One on One featuring landscape and seascape photographer Matti Boeschote
Home and Childhood
Matti moved in to Helsinki, Finland 3 years ago from the Netherlands, where he spent his early years.
“I am a 28 year old guy born in Finland, after my birth I moved to the Netherlands where I lived most of my life. 3 years ago I followed my heart back to Finland, where I met, now the mother of my child.
My childhood was pretty normal. You always read a lot of stories of people getting into photography at a very young age. I’m not one of them. I started like a lot of us amateurs out there. A small compact camera (back then with 4mp and a tiny digital screen) to take nice pictures on holidays. Also the idea of making pictures and getting them directly on your computer or TV screen was something amazing.”
If you could live anywhere on this awesome planet, where would you build your dream home?
“Just from a photography point of view I could name a lot of places, and of course if money is not an issue. I pinned down 3.
What sort of Photography genre do you specialise in and how long have you been a photographer?
“Mostly landscapes and seascapes with a hint of cityscapes once in a while.”
With a young interest in cityscapes, the ever-changing beauty of nature always grab s Matti’s attention.
“Being all alone enjoying the nature sounds is so relaxing compared to crowded cities. Living in Finland with the extreme seasons gives so many different opportunities. In the summer you can enjoy endless long golden hours due to the nightless period. In winter you can capture the beauty of a snowy and icy landscape. I still do enjoy shooting in the city as well, capturing everyday life and movement is always a challenge.”
"As long as you keep sitting inside or wondering what could have been, you’ll never get the shot you are dreaming of.”
Did you go school to study photography?
“Nope, I am a so called ‘self-taught’. Learning through the Internet and mostly by just getting out there. I think that is the most important thing I learned in the last year or two; going outside, taking the shots is the most important thing. As long as you keep sitting inside or wondering what could have been, you’ll never get the shot you are dreaming of.”
What or who got you started in photography?
“I borrowed a DSLR camera from a friend when we went on a trip to New York and I was so impressed by the picture quality and possibilities that I bought my first own DSLR (Nikon D3100) shortly after we got back. From there it developed to a holiday kind of photography.”
How would you describe your photography style?
“I find it difficult to really describe my style especially since it’s something that is developing all the time.”
Trying to capture nature’s beautiful colors, Matti explains his style with a critical twist:
“A popular style at the moment is that of low contrast and bright lights and more dimmed down colors. I really enjoy this style but I don’t think it's something I am looking for. The beautiful color of our nature is what makes me happy and it’s something I want to share. I also think you always pick up something from what style is in ‘fashion’ at the moment.”
"A decent tripod is what every (Landscape) photographer should have in his bag."
What camera gears do you use and what’s your favourite photography accessory, other than your camera?
“Nikon D7200 DX DSLR teamed up with a Sigma 18-35 F1.8 and a Sigma 10-20 F4-5.6.
Buy now at Nikon.com
“My favourite accessory is definitely my trusted tripod. I think a decent tripod is what every (Landscape) photographer should have in his bag. It gives you so many possibilities in every lighting condition and it makes you think so much more about your composition. And also, what I noticed is that it gives you peace and time to think about what you are shooting and how. Especially beginners seem to be struggling with image sharpness due to camera shake whilst trying to capture low light images.”
If you had to choose one lens for the rest of your life, which one would it be and why?
“I would stick with an ultra wide lens since I just love to focus and capture small details combined with wide views of a dramatic scenery. So to sum up, it would probably be the Nikkon 14-24mm. A state of the art lens that would fit my style. I would also love to own a Zeiss made lens, for example a Distagon 15mm. The quality of this lens is just amazing, maybe one day :) ”
How important is post -production retouching in your final images?
“Post-production is a big part of my images definitely, and it is also a thing I enjoy doing almost as much as the actual capturing of the images. There are a lot of situations in the field where I think of the post-production possibilities and know already what kind of feeling I want to create."
Rule number one is always to get a good composition and exposure; it cannot be that you have to fix the basic things in post-production. Post-production for me is more to help the camera with things it cannot do itself.
For example extend the dynamic range by bracketing. I also think it is very important not to change the reality too much. What you see a lot these days is people making composites of 2 or 3 different photos. Making the audience believe for example that a milky way can be seen from everywhere in every direction. I don’t think I will bring my retouching that far. I love to look at those pictures though but for me it is not the essence of photography.”
MAC or PC ?
“PC :) I have thought of Mac a lot of times but I would require too much changing of my workflow.”
Can you describe for the readers your photographic workflow in few steps?
“This picture was taken on a beautiful autumn morning in Finland. After finding a good composition I start thinking of what kind of photo I want to create. Since it was autumn, with the last mist disappearing from the lake, I wanted to create a more mysterious atmosphere.”
“Since I bracket my photos, it starts by checking out the different exposures in Lightroom. Mostly I look at the histograms and see if there is any detail lost in the shadows or in the highlights. Since the dynamic range of single exposures is so good these days, the shadows can be saved most of the time. When you lose data in the highlights it starts to get troublesome. Then I remove the chromatic aberrations and straighten the picture by applying the lens correction.”
