Image: © Trenton Meador, Silver Studio Images
A conversation with Trenton Meador of Silver Studio Images and a member of the Facebook photo group, Snapshots from Around the World. By Lori Rowland – January 21, 2014
Lori: To start things off, where do you live & what type of work do you do? If you have a photography business, please tell us a little bit about it.
Trenton: Well I would like to start off by saying thank you for doing this interview. Currently, I live in Tigard, Oregon, USA. I have lived in many places. I’m a full-time photographer, typically working in fashion and product photography. I say typically because the season will determine what type of contracts I currently have. For example, now that we are in January, I’ll be doing a lot more fashion and fashion accessories for a few local companies for their upcoming spring line. Although that is the majority of my work, I do branch out to other things.
Lori: Please tell us how you first became interested in photography. What was the first spark?
Trenton: What actually got me interested in photography? That is a difficult question to answer. I suppose, in reflection, it all started when I was living back home and I would routinely buy magazines, cut out the pictures, put them in books and litter every square inch of my room with them. It wasn’t so much the content of the pictures, but rather their different styles and trying to figure out how the photographers actually created those pictures that intrigued me. Lori: I did the same thing to my room, but I was more interested in images of locations & places I had never seen before and I put all those pictures on my wall.
Trenton: During this time, I was very artistically involved with other mediums, only picking up my camera occasionally. I suppose if I had the money to do more photography during that time, I would have. However, a roll of film was a special treat, let alone to get it developed and printed.
Lori: What other types of mediums have you tried? Do you still work in them or will you go back to them in the future?
Trenton: I have tried almost everything, my favorite being pencil and acrylic paints. I would like to do more of them, but I am just so deep into my photography that it is where my artistic fire will go. Currently, when I’ve got a little bit of time, I will pick up my loom and do some cross stitching.
Lori: Tell us about your journey as a photographer. How did you get from where you started to where you are today?
Trenton: Well, I’ve always been fond of taking pictures. Even to this day I will just take random pictures of anything around me. I suppose the better question would be how I got from where I started to where I am now in my professional career. I honestly didn’t take photography that seriously until a few years ago when I realized I was not as happy as I could be, doing what I was doing for a living. It definitely has been an experience, to say the least. I wouldn’t say that has been a learning experience because any good photographer will tell you that we are always learning and improving. However, the biggest step was when I started to really take a closer look at how the science behind photography works. Even now, before a project, I will do several calculations to make sure I’m getting exactly what I want, the biggest of course being my depth of field. My big break was with stock images but that was very short lived.
Lori: You calculate your DOF using….. MATH? Actually, that’s pretty impressive. What is the formula for determining DOF?
Trenton: Yeah I’m a bit of a math junkie. The formulas I use for calculating DOF is no secret and you can see them in various places like Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Depth_of_field#DOF_formulas
I honestly don’t do the long math that is needed for it unless I don’t have my computer near me. On my computer, I created a little spread sheet that with some inputs you can put in and it will tell me what I want. It is important to note that when you are thinking about your DOF you have to be aware of your distance, what your focal length is, and your aperture (and in some cases what your crop factor is). For example I love my 85mm 1.8 lens, but I have to be very careful of my settings or I will end up with very blurry pictures. If I take a few pictures with that lens at f1.8 from 10 feet (3 meters) away my depth of field is only going to be 5.26 inches (12.9 cm), very shallow depth of field here. But even using the same settings and moving back to three times the distance (although would change the framing), I would get at 30 feet (9 meters) away from my focal plane, 4 feet (1.2 meters) of focal sharpness. Quite a big difference huh? Now if I moved back to where I started but move my f-stop to f16 I would get about the same depth of field. This is only for the 85mm on my full frame camera (Circles of confusion for mine is 0.030 for you other math junkies out there) and if I put a different lens on the range and depth of field would change.
Lori: That’s quite impressive… I can see that it is very important to completely understand you lenses and that each one behaves differently. What was your first camera & where did you get it?
Trenton: That really poses the question, what would you consider a real camera. My first camera was one of those Kodak disposables and let me tell you just how bad its pictures were. However, upon showing a lot of interest in photography, my father gave me his camera. I still have it to this day. In fact I am holding it in my hands. It is a Minolta XD5. Like I said, nothing special, it is a film camera with a few lenses. I played around this camera and probably took somewhere in the range of a couple thousand pictures over the course of my youth. However, I was only able to get a few rolls developed so I had to pick and choose which rolls I wanted to get done. At some point along the journey, I did get one of those point-and-shoot digital cameras with an awesome 3.2 megapixels. As fun as it was, it didn’t take nearly as good pictures as the Minolta. I think the biggest thing that helped me along my way was the fact that my film camera is completely manual. No focus assistance, no auto shutter or anything that makes a photographer’s life infinitely easier. You really had to learn to move your feet and to be aware of how your light meter worked. When I started to get a lot more interested in photography, I got a Nikon d3000. By no standard was it a great camera, but moving to a digital format with enough megapixels to produce a good quality print was a big step. I can’t even tell you how many pictures I took with that camera! By the time I parted with it, the shutter count was over the 350,000 mark, which was well beyond what this camera body was capable of. It was at this point that I finally moved to digital full frame camera and I will never look back.
