Featured Member: Alfredo Machado
While he doesn’t pigeonhole himself as a travel photographer, Alfredo’s images give a sense of place that is crucial to sharing pieces of the world with those who have never been there. Beyond that, his portfolio covers everything from wildlife to portraits to digital compositions. All are worth spending time looking through. -J
Alfredo Machado: Photography
Who are you and where do you live?
My name is Alfredo Machado. I was born in Caracas, Venezuela but have lived for most of my adult life in the United States and Puerto Rico. I presently live in Humacao, Puerto Rico, on the eastern coast of the island. I have family in the UK and Wales and travel there frequently. I work in commercial finance.
How (and when) did you get started in photography? In short, tell us the story of your photographic journey.
My interest in photography started when I was 10 and my parents gifted me a Brownie box camera in the late 1950’s. Over the years, my interest continued and I always had a camera on hand, shooting slide and print film of anything that caught my eye. My passion for photography truly took off with the advent of digital and my first digital camera a Nikon D100, which enabled me to shoot to my heart’s content without concern about processing costs. Concurrently, I became more aware of the subjects that I found most interesting and attempted to narrow my focus. I tend to be very visual, and will shoot anything that I find moving or interesting- without much thought, and often dubious results! Lately I’ve learned to think the shot through before pressing the shutter. If I had to choose a favorite subject it would probably be landscapes or anything with attractive spatial relationships, textures, contrasts and colors that stir me regardless of the specific subject matter, hence my varied portfolio.
Who (or what) have been your main photographic influences and inspirations?
The many talented photographers posting in Photo.net are a major source of inspiration and a challenge to continue bettering my work. Just to name a few who have helped inspired and influenced my work; without being exhaustive and in no particular order: Tony Hadley, Jack McRitchie, Vlad Khodsky, Alf Baily, John Peri, and Gail Harmer.
Your Photo.net portfolio is filled with everything from landscapes to portraits
to wildlife. How do you decide what to photograph? Do you work on one
subject and then switch to another? What tells you it is time to move on.
I don’t make a thoroughly conscious decision of what I’m going to photograph. Normally, and certainly when traveling, I have a camera along and I will photograph anything that I suspect may result in an image that stirs an emotional response, regardless of content or subject. I could say my work is driven by feel and emotion, not an objective master plan.
Explain how you see your body of work and what draws you to do the photography that you do?
Indeed, my portfolio is very varied and simply an expression of whatever stoked my need to create at a particular point in time. Often, in retrospect, an image that I found compelling in the past no longer does so in the present.
Have you ever worked as a professional photographer? If “no”, why not? Is it something you would like to do? If “yes”, do you wish you could do more of that work? What does it bring or take away from your photography?
No, I have not worked professionally. I don’t consider myself talented enough to be a successful professional photographer, nor do I have the time to do so. Nonetheless, it would certainly be rewarding if my work was considered worthy enough to command a price.
What do you enjoy most about photography?
As an occasional (and frustrated) painter, I enjoy creating an image that is unique, original and an expression of what I see – and, perhaps more importantly, feel. I have a constant urge to create, largely to please myself. The camera and the post processing software are wonderful tools to do so. However, they are just tools- the inspiration must be there.
What was the most recent photographic technique that you learned or mastered? And what is the next photographic technique that you would like to learn?
I am a believer in post-processing and see it as a very important part of my workflow. For some time I’ve been dabbling with HDR, which, when properly executed, can magically turn an uninteresting image into a palatable one. I’d like to learn more about portraiture and how to capture human expressions and the feelings conveyed as well as the essence of humanness.
What was the most recent piece of truly useful photographic equipment that you purchased? What is the next piece of equipment that you are looking to acquire?
I love to shoot wide open and create images with a three dimensional feel and attractive backgrounds. The Nikon 58mm 1.4 that I recently added to my lens collection astounds me as a creative tool to this end. Budget permitting, a 200mm f2 is at the top of my list.
What is in your camera bag on a typical day?
Depends on what subjects I think will interest me, although I’m usually wrong! Being an equipment junkie, I tend to ruminate too much about what to carry. When traveling I usually end up with a D810, the 14-24, my favorite 58-1.4 a 70-200 or 300-4, neutral density and polarizer filters and a small Gitzo tripod.
What is your typical downloading/storage/sorting/processing procedure? Where do you store/backup your images? What programs do you use for post-processing?
Images are downloaded to a Mac and sorted; the better ones are stored in a separate Raid HD and also backed up to Dropbox in raw format. I use Lightroom for editing and cataloging as well as Photoshop occasionally. I’m also a fan of Silver Efex Pro2 and HDR Efex Pro2.
What words of advice or encouragement do you have for anyone just starting on their photographic journey?
Learn the basics of photography and shoot, shoot, shoot. Don’t be too concerned about equipment, it is just a tool. Take advantage of resources such as Photo.net and don’t take yourself to seriously, be passionate about your craft and understand there is no “perfect” image.
A favorite image…
This is amongst my favourite images. While taking a Sunday afternoon walk in Prague I came upon this beautifully lighted scene full of color and perhaps meaning, left to the viewer to interpret. I was in the right place at the right time and with a camera! Totally unplanned, spur of the moment, as most of my work.
Nikon D3, 24-70 2.8. Processed in Lightroom, HDR by Photomatix Pro.