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Author: Graham Daly

Graham Daly is a self-taught freelance photographer based in County Cork, Ireland. He has won several photographic awards over the past several years since becoming enthralled and amazed with the world of photography. In 2016 Graham went from being a super-obsessed hobbyist photographer to being a full time (and still obsessed!) professional photographer who has turned his passion into his career. When he is not out photographing amidst the beautiful landscape and shorelines of Ireland, he is lending his photographic knowledge and tutoring other photographers, who like him, have a love for the outdoor world and want to further their own photographic skills and progress their own photography journey. Graham provides photography Workshops & Training Courses all year round throughout the entire country of Ireland and caters for both groups as well as providing bespoke 1-2-1 sessions

Photographer Focus Series: Sebastian Tontsch on Professional Photography

Continuing on with my Photographer Focus series, here I spend time talking with Sebastian Tontsch. Sebastian is an Interior, Architectural & Landscape Photographer who also likes shooting Astro Photography images.

Who is Sebastian Tontsch?

I’m an Interior and Architectural Photographer from Germany based in Dubai and Spain. I started out in Landscape photography. Then after moving to Dubai in 2012, I started to shoot the beautiful city of Dubai which started my interest in Architecture. Later I started shooting real estate and interiors for architects. This is what I still do today. I grew up in the countryside in Germany. My dad taught me all about the stars and star signs that’s where my love for Astrophotography comes in. Personally, if I would have to choose 2 categories in photography it would be Landscape and Astro Photography. Those are my personal favorites as I’m a nature person and I spent most time outdoors. One of the reasons I moved to Spain.

How long have you been in the photography game? Are you a full-time Professional Photographer?

I’m a full-time Professional Photographer. But I also have different online businesses running as well. A PR and Marketing company in Dubai that I started in 2014. I first got into photography about thirteen years ago. I always was a big car fan so just before I got my driving license, I started to take pictures of my car with a point and shoot trying to make it look cool. When it didn’t look cool I started to research cameras, settings, etc. That’s how I really got into it.

Sebastian Tontsch Photography

Apart from Interior And Architectural, what styles of photography brings you the most personal enjoyment and satisfaction?

It has to be a tie between Landscape (especially mountains) and Astro Photography. Those two worlds are my Zen zone. It’s great to drive into the mountains and just be there to enjoy nature. The silence up there is the perfect balance to the stressful part of photography which is the business side. The same is true for Astrophotography. Being out at night when everyone else is sleeping is great. Peace and quiet are guaranteed if you shoot in the right areas and for Astrophotography, you need dark locations and those are mostly far away from cities. I combine the two for my trips and go to the mountains for landscape and for Astro as well because I have a great dark sky there as well.

What kind of photography commercial/professional services do you provide?

Anything related to Architecture and Interiors. Commercial Architecture shoots as well. What I started to do recently because I had so many requests are tailored 1-2-1 photography workshops. Most people offer group workshops which are great but I found that working 1-2-1 with a client is the most efficient way to teach person photography. Of course, these workshops are more expensive but the clients enjoy the fact that I teach them exclusively. Also, the client is the one who decides what they want to shoot.

Sebastian Tontsch Photography

I see you founded a company called “Blowfish Media” in Dubai – can you tell us more about that venture?

Blowfish Media is a Full Media agency with its main focus being PR and Marketing at the moment. We are a boutique style media agency that works closely with the client and we offer tailored offers to the company’s liking. Which is something they miss with big PR companies. I started Blowfish Media with my partner in 2014. It was an idea that we had because we both wanted to get into the media business in Dubai. The market was, and still is, very active in that region.

What was your first camera and what do you shoot with now?

The first camera that I used was some old no-name 35mm film camera. During my time in Dubai, I was shooting for Sony, so all my gear was Sony. I had models such as the A7S2, the A7R2, the rx100 and the rx10.

Now I shoot with my old Canon 6D. But I’m just in the process of making changes to my setup. I’m building a three body setup (Sony). Basically one body for each lens (ultra-wide angle lens, a 24-70mm lens, a 100-400mm lens).

Sebastian Tontsch Photography

Sebastian Tontsch Photography

What is your favorite lens and why?

At the moment I would say the Tamron 100-400. Just for the reason that I’m shooting it the most out of all my lenses right now. I shot so much wide angle over the years that in the last three years I have focused more on compressed shots with tele zoom lenses. Also, I love the challenge to get great tele zoom framing in camera.

What is your favorite piece of equipment in your camera bag?

I would say my Ioptron Skytracker Pro because it opens a whole new world in Astrophotography. Being able to take super long exposures without getting star trails is something that makes the whole night photography more interesting and also it gives you many more creative options than without a tracker.

Sebastian Tontsch Photography

What has been your greatest photography achievement to date?

It all depends on what people see as achievements. Is my 3rd place at the Epson Pano Awards 2017 and achievement? Are my features in National Geographic and achievement? Are the magazine covers an achievement or the clients I was able to get over the past years?

That’s why I don’t call myself an award-winning photographer, even though I did win awards. Awards tell you nothing about skill and dedication. They are a subjective view of a handful of professionals. Change the judging panel and you get different results.

For me, my personal achievement is that I am able to share the beauty of nature and our night sky with the world and maybe give people an idea of how great our planet is. If people see my pictures and get interested in the stars or appreciate the mountains more then I achieved my goal.

Today’s society is in a constant rush and everyone forgets what life really is about and priorities change to things that are not even important. We live on a planet that is filled with beauty and that beauty will get even better if we start taking more care about our environment. I want to motivate people to go out into nature. This is where we belong. This is where we came from. Society has lost the connection to nature we once had. And if I can get some of my followers to be more aware of our natural world then I’m happy with that, that’s my achievement.

Sebastian Tontsch Photography

What have been your biggest photography challenges to date?

The biggest challenge is to find new angles and stay creative. Finding spots that no one photographed before seems to be almost impossible today. I enjoy shooting new angles and finding spots that others haven’t shot from yet. Yes, I shoot the classics as well but I constantly try to find new angles. That challenge never stops.

My current approach is trying to get stuff right in camera. I see so many composites online and people love them of course but I appreciate hard work in scouting and planning a shot. That’s photography for me. Photoshopping the milky way into a different foreground is not photography in my eyes. So the challenge is to plan shots correctly and capture them in-camera!

How important is Post Processing to your photography?

Post processing is very important as I love to shoot panoramas. So stitching images and editing raw files to get more detail out of them is a crucial part, Especially as raw files are very flat to start with. For Cityscapes and Landscapes, post-processing doesn’t take extreme amounts of time. But when you get into Astrophotography, for example, the post-processing will become the biggest part. Your camera will capture the details you want but working them out of multiple stacks of raw files is the real skill.

Sebastian Tontsch Photography

Your Astro Photography portfolio is amazing – how do you get your images to be so clean and noise free?

I think in my case the two biggest noise removers are shooting panoramas and using a tracker. With a tracker, I can shoot at much lower iso levels. And by stitching a panorama image your end result will be much cleaner and less grainier as well.

Sebastian Tontsch Photography

I see a lot of Brand Ambassadors on Facebook/Instagram these days – do you represent any particular brands? If yes, which brands and how did those opportunities come about?

Yes, that seemed to be a big trend for a while. I worked together with many brands. But at the moment I’m trying to step away from that a bit on focus more on what I want, not what the sponsor wants. I’m still in the progress of sorting out my partners and sponsors.

Most of the time, brands contacted me and asked if I want to review their product and see if I like it. I personally am dead honest in my reviews. So if someone sends me something I don’t like I will state it exactly that way because I don’t want to mislead people just to make a benefit. That’s not where the money is in photography.

Outside of your Interior And Architectural work, what photographic projects do you have planned 2019?

I will continue my “Mountain Portrait” series that I started in 2017. Shooting more mountains and more close-ups. Just a more intimate view of our most beautiful peaks all over the world. The focus right now are the alps. The Italian side is almost done. Going towards France and Switzerland now. For the Astro part of my photography, I have planned to shoot a bortle class 1 sky this year. If I can fit the trip in, I would fly to the Atacama Desert in Chile which is one of the darkest skies in the world. That’s high up on my priority list.

Sebastian Tontsch Photography

Sebastian Tontsch Photography

What advice or tips can you offer to anyone looking to make a career or a lifestyle switch to that of Professional Photography?

Only shoot what you enjoy. If you have to do jobs that you don’t enjoy it will be hard to get better at it. When I started, I offered everything, portraits, products, events, etc..

I soon found out that I really didn’t enjoy any of those types of photography, So I focused on Interior and Architecture as I really enjoyed it. As soon as I did that, I improved much quicker because I wanted to get better and had an interest in it. Earning money just with Landscapes will be hard. Not the best genre to live from if you don’t run workshops all the time.

Sebastian Tontsch Photography

Sebastian Tontsch Photography

Where and how can people follow your work and keep updated with your photography adventures?

My website is www.sebastiantontschphoto.com. I’m most active on my Facebook profile right now where I post regularly – https://www.facebook.com/sebastian.hcstnot.

Over on Instagram, I have 2 accounts. My behind the scenes account is new and I will post all the stuff behind the camera in there: www.instagram.com/sebastiant_bts

My main account is: https://www.instagram.com/sebastian_tontsch/ – I don’t post there as often but the final images go in there basically.

Photographer Focus Series – Commercial Photographer Jonny Wilson

In this latest installment of my Photographer Focus series, I talk with Jonny Wilson Photography. A great commercial photographer who spends a lot of his time photographing watches and other products within his own studio.

Who is Jonny Wilson Photography?

I am a product photographer based in Birmingham within the United Kingdom. Recently graduated from Birmingham City University which was an amazing place for me to develop my skills and work on my decision of which area of photography I wanted to go into. I have a very meticulous and thorough personality and the precise nature of product photography works fantastically with this. It really allows me to work on getting the exact image that I want.

When did you first get into photography and photographing watches?

I was given my first camera by my parents for my 12th birthday. I have no idea what made me want one but I regularly look back and think how lucky I was to be given one at that point of my life.

It was an early birthday present too so that I could take it away with me on a three week trip around California. I just photographed everything and I 100% fell in love with photography on that holiday. I vividly remember standing at Tunnel View in Yosemite and learning about who Ansel Adams was and what he did with his photography. Something about that holiday got me hooked on photography. And I am glad it did!

Watch And Product Photography By Jonny WilsonWhat was your first camera?

A Nikon D40x! What a throwback. It’s funny though. The more professional cameras look far more confusing with all the extra buttons and wheels, but they are so much easier to use. I still have the camera actually, I look at it fondly whenever I see it. That was the start of so much for me.

What camera systems do you shoot with these days?

I still use Nikon if I have a shoot that I need a fast-paced camera for. I have a Nikon D810 now though. Slowly built up the kit with that one lens or body upgrade at a time.

For most of my product shots though, where I can take my time and be a little bit methodical with everything, I have a Phase One camera system with an IQ140 digital back. The difference in quality from a full-frame up to a digital medium format sensor is immense. I haven’t tried it but I don’t think I could have successfully managed my watch movement photos without my PhaseOne.  The quality allowed me to really capture all the details I needed, such as the tiny screws used that were a fraction of the size of my finger.

Watch And Product Photography By Jonny Wilson

Watch And Product Photography By Jonny Wilson

What would you say is your most important piece of equipment?

I’d say that it is my tripod actually. I could do a lot of my work with any camera given to me. But a lot of them are composites and I wouldn’t be able to produce them without keeping the camera in exactly the same place. Having said that, it is the one piece of kit I have never upgraded. And it is a bit flimsy with the PhaseOne on it! Definitely looking to upgrade to a Gitzo model soon though.

Having said all of that, it may sound like a bit of a cliche, but I have reached a point where I feel harmonious with all of my kit. I know what would happen if I changed the smallest part of a product shoot. I can visualize it. So really it is difficult to put a finger on one piece of kit in particular as they all work as one to create my images. And I would include myself in that unit. So maybe I am the most important piece of equipment?

What type of imagery do you shoot the most?

I shoot product imagery mostly. More specifically, watches. I am branching out a little bit so that I can have a more varied portfolio. I feel this is important just while I am starting out. A broader portfolio will provide a greater potential for income. However, I really see myself as a high-end watch photographer in the future. If there is a release of a watch by one of the biggest watch brands, I want to be the person they call for the campaign photos. I love watches. So I just feel that my love and interest in them will be a massive advantage for me in the future when it comes to photographing them.

Watch And Product Photography By Jonny WilsonAre you a Full-Time Professional Photographer? If yes, can you describe how and when you started down that career path?

Yes, I am now!

It seems a bit weird to say that after dreaming of it for so many years but I can finally say it. I have been building up to this point for a number of years now. But I decided to take it much more seriously about a year ago. Opening my studio marked the start of my professional career for me. I started putting myself out there more and contacting people. I completely changed my website and made a new one make it look much more professional.

Before this, I was doing work for free. Even though I hated doing that, I needed the experience and I needed the portfolio to be able to take to people and just built it up from there. To think of where I was to where I am now is actually a really proud moment for me. The best thing about it all now is people pay me to do something I love doing. Couldn’t ask for more really, could you?

What kind of photography services do you provide?

I work with many different brands in different ways actually. Some will be a campaign for a new product. Some will be for a re-brand of themselves and they want me to inject a new and unique feeling into their brand.

I also create content for brands to post on social media. But even this is done in different ways. I spent a day in a workshop of a Jewelers recently just photographing everything that was going on. But I also photograph products in my studio as well for brands to post online too. It’s all varied at the moment, which I like because nothing is ever the same. Although I am definitely aiming to get into photographing products for magazines. I feel that the editorial look of product images are so much more ‘clean’ looking and just look so much more professional. Definitely my goal at the moment!

Watch And Product Photography By Jonny Wilson

How have you gone about securing new clients and jobs?

Initially, I sat down and just emailed a lot of people, while at the same time accepting that not many of them will want a photographer. It’s long and a bit tedious but if you get fifty people saying no and one says yes, well then you have got yourself a job.

You can write a template that is easy enough to personalize and then adjusts it to the different people you send it to. It looks much better than sending out a generic email that looks lazy and it isn’t interesting to a brand at all.

Recently though, more and more people have been approaching me which is such an awesome feeling. LinkedIn has been amazing for this. The reach you get on a post is huge compared to something like Instagram or Facebook. It is purely business on that site too, so people take you seriously and they aren’t there for ‘nice content’ or anything like that. They are there to do business and find professionals in an area of work that they are looking for. It’s been great!

Watch And Product Photography By Jonny Wilson

You have some excellent images of watches on your site – when and how did you get into photographing watches?

I have always had an interest in watches. This interest was hugely expanded when I sold them during my gap year and my first year of university. I would actually say that horology was verging on a passion of mine too now. Especially after all the work I have been doing over the past few years with watches. This interest in the world of horology has really helped me work on photographing them to the point where I have now started a sub-brand of myself called Horolograph. Through this brand, I produce content for companies to upload to social media. I started this, along with opening my own studio about a year ago, and it has been growing ever since.

Where did the idea for your exploded watch image come from?

My exploded watch movement concept was something I thought of over three years ago. I developed the idea of photographing a watch movement in a technical way to make it look as if it has expanded. I would often get many questions when I used to sell watches that were more expensive than the average ‘everyday’ watch. One of the questions I was asked on a regular basis was “why is it so expensive?”

The answer was sometimes due to the materials if there was gold included for example. But even if there was a precious material which added to the price, the answer was always because of how intricate and technical the movement was. Unfortunately, with a lot of watches, the movement is hidden from the owner behind a metal case. Sometimes there is a glass back but even in this case, the whole movement can’t be seen. I wanted to provide an image of the movement in a way that allowed the buyer to see each component. But there was nothing available for me to do so. As a result, I came up with the exploded watch movement concept.

Watch And Product Photography By Jonny Wilson

Can you describe your process for a typical watch photo-shoot?

