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‘Mediums’ Feature Series for World Photography Day: Caroline Gray’s Digital Dream

Caroline is a Digital Photographer, who’s work highlights moments of nature and form. Whether that be outside or inside the water, Caroline’s images capture the intensity of the natural world, and her photo editing skills make her photo’s dreamlike and awe-inspiring. Keep reading to find out more about Caroline’s work within Digitial Photography… Who is Caroline?…

Caroline is a Digital Photographer, who’s work highlights moments of nature and form. Whether that be outside or inside the water, Caroline’s images capture the intensity of the natural world, and her photo editing skills make her photo’s dreamlike and awe-inspiring.

Keep reading to find out more about Caroline’s work within Digitial Photography…

Who is Caroline?

I fell in love with photography aged 10. I was living in Canterbury Kent UK and went out to India to visit my father, who was managing a tea plantation in Darjeeling. I took with me a small film camera I been given for my birthday. It was the colors of India, its people, the beauty of the Himalayas, the wide landscapes, the rice fields and oxen, the mountains and the light above the clouds that inspired me. Life in Darjeeling was fascinating…very poor but very beautiful.

After school in Broadstairs, I moved to London in my teens, where I took a photography class in Putney. They had a room where we developed our own film–those were the days. I used to love capturing the streets in London, flower pots in the garden, and going down to Brighton to take the beach huts, and then come back and process these photos in black and white. At the time I was working in Event Planning, but whenever I could I was off taking photographs. I then had children and of course took endless pictures of them, but this, I think, helped me with my portrait taking, looking at people with love and with love of all their special differences.

In the 1990s we moved to Santa Monica in California, with its incredible clean, edgy, light. It was then I decided to take some courses in digital photography at UCLA Extension: I was lucky to have great teachers. Every week we learnt something new, composition, depth of field, exposures, etc….We had to share our photographs with the class for critique, which was nerve racking but it made you really learn. And then it was just practice.. practice.. practice…

I was taught a photo a day was the way to go…and that has proved so.

26166590693_7fb63a4289_oFind this photo on Lobster

What equipment do you use to take your photographs? 

My first digital camera was a Nikon 7000, which I still have and love, and the lenses I use for this camera are the 12-24 Nikon 1.4 –great for wide angle captures, especially of sea and landscapes; Nikon 50 mm 1.4, for portraits; a Nikon 35 mm 1.8 which is my favorite; a Nikon 70-200 1.2, another lens I love, as you can really zoom in and get those surfer captures…or a bird on the wing.

I still use my 7000. But I have since bought a Nikon 810, a full frame with larger resolution for printing larger images. The lenses I use on this camera are: a Nikon 24-70 mm 1:2.8G ED (a great wide angle)–I use this for my art landscape photography and seascape, but also when working for landscape architects and taking ‘before and after’ shots of their gardens, and for charity events. I find this is a really useful and adaptable lens. For portraits, my favorite lens for this camera is the Nikon 85, which gives really great details in close-ups. The two lenses make a good combo.

I am not a great one for extra equipment. I occasionally use a tripod–I have a great aluminum Manfrotto tripod. I also sometimes use a hand help button releaser to get long silky water shots. But most of all I like to hire an underwater housing for the Nikon and do underwater shots, often of ballet dancers.

Is digital photography your preferred medium, as opposed to film or video? 

I loved film, still love it–but digital is so much cheaper, less time consuming, and, most of all, shooting in RAW enables me to refine the image I want to achieve, or to develop an image in several different directions. It is so very flexible I can’t see myself going back.

 I have avoided video so far because I am preoccupied with the stillness of images, even images of those in motion like surfers or dancers, at its best a sort of Zen moment, the still point of the turning world. It may be that this is conjoint with my other career as a painter, both strands inform and enrich each other.

31574318607_94e5f82aec_oFind this photo on Lobster

What do you want viewers to take from your work?

