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Ruben Smit

A good photo is like a good relationship. It needs some time to establish and after a while it gets better and better. I don’t believe in ‘love’ at first sight.

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Featured Photographer

Ruben Smit

About

I would describe myself as a passionate photographer with a mission. Every nature photo should inspire and inform. I feel like a researcher, a journalist and an artist. I simply need to show the beauty of the natural world and tell everyone about it. I used to be a researcher and university teacher in ecology. In those days I only reached students but now I want to reach the ‘world’. I want to be known as the guy who shoots nice pictures and, moreover knows a lot about it!

Website: www.rubensmit.nl

Interview

Why nature photography?
It’s the best job I will ever have. In fact it does not feel like a job. I have the opportunity to do what I really like. Be fascinated by the outside world and try to inspire others. I chose to be a professional photographer six years ago and did not regret it at all!

What's best about it?
To make your own plan and try to let it happen and visualize it in photos. The attempt to understand nature and see things you have never expected and never seen before.

What's worst about it?
The misunderstanding of the public. That nature photographers are dark, selfish, peculiar persons with a communication problem. I always have to explain why I want to take nature photos and what gives me the right to do so. It makes me feel guilty like I am a criminal who wants to destroy nature.

Favourite species and places in Europe?
Favourite species is the hobby (Falcon subbuteo). An intelligent, fast and mysterious bird. I have never taken one single photo of this beloved bird (and maybe it is better that way!). Best place; hmmm, I love ancient woodlands but there are so few of them left. I prefer to stay in my backyard (small pools, woodland edge etc).

What's in the bag?
You’d better ask; what is in which bag? I have four different bags with different sets of camera brands and lenses. I have an old medium format camera set (Pentax 67) for landscape photography, a special bag for underwater photography (I only do snorkelling) and two bags with digital SLR’s.
I am always on the lookout for different techniques.

Your specialities / skills?
I try to be as all-round as possible. I do landscape photography as well as wildlife, macro, underwater and aerial photography. I am an ecologist and that’s the way I want to shoot my pictures. I like the habitat as much as the species and every single photo must be pure. I hate photos that are not real (taken under controlled circumstances). I try to shoot photos that have a soul. Photos that have a certain ambiance in which you may discover several dimensions.

What will you do in your next life?
I will be a musician…(but I don’t believe in reincarnation!)

3 tips for beginners
1) Do not believe in the fact that every photo has already been taken. Pure bullshit. You are able to shoot unique photos right from your doorstep.
2) If you hate to get up early, choose another profession. Go there where nobody else goes! Find new ways and new areas and do not follow the herd!
3)Stay focused. Try to visualise a photo before you actually take it. A good photo is 99% preparation and 1% luck.

Mission

I will go to Serbia and try to focus on ‘small creatures’. The European pond turtle has my special attention. I try to shoot underwater photos of the unique wetland reserves, and hopefully the turtle plays the main role in it! I like going to Serbia because very few people knows about this place. I am glad that I may try to aim the spotlights on this special country.

Best Picture

Best Picture
Grebe Underwater.

What's cool about it?
I don’t have a best picture. I have a favourite picture but this changes every now and then. I selected the photo of a Great Crested Grebe because it shows me the magic of the Grebe I had never seen it before. It is the scenic underwater world and the pure attitude of a bird that sees right through me. These are the photos I want to take; showing new angles, and the life of species in a way that I feel reflect the true beauty and the magic of the species.

Could it be better?
Always! I am never satisfied! The light could be better, there could be two grebes in it or even a complete different composition.

Behind the Scene
A good friend and assistant during the Wild Wonders of Europe mission discovered a Grebe that was curious enough to dive at close distance (less than one metre!). I went snorkelling but did not find the Grebe. On my way back to land I suddenly noticed the Grebe coming from a reed bed right up to me. It swam underwater and came closer and closer. It took about several minutes and then I realized that the bird saw its own reflection in my underwater lens! I even started to be a little afraid when the bird kept coming back and approached me under water until a distance of just centimetres!

Date: 31-7-2008
Location: Nearby pond in my own country (The Netherlands).
Gear: Wetsuit, Canon Eos 5D, underwater housing (Ikelite), 24 mm, f9, 1/125 sec, ISO 800.

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