SL: Well done David. How does it feel to be commended in the inaugural Scottish Landscape Photographer of the Year competition?
DQ: I was absolutely delighted to receive commendations in two categories of the 2014 SLPOTY awards and have my images appear in the book alongside so many other highly rated photographers.SL: Tell us a wee bit about yourself and when you first start taking photography seriously.
DQ: I first developed an interest in photography whilst studying for a BA(Hons) in Graphic Design at Dundee College of Art in the 1980′s and opted for photography as a secondary support subject. The college had a great suite of darkroom facilities and we learned how to develop our own black & white film and prints. I now work for a graphic design agency in Edinburgh where much of my time is spent retouching digital images in photoshop for publications. It was this that rekindled my interest in photography and led me to buying my first digital SLR camera in 2006. I live in central Scotland and most of my images are from the surrounding area with a few from further afield as time and travel permits.SL: Has your photography been influenced by any particular photographer or artist?
DQ: I take influences from many fellow photographers that I follow on social media sites like Flickr but one of my most recent purchases was a book of landscape photographs shot entirely on an iPhone by Julian Calverley called #iphoneonly.
SL: Can you tell us about your competition images. What’s the story behind them?
DQ: Bo’ness Habour at sunset: This view of the old harbour at Bo’ness looking across to Longannet Power Station is one of my ‘go to locations’ when I’m at home and see a nice sunset appearing at the last minute. I was downloading some images to the computer when I saw such a sunset developing and quickly grabbed my gear and ran out of the door. The location is only a 5 minute drive from the house and it wasn’t long before I had the camera set up and ready to shoot. However, on taking the first image it was apparent that I had left the memory card by the computer at home and there were no spares in the bag! I had to very quickly pack everything away and rush back to the house to collect the card and repeat the journey back to the harbour. Fortunately it was one of those sunsets that lasted and held its colour for at least half an hour and I managed to grab a few shots before it finally got dark.
The Kelpies: This was taken not long after the Kelpies opened to the public and it proved to be an instant hit with the public and photographers alike. It’s was very busy, even after dark, as many people came to see and photograph the Kelpies lit up at night which made getting a shot without people in it quite a challenge. I found a spot and composition I liked where I could hide the pylons in the background behind the Kelpies heads and waited paitently for a gap in the crowds – an exposure of 30 secs also ensured that anyone straying into the shot during the exposure was blurred so much as to be invisible as long as they kept moving. All that was left to do in post-processing, apart form the usual RAW adjustments, was to clone out the pylon cables which weren’t even all that obvious against the night sky.
SL: Do you ever know when you’ve captured a great shot?
DQ: The advantage of digital cameras is that you can see the image straight away on the back of the camera, but I’m always a bit apprehensive until I see the images large on the computer screen. Sometimes though I’ve come back from a shoot feeling as though I have got nothing right and then been pleasantly surprised when I’ve looked the images again – often this can be several days or even weeks later.
SL: Tell us a little about your gear. Why did you choose them and do they shape how you capture your images in any way?
DQ: I’ve been shooting with Nikon cameras since I got into digital photography in 2006 when I bought a Nikon D50. I upgraded a few years later to a D200 before finally making the move to a full-frame D610 last year.
I have a wide angle 18-35mm which is great for landscape work, a 50mm prime and 70-200mm f2.8 zoom lens that I never used to use all that much but I’ve found myself using it more since moving to full frame for some reason.
SL: Do you use any post processing in your work, and if so can you tell us about your workflow?
DQ: I alway shoot in RAW format as I like to edit my images extensively in Adobe Lightroom. I find that the full frame sensor allows me greater flexibility when making adjustments and find that I very rarely have to venture into photoshop now. I think there’s still a common misconception these days though about the difference between photoshop re-touching and the processing of RAW images.
SL: Do you have any personal favourite photographs of your own and can you tell us more about them.
My personal favourite is an image of the Forth Bridge in the mist. I was driving home from Edinburgh to Bo’ness one evening in thick fog when I heard on the radio that traffic heading towards the bridge was slow due to the fog. I don’t actually cross the bridge so I decided to turn off and take the more scenic road via South Queensferry. As I descended down the steep hill into Queensferry a gap in the mist suddenly appeared partially revealing the rail bridge and a beautiful light diffused light created by the low setting sun filtering through the mist. Luckily I had the full kit in the car, including a pair of wellies, and I enjoyed nearly an hour of perfect conditions that I’ve never seen the like of since despite passing regularly on the journey to and from work.
SL: Do you have any new projects on the horizon? Have you set yourself any new goals and where do you see your photography going in the next year or two?
DQ: I don’t set myself any specific targets or goals – as I work full time my landscape photography has always provided a welcome break from office work and deadlines and a chance to enjoy the outdoors.
I’d like to achieve success in more competitions and get my work into more publications but I don’t see it becoming a professional occuapation. I’d like to keep photography as something I enjoy and look forward to and not for it to become a chore or have the added pressure of having to earn a living from it.
SL: Lastly, are there any specific tips or techniques you can share with our readers?
I heard a great bit of advice last week to work out what sort of photographer you want to be – whether that be landscape, portrait, sport, wildlife etc and concentrate on improving your skills in that area. That’s not to say you shouldn’t shoot other subjects, but not many photographers excel in every genre.