It always begins with a concept. I never start a shoot without a comprehensive idea. Ideas can develop on set, but you need to know what you are doing before you start. I start by researching the product and competitors. So that I know what I can do to make their product stand out from everyone around them. I recently have started sketching out my ideas too. This allows me to keep track of everything I want to do. I do have a good memory for creative ideas. But since my business has picked up and I am juggling multiple projects at the same time. As such, I have been noting down ideas and drawing them out.

From these drawings, I come up with a plan for a lighting set up. I feel that I have a natural skill for lighting and I can visualize what will happen with lighting before I do it. I am sure that people in the business for a while can do this, but I could do it basically from my first day in the studio. It just makes sense to me.

I then go into the studio and can spend a couple of hours setting it all up and then capture it. Having planned it all out though, I will probably spend about 10 minutes capturing the image and then I will move on to the next one if I am happy with it. I shoot with my Phase One tethered into the Capture One software running on my MacBook Pro. This enables me to see what I am capturing and make adjustments right away if needed.

Watch And Product Photography By Jonny Wilson

Watch And Product Photography By Jonny Wilson

The images above illustrate a particular set up for a shot of two watches as well as the final produced image. Just a simple light set up. One that has been diffused from the back and one from the front. The two boxes on top of each other were for the silver faced watch. This to make sure that the hands were nicely filled in. The radiator was for the gold watch. It doesn’t matter what you use if it works! This was right at the start of owning my studio, I now have much more bits and bobs around the place to help me with this type of thing.

What type of photography do you see yourself focusing on in 2019, more watch images?

Focus on improving the style of my product images. I want to develop a style that will fit well in magazines and will make people want to commission me to work for them with products. I feel that by the end of 2019 my portfolio will be broader. A slightly wider range of products and the style will be more refined. Whatever anyone throws at me though will be tackled. I love a challenge and if it is a product I have not photographed before, then it is a good challenge!

Also, i want to expand my series of exploded watch movements. I think that there is a huge potential in this series and I want to really turn it into a full and continuing project for myself. Even though each one so far has taken between 30 to 40 hours each. Getting the movements is a tricky business!

Where can people follow your work?

Please feel free to add me on LinkedIn too! All links are on each page of my website, add a message to say you read this so I know who you are!

Photographer Focus: Stephanie Johnson Photography – An Iowa based Abstract, ICM and Landscape Photographer

In my latest installment in my Photographer Focus series, I talk to Stephanie Johnson Photography. An Iowa based Landscape photographer. Her aim, to Re-imagine The Landscape using ICM (intentional camera movement) techniques and Abstract styles of shooting.

Stephanie Johnson, owner of Stephanie Johnson Photography was actually a student/client of mine several years ago. Before going on to launch Stephanie Johnson Photography as a business, Stephanie attended a two-day Landscape Photography Workshop with me in the south west of Ireland. Since that time, Stephanie has further progressed her photography skills and has developed a unique style. Stephanie Johnson Photography certainly has a refreshing outlook on life and photography.

Read on to find out more about Stephanie and her photography vision.

Who is Stephanie Johnson – Tell us about yourself?

I’m an abstract ICM (intentional camera movement) and landscape photographer. I left the business world about 15 months ago to build a more creative life for myself. I came to the realization that if I didn’t take the chance to pursue my creative desires more passionately, I’d be living a less fulfilling life. So, I stepped out onto the path of following my inner voice. And I haven’t looked back!

When did your photography journey begin?

I first became interested in landscape photography in 1996. Some of my first favorite experiences were shooting sunsets over the East China Sea when I lived in Okinawa, Japan. Soon after, I moved to Southern California, where Joshua Tree National Park became my playground. And from there I further immersed myself in the world of landscape photography. These early experiences really set the stage for what would later become the passion work I do now.

Stephanie Johnson Photography

What was your first camera?

The first ‘real’ camera I owned was a Canon EOS A2E 35mm film SLR. This is the camera I learned to shoot within Okinawa and California. I made the switch to digital (a Canon Rebel XT) in 2005. But interestingly enough, I only did so in order to photograph my daughter playing various sports during her school years. I did not do much landscape work at that time. I upgraded to a Canon 7D in 2012 while living in Kansas City. And there I learned to enjoy shooting scenic skylines and cityscapes.

What camera are you shooting with now?

After traveling a few times to shoot the magnificent landscapes of Ireland with the 7D in 2015-2016, and as my passion began to really move me in a new direction with my life, I decided it was again time to upgrade to the full frame Canon 5D Mark III in late 2016. I still have and frequently use the 7D, though. As well as an advanced compact, the Canon G7X Mark II. These three cameras cover all my shooting needs. And I generally always go out with all three at hand. And all my lenses are Canon f/4L series lenses. I’ve had a longstanding relationship with Canon, I guess you could say.

Stephanie Johnson Photography

What type of imagery do you love to shoot/produce?

I consider myself first and foremost a landscape photographer. Landscapes are what I love to shoot. It is essential for me to spend time out in the natural world. My energy comes from connecting to nature and landscapes in an intimate way. This need to be immersed in nature actually led me to a new way of seeing landscapes. As a result, I have been primarily focused on shooting abstract ICM landscapes for the past 15 months or so. I still love to shoot traditional landscape images. But abstract ICM landscapes are what I have become known for. And I developed a somewhat recognizable style apart from what a lot of other ICM photographers are doing. My ICM work is all done in-camera. Using various types of movements, speeds of movement, and settings to create the effects seen in the images.

Do you have a favorite piece of kit – what is the one item that Stephanie Johnson Photography could not do without?

I have two favorites, actually.

The first is my Canon f/4L 70-200mm lens. It has been permanently attached as my go-to lens on either the 5D Mark III or the 7D for doing my abstract ICM work. Traditionally, most consider wider lenses best suited for landscape work. But for the abstract ICM work I do, this lens better enables me to achieve the results I’m going for with the images I create.

The second is, believe it or not, the advanced compact G7X Mark II. It offers most of the features of my DSLRs. Shooting in manual and RAW, and it shoots at 20MP, which is actually more than the Canon 7D. So, it is very handy to carry with me everywhere I go, especially when carrying the larger DSLRs might not be ideal. So, I never leave home without it.

Stephanie Johnson Photography

Tell us about Stephanie Johnson Photography as a Business? (When/how did it start? Where is it currently at? And where do you want it to go in 2019?)

I consider the official start of my photography business as 2016 when I realized the passion I had for it was more than just a hobby, it was what I wanted to do with my life. But, I did at the time continue to work a regular job while I continued to learn, and grow, and evolve my personal vision.

November 2017 is when I stepped out on my own and began devoting my time and energies full time toward building a creative life.

Currently, I feel I’m in the best place I’ve ever been with my photography, with my creativity, and with my business. Momentum is on my side these days, and I’m very positive about the forward progress I am making. I have a lot of ideas flowing for how I want my creative work to influence and impact the world, as well as for where I want to go with it in 2019.

Biggest challenges faced so far?

The biggest challenges for me have been more internal than anything else, I would say. Sure, there are always the typical challenges with moving a photography career or business forward. Because everyone wants to be a photographer these days. And it is a very highly competitive environment for anyone choosing to do it. My internal challenges have been about learning to think and see beyond fear and doubt and limitations. As well as to have faith in the knowledge that I am on the right path. That I have something different to offer and that the work I do makes a difference. I don’t measure success in monetary terms. Success for me is about having an impact and making a difference.

Stephanie Johnson Photography

How do you see your photography journey and Stephanie Johnson Photography as a business progressing?

I envision my photography journey progressing to become something that is about so much more than just my own journey and my own work if that makes sense. My vision is to start a movement and to build a community of like-minded landscape and nature photographers who “see” the world differently.

I am working very diligently to create and build a global project that will be mutually beneficial and meaningful for all who are involved in the project.

Any projects that Stephanie Johnson Photography is currently working on?

Landscapes Reimagined ( https://www.landscapesreimagined.com ) is the global project near and dear to my heart. And it was borne out of my own personal desire to see landscapes and nature differently. The world, and especially social media is saturated with grand-scale images from so many of the iconic locations around the world. I want to be different. I don’t want to shoot what everyone else shoots. And, I want people to realize there is beauty right in their own backyard if they will just take the time to think about it differently and to see it.

So, this project is about seeing the beauty in new ways. About capturing the essence of the natural world through less traditional methods, and about creating a new path forward in landscape photography, rather than following in the thousands of footsteps that lead to all the same places around the globe.

All of this is with the goal of also bringing awareness to the fact that the natural world needs more careful attention to conservation and preservation. We, as photographers, should be more mindful about caring for the environment, and we really can use our cameras to speak for a different way of seeing the natural world.

Part of the path forward for the Landscapes Reimagined project is also the development of a charitable fund/organization, Cameras for a Cause. This will be used to support other environmental charities, and at some point will be a platform for photographers to actually do charitable environmental work around the globe.

Stephanie Johnson Photography

Any advice or tips that you can give to others looking to pursue photography as a career?

My biggest piece of advice for anyone looking to pursue photography as a career is really to spend a good bit of time immersed in their own work and their own creativity in order to find the true vision for what they want their work, their career, their photography, and their art to represent and express to the world.

In today’s extremely competitive landscape photography environment, I feel it’s really important to stand apart from all the noise. By having something new to say. By having a recognizably unique vision. And by creating work that has a different kind of impact.

Stephanie Johnson Photography

Where can people follow Stephanie Johnson Photography?

My personal website is at www.stephjohnphoto.com. And I am identified as @StephJohnPhoto on Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, and Twitter.

Stephanie Johnson Photography

Book Reviews – BEARA – A stunning collection of landscape imagery by Irish Photographer Norman McCloskey

Welcome to my new series of articles here on Sleeklens simply titled “Book Reviews”. In these articles, I review and discuss various photography books that I encounter and look through. First up on my list is BEARA. This book features a stunning collection of landscape imagery by Irish Photographer Norman McCloskey. Read on to get my thoughts and opinions about this photography book.

BEARA – First Impressions

The old adage “First Impressions Are Lasting Impressions” may be a cliche but a valid and solid truth none the less. First impressions really do matter. And when it comes to making a lasting impression, BEARA lands a knockout blow. The cover is quite simply one of the best photography book covers that I have ever seen. It is simple and yet sophisticated. Clean and yet not void of substance. Bold and visually striking, yet humble and not overpowering. The plain dark grey of the cover contrasts ever so nicely with an orange coloured text. In fact, here orange represents the Copper mined in this region in times gone by. The dark grey cover delicately embellishes the landscape which also features this same orange/copper colour. The cover really shines and invites you to the exquisite landscape imagery found within.

Beara Book By Norman McCloskey

BEARA – Looking Inside The Book

Once you slowly go past the exciting cover and proceed to enter the book, an enchanting Irish landscape awaits. The content of this book focuses on a particular section of Ireland in the south west. The location in question is of course the Beara Peninsula. One of several peninsulas located in the south west in counties Cork and Kerry. The Beara peninsula is certainly less traveled when compared to the Dingle Peninsula. Looking for a good coffee shop down within the Beara Peninsula will be a tough ask. However, the isolation is part of the appeal of the Beara Peninsula. You really get a sense of connecting back with nature down there!

Regarding the the layout of the book, beyond the cover greets you with a nice sketching of the Beara Peninsula. Across the page, a foreword from Irish Film Director Neil Jordan. Next, you will find an introduction to the book from the author Norman McCloskey. And at the end of the book, you will find thumbnails of each image along with the EXIF data for those images. Now, it is between the opening and closing pages where the real magic lies.

The images presented throughout Beara are a mixture of wide open vistas and more close up/detail style shots. Norman must have had a difficult time going through the editing process and selecting which images were included or excluded from the final version. Nevertheless, Norman did a great a job of varying the types of images on display. It is hard to pick a favorite image, although I am sure every reader will have their own favorite!

BEARA – A Word With The Author

When I called down to Norman’s Gallery located in Kenmare, County Kerry in the south west of Ireland, I asked him some questions concerning his latest book project. The first question on my mind was “How long did it take to create the book, from conceptualization to publishing?“. Norman’s answer; In total about two and a half years. With two years photographing two or three times a week. It was a tight turn around, and I very nearly considered extending the project for another year. But sometimes you have to just press the button and say it’s finished!

Next question was “What attracted you to the concept of the book?“. Norman answered; Beara has been my main source of inspiration from the very first time I picked up a camera and took my first landscape images. It’s a magical place to work, with great variance in light throughout the year. Lots of challenges and different terrain and no one had done a book like this on this part of Ireland before.

As I also have Norman’s first book PARKLIGHT, I wanted to ask him “In what ways was this book project different from the “PARKLIGHT” project?“. Norman’s reply; It was conceived as a far more personal project and I think you can see that in the result. PARKLIGHT had a ready made list of go to spots and must have images as it was so well known. The focus of the book was the very defined Killarney National Park. And so there were scenes and views that people would expect. I had a blank canvas with BEARA and chose to work in a more personal style, exploring details, form and texture and trying to avoid cliched well known views where possible.

Lastly, I wanted to throw a final question to Norman and that was “Any ideas for your next book project?“. Norman enthusiastically responded with; Yes ! I have two definite book projects in the pipeline. One is already started and the other a huge project that I would need a lot of time and resources for. I’m currently editing a commissioned book on Donegal as well as working on a project on offshore islands which also has lots of potential.

Beara Book By Norman McCloskey

BEARA – My thoughts?

Beara really is a visual delight for a Landscape Photographer such as myself. As a photographer who is native to the south of Ireland, the images contained within certainly inspires me to grab my bags, hop into my Landrover and drive the two and half hour drive down to the Beara Peninsula! As stated at the start of the article, I was really impressed by the cover of the book. It is just so beautiful. But I was equally as impressed with the print quality of the images within the book. The 170 gsm paper certainly helps with that aspect.

Because the default image aspect ratio on modern APS-C and Full Frame DSLRs is that of 3×2, a lot of the images that you will see on Facebook feeds are the default 3×2. Not that there is anything wrong with that! However, it was great to see Norman utilizing different aspect ratios such as 1×1 (square crop). I personally find 1×1 aspect ratio images to be very appealing. However, one needs to be careful about composition. While the Rule of Thirds lends itself nicely to the default 3×2 aspect ratio, I find 1×1 images of better-suit compositions containing more symmetry. And that certainly comes across in a lot of Norman’s images. Thoughtful compositions and no sense or rushing when capturing the image.

BEARA – Where can you get yourself a copy?

The best place is probably directly on Norman’s website https://www.normanmccloskey.com/books/beara/.  It is high quality 120 page hardback featuring 90 images that comes in two editions. It would really make a great addition to any book shelf or coffee table.

Beara Book By Norman McCloskey

Data Loss Bug On Sony a7III and a7RIII

On December 7 2018, Sony posted a notice on their websites regarding a data loss bug on Sony a7III and a7RIII models. You can view the notice here. Read on for details concerning this issue and my thoughts surrounding it.

data loss bug on sony a7iii

Data Loss Bug On Sony a7III and a7RIII – The Details

According to Sony on their site, users of the a7III and/or the a7RIII may experience some data loss issues. Apparently, these issues may only occur in rare cases.  Sony outline two potential scenarios where these data loss issues might occur. These are as follows:

  1. a7III or a a7RIII may stop functioning while writing RAW data onto the SD card which has already been used multiple times.
  2. The a7RIII may occasionally stop responding when taking a picture using the Auto Review function.

For the first scenario they provided some additional notes. They mention that some abnormalities in the files managing the images might prevent the images from displaying on the camera. Also, they note that no image data in the memory card will be corrupted or deleted. At least none aside from data in the write process at the time the interruption occurred.

If you notice that images no longer display on the camera, Sony advise to follow these steps:

  1. Use the “Recover Image DB” feature
  2. Select MENU → (Setup) → [Recover Image DB] → desired memory card slot → [Enter].
  3. Then, take a picture, back up your data on a PC or other device, and format the memory card on your camera.

Data Loss Bug On Sony a7III and a7RIII – The Solution

Sony stated that a system software update should be available later in December. Until the availability of the fix, Sony advise to take the following precautions.

