Interview with Flickr's Fack to Bront

self portrait

Christopher: Fack to Bront, interesting screen name, why did you choose it?

Fack to Bront: I suppose I'm interested in neology to some extent and also the elements of lysdexia I do have I find entertaining. Fack to Bront just seemed to suit flickr well

Christopher: Ahh, quick wit, this will be interesting. Want to share your real name?

Fack to Bront: Anndra Dubhacan

Christopher: Anndra can you tell me a little about yourself, what you do and your involvement with photography?

Fack to Bront: I'm a full time photography student working toward a degree in Glasgow, Scotland. Besides playing music, I spend an unhealthy amount of time on photography. I don't mind confessing that since I started back in February of 2005 I have become pretty much obsessed with the subject and it's seductive ways. My goal is to become a professional photographer and to purse my interest until I draw my last

Christopher: What sparked you interest in photography? I would assume with a creative outlet like music, that portion of you brain would be exhausted.

Fack to Bront: Many portions of my brain are exhausted and I do enjoy the unexpected mirth it brings to my life. I started photography simply because I had to do something resembling physical exercise that would get me out of the house. A musician’s life is pretty sedentary for the largest part. Of course, I didn't expect to enjoy it so much and fell for photography hook, line and sinker almost immediately

Christopher: well, considering you are fairly new to it, I must say you have come a long way. Your portrait work is amazing and you processing style very unique. had you had some prior experience with Photoshop?

Fack to Bront: No - I'd faffed around with corel's photopaint for a while afore I started photography. But, as in common with so many other dabblers, my output was best described as shockingly bad and laughably self-indulgent.

Christopher: To flip through your photostream backwards tells the story of the evolution. It seems the style has been constantly evolving since you've started on flickr. Do you still use Corel or have you moved onto another program?

Fack to Bront: I have only used Photoshop since I got my Nikon back in February. I'd agree about the evolutionary progress, because of course I'm still a relative novice to post-processing with photographs. I do enjoy it immensely, however. I'd also expect my style to continue to evolve as I learn more and my skills become more refined. I hope so, anyway

I've just recently discovered Jay-z's music, but it's pretty late here so time to turn it down a bit ;)

Christopher: Your style of photography has been quite consistent. I would think, processing aside, I'd be able to pick your portrait out of a bunch. Is there just a certain way you like to photograph or are the photographs you post just have a common appeal to you among others you take?

Fack to Bront: Both notions would be somewhat true. I don't feel as if I have a style as such, because it's all so new to me as yet. I try to be relaxed with any given subject, but usually I'll know instinctively what it is I see that I want to capture. Often the reasoning for it comes much, much later. I'm a great believer that if it feels good it probably is good.

Christopher: (jay-z is great, I'd recommend his earlier work though, less ego)

You mentioned you are a Nikon user, what model?

Fack to Bront: aye - I'll work my way through it. As ever with music and given my tastes, anything bass heavy will catch my interest

I have three Nikon cameras at the moment. My digital slr D70, a truly gorgeous FM2 and an FM5. The FM5 feels a very serious camera somehow, I don't enjoy it as much as the other two. Like so many other users, I'm eagerly awaiting Nikon's new D200 which should be here afore too long.

Christopher: what pushed you toward the Nikon team? Why did you choose the d70 and this camera line?

Fack to Bront: This was a very simple decision to make for me. I have a life long friend - also from Ceann a' Gheàrrloch - called Brian Hickey who is a professional photographer working out of the Valencia region in Spain. When I asked him to guide me along, he suggested Nikon as he used their kit, too. I trust him completely and the D70 he suggested I start with has been a wonderful creative tool for me. I still take tutorial from Brian and we work over my stuff via the internet.

(he is an awesome photographer - I aspire to his standards)

Christopher: he is an excellent photographer. I am a fan as well! How lucky you are to have him as a guide.

Fack to Bront: Indeed - I owe him more than a few beers when we next meet up

Christopher: what lenses have you invested in? what do you prefer to shoot with?

