Follow the steps editors pick- Landscape gallery

Follow the steps editors pick- Landscape gallery
on NatureScapes.Net

Montagne des Allebasses
Altitude, 1365 m.
PNR Livradois Forez | Auvergne |France

Summit-Montagne-des-Allebasses_6
See blog post: – Emptiness – for more images, Montagne des Allebasses

Some feedback so far:

  • Wonderful image. I usually get frustrated when I see footprints on an otherwise immaculate snow cover.
    You used it to tell a story. Great job!
  • Great composition, wonderful details in the snow……and I just love the Fox tracks, excellent!
  • Perfect! A good eye in composing this…well done!
  • very pleasing image
  • Very beautiful composition.
  • Very compelling image. Great detail capture in the snow up close. Well done.
  • Nice use of the elements to introduce a strong leading line into the distance where that lone tree is.
  • Gorgeous!
  • Lovely scene
  • The isolation here is excellent!

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Other editors picks in 2013:

Interview-series: Alessandra Meniconzi

AleFinlandia_02 2Interview Alessandra Meniconzi
by Kristel Schneider

‘ …I am attempting to document the remaining indigenous people who are still living as they have had for thousands of years…’

I got acquainted with Alessandra’s work through her photo series “Nenets, the last nomads of Artic Siberia”. Taken by the pureness of the images I wanted to see more of what she did and started following her work. Alessandra is a photographer of indigenous people and traditional cultures. She prefers rough faraway places, mountainous sites and deserts. A closer look at her portfolio will make you feel the love and passion she has for her subjects in the way she captures the real beauty and pureness of these places and their inhabitants.

1 Q: Can you introduce yourself in a few lines, explain your background and how you got introduced to (nature) photography?
A: I was born in the south of Switzerland and I graduated from the College of Arts as a graphic designer. After working several years in different companies I took a 4- month trip to the Indian Himalayas. I first used the camera to document my trip around Asia just to show the images to my family and close friends. At that time it never crossed my mind to be a photographer, it just happened some years later. My career was launched when I submitted photos of people of some Chinese minorities to a magazine. Today my work centers on the ancient heritage, customs, spirituality, and daily life of indigenous people who are strongly connected to nature and whose traditional cultures are at risk of vanishing. Photography, for me, is still a strong passion, it is my life and I never I consider it as a job even if today I sell my images.

2 Q: What originally triggered your interest in indigenous people and traditional cultures?
A: What motivates me the most the interaction between wild places and ancient cultures, as well as a fascination with native people who subsist in isolated regions of the world, and a profound respect for them. I strive to portray the lives of indigenous people with authenticity, insight and sensitivity. The more encounters with the multitude cultures and traditions, the more I realize that we are losing our cultural richness through globalization. Sometimes, I regret that nowadays most people, magazines, and even the news mostly focus on the fragility of nature and wildlife. We should not forget that our planet is inhabited by an incredible kaleidoscope of ethnic groups, each with their own social and cultural traditions that have to be preserved. They all belong to the patrimony of mankind as a whole !

3 Q: By looking at the destinations you photographed you must put a lot of time in preparing your trips. Can you explain how you proceed and if you plan to do this all alone again?
A: I choose my locations according to my personal interest. My favorite places are a mix of wild places and minority people who keep the cultural and social traditions strong. The remote corners of Asia are still my favorite places to travel, as well as how you can approach them with photography. I avoid the places where all the tourists go ; I always look for more remote locations. Even for popular subjects, I try to find an unusual way to photograph them. If I go for a special assignment or for my private project I prefer to travel just with a close friend . That way I am more flexible and the photographic results are much better.

Over my trips I have also hitch-hiked, traveled on public buses and trains. I rent a car when there is no other way to reach the destination I want. By traveling on a mountain bike, I have learned not to haste and to cultivate the spirit of adaptation; but especially to be careful and to pick up what there is around for me. I don’t like to travel with big tour groups: you have to follow a guide and you are not free to go or stay wherever you like. And what if you have a lot of photographs to shoot of the same subject at the same place? Moreover, I don’t like to be driven by someone.

