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Interview with Stephen Munn


02 December 2016

Posted by Anna Fraser

Hi Steve! Tell us about yourself in two sentences - who are you?

Living on the edge of the New Forest National Park, I returned to serious photography about 3 years ago after a 30 year absence, having missed capturing far too many beautiful sights as I crossed the forest each day on the way to and from work in the leisure industry. An amateur photographer, I particularly like capturing landscapes at dawn - lots of early rises though. However, as a lot of photographers will tell you, anything interesting in front of me can be a source of photographic inspiration.

QWhat's the weirdest situation you've found yourself in while taking a photograph?

ATaking a photo of a stunning sunset, magnificent scenery in front of me yet about 5 meters behind me there were lorries and cars were thundering past on the busy A31 that cuts right across the forest. I can remember thinking: 'how weird is this', picture post card stuff in front whilst behind me people are hell bent on getting from A to B as quickly as possible missing all this beauty that surrounds them.

QWhat do you shoot on? What's your favourite set up?

AIn my youth I had a Pentax ME Super, great little camera. So when I returned to photography, whilst the Nikons and Cannons of this world have great set ups, I was drawn to the Micro Four Thirds systems, and eventually went for the Panasonic Lumix G5 as it reminded me of that old Super - although it has far more knobs and whistles on it to get to grips with! I do most of my photography with Panasonic's 14-45 lens but recently acquired their 7-14 and finding that a great go-to lens when big skies are involved in my shots.

QWhat's your number one tip for an aspiring photographer?

ANot sure if I am qualified to answer this one as I still regard myself as an aspiring photographer! Practice makes perfect they say, so do just that, take lots of shots and be brutally honest with yourself over which are good and which are not. Most importantly, ask yourself why and fix it next time. I do think you need to shoot in RAW and gain a basic understanding of post processing software to be able to subtly improve your images. But don't ever, ever forget every photo you take doesn't have to be a masterpiece; family and other 'snaps' are just as important for future memories as some stunning landscape shots.

"Sunrise at Longwater Lawn" stock image

Choosing my favourite pic is easy: 'Sunrise at Longwater Lawn', the first photo I ever submitted to Picfair. It was also the first picture I took on my return to photography when I felt I had (in my opinion, of course) something a little special as soon as I pressed the shutter button. Longwater Lawn is a place I have and will continue to return to many times; a truly magical place at dawn in a magical setting.

"Tree at Longwater Lawn" stock image

Another photo from Longwater Lawn where a bit of patience (and luck - we all need it in photography occasionally) saw the small heard of horses move from behind the tree to the left. Increasing the temp a bit in Lightroom enhanced the orange glow of an already magnificent sunrise.

"Piglets suckling" stock image

This was taken at a home farm in Pembrokeshire. I just happened to poke my head in the sty when the pigs were suckling. Who could resist this as a shot!

"Garden Spider" stock image

A classic 'on your doorstep' shot, or to be more precise, what was in front of a window in my utility room at home. Backlighting combined with Panasonic's own 45mm macro hand held did the job.

"Alone on the beach" stock image

Walking down a local pier I spotted this child who could be isolated from the people around him (his mother was just out of shot). This created a sense of isolation and made the child look, to a degree, vulnerable as he was staring at his mother, but in the photo you get the sense he is looking for someone, anyone. When processing I thought the colour pop, given the child's vibrant clothing would further highlight that feeling of isolation and vulnerability. But happy ending, couple of seconds after taking this the child ran to his mum for a big hug!

"Motorbiker standing" stock image

I was at a local motorbike show where these guys were using ramps to get height whilst performing stunts for the crowd. I simply tracked him with the camera in burst mode and was frankly fortunate to get this shot at the precise moment he was standing on the bike. This shot has actually been blown up and used as a backdrop at the National Motor Museum, Beaulieu, on left hand stairs as you go up to the motorcycle gallery!

"New Forest Ponies at Dawn" stock image

A classic case of 'always have a camera with you if you can'. Was just driving to work early, saw the ponies against the mist and rising sun, grabbed my camera , jumped out of the car, about five paces, camera to eye, horse looking at me (which makes the photo in my opinion), click of shutter, horse turned away, job done.

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