Fack to Bront: I have a number of lenses. But the three I use most of all are the Nikkor 24-120vr, Nikkor 80-400vr and Nikkor 105mm macro (or micro as Nikon insist on calling it). I have no particular preference other than trying to use the one most appropriate for the situation. I'd love a Nikkor 12-24 wide angle next.

Christopher: As you are selecting your lenses to cover your focal range or were there other qualities in each that played a part?

Fack to Bront: Both. But, now I'm very interested indeed in the impact lenses have on subject and subject matter. The 80-400vr, for example, makes for a great portrait lens in that it allows you to stand a fair bit away from a subject and completely fill the frame with their image - this helps put some of them at ease with me being (usually) a complete stranger to them. I also find it curious how people react to the large physical presence the lens has - it's almost as if they take you more seriously.

as if you are a 'proper' photographer

Christopher: Do you feel that general perception is thus? the bigger scarier the equipment the more talented or professional the photographer must be.

Fack to Bront: I sense that, but I don't feel it to be true at all. Nevertheless, with those who perceive it to be true, I do enjoy the extra control over a situation it often provides you with.

Christopher: I understand how that can benefit you. How do you go about approaching your subjects? How many "NOs" do you run into?

Fack to Bront: Less and less now - practice makes perfect and all that. I ALWAYS carry a camera with me in case I come across something or someone of interest to me visually. I'll then usually approach them and simply try and be honest about what it is I see that I'd like to photograph. People usually know if it's true if I say they look strong, or strange or individual and don't seem to mind my approach. Not always mind you - the rejections can be relatively embarrassing. Or very much so :-)

Christopher: Have your subjects ever asked for prints? do you provide them?

Fack to Bront: Sometimes, more often emailing a digital copy is sufficient. Either way, meeting such requests is the least I can do and I usually offer anyway.

Christopher: One of the issues we "new age " photographers run into is the ideals of the purists who believe there is a division in photography and digital photography. Some believe further still a separation in photography as art and computer processed photography something else. what are your feeling on this? How did you come into you style of processing? what do you feel it lends to your work?

Fack to Bront: I find the 'debate' over digital or film both divisive and utterly tiresome. It's a photographers choice and I don't care to question other photographers about their choices other than when seeking information that might help me. It's ridiculous to me that an image recording medium can spark such heated exchanges. Again - with those who would seek to divide photography subject to processing (or not) - I find the issue to be largely irrelevant. What counts most for me and for most others is the final image.

I don't really care how the image was arrived at unless I want to learn from it, but I do care about the image itself very much indeed. My respect for another photographer’s decisions would also outweigh my need to condescend to them about what might notionally be 'better'.

Also - the label of purists when applied to photography - all of it being about manipulation of light - is laughably inaccurate.

Christopher: I meant to quote it as "purists", and I wholly agree. To the questions posed of your processing, how did you come into it, what does it lend to the appeal of the photos you make?

Fack to Bront: I shoot RAW almost always, so post-processing is a necessity of course and from that flowed my inclination to experiment. Having realized that processing could offer an additional creativity, I decided to dive right in and learn to use it as well as I could. The evolution of the way I do things is simply a reflection of my growing skills and confidence. I can't imagine doing without it now. Digital raw shooting and processing is just like fine whisky - always improved by the addition of good company.

Christopher: I have noticed you detail your process on most of your posts on Flickr, what led you to do that?

Fack to Bront: I've yet to come across a photographer or graphics specialist who refused to offer their help to me when I have asked - passing along what I can for those interested seems the least to do. And it's no trouble at all - only takes a few moments to jot down the basic outline. I'm happy to do it.

Christopher: would you be opposed to walking us through a detailed exercise of your techniques with one of your photos? Let’s say http://flickr.com/photos/dubhacan/55673044/

Fack to Bront: sure - that particular shot was relatively easy anyway.

Christopher: is there a more difficult one you'd prefer to tackle?

Fack to Bront: not at all, the methods are much the same - none of them are particularly difficult.

Once opened, I always sort the levels out. There is a routine published by Scott Kelby that is freely available that I use and then I'll merge the level adjustment layer and the background layer, then copy that so I have two, identical layers

Christopher: Kelby of NAPP?

