07/02/2004 04:29:29 AM · #1
First of all, Welcome to the interview Jacko. I certainly appreciate you
taking the time to answer these questions, and I'm sure others will too.
You don't have to answer a question if you don't want to. Say as much or as little
as you want on each question.
Some background info
q> Where do you live?
I live in Grand Falls, New Brunswick - Eastern Canada. Population is approximately 5,000. It's a small farming community in Northern New Brunswick. Yes we have electricity.
q> Tell us about your family/friends. Have you met anyone from DPC?
I'm married to the very beautiful Isabelle and have a very fat and adorable son Samuel. We found out last week that we have another one on the way. Life is good. I mostly hang out, drink and golf with school teachers. Those buggers are heading for the summer vacation in a few days. I have only met two people from DPC. Beagleboy (who happens to be my brother), and Refracted (our first shoot consisted of a trip to the zoo, then dinner at a local strip joint while sucking back a bunch of beers; good times, good times).
q> What is your occupation?
I'm a commercial banker. I deal with the Bank's larger commercial accounts in my area. I help companies finance growth, manager their risk, increase their cash flow, and invest surplus cash. It's actually more exciting than it sounds. I meet great people every day and I don't wear a suit, since I'm out in the field a lot. I have a home office and two more offices in local bank branches. Keeps me busy. I deal with companies in a 100 mile radius from grand Falls so I don't have to sleep away overnight.
q> How long have you been involved in photography?
I started photography in April 2002 when I bought a 2 megapixel HP camera to take before and after pictures of the house I had just bought. Before that, I had a small Fuji camera which I hardly used. One time I had pictures of two Christmases on one roll of film.
q> Have you won any photographic competitions outside of DPC?
Not really, I've won some photos of the day and of the month at www.digitalphotographycontest.com and www.photosig.com.
I wish we had a camera club here. Maybe I should start one.
q> Whats your favourite movie?
The Evil Dead. It just rocks. It was a low budget film but I really like the characters. Evil Dead II was pretty good too.
q> What music do you listen to? Do you listen to music while post processing?
I listen to all kind of stuff. I really like Slayer and old Metallica. I also like old stuff like Simon and Garfunkal and Cat Stevens. I think the only music I don't like is women signing opera; that's scary stuff.
q> Whats your favourite food?
q> You have your own website, can I list it here?
Sure. It's www.photojacko.com. It's just a little site to store some of my photography. The main purpose of the site was to put up pictures of Samuel. I also have a section on my gear, and a short bio I have to expand.
q> You've been a member since July 2002. How did you find out about DPC?
I wanted to buy a Canon Powershot G2 so I was looking for digital photography sites. I found the site on Yahoo I do believe.
q> What was your motivation for joining DPC back then?, Is your motivation for continuing to participate any different today?
I joined DPC to learn more about photography, both on the technical side (which was overwhelming at first) and the artistic side (even more overwhelming).
I still enjoy DPC, though I don't participate as much. My photography used to really revolve 80% around DPC. Now I visit DPC everyday and participate in the forums, and enter a pic if I get an idea for a challenge.
My main reason for sticking with DPC is to continue learning and participate in the great community that is DPC..
q> Take us through a history of your camera purchases, both film and digital.
I bought a 2 Megapixel HP camera in April of 2002. That's when I really got hooked on photography. I then bought a Canon Powershot G2 in July 2002 when I went on vacation. Then in December 2002 I bought a Nikon N80 film SLR thinking I would go with a Nikon DSLR eventually. Then the 10D came out in March 2003, so I decided to ditch the Nikon idea and bought a Canon EOS 10D in April. I recently bought a Canon Elan 7n 35mm SLR camera to replace the Nikon N80 I had sold on Ebay.
q> You currently use a Canon EOS-10D, are you happy with this camera?
It's a great camera. I've had it for a year now, so I really need to have my sensor cleaned. I used a bulb blower and it helped to reduce some of the crap on my sensor, but I still have a dust problem. I really need to look into sensor swabbing.
q> Since you own an DSLR, it would be great if you would list the lenses you own, what you think of each lens, and how often each one gets used.
