Photography Interview With Kathy Kuhn

Today I’m pleased to share with my readers an interview with photographer Kathy Kuhn. I’ve admired several landscape photos that Kathy has posted on Viewbug, including the one you see above. You can view Kathy’s Viewbug profile here.

Here is my interview with Kathy:
1) How did you start in photography? What got you involved?

I started photography when I got my first film camera at age 10.  Because I got the camera right after my youngest sister was born, for several years I thought I was only supposed to take pictures of her!  I learned the basics of composing a shot and the importance of being close enough to get subject’s face and expression.  Of course, I was parsimonious about how many pictures I took since it was film and I had to earn the money to pay to develop it.  That also meant most of my photos were on black and white film (this was cheaper).  When I was 18, I met my husband who had a Nikon F Camera.  I immediately adopted his camera, which was a big jump up from my box camera.  That is the camera I used as we raised our family.

About 12 years ago, my youngest sister got me to start trying my hand at digital photography, joining her on various on-line sites.  It took a year or 2 for me to really convert, but by 10 years ago, I was only shooting digital.  I loved taking macro shots of the many small and large spring flowers in my garden.  I had always carried our old Nikon on backpacking trips & hikes, and so also moved to landscape photography with digital.  Basically I live to be outside, and photography gave me another excuse to be out and about.

2) Is there something that attracts you specifically to landscape photography?

As I mentioned, I just love being outdoors.  I love the play of light through the clouds, the trees, the leaves, the mountains, across water and snow.  I love the curves, lines and repetition of shapes in the natural world.  I love finding patterns in apparent chaos, finding a means to compose a shot that brings one particular aspect of the landscape into center stage.  I love the colors, light and dark, shadows and the flow of the land, water and sky.  I am alive outdoors, and there is always something I can find to shoot.  The possibilities are endless.

3) What is your favorite lens and camera?

For most of my life I’ve shot one Nikon or another, going back to the old Nikon F Camera.  I love my Nikon D300 — just a great workhorse of a camera and very versatile with the 18-200mm lens.  But a little over a year ago I wanted a camera that was lighter than my Nikon D300 or D610, so I decided to try the Sony a7ii (mirrorless).  I love it!  It’s much more portable than the Nikon, has great color, is intuitive to learn to shoot moving from the Nikon and is a great all-around camera.  My favorite lens with the Sony is the 24-240mm, which like the 18-200 for the Nikon, gives me great variability of range, from very wide angle to a good zoom.  I just used it as my primary camera on a trip to Costa Rica where I was routinely shooting at ISO 6400 and it performed wonderfully with very little noise.

4) Can you offer any tips to other photographers for a great landscape shot?

The best way to get good landscape shots is to first choose early morning or late afternoon/evening light.  Mid-day is harsh and won’t show any landscape to advantage.  Besides lighting, you want to scout a location to try to find a good composition.  I look for diagonal lines drawing your eye to your chosen main subject, or repetition of objects (leaves, branches, trunks, rocks etc.), and always try to find a way to convey depth by having a foreground as well as middle and far distances.  Sometimes the foreground will be the subject and sometimes it will merely set the stage for the subject.

5) What is your typical photography workflow? What software do you use for post-processing?

Generally I download after a shooting expedition and do a cursory run through the images, tagging those that look promising to work on.  Then I go back and zoom in on ones I’ve tagged to make sure the crucial areas are sharp.  When I’ve chosen an image, I open in RAW, make my adjustments, then open in Photoshop.  I often use Nik filters.  Sometimes I use texture layers, though less often for landscapes.  Very occasionally I use Topaz filters.  Occasionally I use a couple of exposures and manually create an HDR image, or I use Photomatix.  But generally, I prefer the simpler work flow of non-HDR images.

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Contemplation By Kevin Charlesbois

Contemplation By Kevin Charlebois

The beautiful portrait shown above was taken by Kevin Charlebois. You can view his photography at Viewbug or on his photography web site. I’ve awarded the portrait above the Mark of Excellence for Beauty of the Human Form and Mark of Excellence for Human Facial Expression.

I hope you enjoy looking at more of Kevin’s portraits!


Interview With Viewbug Photographer Nina Irvin

Today I’m pleased to introduce my readers to Nina Irvin, a photographer I found on Viewbug. Nina kindly agreed to do an interview for the blog. Here is the interview:

1) How did you start in photography? What got you involved?

I’ve had a love for photography most of my life as my mother was a wonderful photographer in her own right during the 35mm film days. When I was a child our family spent many vacations traveling around the country enjoying beautiful vistas, particularly in the southwest…so I grew up knowing the difference between “snapshots” and “photographs”. However, it wasn’t until about 4 years ago when I was finely able to afford really decent camera equipment that the quality of my photography dramatically improved…that and the addition of good editing software.

2) Is there something that attracts you specifically to landscape photography?

I love to travel and to be outdoors, so landscape photography fits into that niche nicely. There are beautiful landscapes almost anyhwhere, and I pride myself on seeing things that perhaps others might not. Photographing landscapes allows me to capture the wonderful things I see so that I can take them home with me. I have a particular love for ocean and sunset photography, mainly because the “mood” of those subjects is constantly changing. And even better, landscapes usually require no special lighting equipment or makeup, and most of the time they stay in one place!

3) What is your favorite lens and camera?

I recently upgraded to a Nikon D750 DSLR and absolutely love it. Despite the infinite buttons, dials and menus, it’s intuitive and fairly easy to master. I just recently purchased what I consider to be my “all around” lens: a Nikkor 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 zoom. It has the versatility to be a great wide angle lens and powerful enough to zoom in on that elusive animal off in the distance.

