In the world of photography Daniel (danob) O'Byrne is remarkable; not only for his natural talent, but even more so for his rare lack of artistic ego. He is a humble man with an innate eye for recording the beauty of the world through his camera lens.
On Renderosity Daniel O'Byrne is known as danob. Many, including myself, know him simply as Danny, or better yet friend. He is devoted not only to his art, but also to his family and community. His friendly nature and willingness to help others often transcends his incredible artistic expertise.
Renown for his in-your-face macro photography, Danny’s landscapes and portraits also rival his professional contemporaries. While other photographers chase the illusive dream of the perfect shot—every photograph Danny captures is pure perfection!
Sleepy Polar Bear © Daniel O'Byrne
As a fellow photographer, I remember the first time I looked through the view finder of a borrowed Box Brownie camera. Take us down memory lane and tell us about your first experience taking a photograph.
I was quite young about 8 or 9 when I got an interest in Photography, again like you, it was the Box Brownie. My Aunt lived on a Farm, an early introduction to animals.
However, it was in my 20’s that I got more serious about it. My son had to have his first communion photographs taken. I decided to do them myself and bought my first SLR, a Russian Zenit Camera. To my chagrin I am ashamed to say I did not put the film in correctly, and when we got the film back they were all blank!
I vowed there and then to learn a bit more about it!
One of my favorite sayings is: find something that you love, and then find a way to make money doing it. From your art gallery it is obvious that you love what you do. Yet, I know for many artists it is a difficult transition from hobbyist to professional. As an artist who actually makes money from their creative talent, what was your journey like from amateur to professional photographer?
I don’t think I ever thought about the transition, it was a gradual progression. I tend to never be satisfied until I have got-to-grips with any of my interests. I then go all out to learn as much as possible. I was always interested in art, and it was one of my best subjects at school.
Photography was a way to capture nature far better than my own attempts to do them with other mediums. I did win a competition and 500 [pounds] first prize. I was then able to afford to buy my first decent professional camera, a Canon A1 with a few lenses—I was hooked!
Later I bought a decent computer; again more to learn about for my children. The two hobbies seemed to merge well together. I started to do some digital artwork, and use my photography skills to create some interesting images. I sold a few works. With the Internet, and such, I was able to sell more.
Joining Renderosity was a major turning point. The encouragement here was maybe a key factor, especially after getting a nomination for Artist Of The Month, for mixed medium and also (twice) for photography.
Have you gone digital, or do you still use an SLR? If I were to snoop into your camera bags, what equipment would I find?
Yes, I am almost entirely digital these days, but I still use film. In my camera bag you would find a considerable collection of Canon equipment. I have 5D and 10D bodies, a collection of L series lens and most of the accessories. For film I use an EOS 1 VHS, mainly for speed, as it can rattle off around 36 exposures in 4 or 5 seconds!
Have you ever shot with a large format camera?
Yes, I have used one. The detail is quite awesome, but the expense, and messing around in the darkroom with chemicals are long gone.
Your attention to light and composition is incredible, as well as your mastering of macro photography. Are you self-taught, or do you have formal artistic training?
In the medium of photography, I am all self-taught. I did have a very talented artist to help me with painting technique. I have also taken other traditonal art courses.
Glasswing Butterfly © Daniel O'Byrne
Most photographers specialize in one aspect of photography (landscape, nature, portraits, high fashion, etc.). You, on the other hand, have an extremely diverse portfolio. What is your all time favorite subject to shoot? What is your least favorite?
My favorite subjects to shoot are nature, and wildlife; so that would include most of the living world we see everyday. I love beautiful things.
I was in the Military for twenty-three years as a Medic. I have seen my share of wars and man’s inhumanity to man. So, that would be my least favorite. Also, I have traveled extensively. It never seemed right to me to be intrusive in the pain and suffering of others.
Drummer Girl 2 © Daniel O'Byrne
Of all the photographs that you have ever shot, which is your favorite?
Pictures of my Children, and then maybe the one I won the prize for, as it provided the lift to try harder.
