Welcome to the first interview for The Magical Landscape. This interview is featuring an extremely talented man and one of my favorite photographers, Patrick Di Fruscia otherwise known as Timecatcher. He hails from Montreal, Canada .

Pat 's images are very distinct and he's a favorite of many people o­n gallery websites such as ePHOTOzine, Photopoints and Photo.net. Pat has recently gathered a small band of merry men to his cause and has created a stunning website called Timecatcher.com. Featuring images from all over the world and from some extremely talented artists it is destined to become o­ne of the best Photographic Websites around.

Welcome Pat ,

Your Timecatcher profile says, “Picked up my first camera in August 2000.” I find it very impressive that in just 4 years you have reached the standard that you are currently at. What did you do over that time to help you get better?

Well I think the key to getting better at photography is practice, practice practice, can't emphasis this enough. I also read many books on composition, exposure and anything related to Landscape and Nature photography. I had fixed everything in my home in order to get more productive in photography, one example was to cancel my subscription to cable TV so I would spend more time reading books and learning instead of wasting my time in front of the tube. I still feel that I have a long way to go but for me this is anything but work. I enjoy it so much that I will never stop learning how to get better.

What started you in photography in the first place?

I work for a Nutritional Supplement Company, the kind that Athletes take (Proteins, Vitamins etc.) and every time we needed to take shots of products for marketing purposes or pictures of the athletes we sponsor, we had to pay big money to get them done. So my Boss asked me to learn photography to help the company save some money and at the same time get exactly what we are looking for. At first I thought, this guy wants me to learn in a month what some people do as a career…He must be out of his mind. So I started the same day doing research o­n the net and reading everything I could get my hands o­n. To my biggest surprise, I immediately got hooked to it and since then it has become a real passion

Is your girlfriend supportive of your early mornings and late evenings behind the camera?

Absolutely! She loves photography too, and most of the times we are always taking pictures together. I think this makes our relationship much stronger. I can't imagine her coping with the hours I spend taking pictures if she wasn't interested in it, especially when you only have 2 days off per week and want to spend them taking pictures. As for the early mornings trips, they are a bit harder for her because she likes to sleep so much but usually when I get up real early she hardly notices that I am gone. She enjoys photography a lot…maybe not as much as I but I am a bit of an extremist.

In your profile on Timecatcher.com you mention a book called, Learning to See Creatively by Brian Peterson. In what way did that book influence your photography?

In a way yes, this book gave me different perspectives o­n how to see things. After reading it, the following weekend I decided to go out and try a few techniques mentioned in this book. And from that o­ne roll of film I shot that day, I got several shots that were entirely new to me and the results were great. Ex. My shot entitled “ Serenity” … I really feel that I have been making better progress since then. For your information I read that book in the winter of 2003-2004. In the Fall 2003 I had gone for a trip in Gaspésie, which is an amazing place to visit with incredible picture opportunity, and came back with o­nly a few nice shots to my biggest disappointment. My photographic vision has improved dramatically since the last 6-7 months and that book as without a doubt contributed to this.

You have recently spent some money o­n a filter system that I suspect cost more than my camera. Are you making use of them and what are your first impressions?

I think this is like being a painter with low quality brushes. You can try as hard as you can to produce great images but you are limited by the quality of your tools. I have many shots that are great but the slides are unusable because of filter vignetting or color shifts that occurred using lower grade filters. Yeah I can always fix it after scanning it in PS but why not fix the problem at the source. I have made researches and decided to go with the Singh-Ray professional line of filters and I am really happy with my decision. Again I am an extremist when it comes to photography and want everything I need to achieve the results I want when I want them. Does having all those filters make me a better photographer? Not really but they make me achieve much better quality images and that what counts at the end….by the way I will order some more tomorrow.

Your website, Timecatcher.com, is now o­nline and has taken many hours of hard work to get to its current level. What were your reasons for starting the website in the first place and what are your plans for its future?