4) Can you offer any tips to other photographers for a great landscape shot?

Landscape photographers often have the advantage of returning to a particular location at different times of the day (or night) in order to capture a scene under different lighting or weather conditions. However, since you can’t always count on a sunset, or beautiful clouds in the distance, or a sky that isn’t dull and gray, there is a lot of luck involved as well, not to mention patience! Shooting ocean scenes either in the early morning or late afternoon almost always, in my opinion, provide the absolute best lighting, which in turn reduces the amount of post processing that would otherwise be required to make an average photo into a great photo worthy of hanging on a wall. It’s also important to note here that when shooting in low light conditions, a tripod is an absolute must. It is virtually impossible to get clear, good quality photos if you are trying to shoot handheld after the sun has gone down.

5) What is your typical photography workflow? What software do you use for post-processing?

After downloading my photos (always onto a 2 tb external hard drive), I always cull my photos and delete those that just aren’t good candidates for editing, usually due to poor composition or other factors. The ones I feel to be of “editable quality” I put into a separate folder of their own. I almost always start editing in Lightroom where I adjust for exposure, contrast, clarity, shadows, etc. (I am still currently using Lightroom 4 which I feel does everything I need it to do). I then send the photo into Photoshop (I use CS6) where I do most of my final editing. Lately, I’ve also been experimenting with compositional layering and photo artistry, so depending on the photo I might go a step further and do some fine tuning using the Topaz filters. The Topaz modules are powerful editing tools that I feel are worth mentioning because oftentimes they can help further elevate your post processed image.

What is your secret to the beautiful beach photos?

The photo of the foamy waves was taken late one afternoon on a small, infrequently visited beach near Santa Cruz, California. The beach is surrounded by high rocky bluffs on both sides which force the waves onto the narrow sandy beach area, often creating an opportunity for some wonderful surf shots. On this particular day, we just happened to be there when the surf had created wonderful sea foam. The harmless foam, we later learned, was caused by decaying organic matter (and most likely the dead algae blooms that have plagued the Pacific coast for several months) that mixed with the salt water and was then churned up by the heavy seas from recent storms. It’s a phenomenon that isn’t very common and was a sign that the ocean ecosystem was returning to a healthy state. It never seemed to do the same thing twice. It was just by chance that I was able to capture this “angle” shot of the foam when the retreating water was forcing it back to the surf line. The photo was taken handheld without a tripod. There was still plenty of light so with my ISO at 1000 I set my camera on manual an used an aperture setting of f/11 and shutter speed of 400. The sky was still a bit stormy looking but I was pleased when some natural light rays played on the rock stacks at the surf line. I did some minimal post processing in Lightroom with this shot to bring out the hint of color in the sky, and to add a bit more contrast and clarity to emphasize the foam.

The photo of the beach with the shell was taken in Maui on a very warm September morning…I purposely got up early so that I could photograph the beach without having to worry about any people wandering into my shots. I took this opportunity to use my tripod so I could use a slow shutter speed and my circular ND filter in order to get the best light, color and the soft, almost ethereal mood of the breaking waves in my photo.  This shot was taken at f/22 at an 1/8 of a second using an ISO of 100.  For effect, I layered the seashell onto the beach during post processing as I felt it made the scene more interesting.




Interview With Viewbug Photographer Luke Mackenzie


Today I’m pleased to introduce my readers to Photographer Luke Mackenzie. Luke features some of his great landscape photography on ViewBug. One of his landscape shots is above, and a couple more are shown at the end of this post. (You can see his ViewBug profile for more examples of his work.)  Luke has some great wave photos!

Here is the interview I had with Luke:

1) How did you start in photography? What got you involved?

I was in the Navy for 4 and a half years and when I started to travel overseas with work the best advice I got was “take a camera”.

I had a point and shoot, but when I got over to the Middle East for the first time my little camera just couldn’t do the amazing scenery justice. Nor had I any idea at the time how to take a photo.

A couple of years later when I went again, I bought a better camera which was my first SLR (Canon 600D) and started to take more and more photos.

When I returned to the Middle East, I kept taking photos. People seemed to be like the photos. At the start of 2015 I really started to take my photography seriously. I upgraded to a Canon 7D Mk II and began taking a lot of photos.

2) Is there something that attracts you specifically to landscape photography?

When I started traveling I wanted to be able to capture what I was seeing and bring it back home or post it online for people to see.

I love the challenge of trying to get a shot and making it appear how I saw it at the time.

3) What is your favorite lens and camera?

My favorite camera is definitely my Canon 7D. I also recently purchased a 14mm f/2.8L II lense. The difference in that compared to my other lenses was insane! When you take the same photo on that lens then another lens you can straight away see the difference in the colours, lighting & crispness of the shot.

4) Can you offer any tips to other photographers for a great landscape shot?

Take your time! Walk around the area, look at things from a few different angles then set up your shot and use the rule of thirds.

Also, I’ve realised lately how important good lighting is for a good photo. Going out at the golden hour at sunrise and sunset just makes the photo so much better.

5) What is your typical photography workflow? What software do you use for post-processing?

The software I use for my post processing is Lightroom and also a program called Affinity for the Mac.

6) What is your secret to the curling wave photos?

No secret really, I have a pair of fins, a wetsuit, and a housing for my camera. I swim out and get in the right spot where the wave will break over my head.

It takes a lot of practice though. When I first started out, I kept getting waves to the face and thrown over the falls. But it’s what made that type of photography more fun and challenging.