Jiri Hrebicek
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Secrets of Professional Photography: Jiri Hrebicek Interview

I’d think about that if you shoot a promising burst of photos, you subsequently delete those that didn’t prove nicely. The blurry ones go first, of course. However I think that for my visitor at this time, it’s precisely the alternative – he deletes every thing that’s sharp. On this episode of Secrets of Professional Photography, Jiri Hrebicek introduces us to how movement blur might be elevated to artwork.

Jiri Hrebicek

In preparation for this interview, I took a take a look at Jiri’s portfolio and counted all of the sharp images in it. Summing them up and checking my math, I obtained a stunning quantity – one. Just check it out for yourself; one blurry picture after one other.

Nonetheless, Jiri’s images are lovely and extremely creative. The braveness with which he can abandon descriptive element provides his images one other dimension. A dimension that’s largely created by the viewer’s creativeness and willingness to get into the temper of Jiri’s photos. The viewer is thus not only a passive client, however in a approach a co-creator of the general impression of the {photograph}.

Sbow Geese_Jiří Hřebíček
Canon EOS-1D X + EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM +2x III @ 360mm, ISO 50, 1/4, f/13.0

Maybe it’s as a result of of this private involvement that Jiri’s works have turn out to be so imprinted in my mind that I can recall many of them in all their (blurred) particulars even after a very long time. I as soon as juried a pictures competitors. 1000’s of more-or-less excellent images. All of the sudden a intentionally blurry picture appeared on my monitor, and it stood out. I later realized that Jiri was the photographer.

Similar to me, many different jurors have been and are impressed by Jiri’s works. The proof of that is the ever-growing checklist of awards from many prestigious competitions world wide, comparable to Nature Photographer of the Year, Competition de l’Oiseau et de la Nature, Chicken Photographer of the Year, and plenty of extra.

Firewings_Jiří Hřebíček
Canon EOS-1D X + EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM @ 200mm, ISO 50, 1/13, f/22.0

I interviewed Jiri Hrebicek to search out out the secrets and techniques of his creative method. Our dialog is reproduced under.

Jiri, I’ll begin with the competitions. The checklist of them is so lengthy that if I have been to checklist all of them, there would hardly be room for questions. So I’ll ask it one other approach. Do you discover an elevated curiosity in your work due to profitable competitions? Does this replicate in any approach within the gross sales of your photos, affords for exhibitions, or in every other approach?

Sure, success in a contest typically generates consideration to my footage, which then leads to an invite to offer a lecture on how my images are made or a suggestion to prepare an exhibition. That makes me even happier than success in a contest. Competitions are good suggestions for me, however even higher suggestions is when folks come into contact with my photographs for the very first time. I wish to see their quick response when my photographs look totally different from the character photographs they know and count on.

The King_Jiří Hřebíček
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV + EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM +2x III @ 140mm, ISO 250, 1/4, f/5.6

I ask as a result of once I raised this query with Ondrej Prosicky, I obtained an sudden reply. Particularly that images profitable competitions are usually commercially unsuccessful, and vice versa. Do you’ve got an analogous expertise?

I don’t promote sufficient photographs to have a whole comparability. However it’s a incontrovertible fact that people who find themselves fascinated by my work as a result of of a contest or who’ve seen my photographs by likelihood at an exhibition, usually select one thing utterly totally different, which has caught their eye on my web site.

Only recently I used to be fairly stunned once I obtained an e-mail from my ordering system on the location {that a} consumer had ordered a 120x80cm portrait of an orangutan. So I assumed I’d higher verify with him, as I used to be below the impression that the picture had been obtained fairly negatively. However he even invited me to his home and proudly confirmed me how the orangutan seems nice in his place. For me personally, this enthusiasm and pleasure for my picture is the best appreciation of what I do.

Orangutan_Jiří Hřebíček
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV + EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM @ 170mm, ISO 1000, 1/40, f/4.0

In what kind are your images most frequently bought? Printed photos, the digital model?

To date, it’s about half and half. With folks from overseas, I normally comply with promote the picture in digital kind, as a result of it’s simpler than sending them an already printed picture. However my choice is for a private handover, when I’ve the print of the picture below my management and might then give it over to the brand new proprietor.

