Q&A

-How did you first become interested in photography?

After finishing my apprenticeship as a boatbuilder in Germany, I was keen to top-up my skills with the Italian way of craftsmanship so I moved to Italy. To capture all the new impressions I borrowed an old 35 mm Praktica from my parents and started to learn the essentials of photography while reading photography books at night.

A few years later, I founded my own company back in Germany to build and repair yachts. That was the time when I switched from film to digital to create product pictures more easily. It was a whole new experience and photography quickly became a more and more important part of my life.

-What is your typical technical setup?

Most of my shots are taken on a tripod. Sometimes it hurts carrying a sturdy tripod for hours while finding the right spot but it is absolutely essential while shooting landscapes.

During the day you might normally get away shooting handheld but as I often use 8 – 10 Stop ND filters with long exposures the tripod is indispensable.

-What words best describe your style of photography?

I think my style is in constant flux. At the moment it is more minimalistic. I try to declutter my compositions to give the main subject more space to breathe. At the same time it gives the viewer more room to experience the scene.

-Is there a theme or concept that runs throughout all of your work?

For my landscape shots, it is oneness and tranquility, the perfection in nature.

-What is your post-production workflow like?

First, I download all files to a separate hard drive and immediately back them up to another drive. After the first browse over, I categorise all by rating and tagging them in Bridge.

Before opening any files in Photoshop, I usually check whether the monitor needs to be re-calibrated to avoid some disappointments down the line. If it is a single image, I open it straight in Photoshop, duplicate the background layer and convert it in to a smart object. If the image was taken with a wide angle lens I straighten the horizon and leading lines by applying the Adaptive Wide Angle filter. After these perspective corrections I apply the Camera Raw filter and in most cases the outcome is what I am looking for.

If I create a panorama, it is slightly different. First I open all images in Camera Raw to adjust the Lens Correction and Vignetting of all images at once. After opening all files in Photoshop I use Photomerge to stitch all images together to create a seamless panorama. From this point the workflow is the same as for a single image starting with the Adaptive Wide Angle filter.

-What is your dream project?

There are so many dream projects, e.g. Antarctica, Kamchatka, Namibia…

-In your opinion, what makes a truly great landscape?

A complementary balance between the foreground, the subject and the background. Captures taken at a time or from an angle which the viewer would not normally experience.

-What is your creative process like? What are you start, middle and end points?

In most cases it starts with an idea. Then I search for a location, visit the location as often as possible, then plan the shot and wait for the right weather conditions. I often use an app called PhotoPills to know exactly the position of the sun or the moon at a given time. I aim to arrive at the location half an hour before the actual shooting time to set everything up and take some test shoots. Here in Hong Kong I had to experience that half an hour is often not enough though. At some rare spots along the skyline for special events like the sea fog there is a big crowd and a lot of competition to get the best spot. Sometimes you have to be there 4-5 hours before.

-What is your top technical tip?

Know your kit inside out.

-What was the best career advice you were ever given?

Have great goals and even if they seem unachievable, see them through one step at a time. Believe in your art – you do not need other people’s approval.