Welcome to another episode of Photographer Spotlight, last time we had the great chance to interview Nicholas Roemmelt and this time i’d like to welcome Robert Postma, who is a very gifted landscape photographer from Canada. In this exclusive interview, you’ll find out what it is that makes him so good in his field.
Tell us about yourself, where are you from, what got you into photography and since how long do you do it?
Robert: My name is Robert Postma, 45 years old and I come from the Yukon Territory in northern Canada. What got me started in photography was taking walks in the forest with my father at a very early age. This taught me the value of nature and my place within it. I saw many wondrous things as a child and young adult because of this time in the bush and the natural progression for me was to pick up a camera and attempt to capture with I witnessed. That way I can share with others who cannot get out there for various reasons. One could say I’ve been interested in photography since high school but in a more professional capacity since the year 2000.
How much time do you spend on photography on average?
Robert: Between shooting, processing, and editing, probably about 20 hours a week. I definitely prefer to be outside in nature shooting images but editing is a necessary part of the job now.
Which gear do you mainly use / What is typically in your camera bag?
Robert: My main wildlife equipment consists of the Canon 1dx2 and canon lenses ranging from 200-800mm with the occasional use of hte a 1.4x teleconverter. For my landscape work, I tend to gravitate to my Sony A7R2. The lenses I use with it are all Canon lenses with the use of a metabones adapter. In addition to these cameras and lenses, I carry a vast assortment of filters, remote triggers and lots of extra batteries.
How do you prepare for an image?
Robert: Usually I begin with just putting my gear down and as corny as it sounds, sitting on the ground to just absorb my surroundings. Breath the air, listen to the sounds, trying to get sense of place. This is what I try to convey through my images, I want my viewers to engage with the photo on an emotional level. Usually, if I do this for 30 minutes or so and this helps me “see” better. Of course, sometimes I do not have that luxury and I must begin shooting right away.
How important is post-processing for you? Can you tell us what kind of post processing you typically do?
Robert: I am torn on post-processing. It is my opinion that in order to get noticed in the photography world, it helps to have strong processing skills. That said, it is equally if not more important to get the image the best you can before processing. This means using filters where possible. Or taking multiple exposures and blending in post. I do not like to use HDR, I blend using luminosity masks as I believe they give a more realistic appearance to the image. My typical post work begins in Lightroom where I do my basic edits before importing to photoshop. From there basically, dodge and burn using luminosity masks to give me fine control over the parts of an image I want to lighten or darken. I may add a digital Orton effect to my landscape images to create a more dreamlike appearance. Put a vignette around the edges and I am done. Usually, takes about 10-15 minutes an image.
What’s the most challenging part about being a nature photographer?
Robert: Well for me it is getting out to some remote places. I broke my hip years ago and find it sometimes a challenge to go long distance with a heavy pack. But I just go at my own pace and get there in my own time and usually get rewarded for the effort. But not every time.
Do you have general advice and tips for other nature photographers?
Robert: I would like to tell all budding photographers out there to photograph what you are passionate about. That way you develop a personal style that people can recognize. For myself, I do not claim to be the best, but I enjoy the photos I make and enjoy viewing others work. That is a great way to get inspiration. Another tip if you want recognition is to enter as many contests as you can. You may not win but you might, you never know unless you enter them. For landscape work, always use a tripod if possible and for wildlife, try to get down to the animal’s eye level. This creates a dynamic view that you cannot get when you are standing.
What is the favorite photo you took and why?
Robert: This is a tough question but if I had to pick one, it would be an aurora borealis image I took in Teslin, Yukon many years ago. But it is not the image that makes it memorable, it is the fact that I got to witness this incredible display with my father who had never seen them before. We sat outside for hours one September night enjoying the incredible display.
What are your future photography goals?
Robert: I will be continuing my photo guiding tours around Iceland in conjunction with Hotel Djupavik, along on of the most remote coastlines in Iceland. I also lead tours in the Yukon Territory and Saskatchewan, Canada. In the next year, I will be releasing my second book, this one focusing on my home territory, the Yukon.
All images by Robert Postma.