  1. Before taking new pictures, back-up your data and format the memory cards in both slots on the camera, or use a new memory card.
  2. Ensure the Auto Review function is off when taking pictures.

data loss bug on sony a7iii

Data Loss Bug On Sony a7III and a7RIII – My Thoughts

The phrase Data Loss would frighten any photographer. The prospect of this occurring to a Wedding Photographer during a Wedding shoot is very alarming.  You only get one chance to capture the moment during a Wedding. So any data loss could ruin the day for both the Photographer and the married couple. Shooting weddings can be stressful enough without having to worry about losing any shots.

It is due to the seriousness of any potential data loss that Sony were quick to release a statement and solution. Despite the fact that they mention this data loss bug may occur only in rare instances. While data loss is perhaps the worst kind of software bug to encounter, at least we can be grateful that Sony are aware of it and working to resolve it.

Are you a Sony a7III or a7RIII user? Have you encountered or witnessed this data loss bug yet? I am hoping that you have not and that it will never happen to you. However, if it has, then perhaps you can let us know in the comments below.

Stay tuned to the Sony websites for further updates concerning this data loss bug.

Full Frame Mirrorless War Heats Up: What You Need to Know for 2019

For the past several years Sony has been the only player in the Full Frame Mirrorless market. But as 2018 begins to draw to a close, we now have Canon and Nikon joining the fray as well. Leica also offers a Full Frame Mirrorless option. And let’s not forget about the rumors of Pentax and Panasonic releasing their own Full Frame Mirrorless option in 2019. As the Full Frame Mirrorless war begins to heat up, which do you think will come out on top? In this article, I am going to highlight the current state of the Full Frame Mirrorless battleground along with the current models that are making war against each other.

Full Frame Mirrorless – The Story So Far

Sony has been the king of the Full Frame Mirrorless world for the past few years. The introduction of the Sony a7 series was groundbreaking. However, the position of “king” came somewhat easy for them though. Seeing as they were pretty much the only player in the market for the past few years. Outside of the Sony a7 series of cameras, the Leica SL TYP601 was the only other model available. The other Full Frame sensor big hitters, Canon and Nikon, clearly absent. While it is true that Canon was playing around with their APS-C Mirrorless range, the EOS-M. It is also true that the EOS-M was never going to compete with the Full Frame Sony a7 series.

Full Frame Mirrorless Contender 1 – Sony

Full Frame Mirrorless

Since the initial launch of the Sony a7, new iterations have come along. The a7 series is now in its third iteration. One interesting thing to note is how Sony have chosen to keep all three iterations available on the market at the same time. Other companies tend to discontinue the older iterations once the new models become established in the market. I think this played well in Sony’s favor. The cheaper price points of the older models can be more appealing to certain people. The newer models come with improvements and new features but also a higher price tag. Sony also released the a9 model which boasts a faster frame rate aimed at sports and fast action photography.

The Sony Full Frame Mirrorless models currently available are:

  • Sony a7
  • Sony a7R
  • Sony a7S
  • Sony a7II
  • Sony a7RII
  • Sony a7SII
  • Sony a7III
  • Sony a7RIII
  • Sony a9

While the Sony a9 is easy to identify with respect to what type of photography/photographer it is intended for, the same cannot be said for the a7 series. If you were just to look at the above list, then how would you know what a7 model to go for? Well, we need to disregard the iteration numbers for the time being. We can see the models are differentiated by the presence of either an “R” or an “S”. The “R” models boast a higher megapixel resolution and a slower frame rate than the other models. The “S” models boast features that make it more suitable for video recording. The “a7” model lacking either the “R” or the “S” is more of an all-rounder camera. This model provides a moderate megapixel count, a decent frame rate and a better price tag!

Each iteration of the a7 series comes with some new updates and features. Before you invest in a particular model, explore the specifications of each online and see which fits your needs best.

Full Frame Mirrorless Contender 2 – Leica

Full Frame Mirrorless

Leica, the camera brand that incites both excitement and fear in the minds of photographers. With its long history in the photographic community, excitement at just the mention of the name is to be expected. However, it is the price tag associated with the Leica name that brings fear. Leica has long produced great camera optics. Their lenses are some of the best available. And while we would all love to have one in our bag, their high price tags frighten so many of us away.

Leica was second to the Full Frame Mirrorless market with the introduction of the SL TYP601. This model boasted a moderate 24 megapixel sensor, 11 frames per second continuous shooting, 4K video, 2 card slots and an ISO range of 50-50,000. Not bad specifications at all. However, when you look at its hefty price tag, you would have to concede that it is not yielding the best bang for your buck. Especially when you can get one of the Sony a7 series models for a fraction of the cost.

Like all Leica cameras, this model will certainly appeal to a niche bunch of photographers, The ones with big bank accounts! However, it has not offered any real competition to Sony thus far. But who knows what the future holds. There have been announcements as of late indicating that Leica, Sigma and Panasonic are working together with new Full Frame Mirrorless offerings. Stay tuned for what unfolds during 2019.

Full Frame Mirrorless Contender 3 – Nikon

Full Frame Mirrorless

Earlier this year, Nikon beat Canon to the punch with respect to announcing and launching their Full Frame Mirrorless offering. Like Sony, Nikon opted to release a standard resolution and a higher resolution model. The Z6 provides a moderate 24.5 megapixel sensor, up to 12 frames per second burst rate and an ISO range of 100 – 51200. The Z7 model provides the higher 45.7 megapixel sensor, 9 frames per second burst rate and an ISO range of 64 – 25600. Both models provide 4K video and only 1 XQD card slot. Some professional Wedding Photographers would cry at the prospect of having no backup card slots during the wedding shoot.

The Z series models also boast a new lens mount and some new lenses to go with it. Nikon also introduced the FTZ Mount Adapter which allows for the use of F-mount Nikkor lenses. This certainly appeals to the Nikon users who may have a large lens collection already built up.

Although they beat rivals Canon with their Full Frame Mirrorless announcement, time will tell if their offering triumphs over Canon as well as Sony.

Full Frame Mirrorless Contender 4 – Canon

Full Frame Mirrorless

Last, to enter the Full Frame Mirrorless battleground in 2018 we have Canon and their Canon EOS R model. Like Nikon, Canon also has introduced a new RF mount. Similarly, they also released a mount adapter to accommodate existing Canon lenses. In fact, Canon went ahead and released three different mount adapter options. The EF-EOS R mount adapters enable the user to attach Canon EF and EF-S lenses to the new EOS R body. This is very much welcomed by the Canon faithful who have collected various EF and EF-S lenses over the years.

The EOS R boasts a nice 30.3 megapixel sensor, a DIGIC 8 processor, 8 frames per second burst rate and an ISO range of 100 – 40000. Like the Nikon offerings, this model also features only one memory card slot but of the SD variety instead of an XQD.

Canon also announced some new RF mount lenses. Like Nikon, the range is limited right now, but this will grow over time. The same was true of the Sony a7 series when that first launched.

As a Canon user, the Canon EOS R tempts me and appeals more than that of the other brand offerings. But truth be told, I will probably invest in a Canon 5D Mark IV before I start investing in a Full Frame Mirrorless model. I must be one of the few people on the planet who prefers the bigger and heavier DSLR models.

Stay tuned to see how the Full Frame Mirrorless war heats up further and evolves during 2019.

Gift Ideas For The Photographer In Your Life

We have just past that time of year where many people across the world celebrate Christmas. Families, friends and loved ones often exchange gifts. But now is the best time to start planning for next Christmas, right? In today’s digital age, chances are that at there is a photography lover within your family or your circle of friends. Or perhaps maybe you are in a relationship with a photographer. But what can you gift to a photographer? Are you struggling to think of gift ideas for the photographer in your life? Well no need to worry, because below are some gift ideas for you to ponder about and consider as potential gifts for that special photographer in your life.

Gift Idea – Tripod

I consider a Tripod to be a fundamental part of any photographers kit bag. It can be surprising how many people attend my photography Workshop/Training who do not have a tripod. A tripod is very useful for capturing sharp and crisp images in various shooting scenarios. But it is especially vital when shooting Product Photography, shooting in low-light or shooting long exposure landscape imagery. A tripod helps to keep the camera from moving which in turn avoids any blur or camera-shake during the exposure.

There are various models of tripods available out there. Smaller and lighter models suited towards traveling or shooting indoors. And then there are the heavier and more sturdy models which are very much needed for shooting outdoors in more adverse weather conditions. Also tripods typically can consist of either two primary materials. These are Aluminum or Carbon Fibre.  The former is normally cheaper but heavier. Whereas the latter is more expensive but also lighter. If the photographer in questions shoots a lot of seascapes or spends a lot of their time by the sea, then I would recommend going with the Carbon Fibre options. Carbon Fibre is more durable and resistant against the corrosive effects of salt water. You can get cheap tripods but I would always spending a bit of money and invest in a good one.

Gift Ideas - Royalty Free Image from Pixabay

Gift Idea – Camera Strap

Photographers who are constantly on the move and shooting subjects with their camera in hand, then a strap of some sort would be beneficial. You can opt for a strap that wraps around the neck or one that wraps around the wrist. I think the wrist straps are certainly very useful for smaller cameras. But I would opt for a neck strap for bigger camera and lens setups. The straps themselves can come in various materials. Leather ones can look rather nice. But I would recommend straps consisting of a Neoprene material. The flexibility of Neoprene will ensure that the strap does not cut into your neck when attached to a heavy camera setup.

Gift Ideas - Royalty Free Image from Pixabay

Gift Ideas - Royalty Free Image from Pixabay

Gift Idea – Fairy Lights

These small light bulbs held together in a string like fashion are a great lighting accessory for any photographer to have in their arsenal. They can come in various lengths and colours. The string like nature of Fairy Lights provides great flexibility with regards to their usage. Photographers can use them as blurred (bokeh) foreground or background details within their Product, Lifestyle, Still Life or Portrait style images. They can really add interest to Still Life and Portrait shoots by wrapping them around objects or even your models.

Gift Ideas - Royalty Free Image from Pixabay

Gift Ideas - Royalty Free Image from Pixabay

Gift Idea – Magazine Subscription

The internet is great for photographers these days. Plenty of video tutorials and blog content available for free, just like here on the Sleeklens Blog. However us photographers still like holding and reading through traditional photography magazines in our hands as well. Some magazines come out every week, some bi-weekly and some every month. Most magazine providers offer subscriptions. These are always a great gift idea. Simply purchase an annual subscription for the preferred magazine of choice and your loved one will be thinking of and thanking you every time a new issue arrives in the post!

Gift Ideas - Royalty Free Image from Pixabay

 

Gift Idea – Power Bank

Power Banks are very useful indeed. There are times when our devices have run out of juice and yet we have no means of charging them. This can happen frequently when shooting at outdoors locations or when traveling out on the road for a while. These Power Banks are like portable charging units that do not require a power source of their own. Instead, you charge these up while at home or at the office. Then they hold this power for you so that you can charge your devices on location when needed. These are useful for restoring some much needed power back to your phones, cameras or laptops while out and about.

Gift Ideas - Royalty Free Image from Pixabay

Gift Idea – Memory Cards

Sticking with the technology side of things, another great gift idea is Memory Cards. Whether our cameras use SD card or Compact Flash type memory cards, we can never have enough of them. The come in various different capacity and speed combinations. You can get large capacity cards that have a slow speed rating. These are normally the cheapest options available. You can also get both large or small capacity cards that have a faster speed rating. These are usually more expensive. Faster speeds allow enable faster writing of the data to the card. This is useful and very much needed when shooting in burst mode or at fast frame rates. Photography genres such as Sports, Wildlife, Events, etc. spring to my mind.

Gift Ideas - Royalty Free Image from Pixabay

Gift Idea – Memory Card Reader

If you are going to get them some Memory Cards, you might as well get them a Memory Card Reader as well. After all, what good is a memory card if there is no means of getting the images off the card and onto the computer. Of course you can use the cable that comes with the camera to connect it to the computer. But a Memory Card Reader is much more useful. They offer slots for various different card formats. A perfect solution for the photographer who has different camera models and different card formats.

Gift Ideas - Royalty Free Image from Pixabay

Gift Idea – External Hard Drive

Another form of memory but this is more of an add-on to your computer as opposed to a camera accessory. Over time the photographer in your life is going to amass a large collection of photographs. All of these digital images will consume hard drive storage. External Hard Drives are a great way of catering for these increased storage demands.  You can get various capacity external hard drives. Some models require mains power and others powered via USB. I always recommend having multiple external hard drives. Several drives will provide some redundancy for your data. A backup of the backup or so to speak. Nothing worse for a photographer than to lose their image files. External Hard Drives make for an excellent gift idea.

Gift Ideas - Royalty Free Image from Pixabay

Gift Idea – Glass Sphere

This next gift idea will not provide any real technological or practical assistance to the photographer in your life. However, it will provide the potential for increased creativity and even some fun! These Glass Spheres can be used with good effect to produce some interesting imagery. The Glass Sphere will reflect and refract all light that passed through it. By focusing on the Glass Sphere with a large lens aperture the photographer will be able to shoot an inverted version of the scene with the real scene outside of the sphere being blurred.

Gift Ideas - Royalty Free Image from Pixabay Gift Ideas - Royalty Free Image from Pixabay

 

Gift Idea – Drone

This is probably one of the more expensive gift ideas on the list. But one certainly worthy of inclusion. Drones are all the rage these days. You can get small inexpensive models or larger more expensive models. They capture video footage as well as still images. Some are definitely better than others. DJI provide some great industry leading models. But the increased quality does come at a higher cost. However, if you look around, there are always options to suit your needs and your budget.

Gift Ideas - Royalty Free Image from Pixabay

Gift Idea – Film Camera

Film Cameras are the perfect gift idea for those in your life with whom photography is an obsession. Not only do they look cool and retro but they are great for learning too. Shooting with analogue film will teach you a lot about your photography composition, understanding of light and exposure. You only have so many exposures available to you on the camera film. It also teaches to appreciate how hard the great photographers of yesteryear had it! Digital Photography has brought along a lot of advancements in technology which really does make it easier for the modern day photographer. You can find some expensive Film Cameras online that are probably in high demands among collectors. But you can also find very affordable Film Cameras. Don’t forget the rolls of film to go with it!

Gift Ideas - Royalty Free Image from Pixabay

 

Photographer Focus – Freelance Architectural Photographer James Tarry Photography

In this edition of my Photographer Focus series, I am interviewing Architectural Photographer James Tarry Photography. A London-based freelance photographer who specializes in Architectural style image production.

Who is James Tarry? Tell us a little about yourself…

I am a freelance architectural photographer based in London. I specialize in Interiors and Architectural Photography. Besides my Architecture Photography, I also shoot stock photography. I am also a photographic artist making work largely out of Polaroids.

When did your love of photography begin and what was your first camera?

Apparently, I started my photography journey while I was very young, at least according to my parents anyway. I used to grab their disposable cameras and take all sort of random photos. The earliest camera I remember owning was a Kodak Disc.

Freelance Architectural Photographer James Tarry

What prompted you to pursue Photography as a career?

I had always wanted to be an animator/artist/designer, generally something of a creative nature. I had taken all my GCSE’s in Art/design and then took photography which I also aced. For those how are not aware, the GCSE stands for “The General Certificate of Secondary Education“. It is a set of exams taken in England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and other British territories. I took that into A-level (Advanced Level above GCSE) and that is where everything went wrong.

Freelance Architectural Photographer James Tarry

My teachers at the time were not particularly supportive. I was living in a city where not many left. You picked a trade and stayed put. I was constantly told to pick something that would be possible to earn a living at. My parents were always trying to encourage me to do what I loved but I hated school. This put me off going to University. I just wanted to escape a city that I hated. I went to work, stopped taking photos, stopped drawing, stopped making art and I moved to London at age 17 or 18 as far as I can recall.

For about 10 years I bounced around from job to job. I did everything from being a PA to celebrities, a Shop Manager and even a Chauffeur. When I was made redundant from a driver delivery job, the pressure was to go back to retail as apparently, that is what I was good at. But I could not stand it! I decided to try getting back into photography, the thing I actually loved. I pieced together a rough portfolio and started looking for work. Eventually, I got offered a job photographing interiors at a Real Estate Agent. It paid out a decent enough pay packet and I figured it would be at least in the realm of what I enjoyed doing. And here I am, still doing it 14 years later.