Fack to Bront: the very same

Fack to Bront: I have been devouring Photoshop books as quickly as I can

Deke McClelland next

Christopher: I own the Total Training, great teacher

Fack to Bront: I'll look forward to absorbing his tutorials

the one I follow is in "The Photoshop CS2 book for digital photographers" wonderful book

Christopher: I'll have to find that one

back on topic, so, adjust levels then merge?

Fack to Bront: ok - with the image we are discussing I then copy the background layer and work on the top most

I'm pretty sure it's not the best way, but it suits me and it's quick and easy to go back

then I applied a hue/saturation adjustment layer - boosting the top slider by 6, reducing the middle slider by about 20 and then merging again, recopying and onto the next step

shadow/highlight I think - playing around with the sliders until I am happy with the result. I'm usually seeking a 'pop' appearance

dodge + burn next I think, just as expected to brighten or darken any elements. I do like to burn in wrinkles and the like to enhance such features

shadow/highlight tweaks again - once more just playing around until I have a visual I am happy with - sometimes there are 'halo' artifacts, but I don't mind them mostly, and if I do I can erase them away on the top most layer

then running the hue saturation again to apply a slight desaturation. Often this is necessary because the highlight/shadow steps can amplify the reds in an image.

and - as ever - a quick run through the smart sharpen filter. I use this simply because Scott Kelby's book advises it to be good. And he's right: it is.

that's pretty much it - the only other major thing I do is to scroll through the blend modes of any layers to see if they offer anything useful.

Christopher: wow, sounds so simple and appears so dramatic

Fack to Bront: that's one of the great myths about Photoshop. People often can be mislead into thinking that - because of it's vast facilities and potential complexity - that it cannot provide very useable results easily. It's not true at all - it can!

If you only applied shadow/highlight to an image you would see almost instantly how some of my images are arrived at - it's really that simple - all that needs to be done is experimentation with the sliders

Christopher: well, I thank you for sharing that, I'm sure many can benefit from this technique

Fack to Bront: I hope so, if others find it useful then I'm delighted. Incidentally, I think it's appropriate to mention punkassbitch from flickr here - he offered me a similar outline when I asked him how Bekon achieved his results.

I just took his advice and experimented with his basic outline

Christopher: what's next for you Anndra? where are you going with this? where do you want to go?

Fack to Bront: :: smiles ::

I'm going to become a professional photographer and earn my living from something I adore to do. I'd also like to create work that was respected by my peers and perhaps leave something behind me that conveyed a message of kindness and my faith in the generosity of human spirit

high goals then, but they feel very comfortable to me

Christopher: you have such a pleasant demeanor, what has made you you? Married? kids?

Fack to Bront: thank you - I'm not certain what made me how I am. God would know ;) I've enjoyed a wild roller-coaster experience of life and it taught me a very basic fact - I'm fit to judge no one. So I don't.

Christopher: I think I fell into the ignorant notion that those most talented and creative were hard to talk to. you are and have been great to speak with

Fack to Bront: it's been my pleasure Chris, I've also enjoyed talking with you immensely. I'm sure some talented folk can be difficult, but they give so much of themselves in other ways. We all share what we can differently.

Christopher: well, thank you again for allowing me to pick your brain. maybe once we are famed photographers(my dream too, I'm in school for it as well), we can sit down and chat about photography on our own daytime show on the "photography Channel"{it's got to be in development by now}

Fack to Bront: no goal gets realized without a dream


Anonymous tiefling said...

It's a pity that this interview has received no comments whereas some of your other ones have induced such intense flame wars! I found this interview immensily enjoyable and insightful (even on practical/technical levels) and although I'm not familiar with Anndra's work I was very intrigued by what I read to want to go and check it out right now. Thanks.

Thu Nov 24, 05:38:00 AM  
Blogger Christopher said...

I share in the sentiment. I learned more here than from any other interview. and although it did have many visits, should have been read by many more. Anndra is a fantastic person to talk with as well.

Thu Nov 24, 05:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Farhiz said...

Reading about another flickr member and his workflow routine is a treat!

Thu Dec 01, 09:42:00 AM  

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