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Jim Brandenburg is one of the most renowned nature photographers worldwide. For many years he worked for the American "National Geographic" and has travelled the entire world throughout his career.
We all know his photographs through numerous publications, exhibitons or even documentaries that he has filmed for television.
In 2008 FotoTV. was able to do an extensive interview with him, where we learned a lot of interesting things about how he grew up and the path he has followed throughout his career.
The positive feedback we received to the the aforementioned two-parter brought us to ask Jim if he would be interested in doing another interview. We had the chance to do this during his exhibition in Iserlohn, Germany.
A lot has changed since the last time we talked with him. He has moved away from the big business with the "Big Boy Cameras" and has equipped himself with a "Toy Camera" to help him get back to the roots.
Enjoy this new three part interview and let the views of an old master put their spell on you!
Photographer Martin Usborne lives in East London where he has his photographic studio. He is interested in the ever-curious relationship between humans and other animals. In this film he sits down with FotoTV to give more insight of himself and his work.
Usborne portrays a more quotidian facet of the world of canines with his series, “The Silence of Dogs in Cars.” And while dog photos are familiar, Usborne—who has a book published by Kehrer has successfully breached the genre of cute-dog photos. In carefully crafting each image, Usborne began with a sketch of the imagined photo before finding the dogs. He recruited subjects by approaching dog owners while walking his own dogs. He would then find the cars and locations. After the dog was found, he tried to match the dog to the car.
It might be easy to dismiss photographs of pets as merely cute—the Internet demonstrates that people are obsessed with them, and studies show they may be good for our health—but Usborne hopes his audience will see something more in his work. “When he finally took the first picture, he began to understand where it all came from: fears of being alone, unheard, fears of being like an animal with no way to express itself.
At the age of 15 he started taking pictures, now Florian Schulz frequently visits North America to photograph natural sites across the continent.
He is fascinated by encounters with wild animals, which often result in very special shots and memories. But his dedication goes beyond more photography as an art form.
The passion for his job made him actively support protection of endangered environments and species. For over 10 years he pursues the objective to establish "natural corridors" to connect separate habitats and enable animals to move around freely.
His conservation project is presented at schools, universities and was published as a book.
Manuel Presti, born in Rome, is really just a sideline photographer. However, he has already created some award-winning wildlife photos that inspire with their aesthetics and expression.
In this film he talks about his work, experiences with birds and bears and about his deeper motivation:
For Manuel Presti the main reason to pursue nature photography is to be in contact with nature. Environmental protection, or better protection of the world - that is in the first place for him.
Nature photographer Dietmar Nill sits down with FotoTV to discuss his early career and present position as a filmmaker of nature and wildlife videos.
Nill reflects on his first request from a client to film a water bat as it drinks, as the ideal moment and catalytic spark for him to begin venturing out into video filming of subjects well known to him. Seizing this moment as a perfect opportunity to further develop and hone his style, he began shooting with a digital camera and with a few clicks of the camera’s buttons became a filmmaker. It fascinated him so much that he has slowly began the transition a year ago to become a full time filmmaker, even though he still shots still photos with a camera for time lapse photography, landscape and sunset photos.
Nill had an idea to photograph bats at night so he had a photoelectric sensor built especially for him because there was no available light on his locations and one of the problems he faced was the trigger delay time of the cameras he was using.
So now he always uses a photoelectric sensor for making his photographs of the animals in the wild. In this respect, the animals are literally taking a photo of themselves because they trigger the sensor with their movement, something Nill describes as fascinating.
Nill’s photos start out as an idea and he works toward that idea regardless of how long it takes---even years, until he can actually create the photo, with everything in place, all materials and equipment, he sets out to make the ideal photograph. He was born with a talent, and that talent is he can build a relationship to the animals he photographs, knowing how to act around the animals and how the animals will react to him and what they will do, even before he takes the picture. He has a lot of experience and therefore recognizes their behavior, foreseeing what will take place in the next minute enabling him to be prepared to photograph or film the animal to create stunning images.