Freelance Architectural Photographer James Tarry

What type of career or jobs did you do before opting for a Photography career?

Before becoming a freelance architectural photographer, I had tried my hand at everything from working in retail to professional driving. Funnily enough, I was also a Personal Assistant at one stage. I was even a delivery driver.

When did you start your photography business and become a freelance architectural photographer?

I went from Full-Time employment to a Freelance Photographer approximately 5 years ago back in 2013.

Freelance Architectural Photographer James Tarry

I see that you specialize in architectural photography – is that the main service that your business provides or do you offer more services?

Primarily I am a freelance architectural photographer. Interior photography is the only thing I offer aside from floor plans. I can also draw professional plans for clients if needed. I have been thinking the video would be a nice next step. But I am still finding that at the moment the video is not really needed or wanted.

What were the challenges you faced when starting your business?

Initially, it was fairly straight forward. I had made enough contacts while being in full-time employment. The company I was working for Full Time allowed me to go Freelance too. The transition was quite straight forward.

What are the challenges that you still face in your business today?

With competing companies offering more for less, it is getting harder and harder to compete without cutting my own prices. Brexit has also hit my business hard at the moment, with people waiting on seeing how the market reacts.

Freelance Architectural Photographer James Tarry

Do you think the Photography industry has changed since you first started?

Yes. There are more of us working professionally in the industry for a start. And advancements in technology means quality has also improved. Advancement in Social Media means that you can reach more people faster and cheaper than it used to be too.

Looking back to the early days of your business with hindsight, is there anything that you would have done differently?

I wish that I started out earlier. That I started Photography earlier. If I could rewind time, I would have liked to have gone to University or at least been on a course.

Freelance Architectural Photographer James Tarry

What camera and lenses do you shoot with these days?

My main work camera at the moment is a Sony A7Rii. I also have Canon and Sony lenses.

Outside of the camera and lenses, what other equipment do you consider essential to your business services?

My mobile phone is the key piece of equipment that I have. Most of my work is booked through that during the day. Apart from my phone and my camera gear, then the next important would be my iMac and Adobe Lightroom.

Freelance Architectural Photographer James Tarry

Can you describe a typical architectural photography shoot for us?

It depends massively on the client I am shooting for. Sometimes the designer will be on site styling things, instructing on what they need. However, often times I am on my own. London is a fast market so I tend to work fast and hard, including turning around the images in a short time. Most times the client will have the photos the next day, quite often when they walk into their office or when they wake up. More often than not, I am walking in blind and won’t know what I am going to see. Some are more hands-on and will print out sheets of what they would like.

Freelance Architectural Photographer James Tarry

What advice or tips can you give to new photographers looking at becoming a freelance architectural photographer?

Work hard and focus on quality. Learn everything you can. Shooting in natural light and get comfortable using strobes. Always be as professional as possible. Most of my work comes through word of mouth, or connections I have made from other jobs. Develop your own style. I quite often hear that my interiors are very “clean”. Normally the presumption is that I have used several layers in Photoshop or deployed an HDR technique. When in reality, they are always one shot and often carefully lit. Correct and clever lighting is always the key!

Where can people see more of your images and follow your work?

My website is http://jamestarryphotography.com. You can browse my portfolio there. You can also check out my Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/jt___photography/.

Freelance Architectural Photographer James Tarry

DIY Photo Printing – My Thoughts On The Permajet Textured Fine Art Paper Range

One of the activities that have had the biggest impact on my photography over the years has been printing. Printing your own work is both challenging and rewarding. A handheld print will always show your image in its best light and tonality. However, it will also show and emphasize any imperfections (I am thinking sensor/filter/lens spots!!). And so the process of learning how to produce great prints will undoubtedly improve your overall photography workflows. One of the many aspects of producing a good print is choosing the right paper. Everyone will find and settle on their own personal preferred papers eventually. But that will be preceded by testing out various different papers, of which there are many! Here in this article, I am going to give my thoughts on the Permajet Textured Fine Art paper range. This will be the first in a series of articles discussing and reviewing various photo paper options.Permajet Textured Fine Art paper range

Permajet – who are they?

Permajet is based in the United Kingdom (UK) and are a leading manufacturer and distributor in the photographic imaging industry. They started in the year 1999 and have been making waves in the photographic printing space ever since. When Permajet launched they introduced new paper ranges to the photography and fine art printing communities. Their paper ranges have grown both in number and popularity.

Disclaimer

My aim with this article is to provide an unbiased, honest and balanced review of this particular paper range. Permajet were nice enough to provide me with several A4 Test Packs over the past few years for testing purposes. However, this article is in no way sponsored by them or pre-approved by them. The content within this article is based on my own thoughts and personal findings after running a few sample prints using one of my own images.  Furthermore, this is not intended to be any form of scientific test. Instead, it is merely my own personal findings and conclusions. Feel free to agree or disagree with them by leaving comments in the comments section.

Permajet Textured Fine Art Paper Range

Before getting into the review of the individual papers themselves, let’s talk about the Permajet Textured Fine Art paper range as a whole.

The Permajet Textured Fine Art paper lineup for 2018 includes the following papers:

  • Museum Heritage 310
  • Gallery Etching 310
  • Artist Watercolour 250

The numbers in the paper title reflect the “gsm”, which is an acronym standing for Grams per Square Meter.

Several papers from the original lineup were discontinued and are no longer contained within the Textured Fine Art range. These include the Papyrus 300, Parchment 285, Double Sided Portrait 300 papers respectively. Permajet’s recommendation for previous users of the now discontinued Papyrus and Parchment papers is to switch to the new Museum Heritage paper.

Museum Heritage 310

Permajet Textured Fine Art paper range

The first paper that I took out of the Permajet Textured Fine Art test pack was the Museum Heritage 310. It is a relatively new and custom product for Permajet that consists of a 25% cotton and a 75% alpha cellulose base which features the same surface as the original Museum 310 paper. However, this paper comes complete with a new coating that provides increased image and shadow detail. This coating also introduced improved ink retention to avoid the “rub-off” that was present with the original Museum 310 paper.

First impressions were good when holding this paper for the first time. It had a really nice feel to it. The 310 weighting certainly helped attribute to this nice feel, as did the actual texture of the paper itself. The texture on this paper is the lightest and the most subtle out of the three papers provided in this range. The textured pattern is nice and visible without being too distracting or overpowering. It leaves a subtle impression upon close up inspection. It also blends in nicely to the image when viewed from a distance.

Compared to the other two papers in the Permajet Textured Fine Art range, images printed on Museum Heritage 310 appear to be very sharp. For a heavily textured paper, I was actually amazed at just how the sharp the final print was.

Permajet Textured Fine Art paper range

The paper is also a lot brighter (whiter) than the other two papers within this range. And the brightness helps the overall whites to pop off of the page. The high DMAX of Museum Heritage 310 helps to provide some truly nice deep blacks. The combination of the bright paper surface and the high DMAX provides a great contrast between the whites and the black tonal values throughout the printed image.

I really liked that the Museum Heritage 310 paper provided nice shadow detail. Sometimes papers with high DMAX ratings can lose a bit of detail within the shadows areas because of the increased absorption of the black inks. But this paper manages to maintain the shadow areas quite well while simultaneously providing deep blacks.

Gallery Etching 310

Permajet Textured Fine Art paper range

On to the second paper that I tested from the Permajet Textured Fine Art paper range, the Gallery Etching 310.

This particular paper consists of an alpha cellulose base and which has a 310 paper weighting. Its surface is really suited for fine art photography and puts PermaJet into the popular art etchings business sector. Just like the Museum Heritage 310, this paper has a very nice feel when holding it. The texture pattern is a lot more visible and noticeable than compared with the Museum Heritage 310. The Gallery Etching 310 consists of a warmer base tone than the Museum Heritage 310 paper. Some people may prefer this, whereas others might not. Personally, I like my papers to be a brighter shade of white.

Permajet Textured Fine Art paper range

I like the color rendering of this paper and while the DMAX is not as good as compared to the Museum Heritage 310 paper, it certainly still has a pretty good DMAX and displays some nice black tonality and contrast between the blacks and the whites. However, I must confess that I prefer the lighter texture pattern on Museum Heritage 310 over the pattern on this paper. But that is just my personal preference. I can easily see how some people would love the heavier pattern on this paper for their work. It would suit pastel style or watercolor images.

I personally found that this paper lacked the crisp sharpness that the Museum Heritage 310 paper offered. Again, I understand that this might not be a deal-breaker for everyone and different photography genres. But personally, for me, I like my Landscape images to be tack sharp. Or as sharp as possible. This paper definitely fell down a little for me on the sharpness area. Just to clarify, it is not the case that is paper cannot produce a sharp looking image. Instead, it is merely that the Museum Heritage 310 produced sharper images. So in truth, it is less of a negative on the Gallery Etching 310 paper but rather a truly great feature of the Museum Heritage 310 paper.

Artist Watercolour 250

Permajet Textured Fine Art paper range

Finally, we come to the third paper in the Permajet Textured Fine Art, the Artist Watercolour 250.

Out of the three papers in the Permajet Textured Fine Art range, this particular paper definitely has the most visible and prominent texture pattern. It consists of an Alpha Cellulose base and has a similar warm tone to that of Gallery Etching 310. Also, it has a lighter weighting of 250 gsm.

On first glance, this paper is clearly has a very heavy texture to it. It is both visible to the eye and also very obvious to the touch when the paper is in your hands. It almost feels like a light Canvas.  Personally, I find that the heavy texture works really well to add some depth and a real feeling to elements such as rocks that might be found in the foreground of Landscape and Seascape imagery. However, for me, the texture definitely comes off as being too strong in the sky portions of my images. The texture is too overpowering for my tastes.

Permajet Textured Fine Art paper range

The heavier and more pronounced texture would probably be seen as a negative for me and my work. But again that is just down to my personal preferences and taste. I am fully confident that there are plenty of other photographers and artists out there who would disagree with me and really fall in love with the heavier texture. One of the positives of this paper for me through over the Gallery Etching 310, is that the DMAX is greater so you get richer black tones but at the same time it retains shadow detail really well. I would definitely favor this paper over the Gallery Etching 310.

Final Thoughts & Conclusion

The three papers within the Permajet Textured Fine Art range are great. All three offer something of great value to photographers and artists. Each has their own pros and cons. Of course, these will differ based on the individual user, as choosing paper surfaces to suit your own style of photographic work is very much personal and very subjective.

There was one clear and the outright winner out of this Permajet Textured Fine Art range. And for me, it is the Museum Heritage 310. This paper ticked more boxes for me. I really liked the renditions of my images on this amazing paper surface. I can honestly say that I will most definitely be adding this great paper to my own personal stock of printing papers.

You can explore more of what Permajet offers over on their website at https://www.permajet.com. The three papers that I reviewed in this article are provided in the “Test Pack 3 – Fine Art” which can be purchased from their site here.  This test pack contains 18 A4 size sheets consisting of two sheets for each of the nine paper surfaces available within the overall Permajet Fine Art range.

Permajet Textured Fine Art paper range

Stay tuned for future articles in this DIY Printing series where I will review and discuss other papers. Let me know what your favorite paper is by responding in the comments section.

Photographer Focus – Alternative Wedding Photographer Tomasz Kornas

In this edition of my Photographer Focus series I am interviewing Tomasz Kornas – an Alternative Wedding Photographer operating in Ireland. Read along to see how Tomasz started his wedding photography journey as well as producing his unique image style.

Who is Tomasz Kornas? Tell us a little about yourself…

Polish by origin but based in Ireland for the past thirteen years. Married and I have one child. Heavily interested in self-development, a deeper meaning of life, growth and supporting others to achieve their happiness in life. Full-time Wedding Photographer for the past five years. I am also addicted to helping others pursue their dream careers!

wedding photographer

 

When did your love of photography begin and what was your first camera?

It started back in 2011. I picked up my first camera, a Nikon D3100, and a kit lens and started to shoot everything and anything. Decided that I would pursue photographic knowledge in Griffith College Dublin. Signed up to complete a BA in Photographic Media, without any idea what I was signing up to or what I would do after graduation. I started to shoot a lot of models, started to do some low paid commercial work with local businesses. I also fell in love with shooting landscapes.

wedding photographer

What prompted you to pursue Photography, specifically a Wedding Photographer career?

A pure accident. I was invited by a friend to shoot a Wedding as a second shooter. Being a second shooter is a good way for any new wedding photographer to learn the ropes. Without any expectations, I witnessed something different than what I thought Wedding Photography was about. I saw a lot of happiness, little moments, people getting together to celebrate someone’s most important day of their lives. I also saw a Wedding Photographer being treated more as a guest than a “workhorse”. As a creative that helps to live the experience. That triggered the idea that I might see what that being a Wedding Photographer was all about.

What was the “day job” before opting to become a Wedding Photographer?

I worked in retail for eight years prior to commencing my Photography Career. Thought I had made it or so to speak when I was promoted to a managerial career. But now, with hindsight and looking back, I see how easily I got sucked into a rat race within the retail industry. I can honestly say that I prefer being a Wedding Photographer!

wedding photographer

When did you start your Wedding Photography business and where do you mainly provide your services?

Started in late 2013 and offered my services nationwide straight away. Wanted to shoot everything and anything. I was hungry to quit my day job as quick as possible. I promised to myself that I will do anything in my power to achieve it. Eighteen months later I was leaving the old career and life behind me. From the very start of shooting Weddings for a living, it has been such a rewarding career!

wedding photographer

What were the challenges you faced when starting your business?

I had no knowledge of marketing or pricing. I did not really have any portfolio either. So the biggest struggles were: (1) to come up with content to promote me and (2) how to price and market myself. Both of these are essential for a Wedding Photographer. I Quickly realized that I had a lot to learn about marketing and pricing philosophy. This was something I was not aware I would ever have to do. I knew one thing, I did not want to stay in the low or mid-range of the price market. So I quickly attempted to raise my prices quite drastically. It worked out quite well. Have no fear!

What are the challenges that your Wedding Photography business still encounters today?

At the moment, the biggest challenge would be to book more work at even higher prices. I believe I am in a higher end of the market with my pricing structure. Yet I am still trying to practice and figure out how much higher can I go with it. On the other hand, I am in a happy spot where I shoot around sixty weddings per year and still have time to do other personal projects.

wedding photographer

Do you think the Wedding Photography industry has changed since you first started?

Absolutely. There are a lot of established photographers doing fantastic work in the industry. I think the industry as a whole lot closer together. Helping each other out. Meeting and supporting in day-to-day operations. On the other hand, I can see an even bigger interest from a new crew to join this craft. I view this as an opportunity to push myself harder as there are more and more creative people picking up a camera these days.

Looking back to the early days of your business with hindsight, is there anything that you would have done differently?

Nope, I believe everything I did, whether right or wrong was my learning curve. The journey is what made me who I am today and I would not change anything.

wedding photographer

What camera and lenses do you shoot with these days?

Today I shoot with a Nikon D850 and a Nikon D750 camera bodies with a series of prime lenses. The Sigma Art 35mm ƒ1.4 as my main lens. I also use a Sigma 50mm ƒ1.4, Sigma 20mm ƒ1.4 and a Nikon 85mm ƒ1.4G lens. As well as two SB700 Flashguns and a bunch of batteries. I also have two more Nikon D750 bodies as a backup. That is my complete wedding kit.

Outside of the camera and lenses, what other equipment do you consider essential to your business services?

I am addicted to Apple products. Even though I was a Windows nerd and against anything that Apple created, I have converted very quickly. I love their ecosystem and the fact that it lets me to get the job done without any complications or silly workarounds. I love how everything syncs automatically that helps me to keep a seamless workflow for editing and office organization.

wedding photographer

Can you describe a typical Wedding Day shoot for us (how do you prepare, how does the day unfold, what is involved, etc…)?

I start around two or three hours before the ceremony. If the bride and groom are close to each other, then I am able to capture both of their preparations. Usually, I start the day with the shooting of the details like the dress, shoes, jewelry etc. I prefer to shoot in a candid documentary style rather than stage every shot. However, I also make sure to capture all the important posed family portraits.