Lori: I would love to get a full-frame camera. I’ve heard that there is a bit of a learning curve. Do you have any advice for those of us who might be considering taking the leap?
Trenton: Upgrading your camera body to full frame is a big step. First I would look at what you have in terms of accessories and lens and if they would fit that new body you are looking at. If not then I would look at all of the cameras and bodies. Go to camera stores and play with them until you get a good feel for what you like. I don’t know what this learning curve is you speak of for moving to full frame from crop. Maybe I bypassed that very quickly. I do know that when you are moving from a crop frame to full, keep in mind that your focal lengths are going to be different. For example if you really loved using 35mm (zoom or a prime lens) on your crop frame camera that is the same as a 50mm on a full frame. The reason is the crop factor. In reflection maybe the biggest change when moving to a full frame could be the more narrow depth of field?
Lori: Is there a specific person or persons who inspired you to become a better a photographer?
Trenton: I’m starting to think that you intentionally chose the most difficult questions to ask! There is no singular person who has ever inspired me to be a photographer however there are thousands of people who inspire me to take my photography beyond what I normally do. I could rattle off a few famous photographer names but I think that might be disingenuous, only because the fact that a lot of photographers who are “famous”, are people who were at the right place and at the right time. For me, inspiration is anything that makes me stop, look at a picture again, and enjoy the actual artistic composition of the picture. If something stops you in your tracks and you have to take an extra second to look at it, it is my opinion that at that point it becomes inspirational, only because the fact that it is drawing your attention and making you think.
Lori: How has your photography influenced your work/personal life?
Trenton: Well I can tell you for a fact that when it comes to the holidays more often than not, I tell people I purposely left my camera home. In actuality, it is still in my car, just in case. How it actually affects my work life is, well, it is my job; although, I do love to wake up in the morning with a purpose and intent on picking up my camera and take a picture of something. In my personal life, most people are comfortable knowing that I’m a professional photographer and just expect to have their picture taken sometimes.
Lori: What type of photography is your favorite?
Trenton: Well, I suppose all photography is my favorite, however, I’m always excited try new things. You may have noticed that some of the work that I do is way outside the normal thing. I’m always looking for new inspirational stuff to try. I like to try to accomplish something totally new and see if it makes a good picture. Sometimes it’s not always the best but I have a lot of time I have fun doing it. Currently I am trying some new techniques that should create some amazing imagery but is very difficult to master. I am experimenting with panorama stitching and more specifically the Brenizer method. I think it produces some absolutely stunning images. You can use what you currently have to simulate a lens that does not exist and thus getting a new perspective. However is extremely difficult to get correct.
Lori: Are you equally inspired by new Photoshop techniques as you are about new Photography techniques?
Trenton: I would say that there are some tricks that are always new to me in Photoshop, but I don’t know if I would say they would be inspiring to me. Sometimes I run across something that has an effect, or is warped in a certain way that I find interesting and might want to play around with, but typically, nothing that I would go out and shoot for the intention of using Photoshop for it. Let’s keep in mind that I already know a lot of different things so coming across something new does not happen that often. I like to try to fix problems with pictures in camera before I take it to the computer.
Lori: What type of photography is the most challenging to you?
Trenton: Without a doubt, that is going to be event and wedding photography. I’m more used to being outside or in the studio where I have time and I can fully manipulate the lights and the settings on my camera. I can take multiple shots of the same thing and decide later which one I like the best. However when you are doing events or weddings, you don’t have second chances for anything. You have to get things right the first time or at least close. The hardest part about it isn’t just the shots themselves; but it’s the stress that is involved with this type of photography. For the aforementioned reasons, I typically don’t do weddings as often. However, lately, I have been picking up more weddings to push my photography skills so I have a more diverse skill set. To be honest, it’s hard to turn down the money you can make with weddings. I would be very clear that you should never do a certain type of photography only “for the money”. I always suggest people do what they think is fun. If you do something that you really enjoy and turn it into a business, it can sometimes lose its fun and no longer be as enjoyable as it used to be. This is not to say that there are people who can balance these two things, but is extremely difficult to do and I am not one of those people that can balance it so easily.
