Interview with SquarePeg!

Very nice insight of your photography- Thank you for sharing :)

Thank you!
Some really good shots.......
Loved reading your photography journey Sharon. Your night shots are great as our your nature shots. The Kinsman Falls shot is a favorite with the light filtering down.
You are one of reasons I picked up a used Fuji!
Thanks so much Cheryl. That is very flattering!! #fujiforever :cool:
Welcome to another TPF Member Spotlight!

This forum is designed, quite simply, to showcase our members. It’s not meant to be a pretentious show, or make anyone feel self-conscious about their work style or artistic preferences. These interviews are casual chats just to get to know each other better - a celebration of our wide, diverse group of photographers who, despite coming from a variety of backgrounds, all come to TPF because of a shared love for photography.

TPF is a wonderful community and it’s worthwhile to shine the spotlight on our members. This means YOU, reading this – don’t be surprised if you hear from us asking for an interview!

Remember, each interview segment will be left open like a regular thread, so you can ask your own questions or comment on things you may have learned. This is our new way to highlight the skill sets and display the unique styles of our wonderful community.


Now, onto our interview – member SquarePeg!

Thanks so much for agreeing to do this interview, Sharon. We’ll just start the usual way by asking how you discovered photography. Tell us about your journey so far!

While I always hogged the point and shoot and family Polaroid on our vacations, I didn’t really become interested in “photography” until I was in my 30’s. When my daughter was born I had a small Canon Powershot (film) that I loved. From 2003, I carried that p&s around with me using color and b&w film, taking photos of my daughter and my nephews. One photo in particular really caught my attention. The boys were running on the beach and water was kicking up around them - it’s a black and white and not in great focus but it captured the moment so well that I started thinking about how I could become more skilled and have more success in freezing these moments for our family. A few weeks later I was at BJ’s Wholesale and saw a Nikon D60 digital kit with the 18-55 and 55-200 lenses and a bag. It was a total impulse buy - no research, no clue what I was getting into lol.

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“Running at the Beach. This is the film photo that triggered my idea to learn more about photography. Taken with the Canon power shot. I think this was summer of 2006… I got the Nikon D60 soon after.”

Continuing: I don’t have any formal education when it comes to Photography or Art. After buying the D60, It took me a few years to get away from Auto mode. The book Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson was a big part of that for me. After reading that book and doing some of the lessons, I finally felt like I understood the exposure triangle. But even with that knowledge, I have never been, nor will I ever be, a technical shooter. I have no idea what kind of sensor is in my camera or how many MPs the XT2 has. I may have known that when I bought it, but only by accident. I further confess that I ignore the histogram most of the time. I really only look at it if I’m shooting at night. And I never look at it when I’m editing. I do most everything by eye. I want drama. If I have to blow out the whites or clip the blacks to get it that is what I do. When I’m editing, I usually have a certain way I know I want the photo to look. If I can’t get it there, I bin it and figure out what I need to do next time I shoot that location to make it right.

In 2013, I was heading to Hawaii. I had signed up for a photography tour while I was there and wanted to have at least a kernel of a clue what I was doing as far as landscape photos went. I stumbled across TPF through a Google search. I had found my people at last lol!

Since that trip, I have watched hours and hours of tutorials on composition, long exposure photography, editing, astrophotography…and I have taken thousands of bad photos along with the dozens of good ones. Thank God for Digital! The feedback and encouragement I’ve gotten from fellow TPF members has been an integral part of my photography journey.

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“Oahu. One of my first "real" landscape photos. Taken on that photo tour of Hawaii I took in 2013. It's not perfect, but it really was the best photo I'd ever taken at the time I took it. It made me want to dive in deeper.”

What is your current gear? It seems like you have added different lenses to your kit recently. Do you keep some standard things in your bag, or do you swap it out before heading out to a shoot?

Currently, I am loving shooting with Fuji gear. It was a huge leap of faith for me. When the Nikon gear got too heavy and became more of a burden than a hobby, I started leaving it home on family trips. I finally decided to get a small mirrorless as my vacation camera and would, of course, keep my Nikon gear for my “serious photography” .

When Gary A was on this forum he was always encouraging people to try out Fuji and that stuck in the back of my mind. I totally splurged on a brand new Fuji XT2/18-55 kit as a 50th birthday present to myself. I sold off my languishing Nikon gear within a year, and have never regretted the change. I like the external controls on the XT2, and the “what you see is what you get” viewfinder fits my aversion to the histogram very nicely.