My main preoccupation has been with natural beauty, the moments that our world is constantly offering us if we are only on the look-out for it. Many of the photographs I am proudest of have a distinctively painterly quality. But not just natural beauty, also the beauty of the human in nature, in harmony with it, in all its various ways. This is part of what I find so satisfying in photographing surfers and the more curious harmony of my ballet dancers under water. I would be happy if viewers take away an enhanced feeling of what our world has to offer us, of how precious it is, how full of instants. As also the fleeting moments across a human face, as like clouds across a landscape. I also find street/beach photography fascinating, the releasing moments of human interaction, and again our sheer human variety, both of face and interaction, of the full gamut of human emotions.

I am not one for words, not really articulate in that way. I find the infinite, non-conceptual, palette of the photograph gives me an articulacy, a delicacy, a sensitivity, beyond words, an immediacy of communication.

What attracts you to take photographs of nature?

 The vastness of the world.. to show this in sunset or sunrise – life is too fun of hardships we must learn to enjoy the moment – to a sun setting on the rooftops of Athens, to the sunrise on a harbor in Greece…. the surfers catching a wave on Malibu beach.. a bird and reflections on water and sand.. a sunset over the water.. a bird rising a wave breaking.. a golden sky, a turquoise water.. a sun setting.. the shapes of clouds in a sky.. the play of light and water on the sand.. and reflections … I also enjoy seeing people in my photography, the play of light as they walk in nature.. one of my favorite photos is of companions walking in sunset in Topanga.. the sun setting.. a young woman meditating on the mountain top.. the sun setting.. the beauty of the moment.. captured and enjoyed by all.. the joy of it all coming together in one moment.

What is your favorite atmosphere to shoot in?  

I love stormy shots, with their stunning cloudscapes. As the storm builds, it affects the light, and changes the mood in the landscape. Sometimes you can achieve a great shot in sun, with it sparkling on the water or sun-beams coming through branches of trees in a forest setting. And of course the light at sunrise and sunset.  And just love Water water water.. especially in stormy weather.. Water is a huge love of mine..


How do you get those beautiful shots underwater? 

With two fellow photopgraphers, we hire an underwater case and ask some wonderful dancers from a dancing company we know to come and dance and model for us in return for free photos of themselves for their portfolios. We find costumes that we love and ask the dancers/performers to wear these: we usually choose floating clothes as these really enhance underwater captures. One of my fellow shooters has a pool so we use that.  We have to cover the bottom and sides of the pool with sheeting which we weigh down with bricks. With weights also on ourselves we duck down in the shallow end of the pool while the dancer involved dives into the deep end poses this way and that. There are several dancers, and each has several different costumes so we get quite a variety.  We work in shifts but even so it is an exhausting day–but great fun. We are very lucky to get these amazing dancers dancing underwater – the composition of bodies against light… the underwater grace of movement in water, the reflections and the light filtering down through the water.

girl in waterFind this Photo on Lobster

What best piece of advice could you give to a digital photographer?

Go out at sunrise and sunset… forget the rest of the day!! unless the weather is stormy.. !  Take your time. Try shooting form different distances, and at different levels. If you don’t have a zoom then physically run in and out. I get on the floor or stand on something high etc.; move to the left and then the right. Try and get the eye used to different levels and angles. When you think you have the shot, take it, and then turn in the opposite direction and take that: it is sometimes surprising what you were missing…

Also shoot in RAW, because you can do so much processing in Lightroom.

If you could give our Lobster’s a piece of advice, what would it be?

Some great photographers are meticulous in their patience and planning. But my own love is the spontaneous–the surprising moment.

If you start to shoot be prepared not to talk to anyone. Many a time I have taken my camera be it to a party, a wedding, an event, even a walk on the beach. But whomever I am with, I am afraid I am not good company… once that camera is in my hands it is hard to concentrate on anything else but the shot. You see one shot after another and it is very hard to put the camera down. So be prepared not to be very social… and warn your friends this will be the case!

You can find more of Caroline’s amazing photography work, over on her Lobster profile.

To read our other 2 features in our ‘Mediums’ series, you can find Anton’s Film Photography Feature here, and Victor’s Videography Feature here. #WorldPhotographyDay


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