Saturday, August 29, 2009



solitude by Villi.Ingi
In 2006 me and my girlfriend were on a vacation in Croatia on the island of Brac. We were having a nice day on the beach walking along the coastline when I noticed this girl standing on a rock quite close to the ocean she stood there and didn't move and she seemed so lonely. I had fallen some distance behind my girlfriend that was walking ahead of me so I only took this one photo of the girl as I walked by, I never saw her face. I rushed to catch up with my girlfriend and we had walked some distance when I looked back and the girl was still standing there.

Months afterwards I finally decided what I wanted to do with the photo and the end result is what you see here. I made the picture from the emotion I was getting from it. I put in the black background and the shaft of light and it just felt somehow right that way.

Oil Study
Oil study by Villi.Ingi
This image is from my earliest macro session. It has a special place among my work as this was the first time I discovered whole new worlds to explore through macro photography.

1: How long have you been involved in photography?

Since the summer of 2006 when the ad agency I work at decided to buy a digital SLR camera for work related projects. While using the camera for work I quickly realized that digital photography offered a new and exciting outlet to express myself as an artist and the rest is pictorial history :)

2: Equipment you use?
Canon EOS 40D

Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM

Canon EF 50mm f/1.4

Canon MP-E65mm f/2.8 1-5x Macro

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM

Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 L IS USM

Canon Speedlite 580EX

Canon Macro Twin Lite Flash MT-24EX

Manfrotto 055XPROB Tripod with 322RC2 Grip-Action Ballhead

For developing my images I mainly use Photoshop CS3 and Lightroom 2.0. I also use Lightroom for organizing my images. One of the most important tools I use is the Wacom Intuos3 pen tablet which is just fantastic when it comes to editing and working with images in a computer environment. The fact is that after I started using the pen tablet I rarely touch the mouse anymore as the pen tablet offers in my opinion a far more natural and precise interface with the computers workspace and software.

3: Mac or PC?

Certified Mac addict.

4: What inspires you?

How photography has given me a new way of looking at....well everything and then capturing it. You get to discover the world around you all over again. Also that ideas born in our imagination can become visuals that convey a story or invoke feelings in a viewer.

5: Preferred subject matter?

Things that are not always visible with the naked eye. 

6: Name one thing you haven't caught with the camera that you REALLY want to capture.

Well, I´d really like the chance to photograph a polar bear in it´s natural environment. I was in Scoresby Sund on the East Coast of Greenland for a week back in April. There had been a lot of Polar bear acitvity and sightings in the area just prior to my arrival and even on the day I arrived two bears (mother and cub) were spotted close to our cabin but they had left by the time I got there. But the whole week I was there not one bear made an apperance - guess they were camera shy :) 

7: When in doubt about your art, who do you confide in?

Myself. If in doubt I will walk away from what i´m doing, reboot my mind and come back to it later.
That usually does the trick....but it can sometimes take a while. I have dozens of projects patiently waiting my return.

8: Qualifications/training in anything? ie: Photoshop

I studied art & graphic design and I work as a graphic designer so I have a good relationship with the whole Adobe family but I mostly hang out with Ps, Lr and Ai.

9: Plans for the future?

No plans just dreams. If I was photographing professionally I´m sure I´d have plans for the future but for now at least I still like to dream.

10: In one word, describe your photography.

Friday, August 21, 2009



the path to the dream
the path to the dream by justbelightful
In this image, early morning steam rises as hot geothermal waters pour into the cool Yellowstone Lake. The wooden path leads from the dim twilight into the promise of a glorious dawn. I chose this image because it feels to me like an invitation, somehow appropriate at the start of an interview.

Impressionist Collage
Impressionist Collage by justbelightful
This is a collage made from images I created using a panning technique I’ve been using for the last year or so. I always wanted to be a painter, and it was with great excitement I discovered I could do so with a camera. Long exposures allow the colors and shapes to blur together in a painterly way as I move the camera as if it were a paintbrush. I like the impressionist and abstract effects I can create with this.

1: How long have you been involved in photography?

I've been actively making photographs for about 3 years. However, photography’s been a part of my life from childhood. My father, a blue-collar worker supporting 8 children, would spend late nights in the darkroom making pictures after everyone went to bed. We would have weekly slideshows of his work with the family gathered around, during which he would critique his own work, discuss possible crops, and choose images for competitions in his camera club. I finally picked up a camera in the 1980’s and started to do my own photography, and because of the early exposure, I kind of just knew what to do. I dabbled for a few years then, but it wasn’t until the digital revolution that my interest in the art blossomed. What made me more serious about photography was a trip I made to Iceland in 2006 – with a very limited point and shoot camera I am embarrassed now to admit – and the place just blew my mind with its visual earthly wonders. I got a new camera when I got back (have since upgraded a few times), joined Flickr, and have been learning and developing my craft since.

