xymonau (a.k.a Dez Pain)
Tell us a little bit about yourself. When did you take up photography and digital art, and how does it fit into the rest of your life?
I am a welfare worker by profession, and have worked with families, single men and women, and children in crisis situations for more than 18 years. I currently manage an accommodation service for homeless men.
I obtained my first (second hand) computer in mid-2000. Although I used them at work, I never saw the need to own a personal computer. My son taught me the basics of email and surfing the net, and then abandoned further attempts to educate me. Itís amazing what you can learn by trial and error!
I found graphics accidentally - and later, photography - but they are now a large source of creativity and satisfaction. After dealing with the chaos and complexity at work, I love to "zone out" by messing about with images on the computer.
Someone gave my son a copy of PhotoImpact 6. This impressed me, and I eventually purchased PI 8 and 10 (which I still use). I took the Beginners Workshop on a PhotoImpact board - PIRC - and after completing a gruelling 96 lessons, graduated. I became a moderator on that board, setting weekly creative challenges with the various PI tools. This taught me even more. I eventually became snowed under with real life, so I had to give that up. I had visited other forums and generally posted photo manipulations. In my search for free photos to use, I found sxc. I couldnít quite believe it was true at first. Free photos!
Eventually, I purchased a small point and shoot camera Ė an obscure brand. I have always loved good photos of flowers, so thatís where I began. A woman used to bring flowers every week to my workplace. My office had a window with great light. Iíd spend hours trying for a good shot. My hands shook so badly, very few photos turned out well, unless I rested the camera on something. I couldnít afford a tripod. But some were not bad, and Ė I thought Ė quite clear. The colour in my camera was poor, so I learned how to change and enhance it. I also learned how important it is to get the light just right, and to get it now, before it changes.
I bought my Panasonic Lumix in 2005. I was determined to buy it because of the image stabiliser. Itís not the greatest camera, but I can guarantee the stabiliser works! In the future, I hope to buy a DSLR.
You've been an active member of SXC since 2005. How did you find SXC and what attracts you the most about the community here?
I found sxc on Google, searching for free photos. It was such a great resource, I bookmarked it, but I still eyed it with suspicion for a while. There had to be a catch! I toyed with the idea of submitting a few photos, but I am better at editing than photography. My first submissions were rejected, and it took a long time to feel brave enough to try again. Once the first was accepted, it was easier to keep trying. Favourable comments were a real encouragement.
I think the sxc community is fascinating. There are so many talented people, from all over the planet. I am in awe of those who have had training in graphics. When I was young, it was "commercial art". I always wanted to do that, but never could. I enjoy the opportunity to encourage others on sxc. I received a lot of encouragement along the way, and for those of us who lack confidence, that is important. I have made a lot of friends through the board, and it has been fun to discover our cultural similarities and differences. Sxc has given me the opportunity to see my images used by others on the net and in print, something I would never have thought possible a few years ago.
You have many lovely flower shots in your portfolio and many of your other images have a floral quality to them. Does your passion for flowers and the outdoors stop with photography or do you incorporate the outdoors into other aspects of your life?
I do think there is intense beauty in a perfect flower, and photos of flowers are not difficult to enhance. I am exhilarated by nature, but I seldom have time to genuinely stop and "smell the roses". Iím sure encroaching old age will see to that soon enough! I love bright splashes of coloured flowers. I think bright colours lift my spirits, and you will find a lot of colour in my photos and graphics.
I see that you also allow people to buy business cards with your photos on them. You also request that people contact you who want to use your images in a commercial way. Has SXC been good for driving business?
Sxc has been completely responsible for any commercial use of my photos and images. It is so well-known all over the world and I am often contacted by people asking to use my pics. I do not distribute my photos on any other site. The business card company approached me and others with galleries on sxc after seeing our photos. Since I never set out to do any of this, the commercial side of posting images has crept up on me. I hope at some point to take the next step into pay sites.
If you had the chance to photograph anything on Earth, what would it be?
My face when I win the lottery! (Or the "last post" game in the forums!) On a serious note, I find that a really hard question to answer. People Ė children in particular, I think. Faces fascinate me as much as flowers, but it's challenging to get people to agree to their photo being taken as well as posted on the internet. Perhaps I'm asking the wrong people.
Where do you see your visual creations going in the future?
Well, I will continue to experiment. I may purchase Photoshop eventually. I hope to continue to gradually improve my photography skills and understanding. I believe that sxc has definitely brought me a long way from where I began. I will continue to do what works well. Oh, and if I ever get that DSLR - I want to take photos that are crisp, detailed, and full of impact. I would really like to be able to take super macros. I want to learn to edit images so they grab the attention and hold the eye for a long time. Although stock is what sxc is about, making artistic images gives me the greatest satisfaction. And Iím starting to get less self-conscious about what I create. Being a very late starter has been challenging, but I love being involved in a dynamic site, with creative people.
current sxc favourites
tips & tricks
» A Quick Method for Isolating Objects on White by CraigPJ
This tutorial will attempt to show a quick method to isolate objects cleanly and successfully.
» Softening Nighttime Shots With Gaussian Blur
If the harshness of night illumination shows too many blemishes, create a soft mask for improving facial appearance. graphics.com »
» Create a Scrolled Photo Edge
Photo edges can help create the right mood and some images become more expressive and refined with an artistic edge design.
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