December 11, 2007

Literary Inspiration with Photographers Derek Doeffinger and Gary Whelpley

Visual Inspiration: Photographers of Finger Lakes Splendor

Editor's Note: This is a photographer's version of the Literary Inspiration column of the Ithaca Journal, which runs in Saturday's Life section.

Derek Doeffinger & Gary Whelpley

What is your favorite place to photograph?

Doeffinger: No secret hideaway, no back road vista, but simply the spectacular Taughannock Falls whose open expanse from the overlook makes you feel like you leap out and fly with the flock of pigeons that soar by.

Whelpley: In the Finger Lakes I find the glens that are throughout the hills provide interesting photographs of waterfalls, beautiful leaf patterns, and colorful reflections in the fall.

When do you get most of your photo editing done?

Doeffinger: On dark, dreary winter nights when you flick on the outdoor light and see the snow flying.

Whelpley: With digital photography such a big part of my life, I do a quick edit of my work and then put the best images in a folder that identifies the particular subject. If I didn't do this I would have hundreds of images lost in digital space!

Name two photography books that have inspired you?

Doeffinger: Jeff Wignall's “The Joy of Digital Photography” and Naomi Rosenblum's “World History of Photography.”

Whelpley: There are two books that I find inspire my personal work today. Both of these photographers work in black and white. “25 Years of Photographs” by Keith Carter and “Witnesses of Time” by Flor Garduno

Favorite photographer?

Doeffinger: Ansel Adams, who could manipulate images with chemistry almost as effectively as we do today with Photoshop.

Whelpley: While Ansel Adams has always been at the top as my favorite photographer, Keith Carter is my favorite. He inspires me to see the people and spaces in a new way.

Digital or film?

Doeffinger: Digital with Photoshop. A digital camera gives you amazing power to improve images during picture taking and Photoshop afterwards.

Whelpley: For commercial work and the book project I use Nikon digital cameras, but for personal work I shoot Tri-X film and scan the negatives with A Cool Scan 4000 scanner. They are then printed with an Epson 2400 printer.

What do you want people to take away from your work?

Doeffinger: Another five books for their friends.

Whelpley: As people view the “Finger Lakes Splendor” book, I hope they realize the diversity and beauty of this place we call home. We must protect and preserve these treasures. I have traveled all over the world on assignments and have come to realize how fortunate we are to live here.

What do you love most about being a photographer?

Doeffinger: Getting outdoors to see the spectacular sights. Not the money—there isn't any in this kind of work.

Whelpley: I love the fact that photography gives me a vehicle to explore and capture the land and the people. I so often find that taking the photograph is the high point of the process. Many times it's several months or years later that the images appear as special as the moment I pressed the shutter release on the camera, and I truly appreciate that moment in time.

What are you working on now?

Doeffinger: Finishing up a how-to photo book by the title of “The Complete Guide to Ultimate Digital Photography.”

Whelpley: My current personal work is a black-and-white project in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Each winter I spend a month there photographing the people and their traditions as well as the beautiful architecture.

Derek Doeffinger & Gary Whelpley are the photographers of “Finger Lakes Splendor,” a photo book published by McBooks Press located in Ithaca.

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