I have a ton of lenses. It’s a bit of a problem… I can’t seem to part with any, even the ones I rarely use. Recently I added a long zoom - the new Fuji 70-300 to my kit, and have been enjoying that extra reach. My number one favorite lens is the 16-80 because it has 4-6 stops of OIS, which allows me to avoid my tripod - another thing I really only use at night or for long exposures.

Have you found an area that you like to return to, at different times of the year, or day? Tell us about it (them).

I have 2 favorite local spots. One is the boating ramp at the local public pond. It’s a nice sunset spot most of the year and it’s drive up easy access so if I look out the window and the sky looks promising, I head there. In summer there are sail boats and kayaks that make for colorful reflections and foregrounds. In winter the pines covered with snow make it a great snow-scape. The other spot is anywhere in the NH White Mountains. I could go there every day and be happy. I may retire there. The views are just gorgeous and the hiking is amazing. I make a point to visit Sabbaday Falls just about every time I’m in the area. It’s a short hike and a beautiful spot.

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“Sunset at the Pond. This is from my favorite local sunset spot that I mentioned above. This was the 16-80 again, hand held 1/30 ss, f/8, ISO 250. I usually have the dog with me when I go anywhere close to home. She doesn't have any tripod awareness so I leave it in the car. I have a long 30 ft leash for her and have a technique where I hold the leash with about 5 ft of slack for me then I step on it leaving her about 25 ft to roam around. She makes it into a lot of my shots and would definitely knock over my tripod the minute I lost track of her. This way I can hand hold and she can explore but can't run away My foot on the leash keeps her from yanking me around mid shot.”

Do you have a favorite photograph – from any photographer of any period? One that perhaps inspired you to take up photography, or informs your own style?

I don’t have a favorite photo, but I have a few favorite photographers whose work I admire. I’m not much into art history, probably because I’ve never had a chance to study it, so most of my favorites are current. I really enjoy the work of Neil Simmons who is a wedding photographer out in the Yellowstone/Grand Teton area who also takes landscapes and nature photos. His photos are amazing and very inspiring. Here’s a link to his website. Yellowstone, Wyoming, & Utah

When I first joined TPF, there was a member called rotanimod (aka Majeed Badizadegan) who posted here a lot: Recent Works - Majeed Badizadegan Photography

He was always taking these amazing composites and focus stacking foregrounds… It was an eye opener for me that the photos I admired weren’t just captured in one shot and printed out perfectly ready to go. There was a lot of forethought into timing and using blue hour for one part of the photo and sunrise for the other. Some of the photos would be 8 - 20 shots layered/stacked. It was like a bell went off. No wonder my landscape photos were so boring (IMO). I decided to start learning more about post processing and other shooting techniques for getting the photo from a to z. I know not everyone on TPF likes a photo that has been edited but to me, it’s art and you need to put your own spin on it or else it’s just documenting. I’m not a copy machine.

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“Kinsman Falls, NH White Mountains. This was taken this past fall after a short hike in the White Mountains. We had plans to head north for leaf peeping in the notches that day but we were about a week early for any color and the weather was just too foggy to make any mountain vistas work. We zigged left and decided to get out of the light drizzle and into the forest. I took a bit of a chance in bushwhacking my way down to the rocks below the path and it paid off. I was picking leaves and pine cones out of my hair the rest of the day. I love everything about this one from the light filtering through the tree canopy to the shutter speed on the falls and the misty hazy look. This was taken with my favorite Fuji 16-80 f/4. It is just such a versatile lens that it is on my camera 90% of the time. F13, 1/5 ss, ISO 200 @ 16mm.”

If money was no object, what would you buy? Photography or non-photography related, what’s sitting on your wish list?

A house with a view of the mountains on one side, and the ocean on another. That is sort of photography related. I would love to live somewhere where I can walk out on my deck and get a beautiful sunrise or sunset view every day. Or see the Milky Way from the back yard. But for now, I am tethered to the city so I make do with being always half way to the beach or the mountains.

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“Wreck on the Beach My favorite astro photo. My two friends and I drove 18 hours to the Outer Banks and then after about 4 hours sleep we hiked 1.5 miles in the dark on the beach in the soft sand to reach this shipwreck which we were not sure would still be there. It was hilariously difficult to lug all the gear that my friend Donna thought was necessary to stuff in her beach cart for this outing We stayed the entire night through sunrise getting so many amazing photos. The truly dark skies of the Outer Banks have spoiled me for astrophotography forever!”

You’ve just finished dinner. You set down your napkin, push your chair back, and declare: “That was the best meal I’ve ever had!” What did you have?