Have you dabbled in traditional art (oil painting, sketching, watercolors) or digital art (computer graphics) as well as photography?
Yes I do all of them, apart from 3D rendering. I don’t have the patience to wait for days to see the results. I should do more traditional artwork, but I have to be too insular. I hate to be disturbed when in the groove, and can’t find the time to do it as much as I would like.
Sunset Poppies © Daniel O'Byrne
What computer software (Photoshop, Painter, Paint Shop Pro) do you use to resize, manipulate, or enhance your photographs?
The majority of my post work is done in Photoshop CS2. I use a variety of other programs and filters; Artrage 2 is a recent addition that I am very happy with. For Raw files I tend to use Phase One for absolute best quality, and RawShooter Premium. Noise is very low on the Canon system, but if I do need to reduce it I use Neat Image 5. For Digital work I use Bryce 5 and Poser 6.
Surf and Turf © Daniel O'Byrne
What kind of printer do you use? What are your feelings as to digital output of photographs compared to traditional film development of images?
I currently use two Canon Printers: an A3 and A4 version. I find they produce fine quality prints for my own use. I am lucky to have a professional printer who produces amazing quality prints for exhibition or for sale.
Most film labs on the “High Street” offer poor quality prints, and again I go with a friend who has produced film prints for me for a number of years. On the digital front the good print shops, with high quality printing gear, can produce amazing prints expensively. These days, it is a viable alternative to doing your own.
If you could emulate one photographer or artist, who would it be?
Hmm that’s a tricky one there are so many I admire, Andy Rouse, Ansel Adams, Joe Cornish, and Cartier-Bresson for his inspiration about the “moment.”
Art is another matter. It is just as difficult to give just one or two. Perhaps it would have to be Vermeer. His use of light is simply breathtaking!
Outside influences (music, movies, nature) inspire the creative process. What gets your creative juices flowing?
I love music and I consider myself an audiophile, I love the sound of Valve amps and have some expensive hi-fi ... most of it British. I still think we make the best: Linn Products etc. I also enjoy all the arts and reading. Poetry can inspire, but really Mother Nature is the main thing that gets me going!
Swan On Avon © Daniel O'Byrne
In 2002 you became a member of Renderosity. How did you first discover Renderosity, and why did you make it your cyber home over other online artist communities?
I joined Renderosity when I started to get into 3D work. I found it on the Internet via 3D Cafe. It was a wonderful friendly place. I made good friends who, over the years, I have either helped or who have helped me. Many have become lifelong friends as well.
I was a Renderosity Coordinator before becoming a Moderator in the Photography Forum—which I have been now for six months.
Although it is a big part of who you are, photography is just one aspect of Daniel O'Byrne. Tell our readers what you do when you are not shooting photographs or working on Renderosity? What are some of your other interests, hobbies, loves?
Well I am, or was, a keen chess player, having played at quite a high level in our National Championships. I played for the UK in Nato and other Military events. I am getting too old to remain a Strong player, but I still play when I find the time.
For exercise I enjoy Golf, and play off an 8 handicap.
My wife has Multiple Sclerosis, so I have fulltime care commitments there. We have been married for thirty-seven years. We have three sons and three grandchildren with another on the way mid September. Travel has always been something we enjoyed. We make the most of life, and even more so now that I have retired from working as a mental health professional for 40 years.
Tree-Silhouette © Daniel O'Byrne
Your photographs have brought joy as well as inspiration to everyone who views them. Thank you so much for taking the time away from your photography for this interview. One last parting request—please share with our readers any words-of-wisdoms you would like to pass along to budding photographers.
Practice! Practice! Practice! I will also be writing additional articles on photography. As you know, I did some articles for the Renderosity Magazine, when we worked with each other in your days as Editor. Maybe a link to those may be good for our members to read.
Thanks again Danny, we look forward to your future tutorials (as well as new photographs). Below are links to two of your past magazine articles.
Daniel O'Byrne's Articles from the Renderosity Magazine and the RIM
[Note: Back issues of The Renderosity Magazine and The RIM are no longer available through the Renderosity Market Place.]
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