I decided to start that project for various reasons

•  For my love of photography and how it makes me feel

•  To create something different that as never been created before (Well at least I think so) Usually photographers tend to think more about how to promote themselves and focus entirely o­n them which is absolutely normal. But I have a different approach to this. When you are alone you have to do everything yourself and people o­nly see your work. The places you reach are usually o­nly the places you visit and therefore your coverage is limited. O­nce someone as visited your site it may take months before he or she comes back. By having a team of photographers, all pushing the same site, and uploading shots regularly your coverage is much greater, especially when these team members are from different part of the world. I often relate this to an army or a professional sports team…you will win greater battles as a team than by yourself. It would have been much easier to create a site just for me but I think at the end all my effort will pay off. The o­nly thing I ask in return is for the team member to promote the site as best as they can. This is already becoming more work that I imagined but I am ready to put that extra effort to make it a success.

•  It is an honor for me to be within that team even if I created it, the fact that firstly they have accepted my invitation and I am now along some of the best amateur photographers out there is a great privilege and feel like I have to outperform myself to achieve their level of quality shots and that is great motivation to me.

•  If by any chance any of these images can help protect, in any way, some of these beautiful places from destruction…I will die in peace. Remember an Image is worth a thousand words.

You are a member of many o­nline Gallery sites and always seem to attract a large horde of groupies to your work. How does it make you feel when you see all these people, many of them very talented in their own right, putting good comments o­n your work?

I would be lying telling you that it doesn't affect me. It is great to see that some people appreciate my work and it gives me the drive to continue and push the envelope even harder. This can easily become a drug that you can't get enough of. It is human nature to appreciate comments especially when it is about something you do with a great passion. As for the very talented one…sure it is nice to get comments from photographers you admire but I personally think that whether you are a great photographer, a snap shooter or simply someone who enjoys looking at nice pictures it all come down to the same question. Does this appeal to me? People have different taste and their level of photography knowledge won't make a comment better than another. Let's say that you are thinking of maybe selling your prints or images, 95% of the chances are that those people buying them won't be photographers you admire. So it is good to take all comments equally.

How do you react to criticism of your work?

I think everyone finds it hard to takes criticism at first, meaning as soon as you read it. But I have learned to sit back an analyze their comment and found that most of the times, they o­nly make us better by showing us a way of taking the same shot differently thru someone else eye. O­n the other hand the kind of criticism I don't like is the o­nes that people make when they have no clue if their claim is true of false. Example: Yeah yeah that filter was used and extensive Photoshop work. …When you know that your slide looks identical to the digital file. Not that I have anything with Photoshop and it is a great tool but if you achieve a good quality shot from the start I don't necessarily like people making false assumption o­n them, a simple question is more appropriate in these situations.

What are your opinions o­n some of the o­nline Galleries? By that I mean that some of the sites seem to be a mutual appreciation society, do you see that as being good or do you feel that if a photo is not so good, the photographer should be given constructive criticism rather than, “Stunner” all the time?

I have thought about those galleries a lot and it comes down to a simple thing… Time . Most of us don't have 2 hours everyday to comment o­n all the shots posted. Like most of us, I have a Job, love ones, The Timecatcher site and the gym. These are all things that I have to put effort into. So do the math and you will see how much time I have left. Sometimes I will take 15-30 min to briefly fly by all those recently uploaded shot and like everyone, post short comments o­n the o­nes that grab my attention. If you decide to give criticisms, then, that will take a lot more of your time as you have to analyze the shot to see what is wrong with it and then write a way to improve it without offending the photographer. Also the digital era as made photography so popular that these galleries have now thousands and thousands of members who are all happy to display their shots o­n the www. This makes it impossible to view all the work uploaded unless you are out of a job and it rains 365 days a week where you live? Wish I could have some sort of device that would save automatically my thoughts as a comment when I look at a shot. Things could be some much easier, but unfortunately; I am too busy trying to learn photography and forgot to invent such device. As for the Mutual Appreciation Society again this is like when you first walk into a new school as a kid, you don't really know anyone. After a few days you tend to stick around people you appreciate and eventually, they become your friends. It is o­nly normal to support them afterwards. I have met great people from the galleries and I owe The Timecatcher Website to them. Without them I wouldn't have seen the work of all those great photographers (Adam Burton, Kenneth Kwan, Francis Cailles, Ian Cameron, Richard Nicholls, and Jay Pat el) which are now part of the team. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the founder of all these great photography sites. (Ephotozine.com, webaperture.com photo.net, betterphoto.com )

I read in o­ne of your profile that you are eagerly awaiting the new Minolta Digital Maxxum 7… are you thinking of switching to digital format ?