Scottish wildlife photographer, Niall Benvie, sits down with FotoTV to discuss his career as a wildlife photographer and nature conservationist. His close involvement with 2020Vision.org, "For a Wilder Britain" is testimony to his dedication to increase public awareness and teach the vital steps to restore and recreate the natural habitats of Britain. Through his photos, combined with words to give context to his pictures, Benvie creates images of immediacy that reflect on the loss and conservancy of natural elements, wild animals and human cultural activities, due to climate change and human encroachment.
Being a second-generation naturalist, Benvie followed in the footsteps of his father to become a farmer. It was this intimate relationship with nature that led him to become a full time wildlife photographer. Leading the call for action to preserve nature's most vital resources and free habitats, Benvie's photographs surpass just being for entertainment purposes, his images intend to educate on the important connection between the three primary life forces that exist on this planet; nature, animals and human kind.
Theo Bosboom is a nature photographer from the Netherlands. His career in photography started in 2003 after a photo trip to southern Africa and Namibia. Deeply impressed by the wildlife and the wonderful landscapes there, and on looking at his pictures back home, he realized just what a powerful medium photography could be.
So he joined a local nature photography club in Nijmegen and was inspired by the work done there. He saw that it was possible to make great pictures not only in faraway places but also right on his own doorstep around Arnhem.
Theo’s main focus is on landscapes. But unlike most landscape photographers he makes great use of the telephoto lens. He uses it to pick out details and structures that then have strong graphic impact verging on the abstract.
At the other extreme Theo does a lot of macro-photography. "Here the great thing is", he says, "that it can be done anytime, any place and under any weather".
A major project over the last few years has been photographing in Iceland. On visiting there in 2006 he saw that it was "a dream for photographers" but that many people had of course already taken great photographs there. To find something new he decided to go back several times a year, often in winter, avoiding the tourists in spring and summer, and to explore away from the beaten track.
Thanks to the Gulf Stream Iceland has a relatively mild climate. So to Theo's surprise it was raining when he first arrived in winter and the vegetation was green. But luckily after a few days it began to snow and "it turned the landscape into a magical place". For example the Jökulsárlón Glacier is "very special in winter: It looks different every day".
Working in Iceland is hard because the weather can change very quickly. Blizzards and sudden ice on the roads can make travelling risky. Four-wheel drive is a must.
Early in 2010 Theo witnessed and photographed the eruption of the volcano Eyjafjallajokull that, with its dust and ash cloud, disrupted air traffic in most of Europe.
Iceland is a great place for bird photography. There are a many breeding species, some of them, like the photogenic puffin, very interesting. The harlequin duck, for example, cannot be found anywhere else in Europe. And one can get surprisingly close to the birds because they are not so shy as in more populated areas.
Theo gives advice in this video to potential visitors to Iceland. If you are planning a photo trip you will need at least ten day to right round the island. If you have less time take a closer look at just one area. And if you only have a weekend or so stay in the southeast near Reykjavik, in the so-called 'Golden Triangle'. It includes the Goðafoss waterfall, and other great but less well-known waterfall and it is one of the few areas in Iceland where there are trees. Driving further east there is good chance of spotting reindeer. The coastline is in some places quite spectacular and one should also visit some geothermal hot spots to get a feeling for the power that formed the earth.
Theo's website at www.theobosboom.com has a lot of his great Iceland images and Theo generously makes an offer to help you if you are planning a visit there. Just send him an email.
There can hardly be anywhere offering a greater diversity of subjects for animal and landscape photographers than southern Africa. And world-renowned photographer Heinrich van den Berg has taken full advantage of this wealth.
He started taking photographs swhile on holidays with his family in the national parks of South Africa. This hobby eventually turned into a small family business. Now if they go on a photo trip together one will use a wide-angle lens and the other a telephoto. In this way each can concentrate on one type of shot and not have to worry about other kinds of photograph. "This kind of frees you up a lot", he says.
Heinrich grew up in the eastern coastal province of KwaZulu-Natal, which is very diverse with mountains, bush-veldt and coast. There are great mountain landscapes, with bird heights where one can photograph vultures and black eagles. The bush is particularly good for rhinos and cheetahs. And on the coast there are interesting animals such as the log-head turtle, and whales can be photographed from the beach. There are mangroves too with many smaller animals.
