As the wheels of the land rover cracked across the dry crust of the Namibian soil I gazed across the plains ahead. It was July in Namibia and the dry season was in full swing. Arriving from the lush Zambezi river my thoughts were filled with the verdant wetland smell of damp bush and water reeds, Etosha, as I was to discover, is an altogether different beast. Approaching the centrepiece of the park one sees a vast salt pan surrounded by grasslands covered in bone-white sand. The closer you come to the centre the farther you can see on all sides, beyond the painted pale shrubbery into the smoky veil of the veld. Etosha does not rise before you, it expands.
It is no secret that I love using ultra wide-angle lenses for my landscape photography. I was especially excited when I received the new Sigma 12-24mm f/4 DG HSM Art lens just before I departed for my winter Iceland workshop. It has an amazing 122-degree angle of view at 12mm. Many photographers have a difficult time using ultra wide-angle lenses correctly when composing a scene. Why? The simple answer is that they do not get close enough to their subject.
People frequently ask me what exactly is fine art photography? Before I answer, I usually take a big breath and brace myself to answer the question in the time it takes to ride a few floors in an elevator as they usually expect a quick answer. And, despite my apprehension to answering their question, I have come to realize that most good answers are the ones that are simple and direct. Hence, I begin by clarifying that fine art photography does indeed have objective criteria despite falling in the subjective and vast realm of art.
One of the things I find fascinating about photography is that it can be approached from a million directions and can mean a million different things to different people. I enjoy talking to other photographers a lot – I find it very interesting to learn what they personally see in this art and what they shoot for (pun intended) with their images. I have a friend who takes photos of kids and families; she has perfected her portrait techniques over many years. I know another photographer whose work you will never see – odd as that may sound, I get it: it is private, it is the imprint of his heart and soul, he prefers to share his art with his immediate circle only.
I am a novice photographer. I obtained my first DSLR, the Nikon D3200 in May of 2015. I decided to take at least one picture every day of 2016. Obviously, getting out and practicing every day is bound to make a fledgling amateur improve, but I was surprised at the specific principles I learned along the way, and thought I’d pass them on to any fellow novices thinking about a photo challenge of their own.
As I write, I’m looking back on my 36 years as a professional photographer with fondness and gratitude. I chose this profession because I wanted to travel and earn a living while doing so. It’s been an amazing three and a half decades and I’m still excited every time I walk out the door camera in hand. I’m looking forward to the next three decades! I travel in anticipation of serendipitous gifts; the unknown encounter. My camera is my passport to the world – a world I would not have known without that camera.
A few weeks ago, I visited Casa Mila, also known as La Pedrera in Barcelona Spain, which in 1984 was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO. It was the last civil work designed by renowned architect Antoni Gaudi, who was the best-known practitioner of Catalan Modernism. When visiting La Pedrera, I walked onto the stepped roof called “the garden of warriors”; called so because of the chimneys which appear to protect the sky lights, and discovered to my disappointment that due to the size of the crowd and the presence of a fence, I wouldn’t be able to photograph the entire architecture of the roof in a single shot.
Working on your photos in Photoshop, you might have come across the situation where you begin to see weird lines appear in places where they shouldn’t be and weren’t before. This issue is especially common for very smooth gradients, such as skies, and can undoubtedly destroy even the most beautiful photo. And unlike other problems, this issue doesn’t seem to be triggered by anything particular; one moment it’s not there and the next time you look at the image – there it is. So, let’s figure out what this is, why it happens and how to fix it.
During the past week, I have been very busy with some university work and with preparations for a month-long road trip through ex-Yugoslavia. However, I still wanted to capture the passage of the Perseids meteors, possibly from a great location. Then, I remembered that two of my friends and I wanted to climb the Monviso, which is the third highest peak in my region at 3841 meters (12602 feet). I combined the two and there we were, driving a two-days journey in the Italian eastern Alps. Astronomers tell us that the peak of the falling star has moved from the former 10th of August to the 12th, but the weather forecast for the 12th was depressing to say the least. Unfortunately, since my camera can’t see behind clouds (yet!) and I don’t like to walk under a torrential rain, the weather was in charge and the departure was moved to the morning of the 13th. Our gear included a tent, sleeping bags and mats, not enough food and water, and some photographic gear: my tripod, a Canon 1200D/T5 and two lenses: a Canon 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 and a Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 VC, along with a remote and three spare batteries. My photographic goal was to make a timelapse of the shower of meteors and possibly capture some images along the way, whereas my climbing goal was to go up as high as possible and maybe coming back alive.
“There’s such a thing as ornamental shrimp?” This is the typical response of family and friends when I speak to them about my recent hobby of keeping ornamental shrimp. Believe it or not, there is growing interest around the world about breeding and keeping these little freshwater critters as pets. In some countries, their popularity even rival traditional fish keeping! What once used to be considered another algae eater in tanks has quickly become an object of interest for aquarium enthusiasts, given their behavior, varieties, and breeding possibilities. They are marvelous to look at, and as such are wonderful subjects to photograph.