Yikes! I just realised I have whole bunch of lenses. How the heck did that happen?
You can see a list of my equipment here: Jacko's Gear
Canon 28-135mm USM IS -
This is my general walk around lens. It has a good zoom range, so I can use it for portraiture, still lifes and for medium telephoto work. This lens is pretty sharp for the price. I'd recommend it as a first lens to anyone getting into Canon SLRs. It also has IS (Image Stabiliser) technology, so it can be used at slower shutter speeds in low light.
Sigma 105mm F2.8 EX Macro
This is by far my favourite lens. I love taking macros (close-ups) of bugs and small things and this lens does it wonderfully.
Sigma 15-30mm EX
This lens totally rocks. The problem with DSLRs is the sensor is smaller than a 35mm frame. You have to multiply the focal length of a lens by a factor of 1.6 in order to determine its equivalent focal length in 35mm format. My 28-135mm turns into a 45-216mm. Not very wide. This 15-30mm turns into a 24-48mm which is a lot wider. Much better.
Canon 50mm F1.4
Wow! This is the last one I bought. What a fantastic lens. Having a maximum aperture of 1.4 is great for shooting handheld indoors. I couldn't believe how much of a difference it would make. It's also a very sharp lens. I love it.
Canon 70-200mm F4
Wow! What a great lens. I had the 75-300mm IS, but I decided to trade it in for this one because of the great reviews. The focus is super fast and the images are incredibly sharp. What a joy to operate. It's also surprisingly lightweight.
Olympus 50mm F1.8 and macro coupler
I reverse this lens in front of my Sigma 105mm macro lens, i.e. both lenses are facing each other. I use a macro coupler which has two male ends and screws into the filter threads of each lens. This gives me a magnification of 2.25:1, as opposed to 1:1 for my macro lens alone. Why Olympus? Because I won it on e-bay for $6.49. Phenomenal magnification for a few dollars more. The field of view in only 10mm wide (2/5 of an inch)
q> Are you considering another camera purchase in the near future? If so, what?
Nope. The 1DMKII looks really cool, but I couldn't justify blowing more money on a body. I'd rather get a new 100-400mm IS, a battery grip, and other accessories before upgrading cameras.
q> Do you still own/use any compact digicams for their ease of use and less weight?
Definitely. I still have my Canon Powershot G2 to carry around when I don't want to lug my 20 pounds of gear with me. I'd still like to get a really small one like a Pentax Optio S so I could just carry it around in a coat pocket. Isabelle uses the G2 a lot to take snappies of Samuel.
q> What size memory cards do you have?
I operate with 2 256MB Compact flash cards. I also have a 15 GB X Drive for when I'm out on the field. I use the second 256MB card while the other one is uploading to the X Drive.
q> Do you shoot in JPG or RAW mode?
I exclusively shoot in JPG. I really can't be bothered with the extra steps required to convert RAW files and the extra storage space required. I have found that using the custom white balance on my 10D can be of great help. I really should practice converting RAW files more since I might be faced with a situation, like shooting a wedding, where I want to maximize the manipulation and tweaking of my images.
q> Have you ever lost any images on memory cards?
Never. Knock on wood.
q> What does your home studio consist of, in terms of lighting, backgrounds, etc.
I bought a Canon 550EX flash, a Canon 420EX flash and a Canon ST-E2 wireless transmitter. I also got two light stands with flash and umbrella mounts. I haven't had much of a chance to shoot formal portraits, but my new umbrella has helped me shoot much better indoor macros. I recently bought a great big 9x15 white background, so I'll start playing with human subjects too :) I really like the flexibility of shooting photos hand held. I don't like to be tied down with a tripod. Shooting with flashes has helped shoot more hand held shots indoors.
q> Do you use any software for organizing your digital pictures?
I don't use software to organize my pictures, however I have a fairly good system:
- I start a new folder every month in Windows Explorer. I put a number in front of it to make sure it's always in chronological order. ie. 18 May 2004, 19 June 2004
- I create a new folder every time I upload pics. I put the date, ie. June 05 2004, then a brief description, ie. June 05 2004 - Flowers behind house
This way I know exactly when and where to to go look. I know that I went to the botanical garden at the end of June. So I look at the end of June for that directory.