Before the internet it was more difficult to plan a trip, to have fast contact with local people abroad or to see what a place looked like. Today thanks to the internet things have been easier than ever. However I love both ways to plan a trip. Both have their pros and their cons.

With the internet the images of the place that you want to visit are valuable pieces of advice. These images can give you an idea of the location you want to visit. But it is important to read books or articles about your destination and study the itinerary on a map. Depending on the destination, I search for a specialized travel agency to organize a tour for a small group or just for one person. I send them my itinerary and sometimes I ask for suggestions. This works very well. I like to be surprised by the place I travel to and sometimes the journey changes from the original plan. Often when you travel you discover new places and you add these locations to the long list of your future travels!

4 Q: When I look at your images two words come to my mind: pureness and light. You have a way of capturing people in a very innocent and pure way and combine this with beautiful nature details and light. Some scenes can be prepared and anticipated, but a lot of them are the result, I think, of being at the right place at the right time. How long do you generally stay on one location and do you go back to the same place?
A: I try to spend time with them and learn about their social customs and traditions. We need to discover one other. If you respect and understand people of different cultures, it is much easier to capture their essence. I will never insist on taking a picture of someone who doesn’t give me the permission. I am a guest in their land, so respect is my first priority. I don’t like to just take pictures of a place or people that will be seen an “icon”  or just because they are nice. If I work like that I feel that I give just the surface of the subject whom I photographed. My intention is to go beyond the surface. I have learned to go back to some places, meet the same people again, wait until the light is the best, experiment with different lenses, vantage points and different techniques.
It is not easy to make people feel comfortable in front of big lenses and professional cameras but it is possible. There is not a secret technique to take pictures with comfortable subjects; the time that you spent with them beforehand is the important and essential thing to do. What is important too is to learn about social custom and traditions. When you work in intimate situations with people, you need time to discover one another. When I meet new people, I like to explain my intentions, sometimes I need an interpreter (I will prefer someone who lives in the same place with the same culture – better someone local, friend or relative that speak a little bit of English). Other times I draw what I would like to shoot. But it is mainly with a smile or a friendly gesture that I am able to explain my photographic intention. The first thing that I have learned is to read their reaction and understand if they like to be my “model” for a while. If you respect and understand people (of every culture) it is easier to capture the essence and the feelings of the subject. I will never insist for a picture of someone who doesn’t give me the permission or refuse to be photographed.
Photography is another way to express your personality. When you press the shutter release of the camera your feelings and the way you see the world materialize. The camera is not the issue; the true factor is who stands behind it. To take photos is a kind of meditation: I need to have a free mind to find a good place and the time to concentrate. At home l always review my images closely, I am very critical with my work. And I try to learn from my mistakes and I wonder how I will make better pictures the next time I do.

5Q What are your photography goals, destinations for 2014 and what would you like to achieve ?
A: For more than a decade I have worked extensively in remote areas of Asia, documenting minority people and their traditional cultures. More recently, I have expanded my efforts to encompass Arctic and sub-Arctic regions that are being threatened by climate change, development, and resource extraction.
In the Far North, I focus on indigenous arctic people, their daily lives and customs, their relationships with nature, and their struggle to preserve their ancient cultures and maintain their ethnic identities in the face of climate change and the pressures of the modern world. Drawn to the harsh beauty and isolation of the Arctic, and concerned about the transformation occurring there due to rising temperatures and modernization, I am attempting to document the remaining indigenous people who are still living as they have had for thousands of years. I am attempting to preserve a compelling visual record of their vanishing ancestral traditions. When I work in the Arctic I feel that I make real contact with the power of nature. And by interacting closely with the native people there, I’m able to learn about and document their unique way of life in connection to the rhythms of nature. I’m trying to create images of these people and their cultures before they disappear.