I’ve tried giving my older – I imply sharp – photographs to a couple inventory picture web sites, nevertheless it’s only a marginal revenue. Right now it makes extra sense for me to concentrate on selling these extra art-oriented images. These will in all probability at all times be on the periphery of the curiosity of the broader public, however they may definitely discover their viewers. There are nonetheless lots of individuals who recognize it when a photographer leaves room for his or her creativeness and emotions, even when it’s “simply” a photograph of a chicken or an animal.

Elephants_Jiří Hřebíček
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV + EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM +2x III @ 360mm, ISO 100, 1 second, f/10.0

Let’s return to the start. I do not forget that once we have been collectively in Colombia about seven years in the past, you have been already in search of totally different photos than us, the traditional wildlife photographers. Nonetheless, I don’t recall seeing blurry photographs in your display screen again then. How did you begin down that path?

Nicely, the journey to Colombia in 2015 was one of the final occasions I took solely sharp photographs. However I’ve had a bit of a photographic disaster for some time now. I really like nature and animals and wished to keep it up, however on the identical time I see pictures as an artwork kind, so I struggled with not with the ability to get some of my emotions and moods into my photographs. Even once I tried to search for different themes, I at all times felt that anybody else standing in the identical place with the identical approach would take the identical or comparable picture.

Round that point, I first noticed the images of Dutch photographer Jan van der Greef on the web. And I can nonetheless keep in mind precisely how amazed I used to be by what I noticed – scenes of African nature… however which appeared like impressionistic work. I didn’t perceive in any respect the way it was potential to create one thing so lovely, and I instantly felt that this could possibly be the factor that may assist me to get one thing of myself and my notion of the world into the photographs.

The Tiger_Jiří Hřebíček
Canon EOS-1D X + EF300mm f/2.8L IS USM +1.4x @ 420mm, ISO 200, 1/8, f/11.0

On my subsequent journey to Hokkaido, I remembered these photographs and adjusted my camera to get a barely longer shutter pace and began experimenting.

Early within the journey, one thing occurred that I took as an indication. I used to be taking pictures in a single place and probably not having fun with it, so I began strolling round. Of all issues, I then bumped into Jan van der Greef in individual. Yeah, the identical Jan whose photographs appealed to me a lot.

We began speaking, and I obtained my first suggestions from him about lengthy publicity wildlife pictures. Earlier than we mentioned goodbye, we agreed to go to Norway collectively to shoot this sort of picture. It was a serendipitous assembly.

The Dance_Jiří Hřebíček
Canon EOS-1D X + EF300mm f/2.8L IS USM +1.4x @ 420mm, ISO 160, 1/15, f/13.0

And so a brand new Jiri Hrebicek was born. That’s nice. I believe you’ve managed to construct a particular fashion, which isn’t straightforward on this enterprise.

I have to admit that once I was serious about your photographs – and I discussed it at first of our dialog – the phrase braveness got here to my thoughts. I see myself trying to find days or perhaps weeks for an animal, and once I lastly discover it, I would by no means have the ability to set an extended publicity and make a smudge out of it. Simply imagining it makes me get away in a chilly sweat.

That’s precisely proper. I don’t get away in a chilly sweat, however my fingers are shaking. Once I know I’m witnessing a singular second which may be utterly wasted simply because I’m taking a blurry picture. Happily, with lengthy publicity pictures, shaky fingers are fascinating and make for uncommon and summary photographs. One other good option to obtain summary photographs is to shoot whereas driving or at the least depart the engine working to assist get the lens shifting a bit whereas taking pictures.

If potential, I carry two cameras – one set for sharp photographs and one set for blurry ones. However I normally routinely attain for the one for blurry photographs in the course of the journey, as a result of I’m getting increasingly more drained of the conventional, sharp photographs of animals – not simply photographing them, but in addition them. That’s why I now favor to attempt portray with my camera, even on the value of not getting any picture in any respect. I benefit from the course of of creating and experimenting, and once I’m surrounded by lovely nature, then nothing else issues.

The Flamingo_Jiří Hřebíček
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV + EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM @ 150mm, ISO 50, 5 seconds, f/11.0

I suppose you don’t care about such an earthly factor like lens sharpness, or am I incorrect? I keep in mind you used to make use of a hard and fast 300mm Canon lens. What’s your present “brush”?

