Category: Interview

03 Aug 2018

Interview with Orsolya Haarberg – Landscape Photography in focus

The greatness of wild landscapes has always been captivating me. Open scenes, where the Earth meets the sky on the horizon, are places where I love to be, searching for topics to photograph.

 

Orsolya Haarberg is an incredibly talented landscape photographer from Hungary, graduated as landscape architect. She and her partner, Erlend Haarberg, work together in the field on assignments and personal projects more than six months a year. Their work hasbeen widely published, in the most outstanding magazines and books, they are lecturers at the largest photographic festivals and events, and they are multiple prize winners at the most relevant nature and wildlife photo competitions.


* Orsolya, when this adventure started? How did you first get into nature / nature photography?

My mother bought a used camera equipment for me at the age of 18. Before that, I never had a camera in my hand, although I loved drawing and painting. As soon as I got the camera I was hooked.

Otherwise I am a landscape architect by training, and I was just about to defend my PhD thesis in wildlife management when I met my husband, Erlend. This happened 14 years ago. At that time I was a passionate hobby photographer, but with Erlend in Norway, the possibility of becoming a professional has opened up for me. I dropped my PhD studies, moved from Hungary to Norway and have been working as a freelance nature photographer since.

* What you enjoy the most about nature photography?

When I do nature photography, I feel that I do what I want and what I am supposed to do. It gives meaning to my life. 

* What inspire you? Where do you get your creative inspiration?
I am fascinated by nature: it’s power, beauty, harmony and silence. When I am out there, I seek to experience these qualities, assimilate the rhythms of nature and find inner peace. For my photography, I am searching for unseen or surprising scenes in nature that makes me stop. Such discoveries give me inspiration to delve deep into a subject and continue exploring. 
* Why landscape photography? What it allow you to express?

I like to photograph scenes (mainly colors, forms, patterns, structures) that occur in nature without my interference. This means that I do not use artificial light, neither bait animal subjects. In addition, I work mostly in wilderness areas in the Nordic countries where you very rarely encounter wildlife that ignore the presence of humans. Therefore, the most accessible subjects for my photography are landscapes. However, when I come accross bold wildlife in the wild, I immediately realize that it is the element that can raise my landscape images to a whole new level. 

I am looking for balance and stillness in surprising scenes nature provides. I like the challenge of finding and capturing this captivating stillness and I guess this is my major driving force in doing nature photog

*Why do you think landscape photography is more frequent in adults rather than young photographers?

I think that landscape photography is seldom among both adult and young photographers and this is largely due to lack of special interest. Even if you have the interest, landscape photography involves a lot of challenges. First of all, it is a very time consuming activity. In addition, you need to have a unique vision to capture a sense of a place, with the help of light, colour and composition. I assume that very few photographers have the time and the skills to succeedin this field at a young age.

 

Frequently we see in your images abstract topics…what they allow you to express?

Photographing abstract patterns, you provide little or no point of reference within the frame of the image. For me, it makes it possible to simplify a complex scene, and for the viewers, it gives a larger freedom to interpret what they see.

 * What is necessary to become a successful landscape photographer?
Passionate approach, good ideas and vision, patience and diligence will make you a good landscape photographer, and if you are lucky and your work gets discovered, you might be able to make a living. However, as in almost every other businesses, good self confidence, outstanding communication skills and marketing abilities are also essential to make you successful – if you measure success in money.
* What is a “perfect” landscape image for you?

The ones that surprise and fascinate me even after several look. 

* What are the main difficulties faced by a landscape photographer?

Find new places, subjects and photographic approaches that have not become cliches yet.

* Lapland, Norway, Iceland…what these “north” locations bring you and your pictures?

Wilderness, good light, dramatic weather conditions and simplicity.

*Could you choose one/two of your favorite’s images and could you explain the background story behind it?
Hverir: I was thrilled when one whiteout coincided with a full moon. I picked a spot where I could watch the pale orb rising behind the volcano and arrived early. The snow had laced the slopes of the volcano with delicate patterns and the surface of Lake Myvatn had frozen. In some places, the ice was so thin that water had seeped through hairline cracks and begun to capture the windblown snow. Soon, broad white stripes had formed.
Skallelv: The landscape on the Varanger-peninsula can be really uneventful, although it has a very interesting geology on the north side. I like to travel here in winter, not because of the landscape, but because of the weather. When it is cold, the waves freeze in the ebb-and-flow, and the snow clouds lit up by the low winter Sun brings life to the flat winter landscape. This is an image where everything came together in a moment: the approaching snow storm, sunset, high tide and the ice pattern in the ebb and flow.  On the other hand, it is a very simple picture, it contains nothing else but H2O in its three forms: ice, water and vapour…
* What would recommend to young nature photographers?

