Nature photography is an art in itself. Sometimes you have to wait for hours to take a nice landscape photo. With moving photos, for example of animals, it can depend on seconds. All the more fascinating are the photos that result from such a project. We have spoken with the four best nature photographers in Switzerland for you. We also asked each of them the question: “What fascinates you about nature photography?” In this article we would like to introduce you to the photographers and their answers.
The photographer was the overall winner of the 2016 competition organised annually by the Swiss Association of Nature Photographers. With his photo “Im herbstlichen Ahornhain”(In the autumnal Ahornhain) he won first place, but is also represented in other categories. For this reason we have asked Tobias Ryser a few additional questions, the answers to which you can read here.
FFL: How long have you been taking pictures? How did you discover photography for yourself?
“Already when I was young I loved to be outdoors and was fascinated by nature. Later, on journeys and excursions, I captured my adventures and landscapes on a small compact camera and only left the scenery when the resulting image was right in my eyes.
At the beginning of 2011, I started to work intensively with photography in the slipstream of a good friend and photographer and bought my first digital SLR camera. Suddenly I understood how I could express my love for nature even more intensively through photography and began to coordinate my outdoor activities with photography.“
FFL: You are a trained landscape architect and part-time ranger. Is there enough time left for photography?
“I can use my skills perfectly in photography. In addition to a sensitive feeling for special moments and light moods, I am extremely patient and have a good eye for detail. All this helped me to work as a freelance photographer today. My training as a landscape architect and my part-time job as a ranger help me to draw on the full potential of my workshops and give my clients a special experience of nature.“
FFL: On your website there are fascinating photos from New Zealand, France and Switzerland. Which of these destinations was your favourite?
“I like to travel in the Swiss mountains best. That’s where I feel most comfortable and know my way around very well. There are so many beautiful things to discover in our homeland that I sometimes wonder why one always has to travel to distant countries to experience something extraordinary. The emotional value of a picture is very important to me and I believe that to a certain degree you should earn an enchanting picture. With a strenuous ascent, for example.”
FFL: You are also a wedding photographer and give workshops. For which profession does your heart beat the most? What is the difference?
“Wedding photography is about telling a story. You work under time pressure and must be able to recognise special moments in the shortest possible time and capture them aesthetically. In landscape photography, on the other hand, you have the time to look around for a long time to find a harmonious section of the picture and to look for pretty foregrounds. But if the light goes crazy, you also work in a hurry there.
Both in wedding photography and as a workshop leader, dealing with the other person plays a decisive role. If I succeed in establishing a trusting relationship with the bridal couple or the workshop participant, every single picture profits from it. Fortunately, in the vast majority of cases, I succeed because I am an extremely emphatic and enthusiastic type.”
FFL: Good motifs can be found almost everywhere and yet they are incredibly hard to find. Are you looking for special subjects or are you photographing what appears in front of your lens?
“In photography, I am an absolute perfectionist and my greatest critic. On my tours, the camera is a constant companion, but I only take it out very specifically. Especially in landscape photography, I am now quite spoiled and only take pictures in unusual light moods. I usually find my motifs through a combination of research, map study and local searches”.
FFL: What is the best way to prepare for a trip into nature to take pictures? What should not be missing besides the camera?
“A good nature and landscape photographer is distinguished not only by their photographic skills but also by their profound knowledge of nature. The better you know your subject and deal with it, the better the image will be. If you want to photograph landscapes in a beautiful light, you need a tripod as well as a camera. In addition, there are many aids such as pole, grey and grey gradient filters, with which you can achieve better results, provided you know how to use them correctly”.
Both photos: Tobias Ryser, www.tobias-ryser.ch
“What fascinates me about nature photography is the intensive examination of nature, which has interested me since childhood. Furthermore, photography gives me the opportunity to communicate the beauty and uniqueness of nature to others in a “language” that is understandable to everyone and to create very personal accents and perspectives. Switching off from everyday life by concentrating on the here and now, where only the moment with the current light and the immediate events counts and wants to be interpreted, is also fascinating”.
Both photos: Anna-Barbara Utelli, www.linaria-alpina.com
“Nature photography takes me to places I would otherwise never have seen, shows me things I would otherwise never find. Since I have been intensively involved with nature photography, I perceive many things quite differently. It fascinates me to capture the beauty of our nature in one picture and to bring it closer to my surroundings, in what a world we live in that deserves protection. Ultimately, it is the combination of being outside, discovering new things and implementing them creatively and in the best light. Nature photography has become an integral part of my life.”
Both photos: Andi Hofstetter, http://www.ahofstetter.ch/
“It is the interplay between a unique but often capricious nature and the inexhaustible photographic possibilities that nourishes my passion for nature photography.
As a human being I am only tolerated by nature. Accordingly, I need a lot of consideration, patience and always a little bit of luck for taking photos amidst landscape, weather and living creatures. Sometimes it’s enough to be in the right place with the camera at the right moment by chance. Another time I climb through the mountains for three days and don’t bring home an overwhelming picture. But it’s always worth it: Decelerating my everyday life by pausing in nature is at least as valuable as capturing a great scenery”.
Both photos: David Schweizer, www.davidschweizer.ch