I’ve to say that taking pictures with longer publicity occasions utterly freed me from the technical elements of pictures. So I don’t fear about how nicely this or that camera focuses, what number of pixels it has, or how sharp the lens is and the way nicely it renders the pictures. And thus I can use the camera like a painter’s brush and attempt to seize one thing that the human eye doesn’t even see. It’s like making an attempt to seize a dream or the soul of an animal.

The comb for me remains to be a Canon, and I’ve simply modified the lens. As an alternative of the 300mm prime, I’ve taken a liking to the 70-200mm, which supplies me extra freedom to search out the composition. I may also give the chicken or animal within the picture more room. Minimalist “blurs” are additionally an attention-grabbing self-discipline.

These days, I’ve been taking pictures with even longer publicity occasions than traditional (e.g. 1 to five sec) to have the ability to artistically seize even comparatively static scenes. That’s why I’m now making an attempt Olympus, the place I’m impressed by one of its options (stay composite), the place one can see the picture being taken stay and cease the publicity at any time.

The Mirror_Jiří Hřebíček
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV + EF200-400mm f/4L IS USM EXT @ 490mm, ISO 320, 1/5000, f/5.6

Other than the camera and lenses, what different items of gear are in your picture bag? Is there something in it that may shock me?

In all probability the principle factor is the varied ND (impartial density) filters that permit me to shoot in virtually any lighting circumstances. I can’t even think about taking pictures with longer shutter speeds with out them. However they’re in all probability not in most wildlife photographers’ luggage.

The Ghost_Jiří Hřebíček
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV + EF17-40mm f/4L USM @ 40mm, ISO 50, 1/4, f/6.3

As soon as the picture is taken, how far is the journey from the captured RAW to the completed picture?

I’m usually confronted with the query of how a lot my photographs are actual and the way a lot are they the outcome of Photoshop. However right here I can say with a transparent conscience that the majority photographs are taken instantly within the camera. As you talked about in the beginning of the interview, I submit photographs to picture competitions, and so they normally wish to see the unique RAW if the picture will get shortlisted.

So I normally simply do minor edits in Seize One after which Photoshop (adjusting distinction, curves, minor retouching). Happily, I don’t should take care of sharpening and de-noising and as a substitute concentrate on the general environment of the picture.

That mentioned, I’m not involved with capturing actuality, however with creating an impression or phantasm. So I don’t have to stay strictly to how the scene actually appeared. It frees me up a bit.

Swiss Alps_Jiří Hřebíček
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV + Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM @ 40mm, ISO 50, 4 seconds, f/8.0

If I wish to attempt to take a photograph like Jiri Hrebicek, how ought to I do it? Not that I can’t take an unsharp picture, I’ve no downside with that. You understand what I imply… May you choose a couple of items out of your portfolio and describe the method of making them?

In fact. This picture (proven under) was taken throughout my common walks to a close-by park, the place I attempted the approach of combining a static scene with intentional camera actions throughout a single publicity on swans and crows. I selected a time of 2 seconds, holding the camera nonetheless for about 0.5s to maintain the crow silhouette comparatively sharp. Then I used the remaining 1.5s of publicity to level the lens on the crown of a neighboring tree and transfer it round a bit for the remaining of the time, giving the picture a texture that gave it a bit of an impressionistic really feel.

The Crow_Jiří Hřebíček
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV + EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM +2x III @ 260mm, ISO 50, 2 seconds, f/10.0

This subsequent picture was taken after a dialogue with a good friend who had been experimenting with double exposures. I began to suppose the right way to get the double publicity impact in a single publicity. And I spotted that if I improve the publicity time sufficient, I can get that kind of impact

On this case, I uncovered the elephant scene for about one second, then pointed the lens towards some timber on the horizon for an additional second. It takes some experimentation and trial and error. Happily, the elephant wasn’t in a rush, so I had an opportunity to get a couple of pictures earlier than I lastly took one I used to be proud of.

The Connection_Jiří Hřebíček
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV + EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM @ 140mm, ISO 50, 2.5 seconds, f/11.0

For the following picture, my intention was to seize the wing motion of a seagull simply leaving the floor of the water. I needed to discover the camera angle the place there was a darkish background behind it. This gave the picture the distinction it wanted to make the wing motion seen within the picture.

