Joe Daniel is a freelance photographer based in England and Portugal. Joe, 30, lives in England. He took up Photography only 2 years ago and quickly got into HDR.
“The learning curve for the post-production of an HDR image was a lot harder than I initially imaged – I think I managed to make every mistake possible! But I continued and trained my eye to see these problems and learn to correct them. In my experience seeing the problems in a picture is half the battle, the other half is correcting them.” says Joe.
“My home is in Herefordshire, England, which is very near Wales. I’m lucky enough to have the Elan Valley, Forest of Dean and the Brecon Beacons all close. I also spend plenty of time in the Algarve, Portugal. Both countries have rich histories and are great locations for photography.”
When I asked Joe about his education he replied “I never went to school for photography, but I think it’s wrong to say I’m self-educated. I owe a lot to all the people who give free tips and tricks on the internet, without them I would never have
“I first bought a camera about 4 years ago. I made all the usual first time mistakes, like shooting in Jpeg not RAW format. I was disappointed with the results straight out of the camera and even a little post production did not seem to make the shots that interesting. Then a couple of years later I stumbled upon the work of Steve Skinner and Neil Kremer. I thought the look they achieved via HDR was fantastic, so I decided to jump into HDR photography with both feet.”
What or who got you started in photography?
This might be a surprising answer. A few years previous to me buying my camera I badly damaged my eyes, this stopped me from driving and doing various fun activities. I needed a hobby and luckily I could still see enough to take pictures. Not being able to get around as easy is a real bind, but this year I will be walking a hundred mile section of Cornwall’s coastline and shooting various major cities in Europe. I think if you’re just starting out in HDR the best bet is to spend time in a big city, they work out the most cost effective in the long run with being able to shoot interiors during the afternoons and continue shooting right on into the night. It will also provide you a wide selection of different problems to overcome and this will accelerate your progression – and if it rains the reflections make it even better! 😀
I’ve been into editing pictures from the very start. I shoot most of my images bracketed, this means I take multiple shots with some being under-exposed to capture details in the light areas, and some being over-exposed to capture details in the shadows. Normally I shoot three images at a particular scene then combine these images using Photomatix. When I first started using this technique my images would come out looking terrible. I’ve since realised that the results from combining the images will only get you so far, you need to then cobble the final image together using the better parts from the original exposures.
How would you describe your style?
I think my style is semi-realistic, colourful and hopefully interesting! Most of my images to date are taken far away from the usual tourist destinations.
What is your current gear setup?
I shoot with a Canon 5D Mark2. My lenses are the 50mm 1.4F, the ultra-wideangle Tokina 16-28 2.8F and a 70-200 F4 IS zoom lens. My tripod is a Manfrotto Neotec, a super travel tripod with quick release legs, great for when the tripod-police aren’t looking and for scramming when they are!
What is your favorite photography accessory?
Without doubt my 3-way little green level! I’m hopeless at getting horizons correct without it. One piece of equipment I really do use a lot is Manfrotto mini table-top tripod. It’s too small for the tripod-police to notice but provides a solid base for those dark interior shots where otherwise you’d have to boost your ISO to noisy levels.
What is your favorite lens and why?
My favourite lens is my Tokina 16-28 wide-angle. The vast majority of my pictures are shot with it.
Using a wide-angle can sometimes distort pictures to your advantage by stretching areas. In the
Lanyon Quoit picture I used this lens to stretch the top stone towards me, making it look much
longer. But the zoom is also used a lot when I want to compress a scene, like my set from Castle
Combe, where I didn’t want the distant houses to become too small. I think if you’re just starting
out in photography you should try and equip yourself with both a wide-angle and zoom to maximise the
shots you can take at each location, even if that means hiring one or the other for a trip.
What is your favorite computer/editing accessory, other than your computer? How about software?
I use many editing tools, Photomatix, Lightroom, Photoshop, Nik Colour Efex and Topaz Adjust.
Recently I’ve been using Photomatix to export 32bit files (you can save the 32bit image as a
floating tiff) and edit them directly in Lightroom4, which gives a much cleaner, more realistic feel
to an HDR image. I like all the software, I think the Splicify filter in Topaz adjust (used
selectively!) is great for popping a city scene, Pro-contrast in Nik Colour Efex is also great,
Lightroom is slick and easy and Trey Radcliff, perhaps the biggest name in HDR, has some great
Lightroom presets. But my workhorse is Photoshop, it’s essential.
Are you a Mac or PC lover?
Well at the moment I use a PC with a very old monitor that needs replacing! As a result I have to
check my picture on my Iphone before I publish just to make sure it does actually look OK!