Then onto the ceremony, where I shoot mostly civil ceremonies which is much easier as the day is far more relaxed. I am allowed to do way more than in a traditional church setting. After the ceremony, I do family photos in a very efficient way, and then jump onto bridal party shots and portraits of the couple. I try to keep it all as quick as possible. Making sure my couples have a great experience while creating those memories. Then onto the speeches and usually finish around twenty minutes after the first dance. Get back home, the first thing to do is to back up the images and backup the backup!

I shoot with two camera bodies on me, and additional two lenses in a small pouch. That helps me to be super mobile and have everything under my hands. I shoot most of the day using natural light only, however if I find images quality will suffer because of poor light, I use flash.

What advice or tips can you give to new photographers looking at Wedding Photography as a career?

Do no be afraid to join the already saturated market. If you feel you can bring something new for brides and grooms, then do it. Have fun with the process. Enjoy it. It will be hard to breakthrough. Get a mentor. Get someone to help you show you the way. And be ready to learn a lot about marketing, sales, web design and many other aspects of running a small wedding photography business. Get yourself comfortable with being outside your comfort zone as this job is all about that.

wedding photographer

Where can people see more of and follow your work

The images featured here in this article as just a small sample of my work. My website is www.tomaszkornas.com and that is where you find my extended portfolio as well as my wedding photography business details. You can also check out my Instagram feed @tomasz_kornas. Lastly, you can check out my YouTube channel here.

wedding photographer

Photographer Focus: Steven Morris Photography

Want to be excited by truly inspiring Astrophotography and Landscape Photography images? Then check out this latest Photographer Focus article featuring Steven Morris Photography.

Who Is Steven Morris Photography?

My name is Steven Morris and I own/operate Steven Morris Photography. I am thirty-six years old and I live in Adelaide, South Australia.

When Did You First Take Up Photography?

In 2014 it was announced that my job was going to become redundant. I had worked for the company for twelve years. It was during these stressful times, working out how I was going to keep paying my mortgage, that I needed to find something to take my mind off things. So I decided to purchase a telescope and do some star gazing. Something I was always fascinated by but knew very little about.

A friend of mine was capturing and producing Landscape and Milky Way imagery. I became drawn to that and wanted to give it a go. I borrowed my dad’s Nikon D300s and Tokina 11-16 2.8 wide angle lens. And I asked my friend if she would like to show me how to photograph the milky way. Well, my first images were mostly out of focus blobs. My friend was a Canon shooter and didn’t know how to set the optimum Nikon settings. After this, I bought my first Nikon DSLR which was the Nikon D5100.

The telescope that I had at the time was a Celestron 6SE. I had found out that I could connect my Nikon DSLR to this telescope. So I did!

It was that first thirty-second exposure of the Trifid Nebula that made my jaw drop. At that moment my passion for Astrophotography began. And with it many sleepless nights researching and developing my own Astrophotography abilities.

Lanscape Image by Austrailian Photographer Steven Morris

Have you turned “Pro”?

I don’t like the word “Pro”. Mostly because I’m just like everyone else who has a passion for photography. However, I do get paid for my work and running workshops, so then the answer is yes I’m a professional photographer. I turned pro about one and a half years ago.

What styles of photography do you mostly shoot for yourself?

I shoot mostly Astrophotography and Landscape Photography. Well, that is basically all I shoot!

Lanscape Image by Austrailian Photographer Steven Morris

What styles of photography do you shoot for clients?

I get requested now and then to shoot a landscape for someone as they admire my work and have always wanted a photograph of a landscape that is close to them. Other than that, I don’t have many clients as I consider my work to be art and sell it via very low numbered limited edition prints. I do have some people who keep coming back to purchase my prints to be framed for their houses though.

Lanscape Image by Austrailian Photographer Steven Morris

What was your first camera and what do you shoot with now?

My first camera was a Nikon D5100 DSLR. I now photograph with a Nikon D810a DSLR. I also use a Nikon 1 V3 for video footage for upcoming YouTube adventures I wish to create. An inspiration for this has been from Thomas Heaton. But it is strange being in front of the camera!

What is your favorite piece of kit in your camera bag?

My favorite piece of kit would have to be the Nikon D810a. It is Nikon’s first ever dedicated Astro camera. It captures additional detail throughout the milky way by picking up the H-Alpha gasses in space. Also, I like the colors this camera produces for my landscape imagery too.

I would also have to say my favorite lenses so far are the Nikon 14-24 F/2.8, Nikon 35mm F/1.8G, Nikon 70-200 F/2.8, and Nikon 300mm F2.8. And let’s not forget all my Haida Filters and Manfrotto Tripod. I guess I love all my gear!

Lanscape Image by Austrailian Photographer Steven Morris

Any new gear on the horizon that you will be investing in?

Ultimately, I would love to own two 200mm F2 Nikon lenses with 2 x Nikon D810a for some wide field deep space imaging. That is a long-time dream and something that will have to wait for now.

I see you are sponsored by Nikon and by Haida. How did those opportunities come about and what responsibilities does a Brand Ambassador have?

I was introduced to Nikon when I was imaging deep space and they bought out the Nikon D810a Astro camera. It was through this relationship of sharing images that I had taken with my D810a of deep space and Nightscapes that lead to me now teaching Nightscape photography with Nikon through Nikon MySchool Australia in various locations around Australia.

Haida had seen my Astrophotography and asked me if I would like to test out the Haida Clear Night Filter. This is a filter which I absolutely love for Nightscape photography. I use it all the time regardless of dark sky locations because it can also protect the front element of the lens during those cold dewy winter nights. After sending them some images that I had taken, they were so impressed that I was asked to be an Ambassador for the brand here in Australia which I thoroughly enjoy doing because their filters are stunning.

Lanscape Image by Austrailian Photographer Steven Morris

What has been your greatest photography achievement to date?

Greatest photography achievement…..That is a hard one because there are a few. Working with Nikon and Haida are two of my greatest achievements along with my most recent Nightscape image in which I had to wait one whole year for the right conditions to present themselves.

What have been your biggest photography challenges to date?

The biggest photography challenge was shooting a Nightscape image consisting of a hundred and fifty images stitched together. It was fair to say that my computer didn’t like handling a 20Gb file. So the image was kind of scrapped. I also don’t shoot with a robotic pano tool like a Gigapan because it just adds to weight. So in the dark shooting at 70mm focal length whilst trying to maintain a fifty percent overlap between image. It was very challenging.

Lanscape Image by Austrailian Photographer Steven Morris

What photographic projects do you have planned for the rest of 2018?

I have a few images I would still like to capture before the Milky Way season is over. The next shot I’m currently planning is an image of the Milky Way rising above some large sand dunes. I have a location in South Australia I wish to shoot at. Now it is just a matter of scouting the location and waiting for the right moment.

I’m also very excited about 2019. In April I will be in the United Kingdom for a few weeks. My brother had moved to the UK a few years back and is now happily in love and getting married. So I hope to head up to Scotland and Wales (Snowdonia) to shoot some landscapes in my spare time. I don’t know how if the weather will allow me to shoot some Astro. But it will be great if I can!

Lanscape Image by Austrailian Photographer Steven Morris

What advice or tips can you offer to anyone looking to make a career or a lifestyle switch to that of Professional Photography?

My biggest advice would be that it takes time. Don’t rush into it. I mean, don’t quit that job you may dislike and the next day begin your dream as a photographer. Build into it. Build up your portfolio and ask questions to those photographers that inspire you to live the dream you wish to live.

Where and how can people follow your work and keep updated with your photography adventures?

You can head to my website www.stevenmorris.com.au for my latest collections and print purchases. Also, you can follow my work or occasional live feeds on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/stevenmorrisphotographer or over on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/stevenmorrisphotography.

Nikon Mirrorless – What does the future hold?

Nikon Mirrorless? Nikon has announced that they are stepping into the world of Full Frame Mirrorless cameras. What, when, where and why? Questions that everybody are asking.

Nikon Mirrorless Announcement

This week Nikon finally broke the news to the world that they are working on a new mirrorless camera. Although this announcement is not unexpected, it certainly has got people talking. The wider photography community is asking questions about it. What will it look like? When will it launch? Where will Nikon launch it? And why has it taken Nikon so long?

All valid questions. We will dive into those questions shortly but first, you might want to check out the Nikon Press Release for yourself if you have not yet seen it.

Nikon Mirrorless Screenshot from Nikon teaser video

What will the Nikon Mirrorless look like? – Part 1

Currently, this question is completely open for debate. Nikon has not released any actual pictures of the new camera yet. All we have to go on is the digital render that is visible in the teaser video that they released. I have included some screen-grabs (where I have increased the brightness) from that video throughout this article. We will have to wait until Nikon provides images from an actual prototype before being able to visualize what it might look like. However, while we wait for that, we can certainly have fun surmising as to its look. At least based on what see on the digital render.

Firstly, the screen on the digital render looks nice and big. As Live View and the LCD used more and more by Landscape Photographers and Filmmakers, this will be great news for them. Product Photographers might like a bigger screen too. However, a bigger display will mean less real estate on the camera body for buttons. And while some photographers might have the time to venture into the camera menu in order to get to needed features, sports photographers certainly won’t.  It is hard to know at this stage whether it will have a fully articulated screen like the Canon 6D MK2 or will it have a tilting screen like the Nikon D750 and the Sony a7 series cameras.

What will the Nikon Mirrorless look like? – Part 2

The digital render also shows an EVF (electronic viewfinder) of some sort.  This will certainly divide opinions. A lot of DSLR users still don’t like EVFs. But seeing as this will be a mirrorless camera you can be sure that it will not come with an optical viewfinder. And so the only choices will be to include an EVF or not. And I personally think it would be better to have a viewfinder than have none.

I do like some of the features that an EVF brings. The ability to see everything in the viewfinder as displayed on the LCD screen is fantastic. You can change your various settings and view the menu through the viewfinder just like on the back of the LCD. You can even review the images you have taken in the viewfinder. Which can be useful I guess? Best thing is you can avoid looking as if you are “chimping”. Instead of taking your eye away from the viewfinder and obviously chimping away at the back of the LCD screen, you can now just chimp through the viewfinder.

One big drawback of the EVF though is the delay and lag. There is an annoying delay that is noticeable on both the EVF and the LCD on my Sony a7r when shooting in lower light and at slower shutter speeds. I would strongly hope that Nikon does better in this regard!

What will the Nikon Mirrorless look like? – Part 3

There is not a lot of detail on the digital render as it is mostly in shadow/blackness. This is purely intentional on Nikon’s part. Either they don’t want us to know what will be the physical features on the Nikon Mirrorless camera or they don’t yet know themselves. I think it is a combination of both of those reasons!

How many buttons will be present on the Nikon Mirrorless camera is also completely open to conjecture at this moment in time. The digital render shows very little. The Fuji cameras have loads of buttons. Which a lot of Pro DSLR shooters like to see. More buttons, means more customization, less menu navigation and quicker and easier to operate. I for one would love to see more buttons than fewer buttons. But only time will tell whether it will be the former or the latter.

Nikon Mirrorless Screenshot from Nikon teaser video

What will the Nikon Mirrorless look like? – Part 4

The Nikon Mirrorless body certainly looks like it could be bigger than that of the Sony a7iii body but perhaps smaller than that of the Nikon D850. Again, this is pure speculation based on what is depicted in the digital render in the Nikon teaser video.

I think a size in between the Sony a7iii and the Nikon D850 would be nice. I always loved the size of the Canon 7D with the battery grip and I always found the size of the Canon 6D to be slightly too small. The Nikon D850 is probably a little on the large side and is definitely heavy. On the other hand, the original Sony a7r is too small and light. And while the new Sony a7iii body is certainly shaped better, it is still very light and probably looses out on the ergonomics battle to its bigger DSLR counterparts.

Nikon Mirrorless Screenshot from Nikon teaser video

What will the Nikon Mirrorless look like? – Part 5

Finally, there is the mount. The size of the mount depicted within the digital render is massive!

The mount looks really large in relation to the overall body size. Who knows if this will remain the case with the actual Nikon Mirrorless prototype. Nikon has stated in their press release though that the body will feature a new mount. And they also stated the Nikon F mount lenses will be compatible via an adapter.  Canon also provides a mount adapter which enables users to mount Canon EF mount lenses onto the EF-M mount that is present on their APS-C mirrorless bodies, such as the Canon EOS M50. That adapter actually works well. I can envision Canon also doing the same when they get around to releasing their Full Frame Mirrorless body as it will probably feature a whole new mount as well.

I think both the Nikon and Canon full-frame mirrorless mount adapters will naturally work better than that of the 3rd party mount adapters when mounting lenses onto the Sony a7 series cameras. And that will be a big win for both Nikon and Canon users who have already invested heavily in existing glass.

When and Where will the Nikon Mirrorless launch?

This question is also open for debate but not as much as the look/features of the Nikon Mirrorless body. I think it is very possible and probable that Nikon will launch the camera later in 2018 at Photokina. I am hedging my bets that Nikon will have a working prototype to demonstrate at Photokina in September. But how much “final features” are actually present in that prototype will remain to be seen.

I could be wrong (wouldn’t be the first time!) but I doubt Nikon will actually be making their new full-frame mirrorless available for retail at Photokina. Instead, I think they will put on a big show and try to drum up a lot of hype and interest in their new offering. Similar to what Fuji did for the announcement of their medium format offering. I would be very surprised if people will actually be able to get their hands on this new Nikon Mirrorless offering in time for their Christmas stockings!

Nikon Mirrorless Screenshot from Nikon teaser video

Why has it taken so long?

This is the age-old question that may Nikon and Canon users have been asking for a long time. I am a Canon user and one that is rather fond of the Canon system. It is my hope that both Canon and Nikon have been taking their time with their full frame mirrorless offerings for the purpose of seeing what works and what doesn’t (thanks to Sony!).

I love the image quality that Sony full frame mirrorless sensors provide. And I love some of the things that Sony are doing at a software level within their a7 series. I do still prefer the ergonomics and feel of both the Nikon and Canon DSLRs. Call me old-fashioned, but I just like big camera bodies and feel that they are more robust. I have more trust in that they can take a beating and survive. I currently cannot say the same about the Sony a7 bodies which are so small and light.

Both Nikon and Canon are late to the Full Frame mirrorless game. They have been the photography giants for years. But in recent years, Sony seems to be standing taller than them. If not in camera sales alone, certainly in the fanfare and admiration stakes. Canon is still number one in the Full Frame camera sales, with Sony now coming in second place. No doubt that Canon has been hurting as a result of the Sony a7 series, But I feel that Nikon has been hurting more. Canon still has a huge share in the full frame market, specifically in the sports, wildlife and speed arenas. And I don’t think that will change anytime soon. However, a larger portion of Nikon’s full-frame market has been Landscape photographers over a last number of years. Mainly thanks in part of the likes of the Nikon D750 and the Nikon D8xx series. And a lot of these users have been jumping ship to the Sony a7 series.

Like many other users, I am just hoping it is not a case of “too little, too late” for the pending Nikon Mirrorless.

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Tap Into ICM To Broaden Your Creativity

Are you currently finding yourself staring at your image portfolio and feeling underwhelmed or lacking creativity? Truth is that it can happen to the best of us. Why not tap Into ICM To broaden your creativity and get your creative juices flowing.

What is ICM?

ICM or “Intentional Camera Movement” is an image making technique whereby one intentionally moves their camera during exposure. Movement is recorded while the shutter is open and can produce some very interesting and abstract results.

The ICM technique is a great way to force yourself outside of the normal and conventional Landscape Photography restraints. Obeying the Rule of Thirds and other composition aides will help you to produce greater images. However, sometimes you just need to break outside of the box and step outside of your comfort zone.

Adding the Intentional Camera Movement technique to your photographic toolkit, will definitely get those creative juices flowing. After some experimentation and refinement of your ICM technique, your portfolio will also be refreshed with some new and exciting images.

ICM Image by Graham Daly Photography

ICM Image by Graham Daly Photography

What gear do I need for ICM?

