Welcome to the monthly focus on one of our Society members.
For May 2019 we talk to Steven Farmer
Can you tell us what first got you interested in photography?
Growing up my Grandfather was a huge influence on me becoming a photographer. I watched him as he used a film camera to capture all the family moments. He always the one behind the camera, rarely in front of it!
I was given a kid’s Fisher Price camera for my 7th birthday; a big blue thing with a yellow lens. I think it took 110 film or something like that. I took the camera on a few school trips but unfortunately don’t remember what happened to it.
In 2012 I had a bridge camera, although I never felt it gave me the control I wanted and was limited by the poor quality of its lens.
In 2016 I was working in a second-hand ‘buy and sell’ shop called CeX. In stock there was a Nikon J1 that caught my eye. Although it was nice, it was not quite what I wanted so I decided to visit another store in Coventry and there saw a Pentax K-S1 in White and Lime Green. I fell in love instantly! I know it’s probably not sensible to fall in love with a camera based on colour but it felt right so I purchased the camera and accompanying 18-55mm lens and have never looked back.
What type of photographs do you most enjoy taking?I
I enjoy taking all sorts of pictures. When I got my first SLR in 2016, it was squirrels in Caldecott Park, the local scenery around Newbold Quarry, the canal and family portraits. Now three years later I’m shooting long exposures with ND filters, bands performing local live gigs, Sea Cadet mess dinners and kids running in the Mini Mud Run. In fact I will give anything a try and there isn’t much I wouldn’t try at least once!
What type of photographic equipment do you use?
I am that rare breed of photographer who uses Pentax gear. I know so very few Pentax users; Ken Grimwood and Tony Timmins. That’s it!
I did the photography for a wedding in September 2017 and my second shooter was a close friend. She had never heard of Pentax before. This is a company that was founded in November 1919 so not new or up and coming. These days they just don’t have the following of Canon or Nikon and it makes me sad! I even stopped my subscription to Amateur Photographer as Pentax wasn’t featured enough!
At present I have a Pentax K-1 36.4MP full frame DSLR as my main camera body with a Pentax K70 24MP APSC as a backup.
All the Pentax bodies I’ve looked at have shake reduction built into the body so I get shake reduction with every lens I use.
Pentax uses the K-mount system (a bayonet mount) on all 35mm SLR and DSLR bodies since the introduction of the K-series in 1975.
As this system hasn’t changed since then, I have a huge back catalogue of lenses that will still work on my Pentax K1. Some are now very inexpensive. I’ve picked up lenses for as little as £12 on eBay and in CeX; old film lenses that fit my full frame camera perfectly.
My go to lenses are:
- SMC Pentax-FA 50mm F1.4 – a film lens made in 1991 that still works amazingly.
- HD PENTAX-D FA 15-30mmF2.8ED SDM WR – a super-wide-angle, weather resistant lens.
- Sigma 28-135 mm F 3.8-5.6 Macro – I bought this lens for £35 from a charity stall shop at the NEC Photography Show in 2018. This is a lovely lens which I mainly use with my ND filters.
Can you identify some photographers that have inspired you?
I don’t know or follow any famous photographers. The three photographers that have had the biggest impact on me are; my Grandfather, Phil Lindley and David Bray.
My Grandfather was the best photographer I ever knew. He was old school. He shot film, had a dark room. He put the leg work in and it showed. He would get up at 4:00 in the morning to go and shoot snow sunrises so he didn’t have footprints in it.
Sadly my Grandfather passed away in November 2017 and I have so few photos of him, although I discovered this picture after he had passed.
I have a similar pic of myself shooting into a mirror testing the focus on a lens I had bought.
Phil and David have always pushed me to do better and have always helped me with anything I’ve ever asked. I wish I was even half as good a photographer. Their level of skill keeps pushing me to get better and try new things.
For example, Phil took me to grass track and jet ski events, two things I never thought I’d shoot, and David has offered to take me to a Timeline event. As I don’t drive, it’s only with the help of people like these that I can even attend the Society.
Can you show us a selection of your photographs each with a short explanatory paragraph; what inspired you to take the photograph or process it in the way you have?
This was a recent picture I took at Newbold Quarry at sunrise. My Dad has recently started fishing from his new kayak early in the morning. I decided to meet him there and take a few photographs. I love the colours and the peacefulness in the picture.
(Pentax K-1 with Pentax 15-30 @ 30mm, 1/800 sec, f11, ISO 1600. Edited with Photoshop and Topaz.)
This was a spur of the moment shoot. David gave me notice that a steam train was coming through Rugby. I don’t have a massive love for steam trains but I wasn’t going to miss the chance to see one.
(Pentax K-1 with Pentax 15-30 @ 30mm, 1/640 sec, f2.8, ISO 100. Edited with Photoshop and Topaz.)
I recently went to a talk at the Coventry Herbert Art Gallery and took my camera with me to try some ‘urban stuff’ on the way there and back. This was a handheld shot which I was surprised came out at 1/25th of a second. No flash or any other lighting was used; just what was there at the time.
I have had thoughts of using this in my CPAGB but not sure it is up to the mark (thoughts?).
(Pentax K-1 with Pentax 50mm, 1/25 sec, f5, ISO 3200. Edited with Photoshop and Topaz.)
Having the confidence to shoot in public is a hard thing. I am always terrified someone will notice and make a scene.
How do you see your photography developing in the future?I
I am going to be going for CPAGB soon and I have given myself a two year deadline to get it. In order to accomplish this I need to improve the way I think about my shots and increase my skills with editing in Photoshop.
It is great to have the help and support of Society members, such as Phil, who have already been through the CPAGB process successfully.
Thanks Steven for such an interesting article. I love the sunrise over Newbold Quarry. Super photograph!
Your choice of cameras also proves you have a good eye for colour! Great stuff!