In this example (which is the normal exposure) you can see there isn’t much detail neither in the shadows nor in the highlights.
For this I grab the overexposed photo. You can see that the light parts are too bright but the foreground gives us good detail.
Same goes for the sky, in the normal exposed one you can see it maybe a couple of stops overexposed. Exposing on the sky gives us a better result.
I have been using Photomatix for blending the 3 bracketed photos. It does the job quite nicely but I’m learning to do it with Photoshop so the loss in picture quality is less. For beginners, Photomatix (or NIK HDR Efex) are great programs to get the hang of blending, there is always the danger of creating these infamous HDR pictures, nobody likes. :)
After we let the software do its job, our picture looks like this. Now we have details in the foreground and the background, plus our sky looks like it should be.
But it still doesn’t have the magic and atmosphere I am looking for.
First I crop and fix the parts of the composition I don’t like. In this example the branches on the left and some small dust spots from the sensor.
Next I add some split toning to add more orange/yellow color to the light parts in the sky and because I want a bit more mysterious feel, I add some blue tones to the shadows. At this point I also try the shadow and highlights sliders to get the right feel. I don’t really have a rule for this, but I guess that it’s a matter of taste. If you want to create more drama, dark shadows can add to the effect, emphasizing the light
At this point the picture is almost there where I want to have it, all I do now is some fine tuning. First the horizon is a bit tilted, so I turn it so it’s straight.
I added still some warmth and lifted the foreground colors with a light brush.
As a final touch we add some sharpening, I used to do this in Photoshop or Lightroom but since Google’s NIK Sharpener Pro 3 is free of charge I’ve started to like this plug in more and more.
Our final picture looks like this:
What is your favourite image you have shot recently? Can you describe its creation in regards to location, lighting, composition etc., also your thoughts when creating the image and what it means to you?
“This is one of my favourite places to go. A small nature reserve with lovely small lakes. In the spring time the sun sets right behind the tree line. I really enjoy shooting lakes and jetties. They add great depth to a photo and give you the feeling to jump in the water."
"Also the reflection of a calm and quiet lake has something magical to it. The composition I wanted is the sun setting behind the trees lighting up the sky with color. Again I used the bracketing technique since the dynamic range of this scene was too wide for a single shot. In the end I got the nice colorful shot I was looking for. Of course, when shooting landscapes you cannot predict what kind of photos you go home with. But every weather and light gives it’s own atmosphere. I’d say that a clear blue sky is the most difficult thing to work with.”
A photographer who inspires you?
“Konsta Punkka, A young Finnish guy who makes absolutely beautiful artwork. You should definitely check him out on Instagram."
"Jimmy Mcintyre, someone who shares his vision and knowledge in a great way."
These are just two that came quickly to my mind. I think what is amazing these days is that you can get inspiration from so many different places. There’s Instagram where the type of photography is again very different if you compare it to, for example, with 500px.”
A website and/or blog you visit often?
“Digital Review forum is a great place to read and discuss about photography. I especially enjoy reading up on the news and new rumours of upcoming lenses or cameras”
“500px has also been a big place for inspiration. Although, I noticed that the best way to become popular is to post really extreme edited photos. I got a bit lost in that as well at one point. I guess it is something we all had, over editing photos to the extreme. Then you look at the photos a couple of months later and start to wonder what was wrong with me.”
If you could be invisible for one day with your camera...
“I think it would be very cool to do this with wild life. For example getting up real close to a bear or lion, showing their natural environment whilst also capturing all the great details of these stunning creatures.”
Something you’re still learning?
“I think there is always something to learn, in life and in photography. We had a baby boy just three months ago; this is a whole new thing for me to shoot people and moving objects. So learning a lot about auto focusing and also the post processing of people requires a different view.
Then there is no such thing as a perfect shot; there is always something that I think could have been better.”
What photographic ambitions have you not yet achieved?
“There are two things on my near future wish list: shooting night starry skies and while living in Finland: the auroras. Now we are heading into summer so this will be impossible but definitely next fall/winter, I’ll be wandering around in the dark :)”
What would you like to be doing in 5 years from now?
“In 5 years from now, I hope I can go out into the nature with my then 5 year old son and enjoy the beauty of it together. I hope he will be interested in photography as well, but you never know :) ”
"Always shoot RAW"
Your best tips on retouching and some before and after retouching photo results.
1. When shooting always look at your histograms and with the dynamic range of the cameras these days, shadows can be mostly saved, blown out highlights cannot so meter for the highlights and work with the shadows in post. Additionally, always remember to level your shadows carefully, maintaining the natural touch. If you have a sunset, there will always be deep shadows, don’t lift them too much.
2. Be careful with the vibrancy and saturation sliders. We all like to make the colors pop, but there is a limit. In my opinion, post production is about emphasising the atmosphere you were looking for when you were shooting.
3. Always shoot RAW and use bracketing/blending when there’s a big dynamic range (Deep shadows, bright highlights)
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