I don't have a bunch of directories with different categories. That would bring no value for my specific needs. I keep copies of files of prints I have made.
I back up my new pics at the end of each month on CDs. However I have two hard drives on my PC mirroring my image folder. The back up of new files is done automatically with a little Freeware program I found on the Web called Cobian Backup.
q> Do you use Photoshop or an alternative? If so what version?
I stick to Photoshop 7.
q> What Photoshop skills do you consider to be essential to digital photography?
- Most important is Levels (Histogram in some software). It helps really brighten up images and give it the right exposure.
- Cloning tool. This is essential to remove dust spots and distracting elements in images. You can do amazing things with this tool with a bit of practice.
- Unsharp Mask. Being able to get the right sharpening can make or break a photo. Too soft and it looks sloppy, too sharp it looks overdone.
q> Out of your own entries on DPC, what photo had the most digital editing?
It has to be Designer Pets:
q> Do you use any other software in relation to digital photos? If so, what?
I do use NeatImage from time to time. This is a great tool to remove noise in backgrounds and soften up an image with hard edges. I usually don't use any more than 35%. Using too much NeatIMage will cause the subject to look "plasticky"
q> On the whole, do you prefer a minimalist approach to post editing, a no rules approach, or somewhere in between?
I believe that you should try to get the most out of an image. This requires some editing.
The most rewarding images are the ones that are almost untouched (including not having to crop). I don't feel an image that has been edited is less of an image. I just believe that it is more rewarding when the image that came out of the camera is the one you want to show the world.
q> 'Smiley Eyes' is your highest scoring image on DPC. Did you have any technical challenges with this shot?Did you use natural lighting? What did you do with the dragon fly afterwards?
This is not a very technical shot. I shot it handheld with my 550EX and my macro lens. I caught the dragon fly in a bug net. It just stayed there (maybe stunned?) so I was able to fire off a lot of shots, with the net and dragon fly on the trunk of my car. It's fun when a bug cooperates like that so you can move around and compose the shot to maximize the impact of the image.
I let the dragon fly go after I was done. I always like to let my subjects go after I'm done with them. Unless of course I found a dead one and it isn't going anywhere fast :)
q> My personal favourite of all your images is a fairly recent one, 'Baby'. How did you get this expression? What did you find difficult about this shot? Manual or Automatic focus?
I like this shot too. I was blown away by how well it did, because I know how people don't care much for baby shots.
I find the expression is special in large part because of the huge eyes. The pupils are huge because the room was dark, and I fired off a shot with a flash. The pupils didn't have a chance to close down. The eyes are extra big because I used my Sigma 15-30mm lens set @ 15mm. This tends to give perspective distortion. It looks like he is doing a self-portrait because he is actually holding the lens hood with both hands. I used Neat Image to soften up the skin a little bit and give more of a surreal look to it.
Here is another example of using the Sigma 15-30mm and letting him hold the lens hood:
q> You are, put simply, one of the best macro photographers on DPC. Some examples - 'Hopper', 'Bee', and 'Fly on a Cactus'. Take us through a typical setup for shooting bugs of different kinds.
I'd like to think my macros get recognized because of the composition and not only because of technical abilities. I feel it's crucial to use well-founded concepts like the rule of thirds and other compositional techniques. It's one thing to get up close and personal, but I feel the same thought process should go into a macro shot that you would use to do a formal portrait or a landscape shot.
When I stumble upon a insect or a small animal, I first fire off some shots to make sure I get a shot. Then I get closer and shoot one more shot, get even closer and shoot one more shot, etc. If the insect is still hanging around (like the dead one in my Fly on Cactus, hahahahaha) I really start thinking of what would make the shot special. What angle would be the best? How does the background look. What if I used less DOF, more DOF.
This is my favorite macro shot ever:
I found this little frog while looking for grass hoppers. It was so cute I had to take a few pictures of him. I had to find a way to show how small it is so I placed him on a quarter. I placed the quarter on the hood of my car because it's a nice neutral background.