6Q Share with us one of your favorite personal photographs? And tell the story behind it?

CHINA

For a week, I went on excursions around the most panoramic locations of the Ailao Mountains in China. At the highest point of the mountain, a spectacular natural amphitheater appeared before my eyes. With the moving of the clouds and the rising of the sun, an extraordinary atmosphere that almost feels magical, I was captured by the splendor of the unusual scenery. The wind hit me with its gusts without a break. Taking photographs with the tripod became an almost impossible task. The day appeared to be misleadingly sunny; in the blink of an eye thick fog transformed into thick clouds filled with rain, which quickly blackened the sky. The sky in this area is nearly always cloudy and for over six months a year the entire region is wrapped in thick fog. I was able to take this image when, for a very short moment, blue sky reflected into the water below.

7Q: Do you have any exhibitions or other events coming up?
A: On 25 January I had a Slideshow in Italy. I presented my journeys to Arctic Siberia with the Nenets people.
In spring I have another exhibition but not the date and location is not decide yet. I will let you know.

Before the interview Alexandra had a look at Kristel’s website (www.kristelschneiderphotography.com) and picked out two images that really popped out for her and she explains why:

Winter is the most magical time of the year to shoot.
This image from the tree (tree gallery)  is pretty meditative and give me a sense of calm and silence.
I can call this image; Winter of Solitude !

I like the pictures of flowers (plant and mushroom gallery).  They express the delicacy and beauty. My favorite is this one from the Spring snowflakes.
The soft wash of the foreground has a strong emotional response for the focus flower as subject.
It is a nice and vibrant artistic interpretation.

Coming up next, in the “Interview-Series” : Cindy Jeannon, don’t miss it!
See other interviews here

50 Awesome Photo Workshops Around the World



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Guess what!

Visions and Nature’s :Tuscany of Auvergne workshop is one of them !

Photoshelter made a list of just some of the photography classes happening around the world in 2014 and in chapter: outside of the U.S., Visions and Nature’s Tuscany of Auvergne is listed.

France: Kristel Schneider is teaching a 5-day workshop in Tuscany of Auvergne, a photo-holiday and learning experience wrapped into one: Aug. 24 -28th

For more information about this workshop/short photo holiday: see Tuscany the Auvergne or read the whole tour outline here.

To see the list of all the 50 awesome photo workshops happening around the world, click here.

Emptiness on the summit

– Emptiness –

Montagne des Allebasses Altitude, 1365 m. PNR Livradois Forez | Auvergne |France

Summit-Montagne-des-Allebasses_6

The last couple of days I visited the summit of Montagne des Allebasses twice, and each time the weather conditions were totally different. This is what makes going back to the same location so interesting, it never looks the same and light conditions change very rapidly, especially when you’re on a high altitude. I just love walking into the emptiness with my snow shoes. The sound, the view of such a huge open space in-front of my eyes make me feel so small. Sometimes the overwhelming beauty of such a scenery, the emptiness around me can be difficult to capture in just one shot. It’s at that moment that I am happy to see lines in the field, or fox-tracks. I just want to follow these tracks and explore the same route this animal followed before I did. You can see the zigzag in the open field, wandering, looking for food. Following the route, it was important for me not to step into hidden holes the wetland is known to have underneath the snow. The trees on the summit were not totally covered with snow anymore, the warm temperatures had removed the heavy loads from the branches. But there was just enough left for me to capture the winter spirit.

On the second day there was a lot of wind and the sun was already very low. The summit did not only feel cold but it also looked very cold. The peaceful empty scene  of the day before had now transformed into a rough textured snow field. The wind was blowing the snow over the ground and the sunlight was changing fast with the moving clouds in the back. There was no use of putting on my tripod and because of the low angle I chose I had to be very careful not to get the full blast into the camera lens. And at one point I was not alone anymore, two people and a dog popped-up from behind, this made my ‘empty’ scene look totally different again. Summit-Montagne-des-Allebasses_12

Interview-Series: Orsolya Haarberg

Orsolya Haarberg

Interview Orsolya Haarberg
by Kristel Schneider

‘ Nature is pure spirit, it is the biggest artist. If you want to document its art, you have to see  Art in nature’

Brown algaes in sand and snow. Lofoten Islands, Norway.

