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Dieter Damschen

My blind is my castle – my personal front-row seat.

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Featured Photographer

Dieter Damschen

About

At the age of 14 years I took my first photos with my first own camera. At that time I discovered nature around the area I lived. I grew up on a farm in the very westernmost part of Germany. Mostly interested I was in birds right from the beginning of my “career”. Especially cranes were and are my favourite motifs and I am travelling to watch them nearly all over Europe.
Starting out as an autodidact I got a professional nature photographer and turned my obsession into my daily work. Since 1999 I am a member of GDT and got important contacts and made friends throughout the years – it helped me to get on my way.
My works are shown in magazines, books and exhibitions. Four years ago I started publishing my own calendars occurring each year.

Website: www.dieterdamschen.de

Interview

Why nature photography?
The greatest thing to me is to be out in nature and to feel it closely. The camera is the perfect tool to catch moments, light, moods and deliver emotions one experienced.
Nature photography is a kind of communication to me. Showing my pictures is showing people nature from my point of view and maybe inspire their interests; but my greatest aim is to deliver the beauty of nature.

What's best about it?
To be in the field, to be far away from other people, problems and the everyday life. Watching animals is a good exercise to get a clearer point of view of human behaviour.

What's worst about it?
As a professional nature photographer one has to spend much time on computer work, contacts and everyday trouble that comes up with organising and selling pictures - a very contra productive thing to the idea of being a “nature photographer”, who likes to be alone, lie in the mud and be eaten by mosquitoes, clearly: being one with nature.

Favourite species and places in Europe?
Cranes, cranes, cranes and mostly all birds with a wing-span of more than 150 cm.
My favourite place is the region of the Middle-Elbe in Germany, the place where I live. It is a good area for combination of life and work as a nature photographer. For the circumstances in Germany it is an area with plenty of habitats and species (we have a lot of cranes there).

What's in the bag?
All the stuff you need to be called a photographer (lenses from 12-500mm, flashes and a lot of small parts I usually never use). But the things I really need to do my work are two cameras (Nikon D300 + D700), my good old AF-I 4/500 with 1,4x extender, a solid Gitzo tripod with a fluid head, my favourite “wide-angle” (2,8/70-200) and first of all a blind with a low height, that allows me to sit on the ground to get a low point of view.

Your specialities / skills?
Two qualities do help me being a nature photographer. Patience and luck. This combination is a good base to experience special moments and to get good results. The more patient you are the more luck you will have to watch rare situations and to release at the right moment.

What will you do in your next life?
To me there is no better life as that of a nature photographer. For this reason I want to be the same in my next life. But I would like to have enough assistants who would do all kinds of organisational stuff.

3 tips for beginners
1. Do not just see – feel!
2. Be outdoor in the field as often as possible. Just in practice you get experience and results.
3. Read and internalise the tips of Sandra Bartocha!

Mission

In August 2008 there was a special kind of situation next to the place I live. An old riverbed of the Elbe was nearly dry and the fish got in a trap. This fact brought many birds which found a rich meal there. During a time of three weeks there were gulls, grey herons, great white egrets and some rare and shy black storks at this little waterhole. Sometimes more than 100 of these great birds were there to fish. An almost surreal scenery, I just know from pictures of the Everglades or Pantanal but never expected such a thing close to my home in Northern Germany.

Best Picture

Best Picture
Black storks in morning mist

What's cool about it?
I like the atmosphere produced by the morning mist, the movement of the gulls in contrast to the calm silhouettes of the black storks and herons. Personally it will always remind me of my first time meeting black storks unexpected.

Could it be better?
Of course there are some facts that can be better or more perfect. If the black stork in the middle would look to the right and the herons would stand in another position, more symmetrically it would be more perfect. But would that be really better?

Behind the Scene
I was working on that location for two weeks together with a friend, Markus Botzek. His blind stood close to mine and I was photographing a heron in front of me. Suddenly he noticed the situation and told me to turn over to that scenery. He himself had no possibility to pan his camera to this direction.

Date: Late August 2000
Location: At the river Elbe in Lower Saxony, Germany
Gear: Nikon F5, with 4/500 mm, Fujichrome Sensia 100, Gitzo tripod, self-made blind.

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