Here's another shot showing how small this frog really was:
Again I let him go once I was finished with him. I would have loved to bring him home and play some more, but I felt I had to return him to the swamp because he would have died at my house.
q> 'Angry Kitty' has to be one of the classics of DPC. I liked the original title, which was 'angry kitty ready for a scratch your eyes, if you vote 1 then your stupid', did I get that right? Have you sold any prints for this?
The original title was Angry Kitty Ready for a Scratch Out Your Eyes (Intentional Abstract, if you Give Me a 1 You're stupid). I wanted a longer title but DPC only lets us use so many characters. I just wanted to see if I could get a last place ribbon.
I haven't sold any prints. You can still get a 8x10 for $3.53, though. It looks great in a frame. It really does.
Angry Kitty Print
q> In 'Designer Pets', how difficult was it to achieve this affect in post production?
It wasn't too difficult, but I had to use Paint Shop Pro because I couldn't figure out how to cut and past my cat's head in Photoshop. Once that was done I attacked it with Photoshop. I really learned a lot with this exercise about cloning and the history brush.
q> What has been the hardest image to photograph, out of all of your entries on DPC? Why?
My toughest shot had to be Two Classics:
I know people whine that water drop shots are cliché but you have to try one to really appreciate how tough it really is to capture. I probably shot 200 shots and this one was the best. Again, I caught a water drop, but I tried to play with composition and the contrast between the black and white.
q> Please go through the composition of 'Primary Glass'.
This one was pretty simple but tough to execute because I had to get the refraction just right. I used a long exposure and a tripod to get a proper exposure. I had to move back and forth until the refraction was just right, where the colors were inverted.
The toughest part of the set up was getting the lighting just right. I would get horrible reflections when using front lighting, and back then we couldn't use the clone tool to remove reflections. I had to come up with a way to light the back ground. I used a work lamp to light up the background from underneath a table.
I did a brief How-To on the set up here.
I used the same idea to light up the background in this shot (this time I used a Canon 420EX fired off by my ST-E2 wireless transmitter):
q> I won't get you to explain 'Blueberry splash', because there is already a great tutorial on it. Instead, can you go tell us what you were feeling after you entered it in the challenge. Were you confident it was a winner that was going to be well received, or were you unsure? Did you eat the blueberry after the shoot?
I really didn't think it would do well. Like many DPCers I had submitted a few pics that I thought would be winners, and was terribly disappointed to see my entry tank. I decided I would probably never understand those darn voters. I woke up next morning, and saw my score was like 7.5 or something. I was in total shock. I thought it would drop horribly during the day, but it stayed up there and actually went up during the week.
q> 'Psycho' obviously based on one of the best movies of all time, and one of your highest rated images. The lighting is a standout in this shot, what did you use? What choices did you have to make regarding the composition of this image?
My wife was 33 weeks pregnant when we did this shoot. I wanted a better profile but I thought people would have reacted very negatively if they had known that my "victim" was pregnant. I simply removed the outer shower curtain and left the inside translucent shower curtain on the rings. There is a window in the shower so it let in some spooky light that gave the image the right ambience for the shot. I wanted to use the rule of thirds to maximize the impact of the knife. Of course it had to be black and white because the Hitchcock film had been shot in black and white.
q> If you would like to explain any more of your images in more depth, please feel free.
This was one of my most fun shoots:
q> Are there any type of photographic styles/techniques that you don't like?
- Not really. Once in a while I'll see a black and white photo that just seems like it was converted to B&W because the photographer couldn't get the colors or exposure right.
- I have no problem with cliché subjects: flowers, bugs, babies. A good shot is a good shot.
q> What is your preferred style of photo? (i.e. macro, landscape, etc)
- I really like to do macros. Surprise surprise!
- I like still life shots (studio set ups)
- I want to do more landscapes this summer. I love landscape sceneries with strog foreground elements.
q> Name 5 photos on DPC that inspire you, in order of preference.
"Do this bunny think or are he scared?" -
Author: Russi. By far my favorite shot on this site. I am not kidding. Every time I read the title and look at the image I laugh out loud. I love fun images and this one is super fun.
"Standing Tall" -
Author: Zeuszen. I love the play in perspective here. Great tones too.
