Shifting Gears With Tracy Ward Photography

Editor’s Note: One of the great things about editing a website about transcendental things is meeting new talent, folks with a different view of the world, people who are passionate about their hobbies, and people who are willing to share. We met Tracy Ward through our North Sea Drambassador Ian Horne and Trace has graciously agreed to this interview and sharing his visual worlds with us.

TD: So who is Tracy Ward? Where do you live? What do you do?

Trace: I live with my wife and our two Staffordshire Bull Terriers in the village of Polesworth in Staffordshire, England, near Birmingham. Since I left school I have worked in the car body repair trade, repairing accident damaged cars, jig work and paint spraying which is what I’m doing at the moment for McLaren. I also worked for a company modifying 4×4 vehicles to bullet proof spec for covert work overseas, which was really interesting.

In 2005, my wife and I brought an old cottage in Bulgaria in a lovely village in the Dobrich region. Since then we have been extending and renovating it. We try and go out there every other year for 6-9 months to work on the house. We travel the 2000 miles by car, towing a large trailer. It takes us about three days. We’ve done all the building work ourselves, including three large extensions, a new roof, new floors, and plumbing. Our next job is wiring, plastering and decorating. I did a lot of research and learned as much as I could from books. Out of all the jobs on the house I was most concerned about building the new roof, but actually really enjoyed doing it.

TD: I once went fishing with a guide. At the outset he asked, “Are you a fisherman or do you just like to go fishing.” One look at your work and it is clear that you are a photographer while most of the rest of us just take photographs, snaps, as a photographer friend of mine calls them. When did your interest in photography begin?

Trace: My interest in photography began when I was about 10 years old and my mom and dad brought me my first camera, a Kodak Box Brownie. I hadn’t seen this camera for years, but last month my mom dad found it and gave it to me. It still had my name written inside the case in ballpoint pen. The interest was always there. My first SLR film camera was a Praktika. It was a great old camera, but I didn’t do much photography for a good few years until we went on a trip to Cuba three years ago. For that trip I brought my first digital Slr, a Canon 450D—haven’t looked back.

TD: Are you self-taught or have you had lessons or classes?

Trace: I am totally self-taught. If I have an interest in something I will do a lot of research and then try and do it the best I can. I like reading books I can learn from and pick up new ideas. I also use the internet a lot for research on techniques and technical issues.

TD: Do you see the image first and go get it, or are you surprised later with the results?

Trace: I must admit my wife can spot a photo before me. She will often say, “here is a picture. There!” There are times when I’m driving and see something and think that would make a nice shot. I have gone back and gotten the picture. But to be honest, yes, some of the time I am surprised with the results.

TD: How do you achieve the intense color in many of your images?

Trace: I take photos in a format called Raw which retains a lot more information than Jpeg. It is not processed in the camera. Instead you have to process the image yourself on a computer. I use a program called Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop. This is a more time consuming way of working, but a lot more enjoyable because you can control exactly how the image looks. Also the quality is a lot better. The only limitation is your imagination.

TD: Where did the antique car interest come from? These are engaging images. What can you tell us about these cars?

Trace: I have had an interest in cars for longer than I care to remember. I grew up with them really. Not just any cars: I absolutely love Hot Rods, modified 1930s and 40s American cars. I also like 50s and early 60s American cars. I don’t really know where the interest came from, but it was there when I was at school. I think it’s in my blood, lol. I’m definitely a petrol head!

TD: Does the same go for your interest in tractors and trains? Obviously these close ups give you a different feeling for objects most of us see only at a distance?

Trace: The interest in trains came from my Dad really when I was growing up, Mom and Dad used to take me to our local steam railway (shakerstone) where we would spend many Sunday’s watching the old steam trains. I still love the smell and the noise of them to this day. I have an interest in engineering and I can really appreciate the workmanship that went into building these great machines. They didn’t just work well they looked good too.

Tractors are just an engine on bigger wheels really. The old ones are quite interesting to photograph.

TD: When you see a tractor or train, what do you see? What are you thinking?

Trace: An old steam Loco, especially, is an engineering masterpiece, a work of art. What more can I say!

TD: What kind of camera(s) do you use? Do you have a favorite?

Trace: My current camera is a Canon 60D which I’ve owned now for about a year. I’m really pleased with. It has a flip out screen which is great for the low angle shots and it is packed full of useful features. I do like Canon and I will stick with them. I am currently thinking of adding another lens to my kit. But at the price of a small car, I will have to save a bit more first, lol.

TD: Do you have any other “hobbies” that demand this kind of attention?

Trace: I do have other hobbies. I seem to like expensive hobbies for some reason. I have built a number of Hot Rods in the past that have done really well in the shows, picking up a few trophies and magazine features. I also like sailing and have my own small yacht, an Evolution 22 that I restored. It  is out in Bulgaria at the moment.

TD: What are your favorite whiskies?

Trace: After a recent trip to Tobermory [pictured below in the gallery], my favorite whisky is Ledaig, I really like the peaty taste.

TD: Do you remember your first experience? Was it a grandmother who slipped you a nip?

Trace: I do remember trying whisky for the first time and it wasn’t good, not good at all. I and some friends went camping in Wales.  I drank a bit too much and I was not feeling too good for a couple of days afterwards. In fact, it was a bad enough experience to put me off drinking for about 30 years. It’s only recently really that I’ve started to drink whisky and enjoy it. I think you get to appreciate more the finer things in life with age.

TD: What’s next for you?

Trace: I’ve sold my first image to National Geographic magazine. They want to run one of my Moroccan pics in there magazine next year. I was chuffed with that: for me this magazine is all about the photography!

Editor’s Note: For more of Trace’s photography look at our selection of his car, tractor and train images below. Click on anyone of them to enlarge it. It then turns into a slideshow where you can control the pacing. Many of these images do not have captions—that is intentional. Many of you are car buffs and many of you may well recall a by-gone era when all cars did not look alike. You could spot the model and year by a slight change in the grill, or chrome, or headlight, or fin. Those were the days. Now that was a fun way to kill driving time. So feel free to add your comments in the discussion section below, and if you guess wrong or you are off a year, Trace may set us straight. Have fun.

Editor’s Note 2: For more of Trace’s photographs go to his flickr page and take a dram along as you feast your eyes:http://www.flickr.com/photos/shelbypoppit/


About Author

Josh is an author, former blogger, media critic, x-Capitol Hill legislative aide and White House assistant, business consultant, idea marketing specialist, a squatter at the global village virtual bar and an alpine rock gardener where he lives in Woodstock, NY.