Cain captures unique natural landscapes through the medium of his camera, which evoke strong feelings when viewed …
Are you a born and bred local, or did you move to the area?
I am originally from Parkes NSW, but moved to Port Macquarie at the age of 7 after my family decided they needed a sea change. I have now lived here for 18 years and still enjoy every day of it!
What, or who, kick-started your love of photography?
I have always had some sort of camera, but never considered it as a creative outlet until I came across the works of world renowned photographers Ken Duncan and Michael Kenna − both totally different in their approach, but equally as artistic and inspiring. After finishing school, I did some travelling around Australia, which opened my senses to the amazing scenery we are surrounded by in this country –and I have been passionately shooting ever since.
What professional training/photography courses (if any) have you done?
I haven’t undertaken any courses or training specific to photography. If there was only one thing I ever learnt throughout my schooling and university life, it would be research. For any equipment I acquired, I read the manual twice then backwards, I searched articles and tutorials on different techniques and processes, as well as joining online forums and communities. The direct feedback and critiquing that the communities provide really helped me develop my skills and push myself, while I also drew inspiration from other artists.
As a photographer, you never stop learning; anyone who says they have mastered everything there is to know about photography is just fooling themself. I have had some great opportunities to apply my skills across a wide range of photographic subjects, allowing me to expand and gain the confidence in shooting such things as portraits and weddings, in addition to landscapes.
Your photography work features some absolutely stunning landscapes. What is it about these panoramic-style shots that inspires you so much?
It is the thrill and pleasure I get from creating something unique, the travelling to and exploring of new locations, the ability to express myself through an artistic medium and then share these experiences with others. To compose and capture that particular moment within a scene and develop it into a piece which evokes an emotional response is really a powerful thing; it certainly inspires me to continue on this path and better myself.
I also have great admiration for the wilderness and natural phenomena of the physical world. Knowing that the earth is forever changing and may not always contain such elements of beauty further motivates me to capture as much of it as I can while I am here. Lately, the weather has caught my attention a lot more, and I’ve been focusing on extreme weather occurrences with crazy cloud formations and thunderstorms. I have put myself in risky situations on several occasions now; I have stood alone on beaches and headlands as huge storm cells approach − a feeling that is rather otherworldly!
It seems as if you’re aiming to capture a unique perspective in each of your shots – perhaps something the eye wouldn’t normally see. How much time do you usually spend composing or framing a shot (and do you also sometimes just snap unplanned, instantaneous images)?
This really depends on the environment I am shooting in and the conditions at the time. I am always striving to be original in my approach when creating anything. I can spend from as little as a few minutes just setting up my camera/tripod and taking a snap, to hours scaling the terrain in search of a particular element that I can juxtapose within the frame to produce my interpretation of the scene. There is always some degree of planning behind every photograph, whether it is checking the weather forecast, preparing what equipment to take, or driving hours to arrive at a location.
Your work also features some amazing ‘sky’ and ‘cloud’ scenery, including some time-lapse night-time shots … what’s the trick to capturing these types of images? (Is it all in the lens?)
Practice and patience. Landscape photography is all about patience − chasing or waiting for the correct light to fall over the scene takes time, in addition to exploring the whereabouts and finding that balanced composition. It is something you learn from repetition; you can’t expect to buy a camera and walk straight out of the shop and take fantastic images. Owning great equipment certainly aids in capturing your vision, but is never the primary factor; you need to experiment, make mistakes, learn, and of course, have fun!
Another important role in creating these images is the post-processing involved. No file goes to print without first being examined and tweaked within Photoshop. The fact is that the human eye far surpasses the capabilities of a single camera image in terms of dynamic range; to overcome this and produce the scene as it was witnessed, multiple exposures or filters are necessary. Some consider Photoshop a heinous crime, but it is a necessary tool in digital photography, whether it is used to colour balance an image or clone out unwanted elements − neglecting it would be disadvantaging oneself.
Your love of the Mid North Coast shows in your images. What is it about the area that you enjoy so much?
Everything! We are surrounded by a diverse range of scenery − from the lushness of sub-tropical rainforests to pristine coastlines and estuaries. It is a brilliant area for exploring and discovering untouched locations; there are as many activities here as you wish to invent, but you will need to get outside. I love how here you can walk along the beach at times in absolute solitude, like you are the only person on earth − the feeling is surreal. Otherwise, it is just a really chilled area, and the people are (usually) friendly and laid-back.
What exhibitions/showings/publications has your work featured in?
My work has been used in several international advertisements, including a camera catalogue produced by Canon. I have also licensed a number of images as album art for musicians/bands, as well as receiving several bronze awards in the International Pano Awards.
Interview by Jo Atkins.
This story was published in issue 81 of the Greater Port Macquarie Focus