Get outside and don’t forget your camera!
It’s a gray and misty morning in December. I’ve noticed that a hill near my home place is covered in clouds, so I quickly grab the camera and tripod and get on my way. Half an hour later, I’m in the middle of a little forest. Weather forecast tells me that the fog will stay for some more hours, so I can take my time.
I walk around, capture moody forest tracks, moss on the ground, some last orange and brown leaves. It’s silent, and there’s nobody around. It’s just me, the camera, the trees. This is what I love most about nature photography, when I don’t have to hurry searching for the best composition, preparing my equipment or mounting filters. Sometimes I take a moment to just stand there in the cold air and listen…
My name is Andreas. I live with my family in Naila, a small town in central Germany, and work as a web software developer. Photography didn’t play a big role in my life for a long time, but it crossed my way now and then.
When I was a child, my father owned an old Soviet FED 3 camera, and I remember how we spent evenings in the darkened bathroom to develop monochrome photos. Later there were times when I used compact cameras for snapshots, but I never practiced it seriously.
That changed in 2016. I worked in a software company with many photographing colleagues, and one day they asked me to join their photography group. Not having any camera apart from my smartphone, I needed some advice and was suggested the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II as a good choice for a beginner.
So I bought it in a kit with an M.Zuiko 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 II R lens and joined the group. We did many portrait shootings and my equipment was soon completed by an M.Zuiko 45mm F1.8 with its nice bokeh.
My wife and I share the joy of being outside in nature. At that time, we often travelled into the mountains for hiking and also discovered the Baltic Sea as one of our favorite places. Of course, the lightweight E-M10 started travelling with us everywhere. Here I began focusing on nature and landscape motifs, which came up during our hikes. The E-M10 became my reliable companion for several years.
The Olympus M.Zuiko 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 II R is a very compact and universal lens, but soon its aperture range began limiting me, and I upgraded to an Olympus M.Zuiko 12-40 F2.8 PRO. A wonderful choice! Till this day, it’s my favorite and mainly used lens for nature photography. It produces amazingly sharp pictures, and the weather sealing is a big advantage for me working outdoors.
Sometimes I use an old Minolta AF APO 200mm F2.8 telephoto lens, which is mountable through an adapter and still does a great job with Olympus cameras. The excellent M.Zuiko 45mm F1.2 PRO is also part of my equipment, but it’s rarely used for nature pictures, its main territory is portrait shootings.
The OM-D system has many advantages for me. Less weight and smaller size of cameras and lenses are important on a hike. Olympus produces excellent lenses, and those from the PRO series are quite affordable given their quality and compared to similar full-frame lenses. The Micro-Four-Third standard also enables me to easily use lenses from other manufacturers.
After some years with the E-M10, I decided to upgrade to E-M1 Mark II. It’s bigger, and a little bit heavier, but also has a much better grip for one-hand shooting, weather sealing, a higher shooting rate and a more accurate auto-focus. My E-M10 still exists as a backup or as a secondary camera when working with multiple lenses.
Trying out different post-processing software in my first year, I’m finally happy with the combination of Lightroom and Photoshop. Most of the editing work for nature and landscape shots is even done in Lightroom only. Unlike with portrait photography, I avoid retouching in nature pictures as far as possible, only adjusting colors, brightness or contrast. My motto: Capture what you see!
With more experience, a personal editing style has developed, which is still an ongoing process. My philosophy is not to use any predefined or purchased presets. Instead, I create my own presets in order to apply and enhance my personal style and learn from it.
How do my shootings look like? During a hike, pictures are often shot spontaneously. Here you need a good eye for great motifs on the way. Usually, there won’t be a second chance to visit that place very soon.
When not travelling, I’ve started actively planning my shootings. If possible, I try to scout for good spots in advance and then wait for the weather conditions needed for the pictures I want. I’m interested in meteorology anyway, which helps me deal with weather data. Sometimes I wait for a day with fog, for clouds at a specific height or even for a certain wind direction. You can’t control the weather. Nature photography often requires patience and the readiness to fail (and try again).
“I’m Andreas Weizel, a 37 years old photography enthusiast from north-eastern Bavaria, Germany. Although playing with different fields of photography, like portraits and even weddings, landscapes and the beauty of our nature have become my main passion. As often as possible, you’ll find me hiking through the woods, on mountains or near the sea. And if not, maybe you’ll find me in front of the computer developing software, which is another hobby and also my actual full-time job.
I’m always thankful for feedback, inspiration and good recommendations for relaxing electronic music.”