2: Equipment you use?
I am currently photographing with a Nikon D90. My lenses are the Nikon 18-200 for general use, Tokina 12-24 for wide angles, and Nikon 105mm for macro. I also have a couple of old manual/non metering lenses from the film days that I use occasionally. I develop my pictures with Apple’s Aperture and Photoshop CS4, with Noise Ninja, Nik plugins ,and Photomatix for their special uses. The respectable Canon G9 is my pocket camera.

These are my tools, but I believe the person who said, “The most important piece of equipment is the user.” I always try to keep my eyes open and my imagination sharp. That’s key.

3: Mac or PC?
I love my Mac. But I’m not a snob about it. : )

4: What inspires you?

Patterns, forms, shapes, golden light, a sense of movement in something that is still, the earth and its amazing forms…I also enjoy looking at other people’s images and learn a great deal from them.

5: Preferred subject matter?

Most of my images are of the natural world – landscapes, plants, rocks, water, sky. I especially love abstract patterns, the repetition of forms, finding and framing pleasing visual designs. Anything with great light is hard to resist. For my “impressionist” photo-paintings, I tend to go for scenes with strong shapes and contrasts. But it helps in this and all other image-making to photograph something I feel especially moved by.

6: Name one thing you haven't caught with the camera that you REALLY want to capture.

I would really like to see and photograph the Northern Lights. Someday I’ll go back to Iceland with a “real” camera and try my luck.

7: When in doubt about your art, whom do you confide in?

I still discuss photography with my father, who is 89 and unable to get around much. I bring my laptop (the ultimate portable darkroom!) to his bedside and he gives me great feedback and advice. I am also fortunate to have an encouraging boyfriend who happens to be an awesome (and very knowledgeable) nature photographer.

8: Qualifications/training in anything? ie: Photoshop

Like I said, I learned a lot by osmosis growing up. A couple years ago, I took a photoshop class. (Okay, I’ll admit it: I’m dating the teacher now! That’s helped my education for sure.) Also, although this may sound strange, I think the modern dance training I’ve done has helped me a lot with my photography: I’ve studied improvisational dance, which develops the ability to be intensely aware of the present moment and the immediate physical reality…and it builds the ability to respond fluidly and imaginatively to these things. I can click into that same mental place when I am photographing, and it helps me with “the art of seeing.” I also notice I compose more by feeling than thinking – it’s like I feel in my body if an image is all lined up right or not. I think being a body-aware person helps that.

9: Plans for the future?
I’m not planning to quit my day job as an elementary school teacher any time soon, but I hope to prepare enough prints to have my own show in the not-to-distant future. I still have bare walls in my apartment, so I better get cracking.

10: In one word, describe your photography.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

NaPix -- Hmong Life


Generations -- Hmong Great Grandmother
Generations -- Hmong Great Grandmother by NaPix -- Hmong Life
At over 90, Giang Thi Khu was content spending her last days surrounded be her children, grandkids and great grandchildren. So, my Hmong daughter, and I went to visit her in Then Tho village, 70 km away from Sapa.

The Black Hmong are the 3rd largest minority in Vietnam with nearly 900,000 people. In the Sapa region there are about 35,000 Black Hmong residing in the surrounding 17 villages and they account for about 50% of the area population. Most reside at an altitude of 1,600 – 1,700 meters above sea level in this stunningly beautiful region they call “the city above the clouds”. The Hmong started migrating to Vietnam from China in the last 300 years.
In this region about half the Hmong are Catholic and half animistic. They live of the land growing rice and corn and they all believe in the spirits

Hmong Mom
Hmong Mom by NaPix -- Hmong Life
A young mother, (16) with her newly born in Hao Thao village, 6 km from Sapa.
And pls. don’t make your ‘value’ judgment about the age. Unlike Westerners at 16, Hmong are not kids at this age. They have been raising their younger siblings since 6 or 7, they know how to grow all the food they need, build shelter, make there own clothing, cook and tend to the household animals. Even more, they were always involved in all aspects of life and death and have extensive knowledge about natural medicine. They are always surrounded by family and friends and raising children is done by the whole family and community. So try to remember this and don’t enforce your values on others.

1: How long have you been involved in photography?
It’s been a life long love affair. Had a brownie box camera at age 10 and at 13 got a second hand Leica G range finder camera that stayed with me for many years.

2: Equipment you use?
From that brownie box camera, through the years, I’ve had them all. All the Nikon rage cameras and lenses, a’la the ‘Blow up’ movie and the many Polaroids. My fave was the SX-70, what a piece of art. And a couple of Hasselblad I still have. So I’m not one to talk about equipments. Today I use digital and always have a point’n’shoot, Canons, that I have on me. I call them PHD cameras – Push Here Dummy :)

As been said before, the most important piece of equipment you need is just several inches behind the viewfinder.

