This blog, come web page, was originally known as Snap Fly Cook and featured: Andy – the Photographer, Traveller & Chef.
It is now only a central platform for Andrew’s photography.
The original aim of the blog was to bring all three main passions (photography, travel and cooking / eating – and the celebration thereof) into one interactive forum, and to be a combined showcase for the pleasure of others and no doubt Andrew).
If you look at Andrew’s photos and wonder whether or not they have been post-processed, then wonder no more. Andrew makes no “excuses” about the fact that he just loves spending hours working, reworking, and yes, again, re-reworking photos through various software packages. He finds this process very calming and is sometimes like a kid in awe when something truly magical is generated.
It was only at the end of November 2012 that Andrew started getting “serious” with photography. He discovered HDR, didn’t know what this process was actually used for so he started rendering dogs, cats, the garden tap and many other live / static objects / scenes to the HDR process. It was darn rough and ugly but he loved it at the time. Interestingly, this was one of main steps that lead Andrew down the photography path he has followed.
As mentioned, it is a meditation of sorts for Andrew. It is a good “addiction” that he feeds continuously. In the beginning, especially, the “wonders” of HDR processing hooked him although he now only blend my photos manually and has not touched HDR software for some years now.
Andrew likes to tell friends and other interested persons that he read somewhere once that he who is seeking God in church, temples, ashrams and so on will struggle somewhat. God is to be more easily found in that glorious sunrise, sunset and the Milky Way. Andrew who is no stranger to the spiritual path can vouch for this from experience.
He truly believes in this as there have been a few rare photos shoots (say a 5% frequency or less) where he stands back in awe on location, feels instant and huge gratitude, and gives an unrehearsed prayer of thanks! It just happens with no planning. It’s personal and nobody else is around. The heavens and land just “grab” you without warning. This is maybe why the whole photography experience is such a “good meditation” for Andrew.
Below is what Andrew uses for his “meditation”:-
- Picasa by Google was his first love and, considering that it’s free and packed with so many easy to use features, he still uses it a lot for really basic stuff (not his “top-drawer” photos though).
- Photomatix is what he previously used to blend his HDR bracketed photos into one. Andrew was fully absorbed by HDR blending engines but soon grew away from them.
- Photoshop (PS) is not a magic wand. You need to learn and keep learning, practice and keep practicing. I doubt the learning will ever stop given the vast power and diversity of this package.
- Topaz De-Noise plug-in for Photoshop is also useful but Andrew went on to use Dfine 2 in Nik Efex to remove noise when needed. He now uses Lightroom as his starting point with RAW files and does most the noise reduction there or with Raya Pro.
- Magic Lantern firmware on his Canon 550D camera helps Andrew get more than three bracketed images to process via HDR and now blend manually.
- Canon 550D previously with 18/55mm and 70/300mm standard entry-level lenses: later on with Sigma 10/20mm and 18/250mm lenses – PS: The Sigma 10-20 is magic for cropped frame cameras / landscapes
- Andrew’s Xmas present to himself in December 2013 – Canon 6D, 24/105 lens and Nik Efex.
- He also bought a Canon 17-40L lens for my landscapes and Canon 50mm 1.8 (nifty-fifty) to play with (Canon’s cheapest lens) – for some of the photos he’s taken with this lens click here.
- Other than shouting “Eureka” when I discovered PS, he also shouted out in similar joy and amazement when he discovered Lightroom to preliminary process RAW photos, which he then exports to Photoshop.
- In June 2016 Andrew acquired another amazing travel camera: a Canon G3X with fitted 24 – 600 mm zoom!
Andrew’s skills are mostly self-taught. He has been pretty stubborn in this regard but did attend his first ever photography (PS) course (4 hours only) in early May 2013.
In 2014 he also did another PS course (another 4 hours).
The first course did not help much other than to convince Andrew that PS is not an “alien”. By the time he did the second course he had picked up some added PS skills but needed to have his eyes opened a little more.
Want a little secret? The single biggest factor in Andrew’s improvement, other than his own drive, has been the inspiration he’s gathered from other photographers.
Andrew’s best teacher and source of inspiration, even though he and Andrew have never met is: click here to see who. You will even find some free PS actions and tutorials at the bottom of his page.
This Scottish gent, who Andrew considers to be his “mentor”, is on Facebook as well.
It’s all about finding a “teacher” on whose wavelength you are comfortable. They don’t have to be the best, they just have to be suitable for YOU! You then follow and grow with them.
Andrew often wakes-up at 03h00 in summer to be on the beach in time for first light and sunrise an hour or so later. He also goes the extra mile to get to “hard to access” locations and is much more particular these days (2016) with the quality of his post processing but improvement will always be needed.
In the 2nd quarter of 2015 he discovered star photography and that meant going out at 23h00 and sometimes 03h00 in winter.
Andrew still loves to use his “baby” 550D with the 50mm 1.8 or Sigma 10-20. It’s a powerful combination now that Andrew has learnt a little more practical stuff.
Finally, if you are interested in why Andrew finds photography to be the best type of meditation for him then click here, and if you’re also into travel and restaurants then checkout Andrew’s profile on Tripadvisor. As at August 2015 he had visited 18 countries / 119 cities (some more than once).
“A good traveller has no fixed plan and is not intent on arriving.” – Lao Tzu