"Simple Pleasures" -
Author: Riggs. Simple Pleasures by Riggs. For the same reason I love Russi's shot. I look at this and I just have to smile, shake my head, and think ... WTF. Love it !
Author: Muckpond. I love the composition and the colors he used. I just like the drama queen look of the poor housewife. Excellent portrait.
Author: DrJOnes. Just because he's my hero.
q> What are the 3 favourite shots that you have taken, and why?
"Broken Motion" -
I love this one because I saw the concept in my head and had to figure out a way to do it. I didn't know if it would work. When it turned out the way I had envisioned it I was totally stoked.
"Wish Bone" -
I wanted to shoot something that had a minimialist feel to it. I feel it turned out real well. I have a print of it in my kitchen.
Various - Samuel
This is the first of many photos of my son.
q> What do you consider to be important aspects of photography?
To understand that you are dealing with light. Learn to make light work for you.
q> Who is your favourite photographer on DPC?
I'd have to say that it is Sonifo. I really like her soft style. She takes great pictures of children.
q> Who is your favourite photographer outside of DPC? (both film and digital, if you like)
I like Peter Turner (www.peteturner.com) because of the intense colors he uses in his photography. Very inspiring.
q> Do you have any photographic projects outside of DPC?
Not yet, though I have a la-z-boy project where I take a picture of my son every 10th of the month to see how much he changes over time: LaZBoy.
I want to buy a toy camera like a Holga or a Diana (they both shoot medium format film and have plastic lenses). They make really funky and old looking photos. I want to shoot 15 shots of the town where I live.
q> Some critics still don't think photography is a form of art. What is your response to this?
I don't care about this debate. I don't really consider myself an artist.
q> How many prints do you sell on DCP Prints in a month, on average? Whats your best selling image?
About one per month. My most popular print is Primary Glass.
q> Are you planning any photo trips in the future? If so, where?
No formal trips planned. I just try to bring my camera wherever I go.
q> You only have been selected 255 times as a favourite photographer. What would you like to say to those people who haven't selected you?
Helllloool Anybody out there. Helllooooo!
q> Is kitty still angry?
Poor little kitty. I had to give my cat to my brother because I had a violent reaction in one of my eyes a few months ago.
q> Since challenge entries are pretty much a part of your "permanent record", in retrospect, are there any pictures you wish you hadn't submitted to a challenge?
Nope. No regrets here. I'll leave that to the neurotic types.
q> How do you decide which challenges you are going to enter and which ones you'll skip?
If something pops up in my mind I'll go for it. I enjoy having a score to track, but it's not as important as it used to be.
q> Do you regularly seek assistance outside of the DPC community in trying to determine which of your photos you should submit?
I'll get feedback from my brother or my wife.
q> If you could personally ask Drew & Langdon for one new site feature or enhancement, what would it be?
Add an empty field to add the lens that was used with a DSLR. No need to have drop down menus ... waaay too much work to update.
q> If you could offer some advice to somebody who is new to DPC and submitting to DPC challenges, what would it be?
Relax !!!!!!!!! Don't ever forget that photography is supposed to be fun.
Look at the images you really like and figure out what makes it a nice photo.
Comment on images. You'll learn more from commenting than getting comments on your pics.
q> Why do you enjoy photography?
It's a great way to relax. Fun is the key word.
Thanks for the interview Jacko. Cheers.
I hope you all got something out of this interview, I certainly did. Thanks again Jacko :-) -Dan
Message edited by author 2004-07-02 14:54:40.
07/02/2004 06:03:59 AM · #2
|That's my little bro!
Great collaboration Dan and Jacques. This series rocks. Keep up the good work, both of you.
07/02/2004 06:17:09 AM · #3
|These interviews are awesome! Thankyou :D
07/02/2004 07:28:35 AM · #4
|Excellent interview Mr. Doucette!|
07/02/2004 07:55:22 AM · #5
|Oh my god. I wasn't around when the Angry Kitty hit the fan ... thank you to all the commenters (and of course Jacko) for a very amusing read!
Another great interview ...
