Just open your eyes

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Can you tell us about your background and how you got into photography? What do you actually do? 

I got my first camera in 1981 when I was 9 years old. It was a russian Smiena camera and the basics related to ISO, fstop and exposure time were explained to me by my father and by my uncle. For many years I was taking pictures and changed through some other cameras like Kodak and Pentax. I returned to SLR cameras in 1999 with Minolta and into the digital with Konica Minolta D7D in 2004. Since then I changed to Sony and now I use a Sony A7R and Sony A6000.

I do not consider myself as a professional photographer as this is a hobby in my free time and not the source of revenue. I studied law in Poland and now I work for the EU institutions in Luxembourg.

Did you start photography as a landscape photographer, or you later changed into one?

As I love spending time outdoors I always had a camera with me. This is probably the source of my passion for travel and landscape photography. I also enjoy architecture photography, but it is the landscape photography that makes me grab the camera. Even when I go just for a short walk to the nearby forrest with my family, I usually  take the camera with me. For short walks I usually leave the tripod at home and I take camera and a single lens. 

How do you prepare before going for a shoot?

Everything depends whether it is a place I know or I'm just about to discover. Of course going out for the nearby places  is much easier, as the main thing is to check the weather and pack the bag. For more distant places, I surf the website and check out the images on the internet, in order to feel the atmosphere and se what the place looks like in different weather conditions. I do not like most known spots but even the images from there can ba a valuable lesson as regards the acess to the place etc. I get the maps from the region but also tend more and more to use the tools like Photographers Ephemeris or PlanIt! Pro together with Google Earth in order to find possibly good spots for the sunrise and sunset. I tend to have the bag always ready with the lenses clear, filters packed and batteries charged. This is particlarly important when you wake up at some crazy hours like 3 AM in order to get in place for the sunrise.

Please share few quick practical tips for landscape photography?

Be out there even if the weather is bad. Some of my favorite images were made in some harsh conditions. As far as the non photo gear is concerned I find that having good adapted shoes and warm clothes is particularly important. You cannot think quietly about the composition, exposure  if you're cold. Never go out without the polarizing filter. Nothing can replace it even today in the digital era. Get some good sturdy tripod, but be careful and choose wisely. If it is too heavy you will suffer when hiking ;) Try to get to know the place beforehand, find some good compositions and return on the next day chasing for the good light. 

What do you think makes a memorable landscape photograph? 

There is no difference between landscape and other types of photography. Composition, light , subject must play together in order to create a strong emotions on the viewers side. When this happens this is the biggest compliment for the image author. Try to place the emotions that you felt when you decided to crop this vast space and close it in a square image.

In your opinion, is publishing your work in Camerapixo magazine worth the effort, and if yes why? 

Camerapixo magazine is extremely well produced both the digital version and printed one. The design and selection of images are well thought, modern and classy. This is a huge value in itself! I feel that the number of people that know the magazine is bigger and bigger so your images can be seen by more people with each published issue. The fact that on different pages you can see both the big names of pro photographers and some very talentd amateurs is something reallly amazing. I know than whenever one of my images appears in the magazine or even when the new magazine is out there are some new visitors to my site and profiles in social media sites like Google+ or Facebook. The people behind the Camerapixo are amazingly friendly and professional team. It is always a pleasure to work with them and a privilege to learn that the submitted image has been selected.

What special skills and equipment would you consider essential when photographing landscape?

From my experience I would say that besides the obvious camera and lens the most important are tripod, polarizing filter, map and good shoes. The bag you're going to use during the hikes or even shorter walks must be comfortable. After chaning bags very very often since more than 3 years now, I am a big fan of the F-stop Gear bags that are the best ever bags for me. I have many fellow photographers to whom I suggested taking a look at these bags and those who decided to buy one are very satisfied. 

Please explain your post processing workflow? Do you have any special workflow you would like to share with us?

I am currently using a Sony A7R full frame camera because of its 36 megapixels create some huge files. The A7R II that is on the market since a very short time produces probably even bigger files. This obliged me to slightly change my workflow. Now after copyng files to my hard drive I usually start by quick pass through a great little software called FastRawViewer. In there I check the raw files, I verify the sharpness and using the stars and colors system I tag the rawfiles. Then the files are imported into Lightroom that recognizes the ratings made in FastRawViewer. I do some basic adjustemnts in LR. For some images I stay in LR but for the others I move to Photoshop CC. I continue the postprocessing using the Luminosity Masks and NIK Software plugins. Since a few weeks I am also using a great software called Piccure+ for correcting and sharpening the best to be images, that I know will be printed at the end. Printing the image is the end of the process. This form of image is the goal that I always have in my mind when I go out shooting ... even at 3 AM :D

Name a shoot that revealed to you the distance you've come as an artist. 

It is a hard question to answer, but one of my favorite ever images are two made in Scotland. One was made during a beautiful sunset in the Quiraing on the Isle of Skye, and the other is a black and white image made in mist and rain with some huge white empty space on it. The first became quite popular, the second one is much less appreciated but for me it is a very important one.

Did you find any of the places particularly challenging to shoot? 

The particularly beautiful places that I see for the first time are always and I mean always, a challenge for me. The beauty of some of the places like Quirraing, Loch Assynt in Scotland, some spots in Lofoten or Senja in Norway, was so exciting, that I had to - not always with success - struggle to choose the composition. The world is so beautiful ... Just open your eyes.

Thank you Maciej for taking the time to do this interview.
We are happy to welcome you on board among other photographers.
Your photography is very valuable in this community and very beneficial for our readers.
Camerapixo Team

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