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Meet The PFRE Idol For December: Jon May

December 1st, 2008

The voting results are in and the new PFRE Idol contest winner for December 2008 is Jon May, of Mt Coolum (just North of Brisbane), Queensland, Australia. There must be something special in the water around Brisbane. Jon is the second PFRE Idol in a row from Brisbane area. Congratulations Jon! Here is Jon’s story and the story on his winning image:

My earliest photography-related memories are of playing with an old bellows camera as a kid, something my father had put in my toy box after he moved on to the Minolta film camera with which he recorded the family history. I must have been using a camera by high school as I learned to develop and print black and white film in the school darkroom. Many of my friends had simple film cameras (Instamatics) with which we recorded our innane self-absorbed teenage antics during surfing road trips and while hanging out at the beach. The scrap books that survive are marvellous windows on those turgid times. By University I had a Fujica SLR with a couple of extra lenses. In a student photographic contest I entered a b/w print of a back-lit fog-shrouded tree with shafts of light radiating through gaps in the branches. The judges commented, “Are you aware of the sexual references in your images?” No. No I wasn’t as it happened.

Fast forward to 2004 and my 50th birthday. I arrive home from work to find a Nikon branded box had arrived containing a D70 from my WONDERFUL SISTER who lives in Cape May New Jersey. This was my kick start into digital photography with a professional grade camera. I had been dabbling in graphic design for several years up to this point, completing two certificate courses online during which I learned my way around Photoshop and other members of what would become Adobe’s Creative Suite. Being able to take photos and use them immediately as raw material in a digital illustration or page layout for print or web was truly liberating. I love Photoshop and the ability it affords me to finesse a good shot, rescue an indifferent one or to combine elements of several photos into an other worldly piece from my imagination.

I had been teaching high school science for over 20 years and on our arrival in Australia in 2006 I knew I needed a change. The Sunshine Coast of Queensland is a magnet for ‘sea change’ life-stylers. Real Estate is a major industry here so PFRE seemed worth a shot. Finding Larry’s blog and then the PFRE Flickr community has been crucial in my success so far. This group has provided me with a huge boost up the learning curve and I would have given up long ago without their support and advise.

The photo I submitted I first saw on an RE signboard outside a house I had been sent to photograph. The signboard belonged to another agency. Perhaps they had lost the listing, but I remember being impressed by the photo and challenged myself to replicate it. My version is a blended exposure of 5 frames. Although I own 5 SB strobes and my quest is to master them, I have been seduced by the potential of exposure blending. I use Tufuse Pro by Max Lyons

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