Happy Australia Day for those downunder. Weizhong takes some amazing landscape/travel photos and his process of editing is quite simple. I played around with the post layout on this one what do you think?
Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Weizhong, and I am a photographer based in Singapore. I focus mainly on travel and landscape imagery, but I am also planning to branch off into a different genre which is a combination of different styles. I picked up photography officially 3 years ago when I bought myself an entry-level dSLR, a Nikon D60, during an exchange program in Japan.
What inspired you to get started in photography?
My very first contact with photography came when my father bought me a compact digital camera for a summer program to Japan in 2004. I started snapping at everything that caught my interest or at things which I wanted to preserve as memories.
However, I officially picked up photography when I went back to Japan for a 1-year exchange program in 2008. While I was there, I was mesmerised by the many beautiful Japanese landscapes and scenery that I came across in magazines and posters. At the same time, my buddy happened to introduce the digital SLR to me when I was contemplating getting a new camera. I had no intention of getting a dSLR at first, but I am glad I did.
What gear do you take to each shoot and what lens can you not live without?
For scapes, I used to bring a Nikkor 12-24mm f/4 for wide angle shots when I was working with a crop sensor digital SLR. Nowadays, I use the Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 almost exclusively on the full frame D700 and it is the lens which I can not live without. Sometimes I also use the Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 for documenting closeups of landscape details. Other equipment that I bring along include a travel tripod, GND filters, and a circular polariser.
However, I would like to emphasise that you do not need expensive equipment to take good images. Better composition, lighting and timing makes all the difference between a good photograph and a snapshot.
How do you market yourself and has social media been an important part?
Marketing is the soul and the most challenging part of any business and the same goes for photography. The more I get involved with marketing, the more I find that there is so much which I have not yet accomplished. Social media plays a big role in the sense that I am able to reach out to a wide variety of audiences all at once. This was unthinkable and almost impossible to do in the not so distant past. However, due to the sudden surge in content and information, users of social media are also selective about the content they interact with so posting relevant and interesting information is the key here.
What’s your favourite photo that you’ve taken and does it have any significance?
This has always been a very difficult question to answer as I have many favourites, but one of the most satisfying piece has to be “First light”. I recall seeing a photo of Moraine Lake in a magazine and was instantly captivated by its surreal colours and glassy reflections. From then on, I have always wanted to capture it in a different light and when I finally did, it gave me a huge sense of satisfaction.
Select a photo you have taken, explain how it was taken and how did you edit it?
This location is quite a popular spot for people looking to capture the iconic image of Singapore. Faced with the challenge of the popularity of the location, I thought of capturing it with a slightly different twist rather than producing something similar to what many have already done.
Since the buildings were lit up with different coloured lights, I planned to capture all of them in one shot to give a sense of the rainbow spectrum. The biggest issue here was that most of the lights were orange, and each of the other coloured lights were programmed to change colour after every predetermined amount of time. Green and pink were the most gruelling as their sequences were very random. As a result, I had to put in quite a bit of effort to anticipate the exact moment when the lights changed into the correct combination of colours that I had in mind. The fact that I had to do this before the golden hour is over adds to the complexity of the shot.
For post-processing, all I did were some minor adjustments to the white balance, brightness and sharpness in Lightroom. No other fine-tuning was required.
What processing tool do you use and do you believe in the camera doing all the work or in post?
I stick to Lightroom most of the time for basic retouching (white balance, contrast, shadows etc). I always strive to do everything right in-camera and reduce the amount of post-processing work. I have received feedback from viewers wondering if I use HDR techniques, but I would like to clarify that no HDR processing has been done on all my work. Instead, I always attempt to present my work as close as possible to what I witnessed. That said, I do use graduated neutral density filters to balance the high and low contrast areas to try to reproduce what the human eye actually sees.
What’s your favourite photography accessory other than your camera?
For landscape work, I guess that would be my GND filters. I never leave home without them when serious work is involved.
Where do you prefer to post your photos online and why there?
Whenever I have new work, the main sites that I post to are my personal blog at www.truphotos.com/blog, Facebook, and deviantART. Some random details and updates also go on Twitter. I have accounts on a few other social media sites too such as 500px and Flickr but the abovementioned ones get most of my attention and time. I prefer these sites as they are efficient in reaching out to the masses, and deviantART also has a huge community of artists from whom you can get feedback and draw inspiration from.
Do you ever get photographers block and if so what do you do to get inspired again?
Yes, definitely. Inspiration for me comes in many forms. I look at the work of other artists regularly and this may not necessarily be limited to a single genre. They could range from landscapes to fashion and portraits or even traditional art. Music can also be another source. Another tip is to experiment and try photographing something in a new way. Sometimes what I do is put down my work and do something else totally unrelated such as taking a walk in the park. More often than not, I will be back with some bits and pieces of inspiration.
Is there anything you wish you had done when you first started in photography that would have made a difference?
When I look back at my older work, I always have some regrets as I think I could have done better if I had mastered my basics correctly, so as a piece of advice, I would suggest putting the fundamentals of photography such as composition, lighting and aperture control as your first priority.
Any advice for new photographers wanting to go pro?
Consider seriously the other aspects of the photography business such as marketing and networking because in actual fact, most of your time will not be spent on taking photos, but rather on developing and maintaining the business. Also, take negativity in your stride and use it to your advantage by learning from it. “Life is like photography; we use the negatives to develop.” Lastly, maintain good relations with everyone around you as you never know who you are talking to! He or she could very well be your next client!