The third area in which he works is the western part of the country with its deserts and semi-deserts. The best place here, he maintains, is the Kalahari Desert, in particular the Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park. Here, he says, it is easy to get great photographs: The background is always out of focus, the colours are lovely and the light is beautiful. "It really is a dramatic place to photograph. In Namibia too there are many interesting kinds of animals like red-footed geckos or flamingos that one does not see in the wetter parts of the country.
The wildlife in the desert is very sparse and van den Berg has to drive around for a long time before finding something to photograph. But then it's really worthwhile. Alternatively he waits at an interesting looking place for something to happen. "Ninety nine percent of the time it's worth waiting, though".
On the danger aspect van den Berg says that it is very difficult to predict what animals are going to do. Especially leopards and hippo can change their mood very fast. Others, like the lion, are easier to 'read'. But one has always to be careful.
Initially Heinrich tried to capture animals full-frame. Now he often zooms back to get more of the environmen. This, he says, is as important as the animal itself. That way you can show the character of the animal better. The leopard, for example, is a very secretive animal. To show it sitting on a rock in an open area is not true to his nature. Much better would be a shot of the animal hiding in tree.
For the Animal Planet series on the Discovery Channel Heinrich made photographs of meerkats. Because these animals are the subject of a research project they are now habituated to humans and can be photographed at very close quarters. Heinrich used this opportunity to make photographs with a variety of wide-angle lenses and with flash lights, which didn't bother the animals at all.
Today, acclaimed nature photographer Winfried Wisniewski shares some of his insight on the dramatic change within nature photography during the past few years.
As a nature photographer, Wisniewski’s priority years ago was to create photo documents of nature, and for him it was primarily animals. The method back then was capture the object or animal in perfect sharpness. Unfortunately such styles of photos are no longer popular today and are more likely to be overlooked and thrown away by the photo editors of major magazines. Today it is about presenting nature and animals from an entirely different aspect.
Back when Wisniewski started photographing nature, most photographers had a background in biology. Today, it is the other way around; most come from a photography background, so the difference in perspective is quite clear and the focus even clearer.
Wisniewski goes on to explain in detail the evolution of nature photography and how styles have changed. Action photography is a term he uses often, as well as pointing out the difference between emotional photography and a photo with intensity, it is clear Wisniewski is a master of his work. Even if styles change, talent is innate and Wisniewski’s photos proves he has plenty of it.
Young Estonian nature photographer Sven Začek describes vividly in this video his photographic year, dominated as it is by the northern seasons.
Sven started taking photographs as a hobby in 2003 while still at University. In 2005 he turned his pastime into his profession. Interestingly, he is one of the coming generation of professionals whose first camera was digital and who have never experienced analogue photography.
Taken by his father-in-law on hunting trips for moose and wild boar, Sven came to enjoy nature and the outdoor life. When the hunting season had ended he returned to the wild, this time with a camera and a long telephoto lens. He got to know the places and the animals so well, especially the roe deer, that he later exclaimed, ˝I can’t kill these guys, I know them all!“ Estonia, though small, is blessed with beautiful landscapes that Začek brings magically to us.
The prices that Estonian nature photographers can get for pictures in their home country are very low. Začek therefore had initially to do other kinds of photography, run workshops and tours. However, now that he has an outstanding international reputation Sven can follow his passion single-mindedly.
Winter is his favorite time of year: “Tracks in the snow are like a book˝, he says. In spring nature goes ’boom’ – “there are so many birds!” As a kid he was always climbing trees: Now he uses this skill to photograph birds, sitting sixty feet above the ground, swaying gently in the breeze. In summer the wanderlust grabs him and he’s off walking and photographing the unique bog lands and forests and lakesides of Estonia. Then in autumn the bigger mammals come slowly into focus again. And so the cycle of the seasons turns.
Sven’s current preoccupation is with the intimate life of the Ural owl (Strix uralensis). He has been following one individual pair of owls for over a year. And in May, during the nesting time, he was with them in their tree almost every afternoon for six or seven hours. That's the kind of patience, dedication and endurance that it takes to be a top class naturalist and nature photographer.
Sven Začek has published more than a hundred articles on nature and photography. He is editor-in-chief of the nature photography magazine LoFo and co-founder of the most popular Estonian website on nature and nature photography. Visit his homepage for more links and to see more of Začek’s cool and stunning images.