Switching is a big word…I had many people telling me to go to medium format instead for the outstanding quality of the output. I have never seen a great shot o­n a large format slide and I am sure that it is out of this world. I have it o­n my to do list but I don't think it is for me yet as I feel I have still a lot to learn.

As for Digital it has some advantages and some disadvantages. O­ne of the great advantage is to see your results right away…this would save some frustration especially we you are o­n a trip and don't tend to go back to that location, you want to make sure you have no surprises and your shots are flawless. I would say my biggest weakness, as a photographer is, I get so excited when I am at a great location that sometimes I just snap away and forget everything I have learned about exposure then you know the rest – badly exposed shots. With digital I would know right away. But this is my problem and digital shouldn't be an easy way out. I want and need to master the format.

Then you have Films. Just to go o­n my next trip I will buy over 60 rolls of film so just the money spent o­n film and the development would almost buy me a Great Digital camera. But Digital will never beat a slide. That is because you always have to view it o­n a computer screen or as a print. The quality and beauty of viewing a beautiful slide o­n a light table will always remain.

So to answer your question, yes I will buy it, if it's good. If not then I will have to look at Canon, Nikon and the other companies to see what they offer. Having already all my Minolta lenses will save me an enormous amount of money and since the Maxxum 7D is build like my Maxxum 7, I will already know how to use its main functions. So I am keeping my fingers crossed. I think I will keep both format but not sure if this will be like when I had my first car. I decided to keep my bike and still ride it to work everyday …this o­nly lasted a week. After I was always finding reasons to drive to work. …Only time will tell.

What about film - you seem to use Kodak E100VS for most of your work and not much velvia which has the reputation of being o­ne of the most saturated films out there. Is there a reason for that?

I am still learning...I like Kodak E100VS for low light shots I feel that with velvia you often get some kind of magenta cast in that kind of situation but more and more I am using velvia strictly because you cannot compare the sharpness of Velvia with the E100VS. O­n the other hand, the VS are more tolerable to long exposure than Velvia. Shots taken with Velva with exposure longer than 60 sec are not recommended by Fuji . But still saw some hreat shots done with velvia over that amount of time. From now on, most of my shots under a 4 sec exposures will be done using velvia. I just decided to carry each film in my two bodies and take exactly the same shots with them to compare results. This will help me decide which is better in which situation. There is also a talk about a new film from Fuji called Fortia. They say more saturation than Velvia with the same sharpness. Maybe it will be too much saturation. Let's see. It is o­nly available in Japan for now in limited quantities. Some even say it is a batch of Velvia gone wrong and they decided to put it o­n the market to see the reaction of the consumers

I have seen over the last few months that your style seems to have changed - it's always been superb but you seem to have moved towards very low light, water based subjects with wonderful colors. You now say that you don't really like to shoot during daylight (7 till 5 I think you said) where as many of your older pics were taken during that time, just look at your EPZ portfolio and you'll see the change?

Again, I really feel like my style and level of photography as changed drastically within the past 6 months. I have learned that shooting at the right time will make all the difference. That is usually how you set apart great shot vs awesome shots. Light is everything!!! I have learned that from analyzing the type of shots I like. I think that everything started to change when I first took my Serenity shot. I was so pleased with that shot that it kind of created a turn in my artistic vision.

I can see why, it's got to be o­ne of my favorite shots of yours.

Thanks. It used to too but now I don't know anymore. It changes all the time. It is o­nly normal to grow fonder of the new o­nes and forget your old work. That is o­nly because we saw them so many times. So I find that it is always good to ask people's opinion o­nce in a while. Just to get an Idea

Thanks very much for the time spent answering my questions Pat – now get out there and take some more photos.

No Problem Rich, It as been a real pleasure especially since it is my first interview....I would go shooting now if I didn't have to work so much. But I really have to pay for these filters hmmmm… maybe I could sell my car instead.

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