Today I got to talk with Scott Wood from Scott Wood Photography. Scott has been doing photographer for nearly his whole life, and does photography as well as a separate day job, and has some amazing photographs in his portfolio.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself Scott.
I never really know where to start with questions like this, but basically I am what I consider a semi-pro photographer who very recently moved to Olympia Washington from the Arizona desert. I grew up in the pacific northwest so this was sort of a homecoming for me. My education is as an engineer, which I really don’t use in my day job as a support and implementation manager for a software company. I spent 10 years in the USAF which is what took me to Arizona in the first place. I consider myself a semi-pro photographer since I do make money at photography, mainly through print sales and licensing images to publishers, I certainly don’t do it full time.
How long have you been doing photography?
I got the photography “bug” pretty early on in life. I was always getting in trouble for having taken my parents camera and shooting up all the film. Of course the big issue was that I never told them and would just put the camera back where I found it. The next time they wanted it, the entire roll of film was already exposed. This led them to buying me one of those old 110 instamatic cameras as a kid, the film and processing was my responsibility though. I bought my first SLR camera, a Ricoh KR5 Super, which I actually still own, when I was in junior high and I never really looked back from there. I moved to digital in 2007 and even though I had always shot regularly in the film world, the move to digital changed everything for me photographically. I am not one of those that is nostalgic for the film world, I honestly don’t care if I ever expose another frame of film.
I know this is a really hard question for a photographer, but do you have a favourite photo?
You are correct, that is a really tough question. In a lot of respects it has to do with what genre I am shooing. It is also typically something I have shot fairly recently, it really is a moving target, but there are a couple that come to mind from the last year or so.
My “Grand Falls in Golden Light” image which I made at Grand Falls in northern Arizona is right at the top of my list, and will probably stay there for quite awhile, but the reason for that image being on my list has more to do with the journey to get the image than it does with the image itself. Grand Falls is a truly special place in Arizona that very few people even knows exists, it is one of those “best kept secrets” that you hear about a lot, even though no one is really trying to keep it a secret. While the place itself is quite special, when you add in a great group of photos / friends all visiting there together, you really have memories that will last a lifetime.
The other image that really resonates with me over the last year or so is simply titled “Me” and is something of a self portrait. I am an avid weather photographer, intact, the more extreme the weather, the more I love it. This image was captured during the 2011 Arizona monsoon season and to me really tells a story of chasing storms in Arizona. While the image is not of a severe thunderstorm, it does give then sense of longing and anticipation, which is a big part of storm chasing.
When you go out for a day of shooting photos, what kind of equipment do you take with you?
I tend to travel fairly light. I used to “pack for bear” as the old saying goes, but I found that I was carrying a ton of gear that was going unused most of the time. The ironic thing is that I was going out with a goal in mind, and taking gear that was would never be used for what I was intending to shoot. My logic was that “you never know” and wanted to be prepared for anything. When I go out now, I will typically carry some combination of a Nikon D7000 w/ a 24-70 2.8, a Nikon D200 w/ a 10-20 and an IR converted Nikon D200 w/ an 18-70. I might change things up with a Lensbaby or my Bigma 50-500. I realize that this might not seem like “traveling light” to a lot of people, but for me it really is.
Do you have a favourite style or type of photography?
Landscape and weather are my true passions. I also love IR photograph, but that still tends to fall under the landscape category. IR is really awesome because it allows you to see a “typical” landscape just a little differently than normally can. The human eye sees a specific spectrum of light, but there is a lot of light outside of that spectrum, and an IR converted camera lets us visit somewhere just a little alien to us.
You’ve been doing a lot of IR (Infared) photography lately, how did you originally get into this kind of photography?
I dabbled with IR photography back in my film days, but it was cumbersome and I never really got the results I wanted. You needed special film, which had to be processed a certain way, and you also needed some sort of IR filter on your camera, not to mention that you had to manually offset your focus for each and every shot. Like all film photography, there was no instant feedback and it was a real challenge to experiment.
Digital changed everything when it comes to IR, or more accurately near IR photography. The digital sensor is actually VERY good at detecting the IR spectrum, so good in fact that camera manufacturers add a special filter over the sensor to block that spectrum. This allows digital cameras to be converted by removing that IR blocking filter and adding a filter that blocks most visible light. The cameras auto-focus settings can also be changed to compensate for the focus shift needed for IR photography.
I really got serious about IR photography in late 2008 after I picked up a converted Nikon D70s. I have since upgraded to a Nikon D200 which was converted by Lifepixel with their “super color IR” filter.
Thanks heaps Scott for making the time to answer some questions for us all. If you would like you can follow Scott on Twitter and you should definitely head over to his photography website, Scott Wood Photography to see some of his work.