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Featured Photographer Gallery

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PŚl Hermansen

My speciality is that I have no speciality! I capture everything that comes in front of my lenses, from the tiniest microscopic algae to the polar bear and tremendous landscapes.

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Featured Photographer

PŚl Hermansen

About

Photographing nature since the early 1970ís, I have been through all phases a nature photographer can experience. I was early educated as a dentist and homeopath, but in more recent time, I have also taken a BA in arts and photography, to find a better basis for bridging the gap between nature photography and other kinds of photography. I have published more than 20 books, have had many exhibitions in Norway and internationally, and several prizes have come into my way, both in World Press Photo, Wildlife Photographer of the Year, European Nature Photographer of the Year, Hasselblad Open etc. Images are published in magazines such as National Geographic, GEO, Terre Sauvage, Conde Nast Traveler etc. Iím represented by Getty Images and NHPA.

Website: www.palhermansen.info/

Interview

Why nature photography?
Because nature is the basis of all life (often one gets the impression that most humans have forgotten this), exploring nature photographically is the most existential and essential activity you can do with a camera. In nature you deal with the basic questions of life and death, which one cannot say about many other branches of photography!

What's best about it?
For me, photographical exploration of nature is a kind of scientific activity. The camera is an exceptional tool to explore nature and reveal secrets that have never been seen before. The technical inventions of photography have been a very important factor to enable new ways of seeing our environment, from pioneers such as Eadweard Muybridge (motion studies) and Ottomar Anschutz (the first modern bird photographer, inventor of the focal plane shutter), both in the 1880ís, and this is more than ever actual with todayís terrific digital revolution, where new barriers are broken year by year.

What's worst about it?
The nightmare of never finding sufficient time to edit images and to sit down and really figure out how to approach nature in new and fresh ways. Also, itís frustrating that many of the best and most creative images receive no response. And of course the times when all bad forces cooperate to make you miss your decisive moment.

Favourite species and places in Europe?
I like the extreme north! The Polar Regions , of which Svalbard/Spitsbergen is my home garden, show unspoilt landscapes with a touch of eternity in them, in addition to spectacular animal life. Birds and their ability to fly have always fascinated me, so arctic birds have a high rating.

What's in the bag?
My all-round camera is the Canon EOS1Ds Mk III, but I also have the older Canon models for more rough use. For ďfeinschmeckerĒ-work, when I have enough time, I play with the Hasselblad H3D39 to achieve the most superb quality, which is very appreciated when making big prints for exhibits etc.

Your specialities / skills?
My speciality is that I have no speciality! I capture everything that comes in front of my lenses, from the tiniest microscopic algae to the polar bear and tremendous landscapes. Very often I incorporate humans and human elements into the images and sometimes try to touch into art photography. There is a huge difference between the two approaches: Nature photography is dominated by documentation, it supplies the answers, while art photography is mostly concerned with asking questions.

What will you do in your next life?
I will send a request to the headmaster to have a rebirth as a bird, a raven or an eagle; it would be a fantastic experience to be able to skydive all the day, without expensive helicopter rental. Of course, I would bring the camera and make aerial shots. No life without photography.

3 tips for beginners
1) Itís now very easy to make decent images, but difficult to develop a unique visual voice. A lot of todayís nature photography is dominated by this fact. People travel to the same places and make the same images from the same hides. Try to avoid this, practice your skills close to home instead.

2) Photography is a language and an image is a message. It you have nothing else to say than what has been told before, your material is of little interest.

3) Developing as a photographer is a long process that goes parallel with your personal development. You have to be conscious about and actively engaged in the world around you Ė and find your own approach to it. Donít expect to be a world champion in a year or two.

Mission

Iím going to Ireland , the western coast of the old world. The ancestors of some of the people living in the northern countries today probably came from Ireland , and the Norse people again visited this area later on. So this is a country where history is strongly connected to the landscape. The high cliffs, the basalt columns, the caves and plant life are motives to be taken care of. The unique islands off the coast is another world, and, of course, all the white wings in the bird cliffs constitute a massive challenge for the photographical research of the magic of flight...

Best Picture

Best Picture
The Home of the Kittiwake, Lofoten , Norway.

Itís a hard task to select a single frame, but I think this image has a lot of the spirit that I try to capture. I like complex images that are thought provoking and necessarily do not supply all the answers. Especially I like images that form a link between nature and humans. This has it all.

What's cool about it?
I like the richness in details, enabling the viewer to imagine the story that is lying behind the scene.

Could it be better?
Possibly, but I do not miss anything. Even more details could be problematic to press into it.

Behind the Scene
The image is taken in an old house in the Lofoten Islands , northern Norway , which has been left untouched since the 1950ís. The kittiwakes have been taking over it gradually. An extra touch in the image is added from the midnight sun that for a few minutes gives a glow to the interior.

Date: June 2002
Location: Lofoten, Northern Norway.
Gear: Hasselblad 203FE w. 50mm lens, f. 16 1/2 sec, Fuji 800 ISO negative film

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