Next up we have Robert McQuillan from Sky Lark Fotos. Robert is good customer of ours and his company Sky Lark Fotos specialises in photography & video production. Ranging from documentary-style filmmaking to promotional video & marketing solutions, as well as corporate headshots & product photography. Sky Lark Fotos have also recently produced a beautiful calendar of Drogheda and its surrounds. Its available to order from their website here.
Give him and his company a follow while you are there. So here we go......
To Start... How did you get into photography?
I have always had an interest in photography. We normally had a camera around for family holidays and occasions growing up and photos were an important part of our family. My brother John has been a keen photographer for many years but it’s only really in the past 4 or 5 years that I have caught the photography bug properly myself.
I have had a keen interest in video, especially through my time involved in Football. This led to an investment in some good equipment as I was going through my UEFA coaching process. It was around this time that I started to enjoy photography as an escape from life and the intensity of elite level football. There is nothing quite like an early morning hike for a sunrise or a stroll on the beach with the camera to capture some tranquil landscape images. I started with a GoPro and a DJI Osmo in 2017 but bought my first DSLR, a Canon 550D in 2018 and I have been hooked ever since.
Is there any one particular persons work that has influenced you most?
I follow a couple of photographers on YouTube, Nigel Danson, Gavin Hardcastle, Adam Gibbs and Thomas Heaton to name a few. Steven Hanna has been someone I have followed from my early days learning the ropes for landscape photography and he is someone who I admire and respect a great deal. His landscape and wedding work is amazing.
Locally we have some incredible talent, Tony Campbell has been in the photography circles for years and captured our wedding brilliantly some years ago now (wont say how long). Larry Mc Quillan has been a huge inspiration and help to me too. Someone else I admire and respect would be Eimhear Collins.... her work is world class and a nicer more helpful person you just could not meet.
What is the one thing you wish you knew when you started taking photos?
There are plenty of things I wish I knew when I started but the biggest thing is patience and understanding. Understand how it all works, practice, make mistakes and keep pushing the limits. It’s not about the latest and best gear at all, its about getting the best out of what you have and understanding that process.
What gear do you use and why?
We use Canon for both Photography and Video. Its the brand we started off with and we love using our Canon cameras right from the start. The functionality and ease of use with Canon has been great for us, the availability of EF lenses is key with lots of options in branded and 3rd party manufacturers.
We have upgraded to Canon R bodies this year and love the results for both Photo and video, the Canon R5 has been a great addition to our C100 Mk2 and BMPCC EF cinema cameras as its more flexible and works so well on a gimbal.
Have you a favourite lens (or ‘lenses’)?
I have 2 lenses that I find difficult to pick between, the Sigma 35mm F1.4 Art lens, so sharp and reliable and the results are amazing or the Canon 135mm F2 which is incredible for portraits and the bokeh is sublime.
Is there one piece of camera equipment you wish you hadn’t bought or never use? Why?
I have chopped and changed equipment a bit over the past few years but havent had any bad experiences with gear.... apart from maybe buying something and then a new improved model comes out the following week. I bought the original DJI Mavic Pro a few weeks before the Mavic 2 pro was released... no discount either unfortunately!
Do you take any essential items other than a camera and lens on a shoot with you?
A good lens cloth and maybe a towel, just to keep the gear clean and dry. Oooh.... and a sturdy tripod.
Have you got any 'favourite' settings?
I do like F14 for a nice sunstar depending on the composition. When it works its great.
What do you use for post-processing and what’s your workflow like?
I use Adobe Lightroom. I try to do as much as possible with the composition in camera but my editing process is straightforward. Cull any images that are duplicated or not up to standard and upload the rest to an album on LR. Always back up on a hard drive and on the cloud.
I would usually start editing with a look at auto settings as a starting point. Generally the next step is making small changes using the sliders, nothing drastic so the image remains natural. I would always check the horizon is straight, especially for seascapes and then look at the crop and make suitable changes before exporting.
Have you a favourite photo and if so why is it your favourite?
I have plenty of favourites and its difficult to choose one. I am very proud of my Tri Colour drone image from Murder hole beach in Donegal or my reflection image of Errigal in Donegal captured using my first DSLR but currently my favourite image is probably a 5 image stitch panorama shot taken handheld with the Canon R5 of the Boyne Viaduct.
This image was a one off for a client and we printed and framed it 2m wide and the finished product looked stunning.
Any final words of advice or wisdom?
Practice and don't be afraid to make mistakes. Analyse where things go wrong and understand how to make them better. Don't be afraid to reach out and ask for advice. Most established photographers that I have encountered on my journey have been really helpful and supportive and are willing to share so much advice. Challenge youself and push boundaries to find your own style/niche.
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