Unlike most photography genres, this technique requires nothing outside of a camera and a lens. A tripod can certainly be useful for certain images but it is not essential. In fact, a lot of the time you will probably leave the tripod in the car or at home.

Apart from a camera and a single lens, all you really need is some decent light and interesting subject. One important thing to note though is that best results will be achieved when using a camera with manual controls. A manual camera will allow you to change the aperture, shutter speed and ISO, which will help to create different types of ICM images.

ICM Image by Graham Daly Photography

What type of lens you use does not really matter. It can be an old manual lens or the latest and greatest autofocus lens. The lens can be a prime lens or a zoom lens. Zoom lenses with varying focal length range can be useful. The tried and trusted 24-70 zoom lenses can be a great lens to have in the bag for ICM. The flexibility to switch between 24mm, 50mm, or 70mm can be liberating. Zoom lenses also provide the ability to interesting ICM images by zooming or “rolling” the lens during the exposure.

Outside of the gear, all you need is a willingness to head out with the camera and put the technique into practice.

ICM Image by Graham Daly Photography

How can I tell if my ICM image making efforts have been successful?

A lot of photography is subjective. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder as they say. ICM images are probably the most subjective. Some viewers might love it and some might hate it. For me, the most important thing is whether the image satisfies me or not. I consider it a success if the image evokes some thoughts or moods within me.

Certain aspects play a stronger part in how our brain interprets and appreciates what it is seeing. For example, when color is absent from an image our brains look for strong structures and shapes instead. Which is why strong composition is so important for black and white photography. I think the opposite is true for Intentional Camera Movement images. The absent of strong structures places a stronger emphasis on color within the image. Of course, you can produce monochromatic ICM images and they might work. But in my experience, ICM images with strong color tones are more interesting than those without. But again, remember that beauty is the eye of the beholder. If you like monochromatic ICM images, then who am I to argue against it.

ICM Image by Graham Daly Photography

ICM Image by Graham Daly Photography

Top tips for ICM

Below are some of my top tips for producing interesting ICM images. This list is neither exhaustive nor exclusive. These are just the aspects that I have adopted into my ICM shooting technique and methodology. There are other photographers all over the planet who can add more to this list. Each will have their own routine, their own style and will have their own desired ICM results.  But this list is what works for me.

  • Try different focal lengths
  • Look for interesting color tones
  • Play around with different shutter speeds – start with 1 second and then increase from there and measure the results
  • Experiment by changing the focal length on your zoom lens during the exposure (a.k.a zooming/barrel rolling)
  • Try twisting the camera around in a circular motion during the exposure
  • Head into the woodlands – some great ICM potential all around the woods
  • Use a tripod at the coast if you want to keep the horizon level during your ICM images
  • Look for interesting shapes and patterns within the scene
  • Try panning left to right or right to left during the exposure
  • Tilt the camera up or down while the shutter is open
  • Carry larger capacity memory cards as you will end up clicking the shutter a lot in order to capture that one interesting result!

Hahnel PROCUBE2 – Great Addition To Any Photographers Kit Bag

Multiple Cameras Plus Multiple Batteries Means Tripping Over Multiple Battery Chargers!

As a Freelance Landscape Photographer, I regularly venture outside during the early hours of the morning in case of those lovely sunrise colors. And as I am often away on location for the day,  I am rarely near a power source. This can be quite problematic for me. I have several cameras each with several spare batteries that I constantly need power in. Long exposures, time-lapse, recording video and using the Live View functions on my cameras can drain the batteries rather quickly. Especially so during the colder months in winter.  Because of this, before heading away on location, I am always trying to ensure that I have charged all of my batteries sufficiently. As there is nothing worse than arriving on location only to discover that you have flat or low batteries! So to set the scene correctly in your mind’s eye, when I am heading out shooting it is normally dark, way too early, I have not had enough sleep and so I often find myself tripping over the complex array of battery chargers that lay on my office floor. Thankfully the Hahnel PROCUBE2 resolves this problem very nicely for me.

Hahnel PROCUBE2 Product

Hahnel PROCUBE2 – Providing The Power To Charge Your Batteries On The Go

The Hahnel PROCUBE2 caters for charging two batteries while at home plus it also comes with car charging abilities. The team at Hahnel were nice enough to provide a 12v charger within the PROCUBE2 box. Now, I know what you are thinking. What is so great about a car charger you ask? Well, a car charger in and of itself is nothing to write home about. However, this lovely unit allows for the charging of two batteries at a time. And not just that. The Hahnel PROCUBE2 also comes with additional charging trays for charging different battery models for a given camera vendor.

For example, the Hahnel PROCUBE2 for Canon provides trays for the main LP-E6 battery model as well as trays for the LP-E8 and LP-E17 models. As an added bonus, it also has a tray for charging four Ni-MH AA batteries and even a USB port for charging your phone! The Canon model has proved very useful for me as I have several LP-E6 and LP-E17 batteries. The LP-E6 battery model is used in most of the Canon Full Frame and even Semi-Pro/Higher-End Enthusiast camera models, such as the Canon 6D, 5DII, 5DIII, 7D, 7DII, etc.. The LP-E17 is used in the Canon M6, M3, M5 mirrorless bodies.

Hahnel PROCUBE2 Product

The Different Flavors Of The Hahnel PROCUBE2

Like ice cream, the Hahnel PROCUBE2 comes in a variety of different flavors. There are five different models, each with its own unique color. The Canon model is a Light Grey and the Nikon version is a Dark Grey. The Sony model is Orange. The Olympus is Brown and the Fujifilm/Panasonic version sports a Blue color scheme.

Screenshot of Hahnel PROCUBE2 Product Brochure

The following list outlines which batteries are supported by each version:

  • (Canon) Hahnel PROCUBE2 = LP-E6 | LP-E8 | LP-E17
  • (Nikon) Hahnel PROCUBE2 = EN-EL14 | EN-EL15
  • (Panasonic/Fujifilm) Hahnel PROCUBE2 = DMW-PLC12 | BLF19 | BLG10 & NP-W126
  • (Olympus) Hahnel PROCUBE2 = BLN-1 | BLS-5 | BLH-1
  • (Sony) Hahnel PROCUBE2 = NP-BX1 | NP-FW50 | NP-FZ100

Seeing as I just recently got a second hand Sony A7, with eats quickly through the 6 batteries that I have for it, I think the Sony version will be added to my arsenal in the not too distant future.

My First Impressions Of The Hahnel PROCUBE2

Firstly, the packaging is great. I think it really stands out. The unit is also so small and light. It really takes up no real estate within my office, my Land Rover or in my camera bag. The unit literately fits in the palm of my hand!

Hahnel PROCUBE2 Product

As mentioned earlier, I opted for the Canon version first and was impressed that it was able to charge both of my main Canon batteries. The USB and AA charging capabilities proved to be a nice added bonus. I have several rechargeable AA batteries in my bag at all times on account of the various head torches and my wireless remote shutter systems. Walking around in the dark when out shooting stars and the Milky Way can really drain the AA batteries. So it is nice to be able to charge them up in my Land Rover while I am getting warm!

The USB charging is also a really neat feature. Phone batteries seem to die rather quickly on account of all of the “smartphone” features. WiFi, GPS, Mobile Data, Bluetooth, Facebook, Instagram, Large Screen, etc… These phones are not too smart if you ask me, considering all those features are useless if the phone battery dies! Remember the good old days of the Nokia 3210?

How The Hahnel PROCUBE2 Helps My Photography Business

Hahnel PROCUBE2 Product

Delays can occur when waiting around for several batteries to charge. Instead of waiting for all of my batteries to fully charge, the PROCUBE2 allows me to charge the batteries while I drive between shoots and locations. I have four 12v charging points in my commercial Land Rover and so I can have four PROCUBE2 units running at the same time. This has been an absolute game changer for me. If driving on the road for even 60 minutes, the batteries will be charged upon arrival at the destination. That is just pure awesome sauce!

The ability to charge batteries to go while driving around is really fantastic. I am normally fairly diligent with ensuring that my batteries are charged before and after each shoot. However, if I happen to forget, I know that the PROCUBE2 will solve that problem for me.  It is much better to be out shooting, rather than waiting around indoors for batteries to charge!

Reasons Why I love The Hahnel PROCUBE2 And Why I Strongly Recommend It

  • Charge on the go – no need to be near a power supply!
  • Small and tidy units – takes up no space in my bag/car/office
  • Color coded for each camera vendor/version
  • Saves time waiting around at home for batteries to charge
  • No need to drag the camera OEM chargers around – they only charge one battery at a time anyway!
  • Charges batteries for all of my Canon DSLRs and Canon Mirrorless bodies
  • Better than the OEM charger – (in my opinion!)

You can find out additional information on this product over on the Hahnel site.

Graham Daly Photography: My Love Affair With The Milky Way

The Milky Way – I Fell In Love With Shooting It!

Since picking up my first proper DSLR camera several years ago, I was quickly drawn to shooting landscapes. And I spent many an early morning and late evening chasing after those magic sunrise and sunset colors. I still like heading out in search of those magic hour images and I am happy when I get them. But I must admit, they are no longer my first love. Over the past two years, I have been seriously attracted to photographing the night sky. I have totally fallen in love with shooting the Milky Way.

Whenever there is a slight chance of clear skies, I will drop all of my other plans, grab my gear and head out to a predetermined location in order to spend several hours admiring and shooting the Milky Way. Nothing brings me more photographic joy than standing beneath the Milky Way arching across the night sky. I am blown away by the sheer beauty of the Milky Way. I count my blessings each time I get to see it. And I can tell you, that those occasions are rare enough over here in Ireland. Our climate produces a lot of clouds!

In future articles, I will dive into more detail around my Milky Way Processing Workflow. I will also highlight other photographers who inspire me with their Milky Way images. But for now, you can read about the equipment that I use and how I plan my Milky Way images.

Milky Way Photography Image By Graham Daly Photography

My “Go To” Equipment For Shooting The Milky Way?

Unlike regular Landscape shoots where I have to take several lenses with me, along with other gear such as my NiSi Filters in order to handle whatever lighting conditions that might arise, thankfully my Astro Photography & Milky Way shooting setup is a lot smaller and simpler.  When it comes to shooting the Milky Way, I need not worry about controlling the dynamic range with filters. Nor do I need to drag along various focal length lenses to create different image compositions.

My typical equipment for Landscape images (Canon 16-35mm ƒ/4, Canon 70-200mm ƒ/4, and NiSi 100mm Filters) are left at home and instead, the only lens that I pack along with my trusty Canon 6D is that of the seriously inexpensive but excellent value Samyang 14mm F2.8 IF ED UMC Aspherical lens. In certain regions of the world, this lens is also sold/branded as Rokinon. This 14mm lens provides a very wide angle of view on a Full Frame sensor. This enables me to capture large portions of the Milky Way in the night sky. The lens is very sharp (if you get a good copy!) and handles comatic aberration (otherwise referred to as “coma”) and chromatic aberration very well. How well a lens handles comatic aberration is important for shooting the Milky Way and the night sky in general. Because if the lens does not control coma effectively, then the captured stars will result with comet-like tails. However, the lens does produce a horrible mustache-distortion and a strong vignette.

Milky Way Photography Image By Graham Daly Photography

I also bring the following items out with me on when I head out shooting the Milky Way:

  • Rollei Rock Solid Alpha Tripod + Rollei T3S Ball Head
  • Really Right Stuff L Bracket
  • Hahnel Capture Pro Wireless Remote Shutter Release
  • Spare batteries for my Canon 6D (OEM Canon + Hahnel Extreme varieties)
  • Hahnel Modus 600RT Speedlights (for light painting + images featuring myself within the scene)
  • Various Head Torches (for finding my way around in the dark + light painting/images featuring myself within the scene)
  • Terrascape Lens Cloths (useful keeping lens clean and wiping off any condensation)
  • A thermos flask filled with strong coffee!!

Planning & Preparing For Milky Way Shoots

There are several key parts to my Astro Photography Preparation Workflow. When I am out at various locations shooting regular landscape images, I pay attention to interesting objects (man-made structures, trees, coastal rock formations, etc..) that might make good foreground interests within my Milky Way images.  I make note of these locations and objects for future Milky Way shots.

While I am at these locations, if mobile data coverage/access is available, I then use the PhotoPills app on my phone to verify how/when/if the Milky Way will line up with the desired foreground object at the specific location. The PhotoPills app is really useful as it allows me to not only to clarify sunrise/sunset times and directions on any given date for a particular location but it also tells me the moon rise/set times along with the moon phase as well for that given date. The PhotoPills app also shows me when/where the Milky Way core will rise and set as well as showing the location within the night sky relative to the location for a specified date.

In many ways, shooting the Milky Way and the night sky is a lot easier and less complicated than shooting regular landscapes on account of the fact that you do not need to worry about how the sunlight is going to interact with the landscape, what parts of the landscape will be in shadow, what the contrast and dynamic range will be like or even whether or not there will be just the right amount of clouds present in the sky in the correct location in order to capture any light/color from the rising/setting sun.

Milky Way Photography Image By Graham Daly Photography

Clear Skies – The Vital Ingredient For Milky Way Shooting!

The main requirement for shooting the night sky and the Milky Way, of course, is that of a cloudless sky. Clouds are the enemy for the Astro Photographer and those looking to capture beautiful images featuring the Milky Way. In order to get the best images of the Milky Way and stars in general, you will need a sky that is free from clouds during a two-week window throughout the month when the moon phase is before or after a New Moon. While moonlight can be great for illuminating the landscape under the night sky and thus removing a lot of unwanted digital noise from your images when shooting, moonlight will cause luminosity of the stars in the night sky to be diminished and will thus cause the Milky Way to be washed out.

Along with using the PhotoPills app for checking the moon phase and moon rise/set times for a particular location on a specified date, I also use several weather forecasting sites to check whether or not clear skies will be potentially possible for that date. Of course, while I can use the PhotoPills app at any stage throughout the year to check out the various planning information points as I eluded to in the preceding paragraphs, I really can only verify the cloud cover and potential for clear skies within a short period of time.

Milky Way Photography Image By Graham Daly Photography

Typically I use five-day forecasts to check for the possibility of clear skies in a given week. When I spot a potential for clear skies on the long-range forecasts, I then start to focus in on those potential days and start paying more attention to the forecasts in the forty-eight (48) and twenty-four (24) hour time periods building up to that date in question. If cloud forecasts look good on the day in question, I then grab my gear, load it into my Land Rover and then I hit the road to get to my desired location and pray for the skies to stay clear while en route!

The main weather sites that I use for identifying the potential of clear skies are:

High-Level Overview Of My Milky Way Processing Workflow

There are certainly more steps involved in my Milky Way Processing Workflow as opposed to my Landscape Processing Workflow. Not that there is any additional complexity. But rather the processing workflow just has more steps and thus requires a bit more time per image. I will write about my Milky Way Processing Workflow in more detail in a follow-up article. So I will just keep things brief and at a high level here in this article.

The following is a generic overview of the workflow that I apply when processing all of my Milky Way images:

  1. While on location, I capture several exposures of the same image composition using the exact same settings. Exif settings are typically [ 14mm | ƒ/2.8 | 20 seconds | ISO 12,800 ]
  2. The duplicate exposures captured while on location will be used for “Stacking” when processing for Noise Reduction purposes.
  3. When I get back home, I then prepare to offload the images from the camera’s memory card to my workstation. To facilitate this I create three folders within a directory specific to that shoot. A folder for the original RAW files, a folder for the processed TIFF files that will be used for the Stacking process and a folder where the final processed JPEGs will be exported to.
  4. Once the RAW files are on my workstation, I import them into Adobe Lightroom Classic CC.
  5. After importing the RAW files, I preview all of the potential image files that I want to process/keep and dump the files that did not turn out correctly for whatever reason (condensation, not sharp, stray and unwanted light pollution, etc…). I use the Lightroom Rating feature to help identity which files I think to hold the greatest potential for processing.
  6. Once I have identified the image composition I want to process first, I select and highlight the range of exposures for that given image composition. This is usually between eight and twelve exposures
  7. I apply basic adjustments to one of the selected RAW files. The adjustments are synced across the rest of the RAW files that will be used as part of the Stacking process. I will go through the exact adjustments that I apply to my Milky Way images in a future article.
  8. Next, I export all of the processed RAW files as full sized TIFF files to the designated “Image Stacks” folder on my workstation. Once exported, I select all of them and I open them within Starry Landscape Stacker. This great application then aligns all of the exposures and stacks them with just a few simple mouse clicks. The stacking process applies a “Median Noise Averaging” process which greatly reduces the amount of total digital noise that will be present in the final outputted image file.
  9. Once the stacking process has been completed, I then export the new composited TIFF file and I then import this into relevant folder structure within my Lightroom Library.
  10. Lastly, I apply some further adjustments to the stacked TIFF file within Lightroom and exports JPEGs with relevant settings.