2014, a brand new year and new resolutions abound, as always, sometimes never to see the light. Therefore, after a whole year dedicated to private commissions, I decided that 2014 was the year to follow up a project I had started in 2011, when I regularly published interviews of nature photographers whose work had an impact on my way to take photos and meant something to me. The 2014 Interview-Series will be, as my father would always put it, “the same but totally different” in the way that they will bring out the female photographers that have really inspired me over the years, and still do. And photographers I got introduced to, more recently.

Like the 2011-series , the new project will feature the photographers who, each in their own personal and specific approach, can be seen as landmarks in the world of nature photography.
The first one who nicely accepted to be part of the “Interview-Series” is Orsolya Haarberg, whose work I got introduced with, while browsing the results and prizes of the GDT European Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2011. Back then, she got highly commended, in the “Plants” category, for a very strong graphical image picturing seaweed. Since then I have followed her work and she has definitely inspired me a lot in looking at the tiny details of the world around me.

1 Q: Can you introduce yourself in a few lines, explain your background and how you got introduced to (nature) photography?
I was born in Hungary in 1977. Graduated as landscape architect and started my PhD studies in wildlife management before I turned full-time nature photographer at the age of 28. My mother played an important part in why nature photography became my hobby in the late ‘90s. I was drawing and painting a lot because of my studies, and she thought I might be interested in photography as well. She got her brother’s used Minolta camera for me – this is when my photographer career began…

2 Q: Your projects usually take place in the North Cape area. What originally triggered your interest for this region? In the beginning I did nature photography in my home country, and I never thought that photography could become my profession – in Hungary you cannot make a living from image sale as a nature photographer. I travelled to Norway because of my PhD studies – this is how I met Erlend Haarberg, my husband. He had already been an established nature photographer at that time and we thought we would try to make a living as freelance nature photographers together. We gave ourselves 3 years to try if it worked. This has happened 8 years ago, and we do better than ever

In Norway you can sell images mostly about Norway, so it makes sense for us to focus on photographing Norwegian landscapes and wildlife. On the other hand, Norway is a dream for a nature photographer. You can find wild landscapes, interesting wildlife, and you can move and work freely in the country. I really appreciate this as I grew up in Hungary, where you are much more limited in entering and photographing either state-owned protected areas or private lands.

But you are right – I am most interested in photographing the northernmost regions of Norway. I love open scenes, where the Earth meets the sky on the horizon: the sea and the barren landscapes. I also like snow-covered landscapes, and the long winters in the north give plentiful opportunities to photograph in such conditions.

 

3Q: In 2012 National Geographic Magazine sent you and Erlend Haarberg on an assignment to photograph the unique coast of Norway.
Can you tell the readers how you prepared yourself for such an assignment and how you organized it all? I mean, how do you spread the work between you two ; do you mainly focus on the subjects you like the most then,as individuals, or do you really work as a team on all the subjects? I often see publications under your both names, do you also work on assignments on your own?

We work as a team, which means that we usually have common projects and most of the time we travel together, but we work on our own. We like each others company a lot, we inspire and support each other, and traveling together reduces our travel expenses. When we arrive to a location where we want to work a longer period, we explore the area separately and find different topics to photograph. It may also happen that we photograph at the same spot because one single topic has the best potential, but even then we do not return with the same images. So our work is complementary.

When you see publications credited to both of us (like in NGM), it means that the article contains images that are both Erlend’s and mine.

Regarding the Norway story, we had a list of places to photograph. In case we had several potential topics to photograph at a certain time of the year (like in the best autumn weeks), we split up and traveled alone.