3: Mac or PC?

4: What inspires you?
From my profile -- "My portrait and people photos are journalistic in style and strive to communicate reality. Recording the fabric of life, I try to portray human dignity and the world we live in with honesty, respect, simplicity and compassion. Making that emotional connection that results, for a brief time, in people sharing there inner soul, is what I strive for. It is an emotional process that works both ways. "

With my images I attempt to portray the essence of life as I see it. With a simple, fresh, and some times raw, observation of how things really are.

5: Preferred subject matter?
People, emotions, spirits and the magical quality of light.

6: Name one thing you haven't caught with the camera that you REALLY want to capture.
It’s not a ‘thing’ it’s a feeling… see #4 above

8: Qualifications/training in anything? ie: Photoshop
Studied photography at NYU in the 70’s.
Photoshop is a learning process. PS is like the brain, most people only use 2% of it. But digital imaging is certainly not about SOOC, it’s always have to be worked on, even for perfect exposure. It’s the nature of the beast.

9: Plans for the future
working now on completing a five year book project about the Black Hmong in Northern Vietnam.

10: In one word, describe your photography.

Monday, August 03, 2009



time for a swim in the fountain

time for a swim in the fountain by moocatmoocat
I'm always trying to capture familiar tourist sites in a new way. A group of kids enjoying a night swim in Swann Fountain gave me the opportunity to get a unique photo. The boy's wonderful body language makes him appear entranced and leads the eye into the photo, and the light on the water ties the whole composition together.

trick of the tail

trick of the tail by moocatmoocat
Since I've been working on improving my action photos, I am really pleased with how this turned out. The timing, exposure, shutter speed and a lot of luck created this scene of a tiger creating water art with her tail.

1: How long have you been involved in photography?
When I was younger, I liked to take photos but never had the patience required by film: by the time I got the photos developed, I'd completely forgotten everything about the shot and so never learned anything! About 5 years ago I got my first digital, a p&s Sony w50, and pushed that camera to its limits before finally getting a dSLR

2: Equipment you use?
Sony A700. I like the Sonys because they have the 'steady-shot” vibration reduction built into the body so I don't have to buy VR lenses.. I don't have great hands but always shoot hand-held so this is a big selling point. Also I like the backline of relatively inexpensive but sharp Minolta lenses. The majority of the time I use a Tamron 28-300. For a cheap ultrazoom it is surprisingly sharp and great as an all-day lens. I love my Domke bag–tough, comfortable, and it looks nothing like a camera bag.

3: Mac or PC?
I work with PCs all day so of course that's what I use at home.

4: What inspires you?
Unusual lighting or an uncommon perspective.
If I can capture a commonly photographed scene in a light that makes it distinctive or captivating, or from a perspective that makes it so, I feel I've achieved something.
Rene Lalique's amazing creations inspires me to try to use light with photography the way he was able to do with glass.

5: Preferred subject matter?
My hometown, Philadelphia. I like to show the charming, quirky things about the city–a whimsical architectural detail, the quiet alleys, the parks.
Animals, especially hippos, are wonderful to photograph. It's challenging to try to capture the 'personality' of an animal.
Travel is endlessly inspiring–there are so many wonderful places and scenes! One of the best things about our recent visit to Iran was sharing my photos with other westerners who are unfamiliar with the country its marvelous historical and architectural sites and many wonderful people.

6: Name one thing you haven't caught with the camera that you REALLY want to capture.
A charging hippo! But that would have to be with a REALLY long lens!

7: When in doubt about your art, who do you confide in?
My husband is not a photographer, so he is a very good source of how a non-'photo geek ' reacts to a photo. My friend ChrisinPhilly5448 is my best photo buddy–we often end up taking almost the identical shot without realizing it and then can compare our versions and visions.

8: Qualifications/training in anything? ie: Photoshop
Totally self-taught. I use Corel Paintshop Pro XI–it's less expensive than Photoshop, easy to use and pretty powerful. I think it gives me an edge as I can achieve subtle effects using PSP that most people aren't familiar with–they can't tell when I've processed a photo.

9: Plans for the future
I want to go to South Africa and photograph the wild animals. Visiting Jessica, the wonderful tame hippo, and swimming with her are tops on my list.
I want to get an ultra-telephoto lens too and am trying to decide which one will be best hand-held (Since I like to shoot from different heights and POVs I find a tripod too restrictive.) Maybe the Tamron 200-500.

10: In one word, describe your photography.
No. I can't do this.
Ok, I'll try: