Tell us a bit about yourself, Nelleke! How did you get into photography and why?Photography is a (big) hobby of mine, I’m not a professional photographer. I started photography seven years ago, just a little while after I joined deviantART. I used to draw a lot back then and that’s why I joined this site. I didn’t care much for photography, I cared about the fantasy genre: Photography was too ‘real’ for my taste. Drawing took me a LOT of time though… I’m a nitpicker, and they took me ages to complete, although unfortunately that wasn’t very visible in my drawings. I had gotten a small compact camera for my birthday, for taking holiday pictures. At some point I got so frustrated at drawing taking me so long that I tried taking some photos. I noticed how fast it was to take a picture of things already there (yes, I was a bit slow). I got sucked in, and I started paying more attention to photographs on deviantART as well. These beautiful photographs showed what photography could achieve, and that was great to aspire to.
With photography I’m attempting to capture the fantasy atmosphere, that I unfortunately will never be gifted enough for to draw. I like that you can capture fragments of fantasy worlds in our own real world, if you’re in the right place at the right moment, or if you’re looking well enough. That thought has something magical for me.
What do you do to further that fantasy atmosphere and to really emphasise it in your photographs?I try to avoid having things in my photos that distract from the atmosphere I'm trying to achieve, like ugly poles standing in the way, signs, Nordic walkers wearing brightly coloured jackets... I try to photograph in angles that maximize the fantasy atmosphere, and I keep my eyes out for things that would emphasize the atmosphere even more: A weirdly shaped tree branch, a particularly mossy tree, lonely walkers wearing black trench coats (if you're lucky), and I try to include them in the composition.
Besides that I never take photos when the light isn't right as light is everything, and I try to take photos when it's foggy. This does not only make the atmosphere more mysterious, but it also adds depth to a tree-scape, which makes it easier on the eyes. Afterwards I try to emphasize the atmosphere by post-processing, exaggerating the colours and contrast a bit or change the colours if necessary.
Why are you on deviantART?I think deviantART is a great place for feedback and for finding inspiration. It helped me improve and grow, and it still does.
What type of photography do you most like to do?I can’t completely deny I love forest photography. I’m a tree-addict. But I really like any type of photography as long as it’s got the right atmosphere.
What do you like and dislike about Animals, Plants and Nature photography?I love how nature can create scenes beyond my imagination, and how no single moment ever looks the same. I love how light, weather and season can make the same place look utterly and entirely different. I love how it can make a place I’ve been to a thousand times before look like somewhere I’ve never ever been. And I love how quickly moments change, because that makes capturing the right moment all the more special.
But, I have to admit that is also what I dislike about it. When there isn’t the right weather, not the right light, or when you can’t be there at the right moment, you get no photos. You can’t plan these things. You depend on the elements. But then again, there wouldn’t be much fun in it if you wouldn’t.
Do you post-process often?I always do at least some post-processing. If you get the right photo it doesn’t need much, for example just upping the contrast a bit. But I also change the colours a lot. I’m trying to achieve a fantasy atmosphere, and I use the post-processing to get the atmosphere I’m aiming for.
What are some of the key things that you focus on when post-processing?My basic post-processing exists out of upping the contrast and saturation. But I also like changing the colours, to create a different atmosphere.
Do you use a specific technique when shooting? What setting on your camera do you most like to use?That depends on the subject, but I do always play with my white-balance. Different white-balances can created very different atmospheres.
How do you know where to go to to find that perfect shot?There are a lot of forests and country estates where I live to which I’ve been going to when I was little, so there are a lot of places at hand to go to. But for my holiday for example I did a lot of online research to look for a photogenic destination.
What is your favourite place to shoot? How did you discover it?My favourite place to shoot is a lane in a forest belonging to a country estate. It looks like a forest cathedral, and it’s situated in a way that makes the sunrays fall perfectly through it in beams in the morning. I’ve known it since I was a child, but it wasn’t till I started with photography that I realised how photogenic it is: once I happened upon it with my camera on a foggy morning I was hooked. I must have seen it a hundred times now, but my heart still leaps when I see it on a misty morning.
You receive a lot of feedback on deviantART. How did you get to that stage, and what are your thoughts on receiving so much from the community?To be honest, I really have no idea. I’ve been on this site for seven years now and my photography sure sucked when I started, I really didn’t have many watchers the first years. There was no particular moment that changed... It gradually happened I think. The amount of feedback I get now still puzzles me every day. I think it’s amazing though!
What is your favourite piece and why?Aaaah that’s a difficult question… It’s so hard to compare photos! If I have to choose, I’ll choose a symbolic one: ‘My Own Ray Of Moonlight’
Because that photo stands more or less for how I experience photography: You’re living the daily life, doing your thing and going with the flow, and then suddenly out of nowhere you come across a piece of magic. Like a small window to something else. That idea is what I like about this photo.
What is your equipment list? What made you choose your equipment there?At the moment (since about 10 months) that’s my Nikon D90, a 55-300 mm lens, a 18-105 mm and a 50 mm lens. I use the first for forest photography because I find the zooming very helpful there. I use the 18-105 for landscapes for example recently in my holiday to Scotland. And I use my 50 mm for macro shots and portraits.
What motivates and inspires you to shoot?Nature and light inspire me, it’s literally painful not to take pictures when I come across a gorgeous nature scene. And of course the gorgeous photos here on deviantART inspire me. My father (also a hobby photographer) motivates me to get better equipment from time to time, when I’m being stubbornly attached to my old camera and don’t want to change, which isn’t very handy. And last, but very importantly, the feedback I receive here on deviantART motivates me to try harder and to get better. Without this feedback I don’t know if I would have even gotten into photography in the first place.
What has been one of your worst experiences with taking photographs?I think my worst experience is when I can’t take photos. Seeing the most gorgeous scenes, scenes you know will never ever repeat themselves, once in a life time moments: And not being able to take photos because you haven’t got your camera, or because other people are driving the car and they don’t see the big deal, or because stopping a moving train is illegal and you wouldn’t reach the emergency stop fast enough anyway. Obviously these scenes will be remembered as purely magical in my head, and they can bug for a long time!
What advice would you give to aspiring photographers?At the risk of sounding cliché: Light is so essential for photography. The right light can do incredibly much for a photograph, no matter what your subject is. It can turn an ordinary place or object into something magical. Seriously, it can turn your living room wall into Hogwarts. To practice with this you could place an object anywhere where it is somehow affected by the sun, make a photo every hour and compare them afterwards to see what the light does. Awareness of the light was very helpful to me.
Thank you Nelleke!
3wyl, posting on behalf of CRPhotography