ViewBug is a world wide community and today we are featuring member richardvandewalle who is based in Singapore. "When I first started photography the camera I used was an old Minolta STR-202 35mm SLR. It is a completely manual camera, I shot only black and white, and I developed the prints myself. When the digital SLR’s came on the market they were just too expensive and I decided to wait until they became more affordable. It wasn’t until several decades later that I manage to fulfil that wish when I purchased my Nikon D800 just over a year ago. I have to say, in the last year it has been a steep learning curve. I am totally astounded how far the technology has developed and the possibilities available in photography today. I believe it is an exciting time to be a photographer."

What inspired you to be a photographer?

It is photography that inspires me to find scenic views of the world. I am relatively new to this craft, at least in a serious way, but I can appreciate it is a constant evolution and I am motivated to improve. I know I have not reached my potential, and I am not sure I ever will. And that’s okay with me. This keeps me inspired.

When someone looks at your photos, what do you want them to take away from it, what are you trying to communicate?

I aim for a composition that is pleasing, with the use of light, colour and texture to guide the viewer and suggest depth. An image should portray a message, with atmosphere, a feeling. My ultimate goal is for the viewer to be drawn into the image and linger. I want to communicate the feeling I had when I physically viewed the scene but more than that, I want the viewer to feel they can imagine being part of the scene for a brief moment. This is not easy to achieve but it is what drives me to continue striving to improve.

What is it that you love about photography?

I love the creativity of photography and the ability to capture a scene at the best moment and to share that through the art of photography.

What has photography done for you?

Photography is a creative outlet that I need in my life. It has opened my eyes and made me pay attention to my surroundings driving me to explore in search of new sights. For example, getting up at 4:30am to be on site to watch the sunrise is something I would have missing in the past. These are experiences in life that are worth having.

Do you try to be conceptual or do you prefer to show the feeling behind a photo?

I would like to produce images that evoke feeling. I have spent a lot of time perfecting technique and post processing skills. It is only now that I feel I can focus more on creativity during shooting to try and capture the emotion and feeling of a scene.

How do you describe your style?

If I had to categorise I would have to say fine art landscape travel photography. I haven’t found my niche yet, but I am sure it is within landscape photography. This is where my interest lies.

If you had to choose one lens which one would it be and why?

Since my preferred genre is landscape photography I would choose the NIKKOR 16-35mm f/4G lens. This is a great wide angle zoom lens that offers a good focal range and delivers sharp results.

What are your 3 tips for others who want to become better photographers?

Don’t get hung up on the equipment. Buy what you can afford and concentrate on improving technique.

Plan well and focus on quality rather than quantity. Take lots of photos but only keep the best. I am happy to have one solid image after a shoot.

Always shoot during the best light. For landscape photography this is around an hour either side or sunrise and sunset. Most importantly, have fun!

Have you received negative feedback from your work? What did you do about it?

I decided to try to sell some images as stock photography. I was surprised when I received rejection with reasons such as excessive noise or excessive noise reduction, over sharpening or image too soft, out of focus, or with artefacts, etc. etc. It is not my goal to be a stock photographer but the critique did help me improve the quality of my images. I pay much more attention to the image zoomed in to 100%. This also improves the quality of prints, especially large prints.

Where did you learn to take photos?

I am a self-taught photographer. It has been just over a year since I started shooting with my first DSLR. I already understood the fundamentals of photography. The rest I had to learn from doing and the extensive amount of information available on the internet. I believe you have to make mistakes in your photography and be able to identify those mistakes in order to improve. Unless you are producing world class images don’t be satisfied with your results. I am my worst critic and continually identify areas to improve.

Raw vs jpg and why?

I only shoot raw. The simple reason is that I prefer to do adjustments myself in post rather than letting the camera do in camera during conversion to jpeg. Jpeg is lossy compression file type meaning that some information is lost during the conversion whilst raw files are lossless. I will only convert the file to jpeg once all the post processing is done i.e. white balance, contrast, sharpening, etc. Having said that jpeg is really only needed for uploading images to the internet. For printing, especially very large prints, TIFF is my preferred format as it is also lossless.

What do you carry in your camera bag?

Within my bag is usually just one camera body, D800, and two lenses. A wide angle zoom and mid-range zoom such as the 24-70 f/2.8. My wife carries the D750 so we can share lenses if I need a longer lens or a fixed focal length. I always carry a tripod, lately with a nodal head to shoot wide format images (I love the new panorama function in Adobe LR6 which supports creating a panorama raw file). I carry a few ND filters, ND grad, more importantly a circular polariser, and a remote shutter release. I always shot with natural light.

If you could have the gift of a great photographer who would it be and why?

It’s maybe a little cliché but I would have to say Ansel Adams. Although there are many amazing photographers around these days it’s like poetry; all the poets work with the same words from the same dictionary. Some just choose the right words in the correct order that just works. Ansel had that ability to create a photo that just feels right.

What is the most common mistake you see people making when shooting these days?

I am not the authority on what is right and wrong but I can say what I observe. What I notice is people arrive on location, at the right time, and the first thing they do is put a machine (the camera) in front of their face. Then they click away somehow finding many different compositions and then leave before the show is completely over. They never really take in the scene and appreciate the feeling of the moment. The camera seems to get in the way and sometimes the best light comes later when they are long gone.

What is your dream location to shoot?

I currently live in Singapore. When I look for iconic views in Singapore the city skyline is top on the list. Lately I have been shooting a lot of cityscape. And this is great, but my real passion is to shoot natural landscapes. Being an Australian I do look forward to shooting in my home country. I am very familiar with the environment and landscape of Australia and believe I can communicate this in my photography. Something I look forward to doing in the future. Oh, and I have to mention New Zealand. We will visit the south island early next year for the first time. New Zealand’s landscapes are spectacular. Some of the best in the world.

How do you decide on where to shoot a photo?

My other passion is sailing. It is from sailing that I have learnt to be very well prepared and plan in great detail. I apply the same to photography. I check the weather, if required the tides. Using photographer's ephemeris to determine sunrise or sunset and direction of the sun I plan the best time of day and direction to shoot a particular scene. I visualise the image even before I visit the location.

What is next for you? Any planned adventures with your camera?

Yes several. My wife and I will be in Switzerland for a short trip in October. I hope to capture some images of the famous Matterhorn Mountain. In November we have planned a trip to Vietnam to capture the emerald waters and thousands of towering limestone islands of Ha Long Bay. And early next year we are off to New Zealand’s south island. This has to be on the top of the list for any landscape photographer.

What is your goal with your photography?

Ultimately my goal is produce large format prints. I really appreciate the fact that the work of so many photographers and artists can be viewed on the internet. The work of our peers and superiors is there to motivate and inspire us. Great websites, like Viewbug, give us the opportunity to compare our work with others. If you then take the best work, the best overall individual image, print it in large format and put it on the wall. Then it is admired and appreciated completely on its own. I think we as humans can take so much more in when presented the isolated subject almost in life size format. This is my goal with photography. Of course to achieve this, the images need to be exceptional. Until then I am enjoying every moment of the journey.