OHA-0356

4Q: When I look at your images my personal favorites are the intimate landscapes with beautiful details. You have a way of capturing structures and details from a landscape that will be overlooked by many people. Do you think a person must have a feeling for art or graphics to translate the landscape scene into an intimate image?
Nature is pure spirit, it is the biggest artist. If you want to document its art, yes, you have to see Art in nature. You must have the ability to see a level of harmony in chaos. I spend a lot of time in nature to find new and interesting subjects, and once something catches my eye I do not stop until the captured image is balanced, the scene is simplified to its essence and keeps surprising me even after looking at it again and again.

5Q: What are your personal photography goals for 2014 and what would you like to achieve in photography in the long term?
I would like to always have the freedom to discover landscape and wildlife that I can transform into good images. And I would like to continue working on well-defined long term projects. This is my personal goal for 2014 and in the long term.

6Q Can you share with us some of your personal photographs you like best?
And can tell us about the conditions and your emotions when you captured this image.

I would like to share a landscape photograph as one of my personal favorites. I like it when a landscape image is complex and when several things are going on at the same time. Apart from an interesting scene, good – mostly natural – light and good composition, you also need a little extra that makes the image unrepeatable… It is difficult, and digital revolution did not help at all to make it easier.

Therefore I would like to share the story of my image about the Hverfjall crater, which is a very good example to show you the challenges in landscape photography.

The Hverfjall crater in early spring with full Moon, Iceland.

Hverfjall in Iceland is a well-known landmark that is rather difficult to photograph. The beautiful shape of the crater is visible from a certain direction only, and as there are villages, farm houses and electric lines close to the volcano, it is better to photograph it from a distance. I finally found the right angle, but a lot of other things needed to be fulfilled.
First of all, the beautiful structure of the outer slopes of the crater is visible only when it is covered by a thin layer of snow. In January and February 2011, there were no such conditions, winter set in in the middle of March.
If I wanted to photograph the crater with the Moon, I needed the Moon rising at the right place, which narrowed down my possibilities to a single day in 2011: the 18th of March. A clear day, of course, otherwise the Moon was not visible.
And I needed a foreground. There was a thin layer of ice on lake Myvatn, but it wasn’t really interesting enough, so the question of the foreground was still open when I left my base to take the image I wanted. It was overcast, but I was optimistic…
And when I arrived to the spot I had previously chosen, the wind rose and quickly blew the clouds away. At some places, the ice covering the lake was so thin, that the wind broke it and water could reach the surface of the ice through some hair-thin holes. The water captured the snow which was carried away by the strong wind during the hours I was taking photos. The white stripes of snow on the foreground literally built up before my eyes during the time span of one or two hours!
I had to leave quickly after I took the image, because right behind me there was a wall of snow blown by the storm, and I had a one-hour ski-trip crossing half-frozen lakes in the darkness, back to the car. It was a truly memorable moment…

7Q Do you have any exhibitions or other events coming up ?
In March 2014 I will have an exhibition and a picture show at the Norwegian Nature Photo Festival in Ski and another lecture in Sweden one week earlier.
I try not to commit myself to too many events before late October (a peak in the festival season) so that I have enough freedom to do my planned field work when conditions are best.
OHA-2008-08-09-122417

Orsolya had a look at Kristel’s website (http://www.kristelschneiderphotography.com) and picked out some images that really popped out for her. She explains why.

Most of these images were taken during the transition from autumn to winter or from winter to spring which are very exciting times for photography. In these periods it is not the green colours that dominate the landscape but different shades of grey vivified by some yellows from the late autumn or early spring days. These low-key colours are very pleasant for my eyes. I also found the subject and the composition very interesting on all the selected photographs.

Orsolya’s picks  from Kristel’s images:

Coming up next, in the “Interview-Series” : Alessandra Meniconzi, don’t miss it!

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