Photo Cascadia Blog
Posts Tagged ‘featured photographer’
American Dreamscapes – Book Review
By David Cobb
I’ve been friends with Christian Heeb for a number of years. An immigrant from Switzerland, Heeb first got his photographic start in the U.S. photographing the Native American. His wonderment in the American myth of the Wild West led him to a variety of places including the desert southwest, the Rocky Mountains, the Sierra Nevada range, and Route 66 among others. During his career—which includes over 200 published books—his assignments have taken him to every corner of the states and also around the world. His newest venture isn’t for a U.S. or German publisher however, but a personal project titled American Dreamscapes.
American Dreamscapes is the American dream not as interpreted by Horatio Alger, but maybe one closer to the vision of film director Quentin Tarantino. Coming of age in Switzerland, Heeb’s photography has certainly been influenced by fellow countryman Robert Frank; but Heeb also has influences in the surreal imagery of Gregory Crewdson, and the more voyeuristic photos of David Drebin. His settings also remind me of the more banal locations of photographer Stephen Shore.
Many photographers of the lost America like Anthony Hernandez, Lewis Baltz, and Robert Adams show the blight of American expansion and decay, and those who have been left behind or forgotten. Heeb photographs the edge of American life in a Hopperesque way: from the wayward hotel to the diner, with guns, girls, cars, and sex being common themes. This is the dark side of “when America was great again,” and this is the America that would give Dorothea Lange nightmares.
These people are not only on the fringe of society, but also on the fringe of daybreak. These are the hours when the neon glows brightly, and the hours when folks are desperate enough to commit a crime as seen in his images “The Hold Up” or “Stolen Car.” His models pose with cold distant looks, disconnected from each other and reality. In the photo “The Fun Center,” they’re having anything but fun. These people inhabit a lurid world, and they’re all trying to hang on to make it through another day.
American Dreamscapes is a limited-edition book which may be purchased in both print and digital versions from the Christian Heeb website. The book is in the dual languages of English and German.
Here is a link to download your digital copy here at his web site.
PhotoCascadia is proud to announce the addition of Erin Babnik as a new full time member of the team! If you didn’t previously know Erin’s photography then hopefully you were introduced to her when she began contributing to the PhotoCascadia blog back in March of this year. Erin has the distinct honor of being the first and only person to be asked to join PhotoCascadia since the six original members formed the group several year ago.
Since the beginning, PhotoCascadia’s mission has been to explore areas of natural beauty, encourage appreciation and conservation of wild places and offer inspiration by sharing our images, our stories, and our knowledge with other photographers who share our passion. We were quite content with the group and were not looking for a new member.
However, over the past several months it became clear that Erin was too good a fit not to be a member. She is smart, humble, kind, energetic and generous. Her photos are of the highest quality and artistry and were already admired by the group before we knew who she was. In addition to being a talented photographer she is an educated art historian, an excellent writer and has great energy, passion and vision. Erin’s love of nature, adventure, exploration and sharing her knowledge aligns directly with the PhotoCascadia mission. During the time she has been contributing articles to the PhotoCascadia blog she has engaged, inspired and connected with our readers in a very positive way. Finally, hailing from northern California, she lives on the southern boundary of the Cascadia region so she knows, explores and photographs the area intimately.
Please join us in giving Erin a very warm welcome! You can look forward to seeing a lot more from her in the future!
This month we welcome Tony Kuyper as our guest photographer. Tony’s body of work centers around the desert sandstone of the Colorado Plateau and is as beautiful as it is definitive. In addition to his photography, Tony is well known to outdoor photographers for his skills in the realm of digital image developing, specifically in the use of luminosity mask techniques. His popular tutorials and Photoshop actions are well regarded by many of the best contemporary nature and landscape photographers. Tony is also one of the most kind, generous and humble people I know. I first became acquainted with Tony almost ten years ago and have since had the pleasure of getting to know him personally, spending time with him in the field and collaborating with him on Luminosity Mask instruction. Tony generally avoids the spotlight so I thank him for agreeing to this interview and giving us a view into his world.
Sean: Give us some biographic back story on Tony Kuyper.
Tony: My background is in the sciences. I got an “A” in Physical Chemistry in college! After getting my degree I moved to Arizona in the 1980s and have mostly been here since. I worked as a pharmacist for the Indian Health Service for 30 years.
Sean: When and how did you get your start in photography?
