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Camera House : Better Pictures 12
Feature image smarts See more of Ian’s work at iancarlsonphotography.com.au “I love commercial work as it is both simplistic and challenging – the images are essentially sold before you take them and you are working to another person’s brief and notion of what they envisage. It has changed the way I shoot my landscapes; my approach is more focused and I am now creating a body of work focused on a theme or location as an artist might explore a subject.” Still, making a living in the commercial photo arena is no easy task; therefore Carlson’s advice is invaluable to the fledgling shooter. “Think laterally,” he says. “The traditional landscape photographer taking lovely images and selling them is a really hard gig. I think people like Eugene Tan have really taken the essence of what they wanted out of being a landscape photographer and applied it to their lifestyle with great success. [But] if you want to make a living out of landscape photography, you ultimately have to think about how you are going to sell your product. It seems like a harsh way to think about it but there is such a saturation of good imagery out there. Explore and study photographers you admire, and don’t be afraid to contact them for advice. I have a mentor for my commercial work, which is great – he’ll advise me on tricky lighting setups, industry movements etc.” For Carlson, the most challenging aspect of shooting landscapes is the preparation. “I do a lot more location scouting now than I ever did,” he laughs. “I plan my vantage points, take location shots and plot GPS points and direction bearings for possible lighting situations like overcast days, sunrises, sunsets, and dynamic weather. I monitor weather patterns so I know when to get out for the best chance of getting the shot I’ve been visualising. My background in the marine field has helped. As far as gear preparation goes, I currently use a 45 ebony camera with sheet film, so there is a methodical approach creating each image. It might be foolish to still be shooting on LF film but it is fun, frustrating and incredibly process-driven, which means I think about my shots a lot before I click the shutter. A session might involve taking two or three frames and that’s it.” While Carlson says that preparation is key, he confesses that sometimes it just comes down to being in the right place at the right time. “It just comes down to Mother Nature co-operating and giving you something really special. With long exposures there are always surprises; you are never really sure about what you are going to get Film kit • ebony rSW45 • nikkor 90mm F/5.6 • rodenStock 150mm F/5.6 • Five double darkS • loupe and Sekonic light meter • SerieS oF lee neutral grad FilterS • manFrotto 055b tripod With geared head. Digital kit • canon eoS 5d mark ii • canon tS-e 90mm F/2.8 l • canon tS-e 24mm F/3.5 l ii • canon tS-e 17mm F/4 l • canon 24-70mm F/2.8 l • canon 70-200mm F/2.8 l IAN’S GEAR on film. That’s one of the unique and frustrating things about film – you are never 100 per cent sure that you nailed it, just sure enough that you got something special.” His most challenging shoots often occur because of extreme weather. “I’ve had a boat overturn on me, sea lions try and take a bite out of me, and heavy winds blow my gear off cliffs. Storms have delayed trips for days, which has been costly – and sometimes the light just isn’t right. But these are part and parcel of landscape photography, and being patient and prepared is the overriding factor to get you through any situation.” ■ 18 016_Bpics12_ian.indd 18 28/02/13 2:31 PM
Better Pictures 11
Better Pictures 13