Picture this… you’re sitting on a train and have no clue what the couple behind you are talking about. You hear words like “F-Stop” and “Dragging the Shutter”. They are muttering sentences like “OMG how much dynamic range do you have?” and “Did you use the correct sync speed?” Being blown away by all these strange words, you just sit there with a face like a goat on astroturf… What on earth is going on here? You sit in silence, listen to everything and take it all in.
That’s what happened to me, maybe 10 or 12 years ago. It was like being on another planet. Akin to living in a strange new world that I knew I wanted to know better. I felt drawn to those alien terms and wanted to understand more. Determined to figure out the meaning of those words, I tried not to forget them before I got off the train and later that evening, found them online. That evening it was like the elevator opening to a hidden floor or taking the train to platform 9 3⁄4. Finding new ascents to climb, new secrets to reveal, new puzzles to figure out.
I started my photography journey with nothing, but I already knew I wanted to create something, with anything. I knew it could be done and it was a challenge I quickly accepted and so I bought my first point-and-shoot. I knew nothing but still I wanted everything, all at once. And like almost everybody that starts out in a similar way, I was soon lost in the woods. Without any kind of guide, I kept walking the wrong path and doing misguided things.
Luckily I had a nice colleague with a good understanding of photography. In my eyes he had the most amazing gadgets a store could offer, bags full of magical creatures! I quickly figured out that my point-and-shoot wasn’t doing what I needed. Somehow, that camera had limitations, borders and restrictions I couldn’t figure out. Another hurdle to take, another world to explore…
A year or two later my girlfriend of the time bought a DSLR. I could be wrong here, but I think it was a Canon 400D. It was one of the most sought after cameras at the time with all the bells and whistles one could hope for. She never had that camera in her hands... but I did! And with that small 18-55 kit lens I took images I could never have dreamt of. I didn’t dare touch any editing software. Hell no, my images were clear, untouched and pure… SOOO magical…. Nope, they sucked big time, and it took me a while to figure that out for myself. It took me even more time to accept this, and know how to advance, get better, jump bigger hurdles.
The moment the Canon 6D was announced I knew I was ready to dive into the big unknown land of editing and take my hobby a stage further. I knew I could do more with 20mb raw files than 3mb jpegs. Another world of opportunities! My life was like riding a stargazer up to that point, jumping from portal to portal expanding my view on the world of photography.
December 2012. I was finally able to get the 6D together with a 50mm 1.8 and a (my now workhorse) 24-105. A month later I got the 40mm pancake and later purchased the Tamron 90m 2.8 V2. All those lenses had their own speciality and I still love them all even to this day. Having said that, my super creative journey started when I got my hands on some Lensbaby bodies and lenses. Completely manual, free of anything digital, I was forced to shoot on one aperture all day long. With a body that could bend, I tried new ways of framing shots and subjects. I introduced lensflare and creative use of aluminium foil, bokeh, xmas lights and panties. Yes, panties.
From being free in your composition to using a steel wool is just a small step, right? Right. How I got there? Well, I was asked to do something with light for a challenge on the interwebs. So I googled it and landed in the light painting world. And this is where I still am today. I never left.
The world were I was, doing my best with a point-and-shoot, was a world with borders and restrictions. This new light painting world is the complete opposite. It’s free, limitless and I can do whatever I want. Only the sky's the limit.
And this is what I always wanted: To create something from nothing with anything. I love it.