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Stéphane Pecqueux: Enhancing dramatic skies

by Yvette Depaepe
Published the 5th of December 2022


Stéphane Pecqueux is just in love with the beauty of the North of France, especially the 'Opal coast' where he lives.  He is found of dramatic tormented skies shown in many of his photographs. Sunny days and blue skies are not his cup of tea.
Let's go on a trip through his portfolio admiring his images from behind our computers without having to affront bad weather like he does ;-)

'Un dimanche à Wissant' (A Sunday in Wissant)


Dear Stéphane, please tell us about yourself, your hobbies and other jobs.
Currently, I'm retired.  At the age of 18, I bought a Nikkormat and started with photography. 
In the beginning I took photographs of my friends but very soon, I stopped with it because I was not happy with the results and also because film photography was extremely expensive, so I gave up.
A few years later, I started doing research in depth in my family tree.  It took a lot of my time.
But in April of 2012, I was eager again to buy a camera and to start again with photography.
Each day after my work and in the weekends, during 5 years, I was photographing landscapes and long exposures.


How has your history and life experiences affected your photography?
Which are your most important experiences that has influenced your art?
When I started again, I didn't look at images from other photographers till I noticed on social media, wonderful images of 'la côte d'opale' (the opal coast) – North of France by photographers Mickaël Lootens and Frédéric Briois. That was the final click to me.  Their work was magnificent and often  with heavily tormented skies like we use to see in our region.


Describe your overall photographic vision.
To me, a photograph has to have that certain mood at first sight and at the same time be minimalistic so that the gaze encompass it.

Your work is often creatively edited (skies). Why are you so drawn by it?
Creatively edited images allow me to change the skies.  I take an photo of mine and process it.  For example the image le 'Feu de Saint-Pol' … when there is a storm, I add a tormented sky to give it a more dramatic effect.

'Feu de Saint-Pol'


I have a huge collection of tormented skies and sunsets all taken from my window or somewhere close to my place.

What is more important to you, the mood,/story behind your images or the technical perfection?
The mood is really essential to me.  It is the mood that takes all my attention.

What generally is your relationship to your subject matter beyond being an observer?
I go out with my camera, especially when the weather is bad.  I'm not inspired at all by blue skies.  It is all about my inner feelings in front of a scene and I always try to express my emotions as I experienced them when shooting in the post-processing.


What gear do you use (camera, lenses, bag)?
I use a Pentax K1 II and most of the time, my wide angle 18/35 Pentax.  I also use some gray filters and the ND 1000 for long exposures.


What software do you use to process your images?
In the very beginning, I used Picasa.  Then I bought Photoshop CS6 and worked on my images with the NIK collection.  Two years ago, I discovered Luminar and bought it.  Luminar also sells skies from other artists to put on your own photos.
If I don't fine a satisfying sky out of my personal collection, I sometimes use a Luminar sky.


What is your most important advice to a beginner in creatively edited photography and how do you get started?
To start, the 'object' is the most interesting part.  The composition also is very important as well as the 2/3 rule.


Who are your favourite photographers and more importantly, how has your appreciation of their work affected how you approach your own photography? 
Well, I think that photographer Hengki Lee gave me the idea to put clouds in my photos.  I love the atmosphere expressed in his works.

I also love the photos from Thierry Dufour and the most graphical works from Hans-Wolfgang Hawerkamp.


Is there any specific photo taken by another photographer that has inspired you a lot and why?  

'Prelude to a dream' by Hengki Lee

And many more of his works, please check out his 1x portfolio 


Are there any specific directions that you would like to take your photography in the future or any specific goals that you wish to achieve?
No, nothing actually.  I just want to fully enjoy photography.


Describe your favourite photograph taken by you and why it is special to you? 


'Le cri des goélands, le soir, au-dessus des canisses' (The sound of gulls in the evening above the reeds)

This is my favourite photo.
Straight out of the camera, no modification or post-processing.
I was laying down in the sand I found the sledge with the clouds above very graphical. I waited for the bird to arrive in the line of force to trigger.


Is there anything else you wish to add  and what do you think about 1X as a home base for your work?
When I joined the regional photo club, a friend gave me the advice to go and watch the photos on 1X.  And indeed, I was amazed to see so many marvellous images. I thought: 'OK if the images are judged by experts and official curators, I'll give it a try and upload mine to know about my level versus other photographers.'
1X is a most inspiring place to me and a must for any photographer.


'Regarder la mer' (Watch the sea)



'Rochers vendéens' (Vendée rocks)


'La solitude du pêcheur' (the loneliness of the fisherman)



'Partir au bout' (Going to the end)



'Coup de tabac' (Hard blow)



'Solitude' (Loneliness)



'J'y vais?' (Shall I go ?)



'Les verrotiers' (worm seekers)



'Tempête' (Storm)


'Le passage' (The passage)



'Surveillant de plage' (Beach guardian)



'Audresselles' – name of the place


Superb interview accompanied by lovely photos, however I was expecting something more about sky enhancing techniques, otherwise perfect, thank you Yvette and Stéphane
A joy yo admire image with such depth.
merci beaucoup !!!
Superbe interview, les photos de Stéphane sont extraordinaires. Merci Stéphane de m'avoir mis dans tes photographes favoris. Merci aussi à Yvette !!!
merci beaucoup Thierry !!!
very nice sky collection!
Merci beaucoup !!!
Incredible handling of the skies!! Congratulations!!!!
Merci beaucoup !!!
Creative and imaginative vision in the excellent collection! Actually, I always pay attention to your wonderful and artistic work! Congratulations!!!
Merci beaucoup !!!
Great vision - wonderful work !
Merci beaucoup !!!
Very good work and great dedication, in good time.
Merci beaucoup Alberto