Tony: There really wasn’t a definitive start to it. It’s always been evolving. Arizona was a whole new world for me compared to the Midwest. I did a lot of hiking and camping trying to see it all. It’s natural, I think, to want to take pictures to hold onto some memories. But in the early days I was just using an instamatic camera. I eventually moved on to a 35 mm and even did a decade of large-format. So it’s really just a long continuum.
Sean: Your photography is centered in the American Southwest, primarily southern Utah and Northern Arizona. What about this landscape attracted you photographically and what keeps you coming back?
Tony: The initial attraction wasn’t photographic. The Colorado Plateau was just an incredible place. It was easy to fall in love with this landscape after living my first 24 years in Iowa. Photography was a way to interact with this place on a more personal level, and that eventually became more central to my travels around the area. Being in the desert feels right for me now, and that helps create a good mindset for taking pictures.
Sean: Your photography includes some wonderful large landscapes, but you are most known for your sandstone abstracts. Other than light, what are the most essential elements you look for when capturing this type of scene and what are you hoping viewers will take note of when viewing this body of work?
Tony: I tend to compose less complex scenes, so these images are in line with my general approach to nature photography. Many of these sandstone details are taken in the shadows, not direct light. In the shadows, the color of sandstone shifts considerably, depending on the source of reflected light. Only by getting in close and excluding direct sunlight can you really see what’s happening. The camera, especially in the film days, was critical to this. Our eyes naturally shift the colors to what we expect, but the camera is objective and helped me see sandstone’s alternate hues. The unexpected colors coupled with the amazing shapes and textures make for an interesting subject. So these abstracts are really just my way of exploring sandstone. Hopefully viewers will be able to see the beauty in this rock from a less traditional point of view.
Sean: To quote from your website you say, “Over the years, capturing light has become less and less my goal. Instead, I increasingly prefer to give in to the unpredictability of the situation and simply allow the light to capture me.” Tell us a little more about that statement.
Tony: I’ll say up front that Guy Tal had a big influence in developing this perspective. I photographed with him several times and was always impressed that any light was good light for him. He always came back with some amazing images. I came to understand it was not about approaching the landscape with preconceived notions of what would make a good picture, but rather to find a way to understand the area and eventually allow it to show me what it might have to offer in terms of light. Images created in this manner end up having deeper meaning. There’s something almost magical when I turn it all over to fate and find that it makes better choices than I do. It’s a new connection to something to I didn’t even know existed.
Sean: What does your standard camera rig consist of for most of your photographs?
Tony: Pretty minimal. Canon 5D2 camera, carbon fiber tripod, Tamron 28-300 lens, polarizer, and spare battery and compact flash cards.
Sean: Attention to image developing has long been an important component of your photography. What is your basic philosophy and approach to image developing?
Tony: Two things come to mind. First, connect with your image and let it tell you what to do. Each image is different and requires a unique approach. I find making actual prints to be extremely helpful in listening to the light. It’s much easier to interpret what the image needs when looking at a print than at the monitor for me. The second is to learn to use your tools and develop a skill set that is comfortable. Today’s cameras and Photoshop let us do some amazing things, but it takes some experimentation and practice with both to understand how to best use them. Other than that, I think photographers should be free to do what they want with their images. As David Kachel observed, a sense of realism is important to photography, but strict adherence to reality is not. So the whole process becomes one of interpreting light rather than simply reproducing it, and that opens up a lot of possibilities.
Sean: You are arguably the original and best known luminosity mask user and educator in the world of outdoor photography. Briefly, what are luminosity masks, how did you begin working with them and how is it that you discovered them for the rest of us?
Tony: Luminosity masks are selections based on tonal values in the image. They are created from the image’s pixel values, not from a selection tool. They can be manipulated to target specific tones and blend most adjustments perfectly into the rest the image. I Googled the term “luminosity mask” in April 2006, found out how to make the initial “Lights” selection, and was instantly fascinated with the possibilities. I knew about adding, subtracting, and intersecting selections and played with combining various masks somewhat randomly for several months to get at specific tones in my images. Based on these experiments, the Lights-, Darks-, and Midtones-series were developed for the “Luminosity Masks” tutorial published in November the same year.
Sean: Speaking to anyone not familiar with luminosity masks, what advantages do they have over other Photoshop adjustment methods?