A ribeye steak with some type of red wine sauce, served with the Mac and cheese that I had at a restaurant in Dublin. I tried to get the recipe but the cheese they use is only made at one farm in Ireland and not sold anywhere outside the country! It was amazing. Followed by chocolate chip cookies still warm from the oven.

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“Sabbaday Falls. I have dozens of photos of this spot. This is my favorite among the most recent batch from this year. This was taken with the Samyang 12mm f/2. A great lens on Fuji for astro and landscape. This was taken on a wonderful day out with my mom and aunt. I gave them a guided tour of the foliage hot spots and they were really good sports about me taking a few hundred photos while we were out and about.”

Tell us a place – or three – that you’d love to visit, anywhere in the world. What makes you interested in this place?

The next 3 places on my bucket list - Yellowstone/Grand Teton (my big trip got canceled due to Covid after a year of planning!), Iceland and the Pacific Northwest – specifically, Olympic National Park. I’m interested in seeing all of them for the beauty of the landscape. I don’t plan to wait until I retire to see them. Trips to all 3 are at various stages of planning.

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“Somewhere in NH. One of the most beautiful spots in the White Mountains. In summer there are fire flies all over the place here. Despite many attempts I haven't been able to really capture the beauty of what that looks like. But I'll keep trying because it's so much fun!”

You’ve let us know in The Coffee House thread that your daughter, Princess, just started college this fall. If the college-age SquarePeg could advise the college-age Princess on one main thing, what would it be?

Focus on your goals, you can do anything. You are responsible for your happiness so make sure your goals line up with that!

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“Let in rain. This is one of my favorite photos. It was taken with a custom made "art lens" I bought off of eBay. It's a Pentacon AV lens with a Fuji mount. It's not super sharp but, in the right conditions, it creates the distinctive bubble bokeh which I really love for 1/3 the cost of a Trioplan lens. This clump of late season flowers was at the edge of the parking lot by the local dog park. I was laying on the ground trying to get the flowers in focus and the backlighting just so...with that lens it mostly involved scooting back and forth in the dirt as there really isn't much of a focus ring. All of a sudden the sprinklers turned on! I got the shot - and a lot of applause from the dog owners who were watching me with great amusement. When I first started taking photos I would have driven on by if I saw that many people near my intended subject. It can make you very self conscious at first. Then one day you realize that no one cares. Everyone is so focused on themselves and their little world that they barely register others.”

That’s excellent advice for any of us, and especially for photography! Thanks so much for doing this interview, Sharon.

This completes the interview part of our Member Spotlight. As a reminder, our members are welcomed - and encouraged - to participate in our interviews. So feel free to ask Sharon more questions, or comment as you wish.

Take it away!

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“Boston Harbor Fireworks. I may be a prisoner of the moment with this one because it's fairly recent but right now it's near the top of my list of things to order a large print of on Black Friday. I tend to get overly critical if I wait too long to print something so I keep a running list and try to grab what I need when there is a sale. This one has my beautiful Boston in the background with fireworks and reflections.”

My best comment for some of the best photos I've seen: You do New England justice.
Thank you for sharing...!
Thanks for reading!
Fun read and fabulous photos!
Thank you very much.
Thank you for taking the time to put this interview together @terri and @SquarePeg for participating! Amazing photos! 👍
My best comment for some of the best photos I've seen: You do New England justice.
Thank you so much Dave - that is very flattering and much appreciated!
Stunningly beautiful photography Sharon, my favourite is the Falls image fantastic.
"When I first started taking photos I would have driven on by if I saw that many people near my intended subject. It can make you very self conscious at first. Then one day you realize that no one cares. Everyone is so focused on themselves and their little world that they barely register others.”

That's a really great state of mind to be in and would certainly open possibilities up for everyone. Congrats on being there!
Stunningly beautiful photography Sharon, my favourite is the Falls image fantastic.

Thanks Fujidave!

"When I first started taking photos I would have driven on by if I saw that many people near my intended subject. It can make you very self conscious at first. Then one day you realize that no one cares. Everyone is so focused on themselves and their little world that they barely register others.”

That's a really great state of mind to be in and would certainly open possibilities up for everyone. Congrats on being there!

Thanks very much! It took a while and even now I occasionally get self conscious and have to mentally shake it off.
Wonderful images and a wonder look on life. Be well squarepeg.
I missed this, but just now enjoyed reading! Great interview and photography!
Wonderful pictures. Good eye. They seem a little too dark, however. Maybe it's me.
Thanks very much. They don’t appear dark on my phone or iPad.
I know this thread is old but I just stumbled upon it and I wanna say the interview is very inspiring. Thank you for sharing your photo background with us SquarePeg. Also, your photos are awesome!

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