There are a lot of factors that plays a role in whether you will succeed. This is not an ordinary job that is waiting for you after graduation. If you have the talent, the interest, the passion and the diligance, you will undoubtedly grow as a nature photographer, but keep it as a hobby in the beginning. You can start to consider becoming a professional once you feel you can earn part of your living either through image sale and assignmentsor as a photo instructor. These are two very different ways of earning your living as a nature photographer that few professionals can balance properly, often at the cost of their personal work. 

* What is your next adventure? Next dream?

I continue working in Scandinavia. After our third story in National Geographic magazine, we considered starting to explore areas outside Europe, but we put the idea out of our head for the moment. On one hand we love the Nordic countries and we still find a lot to do here. On the other hand, in these days of threathening climate change, it does not feel right to travel arond the Planet year round and inspire other to do the same… Regarding dreams, in the last years I have been fortunate living my dreams and it hasn’t ended yet 🙂


Thanks so much Orsolya for your time and your generosity. We wish you all success in your future endeavors.

Don’t miss out the chance to get inspired by Orsolya photographs at: www.haarbergphoto.com

 

10 May 2018

Feeding the Vision by Bruno d’Amicis

If I should name the thing that makes visual arts really unique then I would choose the importance of previsualization occurring in the artist’s mind. More than the mastering of a specific technique or an exceptional taste for composition, this is such a peculiar skill, which one must develop personally in order to temporarily transcend from the self and visualize something that is actually invisible, but likely to happen, and thus plan the next move to capture and recreate it in a piece of art. As amazing as this can sound, there is no magic involved nor some sort of practice smelling of New Age, but instead something lying super deeply in our genes.

Our very ancestors, prehistoric hunter-gatherers, in fact, have regularly practiced this for millennia. They were keen on observing their wildlife prey or competitors, which they would later depict on cave walls. They carried into the caves a strong mental image of the animals within themselves. In doing this transformation some sort of trance was involved. More than an ecstatic stage, this could have been something like a deep concentration leading to an intellectual communication with the outer world – shamanism? We think that they prepared themselves for hunting by previsualizing and thus predict the (yet invisible!) animal moves, and so effectively plan the following chase. For them, carrying out a succesful hunt was a matter of survival and thus knowledge of the outer world and of the species living in it was everything. This tradition dates as back as 32,000 years ago, at least: the age of the graffiti found in the famous cave “Chauvet” of France.

Needless to say, all this easily applies to wildlife photography. The late photographer Galen Rowell in one of his essays poignantly wrote about the importance of “seeing from the heart” as basis to take a memorable image. An image that he explains is born deep in ourselves but which somehow eventually “happens” in front of our camera. Our job, then, is to conceive this mind picture; exploit our knowledge of the subject or the area in order to be at the right place at the right time and put in practice our very best technique to translate this image into a timeless photograph of it. Something to preserve the moment and share it with others. Doesn’t it sound familiar?

Nobody invents anything new, we all know that, but it fascinates me to think that with our beloved passion we are simply keeping on doing what people started practicing thousands and thousands of years ago. After all, wasn’t a renowned cave art expert, Jean Clottes, to define art as “the projection of a strong mental image on the world”?

Yet, despite this ancient and amazing adaptation of our advanced primate brain, each of us shows a different way to undertake this process. And is this very individual approach to the realization of a previsualized image is what we call “style”. In a nutshell, the influence of personal vision on some physical and technical moves/choices.

But then, how is this “vision” born? As a wildlife enthusiast, I subconsciously started nurturing my imagination already a child. Beautiful book illustrations and cartoons on TV shaped my first perception of the natural world. Later, with magazines and nature documentaries, but also with movies and fictionary literature, my mind bestiary grew and with this the empirical scenery in which I now move and operate as a photographer. My greatest passion is to look for rare and skittish species and photograph them in their habitat. As also many of you surely know, it is so difficult to portray something that demands so much work just to be seen… To achieve this, everything must first start in the mind. The process begins with me fantasizing of something – an image from the past that lied somewhere in my grey matter pops out and triggers an idea. I then strive to make that idea (my vision) meet reality by phisically and intellectually operate. Surely, this happens only sometimes, but everything is about that powerful drive that comes from inside. Photography becomes then a mere excuse: the fullfillment is all in the process. To better explain this, let me borrow again some words from a French, my friend and photographer, Laurent Nedelec: “My favourite process starts with a dream of a picture. I then undertake my quest with the subject and, when it all comes together, it ends with a memorable picture. It enriches myself.” Amen.

Although this could probably seem belonging to some purely individual experiences, it surely does not apply only to wildlife photography. This process deals also with all the other unpredictable variables (light, weather, timing, etc.) that we desperately try to control as outdoor photographers. We shall keep ourselves aware that there is not only luck nor technique behind a great image or a good photographer. Remarkable pictures start in fact already from the darkest corners of our mind and thrive on the soil fertilized by real life experiences. This precious vision is naturally born with us and it can surelly molds our actions. But is our responsability to keep on feeding it everyday with the emotions nature provide us with.