Tony: The perfect blending that luminosity masks provide is probably the biggest benefit. While regular selections and brushes can be feathered spatially into the surrounding pixels to facilitate blending, luminosity selections are feathered tonally. This means that pixel content, specifically the brightness values, determines what gets blended, not just proximity to the selection edge. So as brightness varies across the image, the luminosity mask or selection will automatically adjust. The image is essentially its own mask. Photoshop makes it easy to manipulate the initial “Lights” mask to target different tones, so it’s possible to get this seamless blending in any tones you adjust. Sorry if that sounds a bit geeky, but that’s how it works. This perfect blending can be used to create very balanced lighting in the image. For nature photographers, it’s like to having studio lighting in the great outdoors.
Sean: Many of the talented outdoor photographers I’m familiar with today include luminosity mask techniques in their image developing skill set. When you first began experimenting with luminosity masks did you have any idea how important they would become to modern outdoor photography?
Tony: Not really. The scientist in me thought it was pretty neat what the different luminosity masks could do, so that’s why I wrote the tutorial, sort of like writing a research paper. However, it was my quirky way of using Photoshop and a bit complex at the time, so I didn’t think it would be widely adopted. The actions to make the masks were available right from the start and that probably helped others get on to using these techniques more quickly. But overall the interest in these techniques was definitely more than I expected.
Sean: In 2006 you published your first luminosity mask tutorials and Photoshop actions on NaturePhotographers.net. How have the actions, and the way that they are used, evolved since you first put them out there?
Tony: While the initial series of masks (Lights, Darks, Midtones) are useful, I quickly found that the narrower tonal range selections made from the primary Lights- and Darks-series to be more useful. These secondary masks became more important to me and I’ve developed tools to make them accessible. Something else quite unexpected is that I also use the Darks series of masks frequently in sharpening my images. They’re an effective way to reduce or remove light halos and over-sharpening while maintaining proper image sharpness.
Sean: The techniques and actions you introduced almost a decade ago have become a standard tool for outdoor photographers all over the world. Do you see them continuing to evolve and improve, and if so, how?
Tony: I think the basic knowledge about luminosity masks is becoming more widespread, but there is still some confusion about how to use them effectively. Deciding when use them, which mask to choose, and how to efficiently incorporate them into the workflow are some of the issues. Developing tools and educational materials to streamline luminosity mask integration will help more people adapt to them. It’s something I’m continuing to work on.
Sean: What piece of advice do you have for photographers interested in improving their image developing skills and realizing their creative potential?
Tony: I think the best way to improve at anything is to make it personal. For photography, that means having a genuine interest in the subjects you photograph. It’s easy to tune into the light and find images when you care about your subject. This also makes image development a creative exercise instead of a chore. If you’re personally committed to what you photograph, you’ll naturally work to improve your technique both in the field and at the computer. You’ll practice and study and find ways to get better.
Sean: Where do you see your interests in photography going in the future?
Tony: I recently moved to Tucson. It’s a whole new world to explore. Very different than the Colorado Plateau, but lots of variety. I’m going to have to branch out from sandstone, but am definitely looking forward experiencing light in a new place.
by Chip Phillips
This month we welcome Patrick Di Fruscia as our guest photographer. Patrick has been an inspiration to me from the very beginning. I remember looking at his images on Flickr in awe, and thinking “I want to take pictures like that some day!”. I am happy to have the opportunity to ask him some questions!
How did you get your start in photography, and who are/were your inspirations? I used to work as a marketing manager in a sport supplement company and one day the owner came to me and asked me to undertake the task of learning photography. He grew tired of paying professional photographers to take pictures of athletes and images of his whole product line. At first, I thought this was an absurd request but decided to try it anyway. He purchased my first camera, and there I went, trying to learn this great tool. I literally started reading everything I could find about photography and quickly this task became a hobby. I was taking pictures of pretty much everything from buildings to cars, flowers, insects..you name it. My hobby really turned into a passion the time I did a road trip across the charming province and Quebec and ended up on top of Mt Ernest Laforce in the Gaspe Peninsula. I knew then that this was my calling. That day it hit me like some sort of divine intervention… I wanted to experience, see & feel the beauty of our beautiful planet and photography was the perfect medium to do it. Since then I have set my lifelong goal to always perfect my craft. I know that this will be an endless curve and I will only have myself to blame if I don’t live up to my full potential. As far as Inspirations, didn’t really have any to start with.
What are some of your favorite new photographic locations, or locations that you haven’t shot yet that you are looking forward to shooting? I really want to visit New Zealand and Patagonia..these two locations are definitely on the top of my my bucket list.
