shutter speed would be anywhere from 1 second to many minutes, so anything within your scene that is moving will be blurred, so your camera must remain perfectly still with the use of a tripod while the shutter is open. Any solid objects in your scene will remain sharp, and things like moving clouds and running water or even moving lights at night will blur across the image, giving it a silky smooth effect.
This technique lends itself to landscape photography very well, as it can give your images that surreal, silky look. It also allows the viewer to see things like the night sky how the camera sees it, which is invisible to the naked eye.
Where are some of your favourite places to shoot (and what do you most like about them)?
Without doubt, I’d have to say the local area around Port Macquarie and surrounds play host to some stunning scenery. One of my favourite local areas would have to be Tacking Point Lighthouse; it’s just brilliant. You can shoot it from just about any angle, and it’s a magnet for lightning storms. It draws photographers from all over at the slightest crack of thunder.
Another favourite location would have to be Forster, with its amazing rock formations.
What other types of photography do you enjoy?
I really like to give anything a go, but something I really enjoy is portrait photography – especially when I take a portrait of someone who isn’t at all comfortable in front of a camera. The look on their face when they see the end result is really satisfying. It’s amazing how you can make someone look with the use of a speedlight or something as simple as a reflector. It’s all got to do with the light.
Who are some other photographers that inspire you … and what do you most admire about their work?
There are so many incredible photographers, both past and present, whose work has inspired my own. Art Wolfe is an early pioneer of artistic/conservation photography. His journalistic style incorporates the use of artistic camera and lighting techniques with subjects that aren’t usually photographed this way, which gives his work a style all his own. If you love photography, check out his website and bio video.
If we were to take a peek in your camera bag prior to you heading out for a shoot, what pieces of equipment would we be likely to see?
Ooooh, I always seem to carry way too much in that bag. Well, I never head anywhere without my trusty Nikon D800; it’s just an awesome bit of kit – great resolution for large prints, and nice and heavy.
For landscapes I like my Nikon 16 – 35mm lens and also my Nikon 85 mm lens, which is great for multi-image panoramic images and a really sharp portrait lens too. I’ll usually have one or two Speedlights in my bag, a wireless shutter release, and I never leave home without a tripod – a must have for sharp landscape images.
How would you like to see 2Stop Images develop over the next 12 months or so?
My plan over the next 12 months is to focus more on the business side of things. I’ve been working on my website over the past months and it’s almost ready to go live, so keep an eye out for that.
I will be offering Photoshop editing workshops for small groups and one on one, from beginner to advanced level, as some level of post editing skill is needed to really make your images into something you’d be proud to hang on your wall.
Print sales and tailored portrait shoots will be something I will be concentrating on also.
I really feel I have gained enough knowledge over the past twenty plus years to assist other photographers and to deliver professional quality images to clients.
Where can readers see more of your work or contact you?
My website will be up and running in the next few weeks, so I will update my social media accounts with details as they happen.
Until then, I can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Some of my work can also be viewed on my Instagram and Flickr accounts:
Instagram – @2STOP_IMAGES
Flickr – www.flickr.com/photos/grantmcintyre/
Interview by Jo Atkins.