Lori: Do you ever feel like you are in a photographic rut? How do you overcome it?
Trenton: I do and I think everyone does at one point or another. It is difficult sometimes, to get out of it. For me, typically, it lasts a week or two when I’m out of projects or fun ideas to try next. The best thing I can suggest for people is do what I do. Get on the Internet and look at other photographs. Places like deviantART and Flickr are great places to look for inspiration. Another thing I can suggest is trying something totally new.
Lori: Do you have any special achievements or recognitions in photography like exhibits, awards or contest finalist?
Trenton: Unfortunately, I don’t have nearly as many photography achievements as I would like. I have yet to have an exhibit, but would like to one day. I would love for people to actually see my work more. I have gotten several awards and quite a few nominations from various local and national photography groups, but nothing that would be considered “noteworthy”. The hardest part about being a photographer is wining that self-confirmation that you’re doing well. When you don’t receive the praise it is hard to determine whether you are doing well or not. For me, I put a lot more emphasis on my achievements then awards I have received. Things like stock photos, major contracts with companies, people approach me out of the blue asking for me take a picture, are my rewards. This is not to say by any stretch, that I would not like some national recognition. I have not been submitting my work as much the last couple years because I feel I can become a lot better photographer than where I’m at currently. Lori: What are your photographic goals for the next year?
Trenton: Photographically I have no idea. As it stands right now, a third of my year has already been planned out for different projects and contracts that I have picked up. I would really like to delve deeper into some techniques but it’s really going to depend on how much time I can devote to it. Unfortunately my studio is closing at its current location and it is going to be a couple months before I can reopen another one. However, during this time, I am buying a house. After that happens, I can look at opening another studio. Lori: If time was no issue, what is the next challenge you are inspired to explore?
Trenton: I would love to get some more star and Milky Way pictures. The hardest part of those is the time of year and that to get great shots not only do I need to travel outside of the city but also the time of the night makes it hard when I have a full time job to do. I am really hoping that come this spring I can take a week off from my normal stuff and get some done.
Lori: You are very accomplished with your Photoshop skills. How far are you comfortable going into the realm of photo manipulation? Do you see photo manipulation as an art form in its own right?
Trenton: Thank you, I think of my Photoshop skills as one of the key selling points for myself. I would advise anyone who hasn’t gotten Photoshop or some other photo manipulation/photo editor program, to really consider it. You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars for something good, there plenty of free programs out there that work great. How far am I comfortable going into the realm of photo manipulation? I don’t know exactly what you’re asking here, but let me see if I can answer this properly. First and foremost, for me there are three different parts when it comes to “photo shopping”: photo manipulation, photo editing, & photo correction. I will explain a little deeper on this and let’s work backwards before I answer the original question. The majority of people shoot with digital cameras. While digital cameras have a great advantage in terms of processing time and being able to take thousands of shots, very few people can take the perfect image right away. Even well seasoned veterans of photography don’t always get a perfect shot. This is where photo correction comes in the play. This is simple things like exposure correction, dodge and burning, sharpening, and cropping. The next step in all of this, to me at least, would be photo editing. This is where you would edit things like blemishes on someone’s face or change the color of the trees. This is actually manipulating beyond correction of what the picture is intended for originally to create a new feel of the image. The last part, which is photo manipulation, is where you actually construct an image that does not exist in its entirety. Example of this would be doing a green screen shot. Another example is creating a fantasy scene or perhaps a perspective that is physically impossible to do. An image that is a great example of this would be the miniature planet I submitted several months ago. Is the type of shot that is physically impossible to get. However, with the right tools and knowledge, I created something that is more surreal and perhaps more interesting. To directly answer your question; I’m very comfortable in terms of photo manipulation, however I am far from being good at it, in my own opinion that is. You did also ask if I consider photo manipulation as an art form. I believe it is only because you are trying to project something that does not exist and have it be believable, or sometimes not believable. I can’t remember who actually said it, but there is a quote that I’m always reminded of, “Art is whatever you can get away with.” This not saying that everything anyone does is considered art but rather what can be accepted as art.
Lori: What's in your camera bag? Which is your favorite lens & why?