Your images have always been inspirational to me, especially your images from Norway. Tell us about your connection to Norway. I was really fortunate to meet a photographer friend from Norway back in 2005 named Terje Sorgjerd while on a photography trip in Costa Rica. He then invited me over to his country to join him on a road trip. I immediately fell in love with this beautiful country. So much that I decided to join him again in 2010 for another great road trip…this time we made it all the way to Lofoten. This is a definite must place to visit for all landscape photographers. I barely scratched the surface of this great country. Really want and need to go back soon.
Many people have jumped ship from Canon and gone over to Nikon. Are you part of this crowd, and why or why not? Or, have you always used Nikon? Tell us a bit about your equipment. I did also jumped ship from Canon to Nikon. I have lots of demand for large prints and for now I feel that Nikon offers the best tool for the type of photography I do. The high megapixel and high dynamic range of the Nikon D800E brings me want I need in order to produce large prints. I am not sold to one company or another, I use whatever I feel can help me deliver the highest images possible for the type of photography I do.
What are you excited about in regards to photography in the future? What are you concerned about? I cant really say that I am excited or concerned about anything in regards to the technical side of photography aside from maybe one day we will have sensor that can capture the images exactly as the human eye can see it with high dynamic range. This will definitely make my life easier. What excites me the most about photography is the fact that this is a career/passion that I can do till the rest of my life. No need to think about retiring when you do something you love.
Stay Strong & Live with Passion Patrick Di Fruscia www.DiFrusciaPhotography.com Follow me on Facebook: www.Facebook.com/DiFrusciaPhoto Follow me on Google Plus: www.Gplus.to/DiFrusciaphotography Follow me on Twitter: www.twitter.com/DiFrusciaPhoto Follow me on Instagram: @difruscia
by Zack Schnepf
This month we welcome Jeremy Cram as our guest photographer. Jeremy is a friend of mine, and a talented photographer. He has some of the most impressive wildflower images from the Columbia River Gorge. Jeremy and his wife Sharon run Club K-9, a doggy day care business in Portland. Photography is Jeremy’s passion and it shows in his images.
Zack: You are doing some fantastic landscape work here in the Northwest. What got you into landscape photography?
Jeremy: Thank you! I have always had a love of the outdoors, and doing anything, whether it was hiking, mountain biking, climbing, spelunking, scuba diving, whatever it was I always felt at home there. I was always amazed at the tiniest of details in the smallest things to the grandest of landscapes I found in nature. Capturing that beauty I saw and showing people how I saw it did not really come to be until I bought a nice camera setup for my business. My wife and I own a doggy day care in Portland Oregon. I originally bought the camera so I could photograph my clients’ dogs while they played. As time went on, I began taking more pictures while out on hikes throughout the Columbia Gorge, at the coast, and at Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge in Washington and less of the dogs I had bought the camera originally for. The rest is history!
Zack: What areas do you enjoy photographing the most?
Jeremy: The Columbia River Gorge. The proximity of the gorge makes it easy to get out for short half day shoots to multi-day backpacking adventures. The variety of subjects in the gorge is really unlike any other place I’ve shot. Depending on the time of year down to even the time of day you can shoot anything from macros to the grandest landscapes there are. Wildflowers, waterfalls, ferns, blooming apple and pear orchards, barns, Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams, meadows, creeks, rivers, Crown Point…..The list really is endless.
Zack: You have kids and a thriving business in Portland. How do you find time to photograph?
Jeremy: Being outside has just always been part of who I am. Building a business with my wife that still enabled us to do the things we want and spend time with our family has been very important to us. I think if you love doing something it is really not that hard to find a way to do it.
Zack: What is your biggest challenge in nature photography?
Jeremy: I think the biggest challenge for me now is to just produce the best work I can. I try to be as original as I can. Learn as much as I can. Improving my ability to see a scene, for what it is and what it has the potential to be through post processing. Ultimately, I just want to grow as an artist, whatever that looks like.
Zack: You have some particularly stunning wildflower shots from the Gorge, do you have any tips to share with fellow photographers?
Jeremy: My first tip to other photographers would be to find a different subject than wildflowers in the Gorge. I’m totally kidding, but in a way there may be some wisdom in that. The flowers and backdrop of the gorge are so addicting that the pursuit of those beautiful non-stopping wind grabbing little bits of eye candy will drive you crazy. It is always a hit or miss venture when it comes to shooting flowers. They are either too early or late, a bad bloom year, too windy, flowers are too windblown, or in the wrong spot for the composition I had wanted or envisioned, BUT…..when you nail a series of shots to blend together to create that “in your face Gorge Bouquet” with the sky going off, suddenly you forget about all the work you put in. You just end up wanting more.
