While speaking with her we felt as if we had stepped into a world with a fairy who was capable of making magic in the forest. As a self taught photographer in the Netherlands, she describes herself as a nature lover and spiritual person whose feet are kept firmly on the ground. Don’t let this fool you, she is also a dreamer and this is revealed in her photographic work and her unique creativity. She describes her work as dreamy and soft. We asked Andrea what were her essential tools that she relied on to make her magic. Here is what she had to say:
I always carry a white, 82cm studio umbrella with me when I go into the field. It is important to have a white umbrella as opposed to a colored piece of material which will affect your white balance. The size of umbrella depends on the size of your subject and what you enjoy photographing. Obviously, the larger the umbrella size, the more area you will be able to shade.
I truly prefer to work with natural light, it’s my first choice. However, by utilizing the umbrella, I can place my subject in the shade and make sure the shadow ends just behind the subject. This allows me to have all the light from the surrounding area and to emphasize the details of my subject. This technique will also provide more depth to your photograph.
Your creativity need not stop with your in-camera skills. Get creative and purchase a Bank Stik from any outdoor retailer or store which supply fishing gear. The Bank Stik acts as an extra set of hands to hold the umbrella in place. With the Bank Stik I can be hands free and can raise the umbrella as needed to give me the perspective I look for in regard to the light.
Prepare For The Elements
When I load my car I pack my rain boots, rain pants and knee protection. Not only does this protect my clothes during the rain, I always wear my rain pants, even in the spring. I don’t want to have to look where I’m lying down, it’s also great protection for ticks.
While 99% of photographers seek out the light of the golden hours, I enjoy getting on the road in the middle of the day when the light is harsh. I find by using the umbrella I am able to get warm colors. When you are using equipment like a Lensbaby, light becomes even more vital with the way you utilize it and control it. Because the Lensbaby allows you to get so drastically close to the subject, this gives you a more isolated area to control and manipulate the light.
Creativity, Lensbaby and stepping out of the box
As mentioned above, I typically always photograph with natural light. However, this last autumn, inspiration struck and I listened. I pulled small Christmas lights out of a box and used them to create a unique image with leaves. For this image I also used my Lensbaby Velvet 56 and my extension tubes. The particular image required the extension tube on my Velvet 56 because I needed to get extra close to the subject. By doing this, it almost appeared as if the leaves were on fire or a liquid lava.
Unlike many Lensbaby lenses that let you tilt the lens to get a spot or slice of focus, Velvet 56 does not tilt, and gives images a soft, velvety glow from edge to edge. The intensity of the effect can be changed significantly depending on the f/stop.
My images have always been soft and dreamy but when I picked up my Lensbaby, it pushed me beyond my boundaries to become more abstract. If you are just starting out with a tiltable selective-focus Lensbaby lens like the Composer Pro, I’d recommend that you keep the lens straight in the middle with an aperture of f/4 or f/5.6. Once you feel comfortable with the sharpness and sweet spot, you can then lower your aperture to f/2.5 or f/2.8 and start to bend it. The best piece of advice I can give is that you don’t have to bend it as much as you might think is necessary. A little really goes a long way to give you a special smooth effect.
I really find my creativity flows best when I step into nature with an open mind. Luckily, with creativity no planning is required. Once I step into the field and look through the viewfinder on my camera, I feel a strong bond with nature and everything seems to always come together naturally. Sometimes I am convinced that nature takes me by the hand and shows me its own beauty.
My creativity is released at the moment I photograph strictly for myself, and I stop worrying about the expectations or enjoyment of others. This allows my inspiration and creativity to flow out of my heart.