The shutter pace I selected was 1/15 second. This stored the pinnacle and physique comparatively sharp whereas blurring the wing motion a bit. The gulls have been flying away one after the other, so the toughest half was guessing which one would fly away subsequent.

The Seagull_Jiří Hřebíček

Listening to you, I believe I’ll exit and attempt to smudge one thing. Are you able to give me some strategies on the place to begin?

Anybody can attempt it with out having to journey far. Birds are an excellent first topic. The best locations are these with bigger birds which can be habituated to people. Someplace in a park, close to the ocean, and even in a zoo.

Except you’ve got a bit of expertise with this and have an ND filter, it’s higher to attempt it within the night, the place you may get longer publicity occasions. For starters, a shutter pace of 1/20 or 1/30 second is sufficient. You may construct from there as you get higher at understanding movement.

Then simply choose a topic, ideally one with a predictable path of motion, and begin experimenting. Attempt to consider topic separation from the background. Seek for backgrounds which can be totally different in coloration from the topic.

Flamingos_Jiří Hřebíček
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV + EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM @ 120mm, ISO 50, 2.5 seconds, f/7.1

What if somebody discovered such a liking in your photographic approach that they wished to study instantly from you within the discipline – is there any likelihood? Do you additionally set up workshops, or do you retain your secrets and techniques to your self?

I’m definitely joyful to share my expertise. If anybody is fascinated by studying extra about lengthy publicity pictures, they’ll contact me. I have already got a couple of folks fascinated by taking pictures collectively, so I wish to set up a one-day workshop on the zoo first, adopted by a shorter journey someplace in Europe. I’d additionally like to return to Bosque del Apache in New Mexico. It’s a fully excellent place for artistic work. So it’s undoubtedly potential to rearrange some particular person workshops there if any of your readers have an interest.

Sleeping Beauty_Jiří Hřebíček
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV + EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM @ 115mm, ISO 160, 3.2 seconds, f/2.8

Your first photos, and actually most of your images, seize animals. That’s, creatures that transfer. However recently I see that you’re shifting in direction of very spectacular photographs of landscapes. In fact, blurry ones, too. If there’s any style of pictures obsessive about sharpness and backbone, it’s panorama pictures. May you inform me one thing about that?

This may increasingly simply be a pure development. It began with my makes an attempt to make use of lengthy exposures on static scenes the place the animal isn’t shifting. From there it’s only a logical step to attempt to seize the panorama utterly with out the animal.

Hopefully these images will discover their viewers who will wish to interact their creativeness and be drawn into the mysterious panorama. Viewers who gained’t instantly reject the {photograph} simply because it’s not sharp or technically excellent.

Let there be a Light_Jiří Hřebíček
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV + EF17-40mm f/4L USM @ 17mm, ISO 50, 8 seconds, f/14.0

You revealed your first e book this summer time. May you introduce it to us? The place can I purchase it?

I initially wished to make a e book for myself and my pals, however finally I managed to get it revealed.

With the assistance from folks my pals advisable, I consider that we managed to make an attention-grabbing e book. The photographs, taken in my favourite place in Norway, grew to become the idea for a phenomenal story written in a couple of quick chapters by Nina Djakovic. And the ultimate kind was created by Lucie Mrackova utilizing fashionable graphic design.

It may be bought by means of my website, the place anybody can select whether or not they want it in print or as a PDF e-book.

Restless Sea_Jiří Hřebíček
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV + EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM @ 70mm, ISO 50, 1/4, f/6.3

Jiri, do you’ve got a picture in your head that’s ready to be reworked into actuality, however on the identical time you’re feeling that it is going to be a tricky nut to crack?

I don’t suppose I’ve a dream picture. However someday, when the legendary Irbis seems in entrance of my lens, I hope I’ll discover the braveness to blur it.

The Swan and the Crow_Jiří Hřebíček
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV + EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM @ 170mm, ISO 50, 2 seconds, f/16.0

Thanks to Jiri Hrebicek for sharing his strategies with us on this interview! If you wish to contact Jiri or see extra of his photographs, you are able to do so on his website.

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