Seriously though, as far as the technical side, the list is long. But in short, be methodical with your approach to how you capture your flower images, especially if you are focus stacking. Always work with purpose when capturing the scene from the front to back or back to front, don’t focus on the front flowers, then to the middle ground and back again. That will become a nightmare during post processing. If the wind is blowing, resist the urge to widen your aperture too much or the blending of images while maintaining sharpness will become way too hard, if not impossible. Same goes for increasing your ISO, keep it as low as you can and be patient. The wind will die down every so often, snap a shot then. In the meantime, enjoy where you are sitting, you are in a meadow of flowers after all. Oh, and don’t forget to swipe away the ticks that are inevitably crawling up your legs.
Zack: What is your favorite aspect of nature photography?
Jeremy: Just being out there, wherever that is, is the number one thing. I am at whatever spot most likely because I want to photograph it, but if I am truly experiencing a place I think it will show up in my final image. Second, would have to be the friendships I’ve gained. The friends I’ve gained since I began photography are some of the best friends I’ve ever had. I love the community of it.
Zack: What are your 3 personal favorite images?
Jeremy: Favorites are relative to what I’ve been shooting. For me the newer the image is the more I like it. The older image is the more I start to see the imperfections or mistakes I made. I think that is kind of typical for artists though. Right now my favorites are…
1) The One Tree
2) Golden Fall
By Adrian Klein
Starting this month when we send out an updated newsletter we will including a featured photographer. To keep the newsletter itself from becoming too long and large we will include the full interview on the blog and only the initial part in the newsletter.
This month we welcome Paul Marcellini. I got to know Paul and his work through NPN and we met briefly when he was in town a few years back. Like many of us I am interested in work that helps me experience new places. In this case it’s the swampy parts of Florida. I have respect for someone that can get within inches of strong jawed crocodiles and wade around in swamps. Somehow hiking and backpacking in bear country rarely concerns me yet the thought of crocodiles is not very inviting to me. One of these days I will make it down that way to experience it myself. Until then I will continue to enjoy Paul’s photos.
AK: You have some pretty amazing images of the Everglades area and associated wildlife. Have you always been interested in exploring the area or did it come after getting into photography?
PM: Actually photography came second. I love nature and photography is my current way of expressing it. Before photography, I painted. The Everglades is my backyard essentially, so it was my first base of exploration and is the “old familiar” but I seem to fall in love with most places I visit that offer a feeling of wilderness.
AK: What do you think is the biggest challenge to being a landscape/wildlife photographer today?
PM: Creating work that stands out and is new and original. I try to find unique scenes and luckily, Florida is not a state full of natural icons. The gear is better than ever so technically perfect wildlife photography is much easier, but getting an artistic image still is very much dependent on the photographer.
AK: I am sure it’s hard to pick one yet do you have a favorite location to photograph and if so why?
PM: Iceland comes to mind immediately. It is like another world over there, even with pretty bad weather, I had a blast. It is the current hotspot it seems, but there is a big reason for that.
AK: What are your top 3 personal favorite images and why?
PM: The three that make me the most money! It is hard to pick, but I would say Holy Sunstar!, Welcome to the Jungle and Wizard of the Hoh. All three depict a lot of mood and I think the compositions really worked. I personally like more complicated imagery, even though the simpler stuff is what usually sells.
AK: With nature photography weather and other elements can be unpredictable. How do you work through these challenges to create engaging photos?
PM: I really enjoy chasing the storms in the summer. These are definitely unpredictable, but knowing the terrain helps to get last minute compositions squared away. I usually don’t have set images in mind, I am very reactionary and I think it helps to keep a flexible mindset.
AK: What is the most important piece of photo or computer equipment that you simply cannot live without?
PM: A wide-angle…it is the basis of my photography. Many of my newer images are stitches of the Canon 17mm tilt shift for what I am guessing is about 10mm view on full frame.
AK: Any tips you are willing to share for photographers new to photography, especially in swampy places like the Everglades?
PM: Anything unknown is daunting but the Everglades is not as scary as everyone thinks. Get your feet wet and be cautious. Slow down and look around. I like the complicated nature of the swamp, digital speeds us up so much, that this forced slower pace is beneficial to my art.
To see more of Paul’s work check out his website – http://www.paulmarcellini.com