07/02/2004 07:59:19 AM · #6
|One more question: Samuel always looks like he's just jumped out of his skin. How do you get him to look so surprised? Do you dangle the frozen bugs in front of him??|
07/02/2004 08:07:31 AM · #7
07/02/2004 08:07:54 AM · #8
|Excellent interview ... and while I'm here:
"this time I used a Canon 420EX fired off by my ST-E2 wireless transmitter"
... what? is that true? the ST-E2 will fire off the 420ex without the 550ex? i've been saving my money for the 550 just so i could buy the st-e2 - can i just skip the 550 and use the st-e2 with my 420?
07/02/2004 08:32:47 AM · #9
I haven't been on the site much lately, so I missed the good news. Congrats on the new baby!
07/02/2004 08:49:07 AM · #10
|Great interview! Here I was picturing Jacko as a longtime photo jock with tons of equipment just out to hustle the rest of us with his amazing skills, and here I see that his photo history and gear is not so different from mine (so take out "longtime"). It was also good to see that some of his favorites aren't necessarily the well-known ribbon winners. Very inspiring.
OK- I'm off to check the windowsills...
07/02/2004 08:55:02 AM · #11
Originally posted by hopper:
the ST-E2 will fire off the 420ex without the 550ex?
Yup, the ST-E2 will act as a "master", just like the 550EX can be set to do.
07/02/2004 09:19:33 AM · #12
|Fantastic! I'm learning much from these interviews!|
07/02/2004 09:24:51 AM · #13
Originally posted by dsidwell:
Fantastic! I'm learning much from these interviews!
Uh, oh... dsidwell is getting BETTER?
Message edited by author 2004-07-02 09:25:19.
07/02/2004 09:34:22 AM · #14
|Jacko, you dance to beat of your banjo! How refreshing...
Thank you both for yet another fascinating interview :-)
07/02/2004 10:01:12 AM · #15
|great interview.. enjoyed it a lot.. thanks jacko and dan|
07/02/2004 10:21:30 AM · #16
Originally posted by digistoune:
Jacko, you dance to beat of your banjo! How refreshing...
I think there might be a kazoo in his band as well... LOL :o)
07/02/2004 10:46:35 AM · #17
|Great interview... one little point tho, is called "Nude", not "Housework" :)|
Message edited by author 2004-07-02 10:46:52.
07/02/2004 10:47:44 AM · #18
|I saw that, too, but I don't think many people will mistake that for housework (at least not any of the chores I'm used to). ;-)|
Message edited by author 2004-07-02 10:51:52.
07/02/2004 11:08:53 AM · #19
|well done Jacko. Keep cranking out your awesome images. I certainly enjoy them.
If you have a chance, I'd like to see some pics of your reverse lens setup. I have been trying to so this with a Canon 50MM. The added step down rings seem to make vignetting a problem. I'd like to see how many rings you use, or does the Sigma lens just directly use the macro coupler?
07/02/2004 11:19:41 AM · #20
|Fantastic interview! To have a little peek into Jacko's mind...what a treat! :D I had a good laugh reading about how Jacko kept the same dead fly for use in TWO challenges and then the fly's head fell off ROTFLMAO.|
07/02/2004 11:28:58 AM · #21
|For a macro photographer, all your favourites and inspirations are from quite different genres - feeling like branching out ?|
07/02/2004 02:55:49 PM · #22
Originally posted by Konador:
Great interview... one little point tho, is called "Nude", not "Housework" :)
lol, thanks for picking that up... fixed.
sometimes typos are subconcious.
07/02/2004 02:58:31 PM · #23
|another wonderful interview! thanks so much, jacko and dan!|
07/02/2004 03:53:28 PM · #24
|That has to be one of the longest posts ever on DPC!|
07/02/2004 05:52:08 PM · #25
|Lol he's very expressive. He was born with a camera in his face so he really likes the camera's flash.
Wanna see one where he really looks like he just jumped out of his skin? Check this one out.
But seriously you have to look for the expression. It's better to wait a little while and be quick on the trigger.
Originally posted by emorgan49:
One more question: Samuel always looks like he's just jumped out of his skin. How do you get him to look so surprised? Do you dangle the frozen bugs in front of him??