Trenton: I guess that would best be answered by which camera back. It would depend on what I’m doing that day but I never leave the house without at least two lenses and lots of accessories. I usually have one or two digital camera bodies that share the same lens mount, battery, and memory card types. I carry lots of memory cards and lots of extra batteries because that is the biggest limitation at any given point for me. As for specifics, I have two of the Trinity lenses (24-70 2.8 &70-200 2.8), and various primes. I think without a doubt my favorite is my 85 mm 1.8. It is the perfect portrait lens and its sharpness is par none. I would like to get 105 mm micro lens and a tilt shift but these are a lot more specialized and quite a bit more expensive around $800 USD to $1800 USD for the lower quality ones.
Lori: Do you have a website or links to your photography where members can see more of your work?
Trenton: I do have a website which can be found at www.silverstudioimages.com however I am very lazy about updating my images on it. I really need to get busy adding my more recent stuff and rotating out the old and lesser quality stuff. This is generally a suggestion for anybody who has a portfolio. Always continue to add stuff to it and remove the stuff you think is not up to par with where you are currently at in your photography. Also, when constructing a portfolio, try to have several of them. It’s like when you write up a resume. You want to have your resume, or portfolio in this case, tailored for what you’re intending to use it for.
Lori: If you were to recommend one photography book for the group to read, what would it be?
Trenton: A photography book? Honestly, I have a hard time suggesting a photography book. My main problem with photography books is they never cover a subject entirely and typically leave out so many things that are implied but never written. With that being said, I would suggest any book on a photography subject that you are unfamiliar with. Amazon book reviews are great place to start because you can see what other people are saying about the book. For me, I haven’t bought a photography book since I was young. If you’re planning on learning things like Photoshop it might be a good idea to get a Photoshop book aimed at photographers.
Lori: If you were to suggest one simple trick for members to use to improve their photography, what would it be?
Trenton: One simple trick? I suppose it would be to know your lenses. The biggest problem I see with pictures is that a lot of the time they are slightly blurry. Whether it is intended blur not, I think pictures that are absolutely and perfectly sharp, say a lot more about an image technically than the actual content of it. A while ago I actually made a little posting, about how to find the perfect sharpness with your lens. This is also something that comes into play with depth of field and knowing how that all works together. You can see the article under the Files button on the group page or follow this link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/SnapshotsfromAroundtheWorld/517942631612480/
Remember, “Your worst picture, is the one you didn’t take”
I also have the *istD and use it as my backup camera. I'll often set up the K10D with the laptop for multiple shots for time lapses or other times when I want to be sure to catch an image but don't want to stand around clicking the button all the time. Then I grab the *istD and use that for whatever catches my fancy. Or I'll use the K10D and set up whoever's with me with the *istD if they don't have a camera along. Love them both!
That's odd that the K3 doesn't let you abort the sequence! That could be a serious issue if you were going for, say, 100 images for a time lapse!! The K10D doesn't have an internal intervalometer, so I've been using my laptop and the free Pentax Tether program for those shots. That program allows you full control of the camera from the laptop, including setting the ISO, aperture, White Balance, etc.. A really nice program.
The live view is what most had me wanting the K3. Well, that and the higher ISO capability which would be really nice doing astrophotography. Fortunately, it's also got the bulb setting and should work with Pentax Tether.
Canon 5D III, 16-35mm lens at 28mm, no polarizer, F/16 and f/22 for sun star, various shutter speeds and ISO's. This was a very challenging image to develop. Seven different exposures were blended for dynamic range and depth of field. I then made heavy use of Tony Kuyper's new actions panel to gradually build in adjustments using just about every luminosity masking technique I know. The new Zone Masks section was particularly helpful. www.outdoorexposurephoto.com/video-tutorials/video-tutorials
- Portland Community CollegeWeb Design, 2012
- Blue Mountain Community CollegeBusiness, 2011
- Eastern Oregon UniversityScience - What was I thinkin?
Peter Hurley Shares His 'Most Incredible Tip for Looking Photogenic': Sq...
Back in February of 2012, portraitist Peter Hurley shared an awesome tutorial that showed how to accentuate your subject's jawline in portra
How often do we have a seasonal Blue Moon? | EarthSky.org
This year - August 21, 2013 - gives us a seasonal Blue Moon: the third of four full moons to occur in a single season. A season is defined a
10 Ways Photography Can Change Your Life (It Changed Mine) - PetaPixel
I have always been interested in photos. When I was younger, I used to pore through drawers of photos and photo albums that my parents made,
2013 Social Media Marketing Industry Report | Social Media Examiner
2013 Social Media Marketing Industry Report: learn from more than 3000 marketers on how to focus your social media activities and what the r
5 PROTIPS: Optimizing Your Robots.txt File - Internet Marketing Ninjas Blog
I am always surprised at how the vast majority of things that I see during audits are simple “SEO 101” infractions. But then again it makes