Most important advice

Look at the world around you with your eyes wide-open. Like a child. There are endless possibilities for photography around. While photographing a sunset look at what’s behind it might be even more beautiful.

This is a series of posts with translation of my interview published in Russian at http://landscapists.info/vitaly-prokopenko. The question from the interview: “Give one Very Important Advice to our readers?” This is the last question from the interview.

Photography – hobby or work?

This is a series of posts with translation of my interview published in Russian at http://landscapists.info/vitaly-prokopenko. The question from the interview: “Is photography your hobby or job? Or maybe both at the same time?”

Photography is a hobby for me. I thought of making it my job but talking with photographers that made it their job I abandoned that idea. There is a lot of work goes into having photography as your job that is not directly related to making photographs like marketing, finances, workshops, etc. I’m not interested at all in that. I might as well to have a job completely unrelated to photography and do photography I like in the remaining time. After all I probably spend as much time doing photography I like as some professional photographers.

As far as money concerned I think the only way to make money in photography is to photograph weddings, portraits or advertisement.

By the way Brooks Jensen wrote it in a funny way in his book Letting Go of the Camera. Though he has built a successful business based on his love of photography.

Why photography?

This is a series of posts with translation of my interview published in Russian at http://landscapists.info/vitaly-prokopenko. The question from the interview: “What’s photography in your life? What do you do besides photography?”

What’s photography in my life? – It is a hard and complex question. A short answer: it is a meaning and passion, a way of self-expression.

Besides photography I have job and family. Before my son’s birth I was also snowboarding a lot. After my son’s birth one of my hobbies had to go. Photography stayed.

Best and worst moments

This is a series of posts with translation of my interview published in Russian at http://landscapists.info/vitaly-prokopenko. The question from the interview: “What are your most favorite and least favorite moments while photographing?”

Favorite moment #1: I get a photograph just the way I wanted or even better. Or a surprise – did not expect to find such beauty but nature presents a surprise and I am impressed take my camera out and start photographing.

Favorite moment #2: After hard day of photographing tired and excited at the same time after seeing lots of beautiful places, talk slowly with fellow photographers over dinner about things we’ve seen, impressions we’ve got and photographs we’ve made, relive the day’s experience and get a feeling the this day in my life was worth it.

Least favorite moment #1: When someone comes over and starts asking about my camera, lenses or simply compliment me on my gear. Gear is not why or what I’m interested in photography. It is just a tool, not a goal. Better ask me what I see, what I like about a landscape, how I compose a photograph.

Least favorite moment #2: When someone asks me if I got a good picture. While in a field I don’t know, I’ll know when I get back home. Small preview on a camera screen gives too high level overview of a photograph. I cannot say whether it is good or not.

Workflow

This is a series of posts with translation of my interview published in Russian at http://landscapists.info/vitaly-prokopenko. The question from the interview: “Could you describe in a few words how you do post-processing of your photographs? What software do you use, what workflow?”

I use Adobe Photoshop for editing and post-processing of photographs. I start with reviewing photographs in Bridge in slideshow mode. I stop slideshow on photographs that catch my attention, open them in Photoshop, touch up slightly (to bring them all to some common denominator) and save them off to a different folder. After that I continue with the slideshow. At the end I may have 10 images selected out of 500 taken.

Then I start rating selected photographs. Rating 5 is given to photographs that I think is some of my best work (not just on that particular trip but in general). Rating 4 is for good photographs, 3 – good quality but static, boring, does not move me. 2 – not good, 1 – can be deleted. (Jumping a bit ahead – in the end I show to others only photos which I rated 4 or 5 stars.)

Then I do accurate post-processing of the photographs with 4 and 5 star rating (and some with 3 stars). This can take a few days. I try not to rush thru this process.

Next step: leave photographs a side for a while – a month or two – to let immediate feelings about the trip to wear off. I always want to show them immediately but every time I do so I regret about it later.

Here is why I regret showing photographs immediately. After a while i go back and look at photographs with a fresh perspective and many of them look differently to me. Rating of some of them may change. Some need more detailed processing. I realize that some might look better in black-and-while others may look better in color. Some might benefit from a slightly different angle and I go back to originals and see if I took that photograph from that different angle.

Only after going thru this strict editing process I, finally, start showing photographs to friends, observe their reaction and listen to their comments. I rarely re-adjust photographs at this point, I do changes a rating though. For example, if I see that a particular photograph does not evoke any emotion, people just pass thru it, I might lower its rating even if I love it.

The last step I started doing only recently. In a set of photographs I look for a common theme. It might be a place where they are taken, common subject, color palette, or something else. When I have enough photographs around common theme, they become a basis for a folio. The idea is to tell a story with a series of photographs.

I do the final pass of adjustments in photographs selected for a folio, to make sure they have saturation, contrast, etc that make them look better together. I add titles, description. And then publish them on my website.

Tunnel View in Rain

Tunnel View in Rain

During my last trip to Yosemite the valley was both unbelievably beautiful and crowded. On the second day when we went to Tunnel View during midday, it was packed, we could not find a parking spot. Then the rain started and washed away all the tourists and photographers. But the rain is one of the best weather to photograph. Clouds create drama, light is constantly changing, rain adds depth and mist starts rising from ground heat up by the sun earlier. Just watching the scene changing continuously right in front of your eyes is awe-inspiring.

Tunnel View at Sunset

Tunnel View at Sunset

I was on a trip to Yosemite last week. Now I’m back home and started working thru the photographs that I took on the trip.We were very lucky – the sky was gorgeous three out of four days we spent in Yosemite.

Here is a classic "Tunnel View" of Yosemite valley. This photograph was taken at sunset on the first day of our trip.

I find myself constantly drawn to black-and-white photography. This image is a great example of where black-and-white look great (and better than color one) for my taste.