Website: brunodamicis.com

Instagram: @brunodamicisphoto

 

*Many thanks to Bruno D’Amicis in name of Young Nature Photographers community for his contribution with this article.

11 Apr 2018

Interview – Lasse Kurkela

Lasse Kurkela (b. 2003)  is a young nature photographer from Southern Finland and he has been interested in nature and animals most his life. Lasse with his family has spent a lot of time out in nature. Lasse has received several awards for his photographs.

He have been awarded in many international nature photography competitions and he received recently a very special distinction, the annually environmental achievement award from his home town in Finland.

 

Hello Lasse, first of all, thanks for joining youngnaturephotographers community! We have prepared few questions for you, to know more about you and about your passion, nature photography. Here we go!

 

First things first. When this adventure started? When your passion for nature photography began.

I started photography because my father did it and i wanted to try it with him. – By the age 7 years Lasse started increasingly to photograph nature. Soon after he was traveling with his father around Finland and other Nordic countries photographing nature and animals.

 

What you enjoy the most about nature photography?

Most I enjoy seeing the animal or landscape after a long wait or preparations, then seeing the good photos in my camera


What is your next shot, what you would like to photograph…to travel…

I’d like to see a lynx but so far it has been too difficult.

What inspires you?

I’m inspired by the beauty of nature.

What is the best photo tip / recommendation that ever have told you?

The best tip I’ve heard is to be patient and humble.

 

What is your favourite picture?

My favorite picture is the wolverine and magpie, I was 9 years old when i took it.


Could you explain an exciting or memorable story lived on the field?

For sure!

In late October 2015 our friends told us that suddenly at their photohide they have seen wolves visiting, confirmed by automatic remote game camera. Two days later me and my father travelled the long 7 hours car drive to spend the weekend at that photohide in middle of remote forest, so just wolves around us.
During the long car drive on one Friday evening the owner of the photohide forwarded us frequently photographs from his automatic remote game camera placed at the photohide. Pack of five wolves was nearby the photohide most of the afternoon and evening. Latest game camera photographs arrived just 15min before we parked our car on side of a remote forest road, some 1km away from the hide. I walked very quietly towards the hide with my father in completely darkness and hoped that we wouldn´t scare the pack of wolves away when we were getting closer to the photohide.

-Scary to some, but not for a young nature photographer, … next morning Lasse got this photo: 

Another story…During the last couple years I have spent well over 50 days in photohides in trying to capture some photographs of wolves. Most of the times I have not gotten any photographs, but hoped for better luck next time. It has been particularly difficult to capture winter photographs. Winter of 2014-2015 I was total of 14 days in photohides hoping to be able to take photographs of wolves on snow. Out of those days I saw a wolf, between sunrise and sunset, only once – and this is the wolf.

This photograph was taken on 18. October 2014 from a photohide in remote forests of Joensuu, East Finland, nearby the Russian border. The frost on the ground is due to very cold morning temperature, -17 C°. I had been overnighting in the photohide with my father for the second night already. During the night we didn’t have heating on, because any smell, sound or light could have scared the wolves. Luckily I had a new very warm winter sleeping bag…
When I woke up that morning I saw the pack of wolves far away in the distance, but unfortunately they all left just before sunrise. We had already decided to leave the photohide, but luckily we waited for some more time as this young wolf in the photograph suddenly appeared almost one hour after the pack of wolves had left the area.

This wolf came straight towards the photohide from the forest behind. The wolf took some time to observe perhaps for the other wolves and also tried to capture ravens irritating him. Luckily my camera was pointing towards the wolf and I quickly started to take photographs carefully one by one, with my camera set in quiet mode and wrapped with some textiles to further reduce shutter noise.


On our way back home my father told me, that he had been very worried that moment, that I would somehow miss this unique opportunity to photograph the wolf, by using some wrong camera settings. Afterwards he saw from my photographs that I didn’t – and I guess he is also happy to be here today with me

Short story for this: https://lassekurkela.kuvat.fi/kuvat/Palkittuja+valokuvia+…+Awarded+photographs/20130901-_LD41944.jpg

 

What you would like to share with other young nature photographers?

Mainly what I would like to share with other photographers is to Be patient and enjoy the moment, and don’t expect too much from yourself.

Working in something new?

Not really, we travel as we please and based on current events.

What photographers inspire you?

Hannu Hautala and Eero kemilä, both are very experienced photographers.

Many thanks for the interview Lasse. We wish you the best!

You can find our more about Lasse at:  www.lassekurkela.kuvat.fi