Murray Sharratt delights thousands on Vancouver Island with his premier-quality landscapes, seascapes and astrophotography.
Murray became interested in photography in the 80's, soon after high school, during a BA in Visual Communications Program at Shoreline Community College in Seattle. "We studied graphic design, journalism and photography," he says. "We had great instructors."
After graduation, Murray worked for ten years as a photojournalist: first as a staff photographer for two sister community papers on the Island, The Sidney Review and Goldstream Gazette, and later as a part time contributor to The Province and the Vancouver Sun. He also shot dozens of weddings professionally during that time, and also did some magazine work.
It was great training, but stressful waiting for the results of someone’s special day. Working with film cameras and running darkrooms for community newspapers meant many hours of working in confined spaces with exposure to some dangerous chemicals. And there was the uncertainty of not knowing if he had successfully captured the crucial shot until hours after it was taken. After a decade, Murray hung up his high-end Canon T-90 and didn't touch a camera for years. To make a living, he began his own painting and decorating business.
In 2010, he began to take photos again, with some casual family shooting. After awhile, he bought a quality digital camera, the Canon 40D. On a family trip to Hawaii in 2014, he began shooting landscapes, and continued back home on the Island.
Murray captures the rugged coastlines, mountains, and lakeshores in and around Vancouver Island, with skill and dedication, often arriving on location before dawn to take advantage of the best light. He enjoys the challenge of searching out a good composition in the limited time that the best light lasts. “It gets the adrenaline going,” he says. But even more, Murray says he enjoys being alone in the quiet and beautiful locations he photographs.
Although he finishes his photos with post-processing software, he prefers to do what he can in-camera to get the desired results. He says, “learning with film taught me to be precise with exposures.” Murray uses many filters familiar to landscape photography, such as polarizers, neutral density and grad neutral density filters. He also uses a black card technique, which acts somewhat like a graduated neutral-density filter and helps expose a bright sky properly, while maintaining detail in the foreground. “My favorite is my 3-stop Haida grad neutral density filter with some black card. It’s a movement of the black card in front of the camera lens that is not unlike the dodging and burning that we used to do in the darkroom,” he added.
He embraces other advanced techniques in order to create interesting and dramatic images. For example, he enjoys longer exposures, which can smooth out stormy seas, and accentuate dynamic patterns and movement in the sky.
Murray shoots with premium camera equipment: Canon 7D Mark II, and the full-frame Canon 6D. He also uses premium lenses, including Tokina, Tamron, Rokinon and the legendary Canon 70-200 f2.8 “L” lens.
In the past several years, Murray has developed a devoted following, consistently drawing enthusiastic reviews on the largest online platforms for Island photographers, including his own Facebook and Instagram pages. He has built up a clientele of dozens of individuals and organizations who display his stunning captures of Vancouver Island scenes, often in sizes that fill an entire wall-- in their homes, waiting rooms and public spaces.
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