Capturing the Moment with a Camera


Part Two of my interview with Wayne Rowe, author of Zen and the Magic of Photography. Here is the link to Part One.

What equipment is in your camera bag?  Canon? Nikon? 

When I was shooting film, I was exclusively into Nikon, which I love.  I was waiting on the quality of digital to approach that of film. I shot a lot of Kodachrome.  Those were hard to match. So I waited, but Nikon was slow and didn’t do it.

Wayne Rowe
Wayne Rowe

I was attracted to Canon.  My first digital camera with  Canon was the EOS 1DF Mark II. It had 16.7 megapixels.  I loved that camera, it was really wonderful and to me, it [the photos] looked like film.  Then I got the 5D Mark II. It was lighter, more megapixels, faster processor, and so on.   So I enjoy Canon.

Now Nikon has caught up and now they’re the two big companies.   I started out with prime lenses back in the 50’s and I got zooms when they became good.  And then with digital I started with zooms and then decided, “No, I’m going back to prime, because I like the speed.

One of my favorites is the Canon 50 mm 1.2, beautiful lens, very fast.  So, I go for the prime lens, the fastest ones I can get.  The prime lenses are sharp and fast — thats what I like in these lenses.  I like Gitzo tripods and I haven’t used ball heads much.  I use Bogan tripods and I have some Manfrotto stands, too.  One of my favorites is the Gitzo carbon fiber because it’s light weight and very strong.

Have you done any work with a field camera?

Yes, I shot 4 X 5. I also at one time had a Linhof Master Technika, a beautiful field camera, folding. Beautiful.  It was a little bit like a Speed Graphic, size wise. I used that a lot for studio work. That was quite good. And then I worked a regular 4 X 5 field camera, and also 2.25. So I’ve shot these different formats. I guess my favorite though is really 35 mm.

What is your position on image editing/altering, post processing? I love PhotoShop. I teach PhotoShop, also. It’s exciting, I love it.  It expands your possibilities in photography.  I’m going to start getting into LightRoom, soon.  Hmmm….editing and altering, I use PhotoShop in my own work for levels, saturation, curves,  burning, dodging, sharpening. That type of thing. Trying to get back to what I saw.   The way the image appeared to me. The truth of what I’m seeing.  I like to crop before you shoot. Try to make the image as perfect as possible in the camera, so you have a minimum of things to do afterward, in post processing — editing.   If you’re shooting huge amounts of images [like 15,000 a year]  then LightRoom might be the way to go, because it deals with massive amounts of images and really  streamlines your work flow.

What about HDR (high dynamic range) software?

I haven’t done it.  I know what it is. I used masks and  can bring out shadows, bring down highlights, much the same way HDR works and do it with one shot [rather than combining bracketed shots].  I have used panoramics and that is amazing!  Where you do a 180 degree sweep, with overlapping shots and PhotoShop will put them all together; it’s all automatic.

Do you have plans for a website soon?

I haven’t really. I have some friends that are website builders, but I just haven’t done it.

What do you advise your students in regard to selling their work, online and in person?

I have students who have their own websites. They set them up  and they use Facebook and Twitter and all this stuff to try and get hits on their site and just try to get known that way.  There’s a lot of competition out there and  professionals are competing with amateurs who have gotten great shots and then sell them to stock agencies.  There’s a huge amount of competition out there.

What I advise my students to do is get as much knowledge as they can, try to immerse yourself in this.  It’s a lifetime learning process. I’m always learning new things about photography. You’re never at the top. If you think you’re at the top, you’re finished! You’ve always got to be open to knowledge and learning, and then you have something.

Just follow your own vision. You’re not Ansel Adams, or Edward Weston or anybody else.  You’re yourself and you’ve got to do your best and if you have something that connects with people and you submit your work out there, and if they see it, you get a chance.  It’s very tough out there in that world.

I know from Lucien Clerque, he does gallery and fine art stuff. It’s just murderous, getting established, to sell to collectors, it’s just so tough. He’s a good businessman, too. And that’s another side that enters into this, the business side.  A lot of your really top photographers are also good business people.

Do you recommend any particular professional associations?

I was in ASMP but dropped out. Now I’ve been in the National Press Photographers Association for over 20 years. They’re in North Carolina.  That’s a photo journalist/news reporters organization.  I’ve always been interested in the associated concerns of news photographers and rights of photographers and freedom of  the press. So by belonging, I see the latest work  of field photographers and the problems that come up when they are harassed, or their cameras destroyed or whatever comes up.  It’s a good organization.

Do you follow the politics of professional photography?

I do in the sense of a photographers rights to take pictures, copyrights, and the right of photographers to point their cameras at different things. Such issues as architectural copyrights; it’s very bad on photography when you can’t take a photo of a building, freedom of expression. I want it to be as open as possible for people to chose subjects. I think that the copyright should always belong to the photographer.  I’m for the maximum protection for the ownership of the photo for the photographer.

RoweBoats---400Where can our readers see and buy your art?

Very simple!  Zen and the Magic of Photography.  In this book, I tried to put in some of my zen experiences, moments of satori, things that I connected with, “in the moment” kinds of photos.

If you could only pick one – and I’m sure you have many – which one photograph would you choose to represent your zen/photography experience?

My favorite, the one I think I like the best, is the first one in Part Three (of the book),  Boats.  I’ve always loved the colors, the blue and the greens; then the  way the boats were arranged, the asymetrical composition. The way I got that, I was walking on a little bridge over a canal [similar to the ones in Venice]. I looked down and I saw this.  I took maybe two or three photos (with KodaChrome 25)  and all of a sudden, the wind came up and blew the boats out of composition, and it was gone.

Final thoughts for us to remember….

There is undoubtedly  a spiritual side to photography and that’s what I found connecting in photography and zen in the same way.  Capturing the spirit of the moment, it’s all tied together.   You can become what you’re photographing.  Follow your feelings, your intuition, open yourself to feelings. What draws you to a particular subject? People can wake up to the world around them and get more out of life by learning how to see, and they can do that by getting into the moment.  I hope this book does that for them.


Please click the book cover image to read more about FCEtier and his novels.Etier is also widely known for his photographic art. Check out some of his work  in the Art Section of Caleb and Linda Pirtle.

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