It’s often said that Scotland is the outdoor professional photographer's dream, with an embarrassment of natural riches around almost every corner. Although this makes the life of a photographer easier with regards to locating worthy subject matter, imparting your identity on a scene still remains a challenge and something that involves the hard work, determination and thirst for knowledge common with excelling in any field of photography.
Rather than having any formal training in photography, Niall Benvie is entirely self- educated. He was given his first camera, a Chinon CS, when he was just 12 courtesy o’ his father, a keen naturalist and photographer. Ironically, it wasn't until December 2005 that Niall moved ove' to digital, picking up a Nikon D2X, a move indicative of the considered approach he takes to photography.
'I wanted to make sure I had devised and planned the best workflow for digital before I made Ihe leap across. I had spoken lo many of my professional friends and they had advised me on the difficulties digital could entail, but I finally felt that it was ready.' Niall isn't generally one to rush in. Despite being a professional photographer for some 18 years, in that time he had on y owned six cameras, and has only recently upgraded from his Nikon D2x to a D3.
Niall's photography interest really took a substantial step towards professional during his time at university. Having left school when he was just 16, Niall was a relative latecomer to further education a: the age of 25, although this late start may well have equipped him for his next step. 'In my second year at university, I founded the Scottish Nature Photography Fair. The Fair is a chance for nature photography enthusiasts to meet and share ideas, as well as listen to some excellent speaker share their knowledge and tips on how to improve your photography. The Fair is now in its 20th /ear, and my involvement with it has been invaluable for my professional progression.
'In my role as organizer and founder, I had to contact professional photographers from around Europe and invite them to both attend and speak, having met these professional photographers, I found myself forming friendships that continue to this day, friendships that have helped improve my photography and influence my style'
Through his involvement in the Fair, N all has been exposed to a vast range of professional photographers, and has seen more varying types of wildlife photography than your average professional photographer This may be one way to explain why he has continued to push the limits of convention in his photography, actively pursuing innovative technique. A while ago in these pages we featured Niall's wildlife photography technique that involves using a softbox out in the field to capture wildlife and nature images against a white background, something he has dubbed the 'field studio'. And he has pushed the boundaries once again in his most recent technique - the deconstructed landscape.
'It's an entirely different approach to landscape photography', begins Benvie. 'Where traditional landscape photography concentrates on the single image, and getting the message across in a single image, the deconstructed landscape is more about the journey towards and through that landscape. It's more of a non-prescriptive approach to landscape photography, creating more of a visual feast and placing the viewer in the scene.
'A deconstructed landscape comprises a whole range of images, or vignettes, with anywhere up to 200 or 250 images making up one landscape. The images themselves are close details taken around the scene, often looking to combine colour and texture, while creating an instantly recognisable motif.'
So, if you’re interested in this style of landscape photography, and fancy giving it a go yourself, what type of gear should you be landscape photography on its head, Niall has some simple advice for the aspiring professional photographer: 'Make sure the subject is the star. Stop worrying about trying to derive a specific style for your work - if you just photograph as it comes naturally, you'll find that your own style will emerge without forcing it. 'What's important however, no matter how creative you get, is that you get the basics of photography right There is no excuse for fudging sharpness and exposure, no matter what technique you are attempting.' See more of Niall Benvie's excellent images at: read more http://www.imagesfromtheedge.com/
NIALL BENVIE : DECONSTRUCTED LANDSCAPES
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