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Cornelia Doerr

I wouldn’t have believed, that photography would gain such an impact on my later life.

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Featured Photographer

Cornelia Doerr

About

Cornelia was born in Chemnitz , Germany in 1963. Before the fall of the wall in 1989 she emigrated with her husband Ramon from East Germany into the west, where she lived for 15 years in the city of Düsseldorf .

There she worked in a publishing house as a Desktop Publisher. Since 1999 the couple work as a freelance photographer team. In 2004 they returned to their roots in Chemnitz , now serving as the base for their photo expeditions around the globe. Cornelia is a member of the society of German nature photographers (GDT).

Their pictures are regularly awarded with prizes, e.g. at the WOPY ( Natural History Museum ), at Nature's Best (USA) and at the ENJ competition (GDT). They work for national and international picture agencies, print media and calendar publishers.

Cornelia states: “I've learned my skills in photography by myself. Over the years I have developed my own style. I have a special interest in the landscape of Patagonia . In autumn 2008, our second coffee-table book will be published, about this wild part of the South American subcontinent. But also in Europe I’m trying to explore our remaining natural surroundings more and more often.”

Website: www.doerr-naturbilder.de/

Interview

Why nature photography?
Inspired by my affiliation with Greenpeace in the beginning of the 90’s, I learned a lot about the destruction of tropical rainforests. That gave me lots of thoughts and I was trying to find a way, which could help bringing the beauty of these fascinating forests to peoples’ attention. Equipped with my first camera, a Nikon FG, I took off for Costa Rica . I wouldn’t have believed, that photography would gain such an impact on my later life. Through the viewfinder of my camera I learned to observe and capture the varieties and the beauty of Nature.

What's best about it?
Nature photography is a great way to transfer my own emotions and excitement for the wonders of Mother Nature to other people. Being allowed to spend time in nature is a big gift to me. Moreover, it is the most wonderful office in the world.

What's worst about it?
Getting up early, in spring and summer, when the light is the best. Strenuous hiking tours with heavy equipment in the mountains. Taking pictures at touristy places is not very nice either most of the time. Restrictions that we face in our profession or hideous fees that are requested to gain access to certain areas. Time spent in front of the computer in your personal digital darkroom. And the sadness I feel during my travels whenever I am confronted with the destruction of our environment and the incredible loss of biodiversity.

Favourite species and places in Europe?
Nature photography is a huge playground. There are new and awesome things to see any minute, regardless of a specific location or time. Most often the biggest thrill that you can experience during your work is when natural wonders merge with a beautiful place.

What's in the bag?
There’s a Nikon D2X, a Hasselblad X-Pan (analogue) as well as zoom lenses from 14- 200 mm . That’s my standard equipment for landscape photography.

For Macro shots I use a 200mm lens, for tele shots a 300 and a 500. Some gadgets are a polarizer and various gradual grey filters. Since times are now digital times I carry with me a laptop and a neat little external hard drive. Then there are things like batteries and memory cards in my backpack. In addition, I always have my tripod with me.

Your specialities / skills?
I am always aiming at visualizing the essentials of a landscape. Light is very important in that aspect. If you manage to combine magnificent light with a strong composition and that little bit of an arty touch – that for me makes a good photo. Those are my parameters for creating pictures and - less is more.

What will you do in your next life?
Being a nature photographer is such a privilege. In my next life I would just start earlier and take much more time for certain things.

3 tips for beginners
1) A photographer has to “mature“ – just like a great wine.
2) Do not only think about your equipment and technique. The most expensive gear will not give you better pictures. They will rise in your head – the camera is just the tool to make them visible.
3) Be critical about your own work.

Mission

In October this year I will travel to Transylvania , Romania , the country still haunted by the myths of Dracula. I will visit the Piatra Craiului NP and the Cheile-Bicazului-Hasmas mountains. I look very much forward to this trip, as it will be a completely new location to me. This Carpathian high mountain range is a most impressive and rocky terrain with peaks rising to more than 2.500 m . All surrounded by a huge forested area. I hope for wonderful autumn colours and some beautiful autumn days.

Best Picture

Best Picture
Cuernos del Paine and Lago Pehoe, Patagonia , Chile .

What's cool about it?
Not a very recent picture, a setting that has often been photographed and unfortunately not even from Europe – but for me this one is my best picture.

Could it be better?
I have been to Patagonia on four trips, and many times to the same places and always stood in awe in front of this beautiful mountain range. But I never ever saw such magic morning light again, which let the mountain glow like it did that day, neither there nor anywhere else.

Behind the Scene
In March 2001, on my third trip into Chile ’s Torres del Paine NP, I finally found this light that I waited for in vain during my previous journeys. Reaching the place where the picture was taken is not much of an effort. Only a few steps away were the tent grounds at Lago Pehoe. But every morning I drudged myself by clambering out of my warm sleeping bag as it was fairly stormy outside, like it almost always is in Patagonia . In order to handle the contrast gap between light and dark in the picture I used a gradual grey filter. The only problem I had that morning was the strong wind. I could only hope that my tripod would withstand the squally wind and deliver some sharp images.

Date: March 2001
Location: Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia , Chile
Gear: Hasselblad XPan, 4.0/90 mm, tripod: Sachtler

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