This week we have the pleasure of chatting to one Steve Crane. A very proficient photographer and “long-time” member of the SA Rocks Flickr group!
How long have you been taking photos for?
Most of my life, on and off. As a young child I used a Kodak Brownie that belonged to my mother and later was given my own Kodak Instamatic by an aunt. I think that broke as somewhere in my teens I bought myself another Instamatic. In those days I wasn’t conscious of an interest in photography but simply wanted to record events. My real interest started in my early twenties when I bought a used Pentax Spotmatic-F SLR and a few lenses. I started reading books and learning more about the photographic process but sadly, a few years later when I had a young family to support and times were tough, I sold that camera, something I still regret today. That must have been in 1987 or 88 and it was only in 2000, when I bought my first digital camera that I rekindled my interest in photography.
Favourite subject matter?
I enjoy photographing all sorts of subjects but would have to say that people are my favourite. I like nothing more than strolling around at the beach or in the streets taking candid photos. I also have a love for aircraft that goes back to my teens and thoroughly enjoying photographing them at airshows, which sadly are few and far-between in South Africa.
My current main camera is a Canon EOS 30D digital SLR. I have a selection of lenses but have yet to be able to afford truly top quality glass and my lenses are very much from the lower, consumer end of the market. I also have a 1980s vintage Praktica 35mm SLR that I like to use from time to time. Being fully manual it forces you to slow down and think carefully about every shot you take. I’m always browsing through secondhand stores on the lookout for old cameras and last year found an old 35mm rangefinder that I added to my collection. Then there is the Canon digital compact that I carry around most of the time so that I’m always able to record anything of interest I see, even if I wasn’t out with photography in mind.
What is the most interesting place in SA that your photography has taken you to?
I don’t really travel much so this is a difficult question. I think that having an interest in all things military, the most interesting place I have visited was probably the old naval gun battery above Simonstown. I would have loved to spend hours there photographing all the detail of the rusting guns but there were some dodgy looking characters around so I thought it prudent not to stay too long.
Your favourite place in SA?
That must be my local beach at Strand. I love strolling along with my feet in the surf, snapping away at other beach goers and all the interesting things I see lying on the sand.
Beaches, bushes or banks? Do you prefer photographing big cities, beaches, people, cities, landscapes, portraits?
All of the above, except for portraits. Although I love photographing people and candid portraiture, I have never taken the time to practice more formal posed portraiture. No doubt I’ll get around to it some day.
How long have you been on Flickr for?
I’ve been a member since August 2004 and my third year as a Pro member ends this April.
I think so. I’ve had over 300,000 views on Flickr and I don’t think I would have got anything like that much exposure with just a regular web site.
Are you a fan of social media?
Some of it. I don’t like any form of instant communication much. I’ve always hated telephones and haven’t taken to instant messaging either. I like e-mail or sites like Flickr where you have time to consider your replies before responding. I’ve had a look at Photophlow (http://www.photophlow.com/) and quite like the idea of chatting while being able to show photos you like to others and see cool photos that others have found. Unfortunately I don’t think that the limited bandwidth we have in South Africa is very conducive to a service with that much data flowing around. I found that I was lagging behind waiting for images to load while the conversation was already moving on to something else.
I dislike Facebook and other sites whose main purpose for existing is to be social and then add all sorts of random, useless things around that. Sure, there are some interesting apps on FB but on the whole it’s just a colossal time-waster. I prefer social sites that have grown around something else, like Flickr has around photography.
I have a Twitter account but often forget to tweet for days at a time. I think if there were more of my real life friends on it, it would be more compelling for me. I follow a number of the South African Web 2.0 crowd but half the the time I’m only seeing half the conversation
and can’t really follow what’s being discussed. The answer seems to be to follow more people but for each one I add there seem to be new ones they follow, whose side of the conversation I don’t see.
What is the one thing that you absolutely love about SA?
I love the weather and the beautiful, varied countryside and nature. Of course, the fact that ZA girls are some of the most beautiful women in the world is not a bad thing either.
And the one thing you absolutely hate?
I hate the almost religious following that sport has. I used to play rugby at school but can’t stand watching it. Cricket is OK to watch from time to time but I couldn’t be bothered to watch whole matches and there’s nothing that annoys me more than a TV show I planned to watch being dropped because some sporting event overran.
Has photography changed your life in SA?
I don’t think it has changed my life any more than it would have done elsewhere in the world. Although perhaps the high cost of buying equipment here compared to overseas has channeled my interest somewhat by restricting me to cheaper equipment. Perhaps the access to affordable equipment would have prompted me to take a more professional angle.
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