Spotlight on Graham Cashell

This months featured

photographer is Graham Cashell.

We take a time out to ask him a

few questions about his

photographic journey.

Graham is a founding member of the Camera Club and has been with us since day one.

Q1. Tell us about yourself and what made you join GCC...

Graham: I was a keen photographer from my school days. Although, to be honest, there wasn’t much to my photography, I just liked taking photos and seemed to have a eye for it. I usually saw something nice, but thought, ‘if I hop this wall and get down lower, imagine the shot I might get’. All my photos then would have been at the end of the film age and then the early generation of digital cameras. In 2011 I was part of the discussion on, with 4 or 5 others, out of which a ‘common interest group’ was setup. We met in a pub, handy, and everyone arrived with a plus 1. Then the next week there’d be more plus ones. Then we moved pub. And again, everyone arrived with a plus one. Before we knew it, the club had outgrown the pub, could no longer be just a common interest group, and a month later, we had Greystones Camera Club. After all the work in getting to that point, I really had to join, didn’t I!!???

Q2. What type of photography do you do most? What do you enjoy most and why?

Graham: Up until the start of this year, land and seascapes were my favourite. I love exploring what the east coast has to offer. It was this that formed a lot of my early competition entries and help gain me my first Irish and International distinctions (qualifications). These are the Licentiate of the Irish Photographic Federation (LIPF) and the Artist Fédération Internationale de l'Art Photographique (AFIAP). After losing a lot of the 2015 with some back issues, I needed something to help get my drive and passion for photography back. I decided to take the route of portrait style, as I liked that style but had shot very little of it. After I dipped my toe into it, I decided that shooting models in landscape and fine art nude captivated me. This sparked my passion once again and I just love getting to create new images. I’ve also got to work with some amazing models from Ireland, central Europe, and the most famous of them all in photography circles, a Canadian model, Fredau. This new style has brought me unbelievable success since I started entering it in International exhibitions, known as Salons. With only around 20-30% of all photos submitted to exhibitions getting accepted, and less than 1% getting an award, I’ve managed to win 20 awards around the world since May this year. This has been a bonus to enjoying the style but also a big driver to my plans for photos I want to create.

Q3. Among all the images you have taken, do you have a favourite? Why?

Graham: The Dive Board... This photo was taken in January 2015 in Whiterock, Killiney. This is probably my favourite shooting ground. The location has a wealth of options, all different every-time depending on the tide. I loved the photo when I saw it on my camera, but it was elevated to my my favourite photo as it won me the Best Overall Image in the 78th An Oige Photography Competition and got awarded an IPF Gold Medal, the highest honour medal available from the IPF.

Diving Board by Graham Cashell

Q4. Whose work has influenced you most in recent times?

Graham: I’m not into famous photographers and the ‘masters’ really at all. I love to learn by what’s around me, the people I shoot with and the people I’m in competition with. When starting out exploring landscapes, the work of Eimhear Collins and Brian Hopper were my benchmark, a rather high one at that. Both were great to learn off and get advice from as I brought my photography from level to level. In my current genre of portrait, models in landscape and fine art nude, the work of Ross McKelvey, Joe Doyle, Bill Power and Tim Pile are my biggest influencers. The most amazing thing about having your favourites being present day photographers, is that I have had the experience of shooting with all of them and are there to bounce ideas off them. Recently a little dream came true when I got invited to shoot for the weekend with Tim, along with Joe, firstly in a very old house in Dublin, then a country house on the outskirts of Dublin.

Q5. How do you educate yourself to take better pictures?

Graham: Online there is a wealth of information available to you to enhance your knowledge. While I use that for some elements of learning, I think workshops, of which I’ve done a landscape and a portrait one, are very helpful. However, just asking experts in the genre can be the most beneficial. Since I started in the club, I would often have a quiet word with those who I wished to learn something off. Most photographers love to be asked about their photos and I’ve got guidance from my friends and, at times, even friends only met through facebook. These then lead to good relationships with photograhers all over the country. Recently, all the names above have given me super guidance and assistance as my photographs reached the next level, and they know how much I appreciated the help. My little take away here: If you see something you like, ASK! Sometimes you get little in return and that’s fine, but don’t let it put you off, you’ll get super pointers from so, so many.

Q5. In the field, do you have a preferred shooting mode?

Graham: When shooting land and seascapes, aperture is my go to mode. ISO usually 100, auto focus and an auto white balance. I then use filters to try and get me my favourite shutter speed of between 1 and 1.6 seconds. This is just ideal for getting a lovely drag-back of the waves after they crash on the beach. If I’m looking for a long exposure of a few minutes, again I use filters and close the aperture right down so I can achieve perfectly smooth water or lovely soft streaks in the sky of the clouds passing over. When working with models in the landscape, however, I would tend to shoot in manual mode as the light is constantly changing. Using manual I can keep adjusting the settings to ensure I get the histogram using all available light without ending up with blown highlights. The most important setting to change then is the ISO. It’s all about getting the fast shutter speed to capture the pose, jump or flowing silk in the breeze. It’s a challenge at first, but you become very quick at getting the right setting… you shoot off another 20 frames in a few seconds!!

Q6. What kind of tools do you use for post processing?

Graham: I shoot in Raw, so the basic adjustments are applied there. Once complete, I take the photo into Photoshop CC to apply the finishing touches. My favourite plug-ins for that are Google Colour Efex Pro and Silver Efex Pro. Two amazing filters for simple, yet natural (provided you don’t go crazy), adjustments to photos. Both are free now and if you don’t have them, go get them!!

(Google - Nix Software link)

Q8. When you go away on holiday, what camera gear do you bring with you? Why?

Graham: I bring my Canon 7D, tripod and , if restricted to one lens, it would be my favourite, a Canon 15-85. A super lens that can cover wind angle landscape through to up close shooting at events. My Lee filters would also come. If room allows, a 50mm f/1.4 lens is great with kids, and a 10-22 for expansive land and seascapes.

Q9. Among the photography gadgets that you own, is there something that you wish you hadn't bought? Why?

Graham: None.

Q10. Finally, What is the one thing you wish you knew when you started taking photos?

Graham: I wish I knew how it was going to become the massive part of my, and my family’s life, that it is now. I could never have predicted the learning I was going to take on over the five years and to what level of photos I’m creating and success I would achieve. And, it's a journey that isn't anywhere near the end! :)

You can see many more of Graham's photo's over on his Flickr Photostream. Click here to visit Graham's photostream or his photography page over on Facebook here.

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