This week, PhotoAxe brings you an interview with Alexander Wise, a photographer that specialized himself in waterscapes photography. Alex Wise lives in Tasmania, Australia. He likes to travel to incredible places and enjoys capturing water scenes through his camera. Even if he claims that “photography to me is purely a hobby”, his images are stunning and inspirational for many other amateurs.
I’m just a university student studying something completely irrelevant to photography but I like this hobby. It has opened my eyes to appreciate the beauty of things which I never did before. Over time I have been featured in a couple of magazines which has been a great feeling, they include: Australian Photography, U&I magazine, The Source and have had a couple of interviews online, similar to this.
1) How long have you been photographing waterscapes?
Probably around 18 months, originally I started out just exploring every style of photography in an attempt to properly understand how things on my camera worked. As this progressed I naturally moved to capturing the movement of water as I love the ocean whether it be swimming, sports or relaxing around it.
2) When did you realized this is your most desired subject regarding photography?
I’ve noticed a change in my attitudes to waterscape, originally I was impressed with the effects which a long-exposure can create(the mystic feel of the water). But now I’m more fascinated with the geology, colour of the water and other conditions. Every location is different and I think this is what encourages me to keep shooting, coming across new places is always interesting and exciting.
My main waterscape kit consists of a Canon 350D, Canon 10-22, Cokin .3 .6 .9 nd grad filters and of course a manfrotto tripod. Sometimes I will mix things up and use my Canon 24-70 if I find I can’t get close enough to the area but I mostly use my ultra wide 10-22.
4) What is the secret of the rightly exposed long shutter speed water scenes?
Choosing a long exposure time for waterscapes is a interesting topic. If the shot is taken at 3 seconds, this can greatly differ to a shot which may be taken at 30 seconds. I’ve enclosed two shots to illustrate this:
The first shot has a sense of power, fury and looks quite nasty. Being a short exposure this is possible to be captured however using a long exposure (as in the second shot) the water has less fury as it crashes against the rocks and instead is more calm with a mystic effect.
5) Do you post-process your pictures? If yes, what software you use and what changes to you make to the pictures.
I like to look at my shots and have a sense that it’s captured accurately. I have alot of respect for people that post process as some people are amazing, but at the same time too many people are over doing it with over-baked high dynamic range(HDR) shots. For this reason I like to minimize my post processing as much as I can, my usual workflow would consist of: levels, increase saturation, USM sharpening, minor vignetting and occasionally I may have to remove rain drops from when I’m shooting in the rain and water gets on my filters.
I’ve uploaded two before and after shots which is available at http://www.alexwisephotography.net/pp/
6) I noticed you have recently started a photo blog where you also posted a tutorial on shooting waterfalls. Will you continue to write tutorials about water photography?
I launched my blog earlier this month (November 2007) to discuss my travels and also the techniques I use. Initially I was a little unsure if there was any point in documenting my techniques as I don’t see myself as a genius at photography but far from it. But as someone that loves to look at others work, I found that people are making simple mistakes at waterscape photography but then again, something which may appear simple to me, may not be for someone else. For this reason I have decided to try put as much as my knowledge down as I can, if I can help someone out there then I’m happy.
Thanks alot for the interview Alex! I love your water scene photos and I’m looking forward to see what comes next from your camera.
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