Milky Way Photography Image By Graham Daly Photography

Top Tips For Capturing The Milky Way

  • Plan Your Shots – Use PhotoPills to research Milky Way visibility, rise/set times for a specified location on a particular date
  • Include strong foreground interest
  • Use large (fast) aperture lenses – ƒ/2.8 would be a minimum aperture to yield the best potential
  • Shoot several RAW exposures for each image composition while on-location. These can be stacked for noise reduction purposes
  • Bring plenty of spare batteries, suitable clothing, and coffee!

Milky Way Photography Image By Graham Daly Photography

Photographer Focus: Irish Landscape Photographer Colm Keating

Are you a fan of Landscape and Travel Photography? Then check out this article.  Continuing on with my Photographer Focus series, in this edition, I am placing the focus on Colm Keating, an Irish Photographer who currently resides in New Zealand.

Who is Colm Keating Photography? Tell us about yourself

I’m a self-taught photographer from Ireland, who now lives in New Zealand. I was studying for a doctorate in chemistry when I decided I had enough and quit to pursue photography full time. I loved chemistry, but I knew I didn’t want to spend my days inside a lab working on the same problem every day when I could be out with my camera instead. That was in Sept 2017 and my life has changed dramatically since then.  In January 2018 I moved to New Zealand, and I now live in the Queenstown, surrounded by the southern Alps.

Landscape Image by Irish Photographer Colm Keating

When did you get your first camera and what was it?

Presumably, people probably answer this question with a DSLR but the first camera that really sparked my interest in photography was the first-generation iPhone. This was the first phone I had with a camera and it is definitely the camera responsible for lighting the fire. However, after a few years of iPhone photography, I did eventually get a Canon 600D in the summer of 2013 which is where the traditional photography journey started.

As an Irish Photographer, what type of photography do you mostly shoot?

Although it doesn’t earn me a large income, I will always likely be a landscape shooter over any other genre. Living near the sea, it was seascapes in particular that I mostly shot in the beginning, but photography opened up a whole new world of other interests with it, hiking being a huge one. Now I shoot more in the mountains than anywhere else. And I have fostered a love for adventure photography involving outdoor sports since becoming an avid hiker and camper myself. This is an area where I really want to steer my business over the next few years as it combines my love of landscape photography with outdoor sports. For professionals, I think this is the ultimate goal. Many begin shooting whatever photography jobs they can when they turn pro just to keep things rolling over, however, we all would love to just shoot the type of photography we love in return for an income. This isn’t always possible, but finding a niche where you can mold that genre into a profitable product for someone is the perfect compromise, for me anyway!

Landscape Image by Irish Photographer Colm Keating

What styles of photography or subjects interest and motivate you the most?

Its always been the power and beauty of nature for me. You can go to a gorgeous place over and over and it can look so different from one day to the next, all depending on the mood and atmosphere that the weather creates.

How long have you been a serious enthusiast photographer for?

As soon as I was making dedicated trips out to take photos is when I consider a photographer to be a serious enthusiast. For me, this was about six months after picking up my first camera, so the bug really didn’t take long to manifest in me!

What has been the highlight of your photography journey so far?

Meeting all the other amazing photographers I have had the pleasure of shooting with is by far the highlight. This is pretty much an ongoing thing, which is great as its something I can look forward to for as long as I am involved in photography. Many people reading will no doubt be able to relate to the friendship that can be formed with finding someone else who also has that “photography bug”. A lot of family and regular friends just cannot comprehend why we would stand for hours in the same spot, going back day after day just to catch the place at its best, but other photographers can, and I have been lucky enough to meet many I can now call very good friends.

Landscape Image by Irish Photographer Colm Keating

If you could go back in time, what advice would you provide to your younger self-knowing what you know now?

Just get going sooner. I held myself back, convincing myself the stereotypical route of getting a stable career through my degree was the right choice for me. I now know it was not and I am glad I have made the jump to full-time photography. My only regret is that I did not do it sooner.

What are the hardest parts about the type of photography that you do?

The hardest part will always be dragging yourself out of bed for sunrise. Whether the shoot was a success or not, I have never once regretted getting up for sunrise. However, that knowledge never seems to make it easier to leave the warmth of your bed when it’s still dark outside and it seems you only crawled into it 5 mins ago.

Landscape Image by Irish Photographer Colm Keating

What is in your kit bag?

Nikon D750 and D7100. Nikon 14-24 F/2.8. Tamron 24-70 F/2.8. Sigma 70-200 F/2.8. Haida Filters CPL, 6 stop ND, 10 stop ND. 6 batteries. Peak design strap and capture pro clip. Cable release. Rollei tripod. And last but definitely not least, a shower cap!

Most Photographers have GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) – what gear is on your “to get” list?

To be honest I am very happy with the gear I have. My only complaint is how heavy it all is. As I do a lot of hiking, the weight can be somewhat problematic. Therefore I am considering swapping some of my fast aperture lenses for lighter variable aperture versions. I have not decided what I will do yet though. As regards GAS, I have it pretty well controlled (I think!). I have not bought anything photography related in well over a year, except for replacing a broken tripod head. Now I just have to ensure I keep telling myself that just because I have not bought anything in a year, that it does not allow me to justify a new purchase!

Landscape Image by Irish Photographer Colm Keating

You come from Ireland and are currently living in New Zealand – which satisfies your photography more?

At the moment I have to say New Zealand. My second love is wild camping/hiking and so the setup for that here is just phenomenal. Of course, there are great places to be found for this back home in Ireland too but it is just on another level here in New Zealand. There is also the appeal of a new place, seeing something with fresh eyes. New Zealand most certainly still has for me as I have only been here for six months. I will always want to continue to explore new countries though, that is something I am confident that will never stop.

What is next on your photography journey?

Recently I have begun to shoot more people in my photography, particularly with adventure-related sports. This is something I really want to move into more over the next year or so. That will entail me learning many new skills that come with the genre so there is another steep learning curve ahead. For me though, the learning is part of the fun. Dipping into other genres can open your mind to ideas that you wouldn’t have had if you stick in the one type of photography all the time. For that reason alone I really love giving every type of photography a go. Hoping it will bring something new to my staple genre that is landscape photography.

Profile Pic for Irish Photographer Colm Keating

You can view more of Colm’s Photography over on his website at www.colmkeating.com and you can follow along with his adventures over on his Facebook Page www.fb.com/keatingcolm –  and his Instagram Feed – www.instagram.com/keatingcolm

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Latest Update Gives Adobe Lightroom Classic CC A Facelift

Lightroom Classic CC has been given a slight renovation and a facelift. Back in April of this year Adobe released and introduced users to version 7.3 of the much used and loved Adobe Lightroom Classic CC software. This Lightroom Classic CC update included bug fixes, support for new camera models and lenses as well as some new features and enhancements.  In this article, I am going to review some of the changes that this latest update introduced to the Lightroom Classic CC user interface. Specifically, I am going to be focusing on the changes made to the Develop Module.

Do You Have An Active Adobe Creative Cloud Subscription?

Before I dive into the user interface changes, I just want to point out that this update is only available for Creative Cloud members with an active account. Users with expired accounts or those using the older standalone Lightroom versions will not be entitled to avail of these new changes. Now would probably be a good time to renew your Creative Cloud account or even sign up for the first time. You can do so over on the Adobe website.

As of writing this article, the latest version available is that of version 7.3.1. The latest minor release was made available also in April shortly after the initial 7.3 major release was published. Version 7.3.1 was issued to address a few bugs that were reported in the early days after the initial 7.3 release. The Creative Cloud application always pushes down the very latest release of the Adobe products so you need not worry about getting an older version while updating.

Adobe Lightroom Classic CC Gets A Facelift

Once you have downloaded and installed the latest Lightroom Classic CC update, which will require you to close your Lightroom Classic CC application before allowing the installation to complete, you will notice a few changes within the Basic Panel within the Develop Module. These are the changes that I am going to discussing throughout the rest of this article.

In summary, these changes are:

  1. Camera Profiles Moved from Calibration Panel to Basic Panel
  2. New Camera Profiles Added
  3. Dehaze Slider Moved From Effects Panel to Basic Panel
  4. Tone Curve Size Increased

The first three out of the four mentioned above will be obvious to you once you check out the new interface. I personally really liked what I saw when I first launched my Lightroom Classic CC application after updating to version 7.3. In my mind, I always wondered why they had the Camera Profiles hidden away down in the Calibration Panel. Choosing the correct Camera Profile to play a major part in the overall look and feel of your image while processing as the Camera Profile will adjust how the colors are displayed as well as adjusting the histogram.  Anyway, let’s dive into each of the four updates that I outlined above in more detail.

Lightroom Classic CC V7.3 Screenshot

Camera Profiles

Moving the Camera Profiles from the Calibration Panel to the Basic Panel is a fantastic change and one that many of us welcomed in Lightroom Classic CC version 7.3. I am happy to see that Adobe has listened to its users as many of us have been wanting this for several releases now. It made absolutely no sense having the Camera Profiles hidden away in the Calibration Panel as it is the last panel listed in Develop Module. It never really surprised me when most of my Photography Workshop clients would inform me that they had no idea they could even change the Camera Profiles!

You can access all of these profiles by clicking on the icon (the one that looks like 4 boxes) on the right-hand side of where it says [Profile:].

Lightroom Classic CC V7.3 Screenshot

This will then load the Profile Browser. By default, this is set to display in a Grid style layout whereby you will see Thumbnails of your current selected image with respect to each of the different profiles available for selection. You can change the layout from Grid to either the Large or List layout options but I personally prefer the default Grid layout.  The white box indicates the currently selected profile and the small star in the top right of each thumbnail indicates that the profile has been marked by you as a favorite.

Lightroom Classic CC V7.3 Screenshot

You can add and remove the various profiles from favorites list when and as you see fit. To do this, simply click on the star icon.

Not only have Adobe moved the Camera Profiles to the Basic Panel but they have also introduced updated and brand new profiles as well. Thanks to Lightroom Classic CC version 7.3, we now have the option and ability to choose between the new Adobe RAW profiles, the updated Camera Matching profiles and also some older Legacy profiles. As well as this, you can select between various new Creative Profiles that are contained within the Artistic, B&W, Modern and Vintage groups respectively.  Clicking on the drop-down arrow next to each of the Profile Groups will expand or collapse that particular group.

You can then simply scroll through the various Profiles until you come across one that you like. One of the features that I like here is that you can simply hover your mouse over the respective profile and it will render an example of the profile within both the Navigator image preview window to the top left of the Lightroom interface as well as in the main image preview window. The profile is actually only applied once you click on the profile.

Lightroom Classic CC V7.3 Screenshot

You will probably have noticed that I only had seven Profiles marked in my Favorites Group. My three favorite Camera Matching profiles and my 4 favorite Adobe RAW profiles. These are the profiles that best suit my needs and processing style. But of course, that is not to say that you cannot find something within new Creative Groups that will really suit your own style and help make your images pop!

Dehaze Slider Given A New Home

Lightroom Classic CC V7.3 Screenshot

As you will see from the above screenshot of the Effects Panel the Dehaze slider has disappeared! Well, it hasn’t really. Adobe was again being nice and clever and moved it to the Basic Panel as well. It is now listed right under the Clarity slider and above the Vibrance and Saturation sliders. The new home for the Dehaze slider certainly makes sense, especially seeing as it is probably one of the basic adjustments that you might want to make while processing the image. I tend not to use the Dehaze sider a great deal myself but it is nice to have it available here in what is the main adjustments panels as opposed to being hidden away in another panel that I would otherwise never really go to.

The Larger Tone Curve

Along with the relocation and addition of new Camera Profiles as well as the relocation of the Dehaze slider, Lightroom Classic CC version 7.3 also introduced a larger Tone Curve. While the Tone Curve graph is definitely larger, I most certainly did not notice it straight away. But maybe that was just me? According to Adobe, “in this release of Lightroom Classic CC the Tone Curve has been expanded to optimize tone curve adjustments”. I never really had a problem with the old Tone Curve, so I will just have to take their word for it.

Lightroom Classic CC V7.3 Screenshot

 

My Thoughts On Lightroom Classic CC 7.3

Overall I really like this release. The relocation of the Camera Profiles from the Basic panel to the Effects panel was a great move. The addition of brand new Camera Profiles was a nice added bonus which I am sure will be appreciated and used by many Lightroom users. And the relocation of the Dehaze slider is also very welcome in my eyes. These changes certainly help speed up my processing workflow a little anyway.

 

Have you updated yet? How do you find this Lightroom Classic CC version? Let us know in the comments as I would love to hear your thoughts and feedback.

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Graduated ND Filters: Still essential for Landscape Photography?

The question “Are Graduated ND Filters still essential for Landscape Photography?” is one that has been doing the rounds for the last number of years. And it will almost certainly continue to be debated within photographic circles for the next few years to come. With continuing camera sensor developments and progressions, allowing for better dynamic range capabilities, the question is certainly worth some consideration.  In this post, I want to explore this question and share my personal opinions on this much-debated topic.

Picture of camera with graduated nd filters in use

Historical importance of Graduated ND (Neutral Density) Filters

Before we consider their importance in today’s digital arena, let us first remember the reasons why Graduated Filters were important for the photographers who applied their trade during the analog days. Before the arrival of digital sensors and the “magic sliders” in Adobe Photoshop, photographers of yesteryear had to do a lot of their image adjustments at the time of capture. If a darkened moody sky was the desired result, film photographers would often use graduated filters to control the exposure levels for the sky portion within the scene. And because so many of the landscape photographers shot using black and white film, the graduated filters mostly had color casts.

The requirement for true neutral density in their graduated filters was not such a big deal at that time. The desire for neutral density graduated offerings would come to a later stage as more and more photographers shot with color film. And even more so when digital photography came into the picture.

Graduated ND Filters in the Digital Age

Where we are today with respect to digital photography is very different to that of the introduction of digital sensor technology. In the early days of digital photography, sensors had rather small pixel counts. Anyone remember those days where you would jump for joy at the sight of a 4-megapixel camera!

Dynamic range was a major issue for those brave souls who first adopted and started to shoot with digital cameras. Yes, they were the trendsetters and were smart enough to see where the future of photography was heading but they definitely had their share of shooting challenges to deal with. Compared to film, the early digital sensors had the very poor dynamic range and struggled to control the luminosity and contrast difference between the white and black points within the scene. This was actually one of the reasons why so many shooters delayed going digital for as long as they possibly could!

So, even in the early years of digital cameras, landscape togs were still very reliant on graduated filters for the purpose of helping them to control the dynamic range within the scene. Yes, they now had the magic sliders in Adobe Photoshop and later Adobe Lightroom and could adjust the highlights/shadows but the flexibility afforded by early digital file formats with respect to processing was a lot less than we shooters have today.

NiSi 4 Stop Medium Graduated ND Filter

Digital alternatives to Graduated ND Filters

The landscape of digital photography and digital sensors has most certainly changed a lot since their introduction. Technology has progressed to the point now where some full frame sensors are now able to capture up to 14 stops of dynamic range. With the improved dynamic range capabilities, our reliance on graduated ND filters is fast diminishing.

Not only are the digital sensors better equipped to handle dynamic range, there are now several means and methods available to landscape photographer to control, extend or even overcome any issues concerning dynamic range. We have in-camera features such as HDR (High Dynamic Range) and Exposure Bracketing. Then there are the advancements at the processing end where we now have access to powerful tools such as Luminosity Masks and various other less complex blend modes available within Adobe Photoshop.

These days, landscape photographers can easily just take two separate exposures, one for the sky and one for the foreground, and then simply blend them together in Photoshop using a simple layer mask. In many ways, one could argue that graduated filters are no longer necessary when using today’s digital sensors.

Photo camparison with and without graduated nd filter

Graduated ND Filters versus Exposure Bracketing/Blending

As mentioned above, the necessity for graduated ND filters is definitely no longer there. However, there are still shooters who prefer to control the dynamic range while out in the field via graduated filters. Quite often, these shooters would state that they prefer to spend more time out shooting and less time at home or at their studio processing. Hard to argue with that! I would most certainly include myself in this group. I too, prefer to use graduated filters while shooting so that I can capture the scene in a single RAW file when possible. Although I have the knowledge and skills to create masks and blend exposures together in Photoshop, I definitely prefer spending time behind the camera.

These days though, there are lot more photographers falling into the other group who prefer to do away with the use of graduated ND filters while shooting and opt to blend exposures together instead. Whether you fall into the former or latter group, there are certain pros and cons to consider and be aware of concerning the decision to use graduated filters or to go down the blended exposure route.

Will Graduated ND Filters serve you’re better than Exposure Blending?

The biggest advantages of using graduated filters when shooting are as follows:

  • Ability to see/review the correctly exposed image in-camera
  • Requires less processing time and allows you to spend more time away from your processing software
  • Requires less processing knowledge/skills
  • Enables to capture a correct exposure in a single RAW/JPEG file – especially vital for the latter!

The biggest disadvantages of graduated filters:

  • Requires a Filter System – costly investment
  • Takes more money out of your pocket
  • More gear to carry around with you
  • Can be a struggle to keep clean and free from raindrops/sea spray when shooting
  • They can get scratched or fall and break
  • When the dynamic range is very large, you will still have to take two exposures and perform a simple blend in Photoshop anyway

On the other hand, Exposure Blending methods have the following advantages:

  • No additional costs or investments
  • Less gear to carry around with you
  • Less time spent trying to control the dynamic range when shooting
  • Easier to keep lens clean and free from raindrops when shooting because you can keep your lens-hood attached

The disadvantages of Exposure Blending are:

  • Requires a greater knowledge and familiarity with blending techniques within Photoshop
  • Will require larger memory cards and storage as you will need to capture more exposures and store them
  • Will cause you to spend more time at the computer processing your images
  • Unable to review and visualize the image in a single file/in-camera
  • Increases the need to shoot in RAW – uncompressed files allow for greater latitude when blending/processing the images

Picture of camera with graduated nd filter in use

What does the future hold?

The future definitely looks interesting. How long before we have digital sensors that can handle dynamic range like our own optical system (our eyes)? Already we have been introduced to in-camera features such as seen within the Sony cameras and their “Digital Filter” app. This allows for simulation graduated neutral density filters. Also, the effects seen from colored graduated filters. In essence, the app splits the scene into three sections. Each section can have different exposure settings. They are then merged together in-camera by clicking the shutter. Obviously, this app is not going to provide the same level of image fidelity or blending control as Photoshop. But is this app from Sony a picture of things to come?

Conclusion – My thoughts

Personally, I would agree that graduated ND filters are definitely no longer essential for the modern landscape photographer. However, I think I will remain old-school for the foreseeable future. I have already made the investment with respect to my LEE and NiSi Filter systems. So it is only right that I extract every bit of value and return on that investment! Also, I just happen to like working more in-the-field and spending less time on my computer screen.

Seascape image by Graham Daly Photography

But that is just me. What are your thoughts? Are you ready to dispose of your graduated filters and become an exposure blending guru? Or will you stick with the graduated filter tradition for a little while longer?

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Photographer Focus: Coastal Photography with Rachael Talibart

Ever hear of Rachael Talibart or see her photographic work? Well, when you reach the end of this article I hope you will ask yourself “why have I not heard of this amazingly talented photographer before!”. In this second edition of my Photographer Focus series, I am placing the focus on Rachael Talibart who is a Professional Photographer based in the United Kingdom (UK).

1) Who is Rachael Talibart?

I’m a full-time professional photographer specializing in fine art coastal imagery. I live in Surrey, England now but I grew up on the South Coast, in a yachting family. For the first twelve years of my life, every weekend and all of the school holidays were spent at sea. Those years left me with a lifelong fascination for the ocean. Although I now live in a landlocked county, I go to the coast at least once a week.

I first became interested in photography during my teen years when I was given a little cartridge-film camera for Christmas, one where the case folded down to make a handle. The obsession really set in when I took my first 35mm camera on a 9-week solo backpacking trip around the world. I had just qualified as a solicitor in a big City of London firm. This job allowed me to take unpaid leave before settling into the rigors of practice. When I returned, I spent my first paycheck as a qualified solicitor on an SLR. And that was it – I was completely hooked!

Photo by Rachael Talibart

2) A question we ask all photographers – What is in your kit bag?

My main camera is a Canon 5DSR. That is accompanied by the usual selection of Canon lenses, a Benro tripod, and LEE Filters. I’m proud to say that LEE Filters now support my photography and workshops. I like the flexibility of a DSLR and I’ve been using Canon for so long now that the cameras are like an extension of my hand. This means I can concentrate on creating without any distractions. While my preferred cameras have stayed the same, my preferred lens focal lengths have changed in recent years.

My Canon 16-35mm lens used to be the most often-used lens in my kit bag but now I use it the least. I like the Canon 24-70mm and even more the Canon 70-200mm, which is probably my go-to lens these days. Using telephoto lenses and longer focal lengths enable me to simplify my compositions, allowing me to think carefully about what I want to depict.

Photo by Rachael Talibart

3) How crucial is post-processing to your photography?

I try to spend as little time on post-processing as I can. This is not because I have an attitude about it or think it’s more ‘pure’ to get the shot in camera but rather because I like being outside and not on my computer. So, obviously, I am going to be more creative in a place I enjoy. However, I do shoot RAW so I must process my images and I do almost all of that in Adobe Lightroom. I rarely need to go into Photoshop but if Photoshop helps me create the picture in my mind’s eye, then, of course, I will use it.

The other important thing for me is to try to leave a decent gap between taking an image and processing it. Sometimes, if I look at the pictures on my computer too soon after a shoot, I can feel disappointed. I’m sure we’ve all had that feeling at some point in time or another. A time gap between the capture and processing stages enables the emotion of the experience to subside and that results in a more considered edit.

Photo by Rachael Talibart

Photo by Rachael Talibart

4) Do you have a favorite image?

I find it hard to choose a favorite image but if pushed, I would probably pick Poseidon Rising. This image is one of my Sirens series, the set of images that has done most to raise my profile. Although all the photographs in this series were taken with very fast shutter speeds, they were a long time in the making. I had worked it out that the beach at Newhaven in East Sussex often had good surf. I had been going there almost every week all winter, capturing the sorts of images everyone else makes there. Essentially that of waves crashing against the lighthouse.

But I was frustrated because I felt I was making photographs similar to other people’s photographs, and I hate that. However, all those visits, while yielding no ‘keepers’, were very useful because I was working out exactly what sort of image I wanted to make there. One day, I captured a photograph of a wave, with no lighthouse and no other landmarks. Next thing I knew, an idea clicked in my head. I wanted to capture a series of waves that looked like monsters and name them after mythological maritime creatures. And so my Sirens were born.

I picked Poseidon Rising in particular because it most typifies what I was trying to achieve. A wave of attitude, named after a Greek god with plenty of attitudes, in an interesting light and unlike the images made by everyone else on that stormy day. I am so glad to see that my Sirens project has been well received. They have been winning multiple awards including Black and White Photographer of the Year and the Sunday Times Magazine’s award in Landscape Photographer of the Year. The series is being published as a fine art book, due to be released in February.

Photo by Rachael Talibart

Photo by Rachael Talibart

5) Are there any challenges to being a Landscape/Nature Photographer?

I think the most challenging part of being a nature/landscape photographer is that title! I do not really see myself as such, but that’s how I am often pigeonholed. Photography struggles to be considered as an art, in the UK especially, but to a certain degree everywhere. I think that is even worse with ‘landscape/nature’ photography. People expect images in that category to be records of recognizable places or creatures. With that sort of photography, there is still plenty of scope for artistry, skillful composition, beautiful light and subtle editing. I admire and enjoy photographs produced by many excellent photographers in this genre but it is not what I am trying to do.

I am less concerned with representing a place. When I go out on location, I am not trying faithfully to show the scene as it might have appeared to you if you had been standing right next to me. Instead, I want to show you the one thing in that scene that appealed to me personally. I want to convey how it felt to me to be there in that moment. Perhaps we should call it ‘interpretative photography’ rather than ‘fine art’ but it is all semantics in the end. Some might even argue that all photography is interpretative on some level and I can hardly disagree!

Photo by Rachael Talibart

6) Any tips for other photographers?

One piece of advice I give to my workshop clients – find a place you love, and return there repeatedly! When we travel to far-flung places, that we may never visit again, we are likely to capture the obvious and clichéd shots. We become ‘photography tourists’ to some extent. It is difficult to avoid influence from photos we have seen, that were produced by others at that place. When we return to somewhere often, we can just relax. We can risk wasting time on experiments because we know that we will be back. I think that is when people start to find their own unique vision.

Photo by Rachael Talibart

7) What does your photography future hold?

I have a lot of plans in the pipeline for 2018. There is the Sirens launch, several exhibitions, and I would like more gallery representation by the end of this year. My Workshops and Photo Tour business are continuing to grow. In fact, it is becoming hard to satisfy demand! I’m also starting to lead residential photography holidays/workshops for Ocean Capture, a leading fine art photography workshops business owned by Jonathan Chritchley.

I have a full schedule of speaking engagements and I will take on writing commissions whenever they come up, as I enjoy them. The category winners of Outdoor Photographer of the Year had been announced at the time of writing this interview. I was one of the judges for that competition this year and I’m looking forward to continuing in that role. Creatively speaking, I want to continue refining my compositions to simplify them, and seeking subjects in the smaller details. However, even if I knew I would never win another award, sell another print or run another workshop, I can honestly say that I would still be out there, in the teeth of a storm, having the best time ever and I hope to be able to do that for a very long time to come.

8) Lastly, where can we see more of your great work?

Photo by Rachael Talibart Photo by Rachael Talibart

My website is www.rachaeltalibart.com. You can also check out more of my photographic work over on my Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/RachaelTalibartPhotography/, on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/rachaeltalibart/ and finally over on at Twitter at https://twitter.com/RTalibart.

Photographer Focus: Laura Oppelt Photography

Several weeks ago I was contacted by Sleeklens and interviewed  [ Graham Daly Spotlight Interview ]. Needless to say, I was delighted to be interviewed and allowed to share my photographic journey and insights with the Sleeklens audience. Now, I am also delighted to actually be writing and contributing content towards this very same great audience – how cool is that!

To start things off, I wanted to introduce a new “Photographer Focus” series whereby I intend to place the focus on various photographers that have caught my own attention and whose photographic work inspires me to head out with my own camera. In this edition, I am focusing on Laura Oppelt, an incredibly talented 20-year-old landscape photographer from Germany.

Laura Oppelt Landscape Photo

1) Who is Laura Oppelt?

My name is Laura Oppelt and I was born in 1998 in a small town near Munich, Bavaria, Germany. Growing up in the countryside, I enjoyed being outdoors and discovering nature. When I was younger, I got a cheap camera and started to literally photograph everything around me. The images were poor in terms of photographic quality and just snapshots really but I kept going and later decided to save money for my first DSLR. Since that time back in the summer of 2013 I really worked hard on improving my photography knowledge (a continual work-in-progress!) and I decided to focus my attention and energy on landscape photography.

The greatest step so far in my development took place in 2016 when I switched to a Full Frame DSLR. Even though the camera is just a tool for taking pictures and by far not the most important thing, it gave me a more satisfied feeling and afforded me new possibilities. But the best teacher is practice! The importance of trial and error really cannot be underestimated. During my travels, I learned a lot, discovered stunning places and experienced the beauty of our world, which is the basis for all my pictures. I still consider myself as a learner and search for my own style but I’m very curious what will come next.

Laura Oppelt Landscape Photo

Laura Oppelt Landscape Photo

2) Do you find that your passion for photography consumes a lot of your time?

Yes! I try to head away on photo trips as often as possible and especially on the weekends I’m really busy with photography. As it’s my biggest hobby, I love spending time with it, but that’s not always possible of course. A very time-expensive aspect of photography is also the post-processing. I’ve still got loads of unprocessed images and I don’t know if they will ever be processed!

3) A question that all photographers are asked – What is in your kit bag?

I’m shooting with the Canon 6D and the Canon wide 16-35mm f/4 lens. I also always carry a Sigma 20mm f/1.4 in my camera bag for night photography. Let us also not forget the Canon 24-105mm f/4 lens. Lastly, I use a Sirui tripod and LEE Filters.

Laura Oppelt Landscape Photo

4) What is your general workflow when taking pictures?

That depends on the conditions and the scene. I always use the Live View function of the camera to compose the image and try to find leading lines as well as foreground interest. Then I decide if filters are necessary or not and if yes, which specific filter (e.g. a graduated hard or soft filter). Besides that, I often take three different exposures, in case that I need them later in post-production.

5) What is the key ingredient that you always look for when producing images?

I think an interesting foreground is always a great way of strengthening your image composition, especially in landscape photography. Sometimes I include people in my images as well to add some scale.

Laura Oppelt Landscape Photo

6) How crucial is post-processing to your photography?

It’s an important issue for me because I want to make the best out of my images and with some very easy steps, such as boosting contrast or adding a vignette, you can increase the overall effectiveness of the image. But I also don’t want to spend too much time with the post-processing and I try to keep the image as natural as possible.

7) Do you have a favorite image?

That’s a quite difficult question because I’ve got different favorites due to different reasons. There are favorite images because of the experience I had when taking them and there are favorites because I’m very satisfied with the editor the composition or the light captured within the image. If I had to pick only one photo, I would choose a photo I took during a backpacking tour on the Faroe Islands in the summer of 2017 because everything just came together perfectly: the landscape (a mountain above the sea with a great view over the fjords and the villages at the coast line), the light (right before sunset) and the experience (it was pure freedom on top of that mountain peak with an incredible view). I titled the photo “Experience for a Lifetime“ because it had such a great impact on me.

Laura Oppelt Landscape Photo

8) Are there any challenges to being a Landscape Photographer?

Yes! The constantly changing weather situations and that it sometimes takes huge power and resolve to overcome your own laziness! And of course that you manage to make the people who look at your images feel the same that you felt in the moment when you pressed the shutter. That is probably the most difficult and challenging aspect of all.

9) Any tips for other photographers?

Maybe that the most important thing about photography is that you like what you do and that you have fun. Take the images for yourself and not for somebody else. Try to develop your own style which is very challenging in its own right because I think this is a never-ending process.

Laura Oppelt Landscape Photo

10) What inspires you?

Our beautiful world has so much to offer that I think inspiration can come from everywhere. Other photographers who have a lot of impact on my own motivation are Dennis Polkläser, Nicholas Roemmelt, and Bruno Pisani, to just name three of them.

11) What does your photography future hold?

A challenging question because there are so many possibilities. I would like to just improve my image making abilities further and to experience some new photography adventures. I would also really love to publish some of my pictures in magazines or to have an own exhibition someday … But that’s very far away from now.

Laura Oppelt Landscape Photo

12) Is there anything else you want to say?

Go out, explore and enjoy life! Simple, but so difficult at the same time!

Laura Oppelt Landscape Photo

13) Lastly, where can we see more of your great work?

I have a brand new website now at www.laura-oppelt-photography.de . My 500px account is https://500px.com/laura_oppelt. You can find me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/lauraoppeltphotography and my Instagram profile at https://www.instagram.com/oppdager/.

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