To discover more about the living life behind a lens we started portrait interview series featuring 500px photographers. This week we’d like to introduce you to Fabian Oefner, talented Switzerland-based photographer whose work marries visual aesthetic and science.
Hello Fabian, tell us how and when did you start your photographic journey?
I come from a family with an artistic background, therefore I have always experimented with all different kinds of art forms at a very early stage. Photography turned out to be the form of art that I was most interested in.
Today I have a photo studio in Switzerland, where I work on assignments for various industries and realize free projects. What you see on my 500px page are images from free projects.
There is a definitive style that carries through all your photographs. How would you describe it?
Most of my work has to do with bringing science and art together. I often use natural phenomena that appear in our daily lives, being it sound waves, that I used in "Dancing Colors" or iridescence, which is responsible for the stunning colors in soap bubbles. What I am trying to achieve is to show these phenomena in an unseen and poetic way and therefore make the viewer pause for a moment and appreciate the magic that constantly surrounds us.
What/who inspires or influences you?
From a "subject" point of view, I am inspired and influenced by the world that surrounds me. I have a deep interest in all kinds of fields of science and I try to read as much as possible about new findings and technologies. Every now and then I come across something that I feel is worth exploring further. When I start with a new subject I rarely know, how the final images will look like. After experimenting with it, I start to get a feeling for it and after a while an idea for images develops.
Of course I am also inspired by the works of others. The other day I discovered the video "Yosemite HD" by Sheldon Neill and Colin Delehanty, which is absolutely outstanding. That doesn't influence my projects directly but seeing how beautifully this planet was created is a powerful source of inspiration.
Your photo subjects, be it a toy car, soap bubble or magnetic water colours are macro. What attracts you to such subjects?
I am not particularly interested in macro. This has more to do with the fact that it is easier to shoot these subjects in a "macro" version. But if somebody would like to provide their Ferrari 250 GTO to cover it in a gypsum shell, I am happy to do it :-)
Hatch 02 by Fabian Oefner
Using fibre glass lamp to create an illusion of nebulae or a bursting balloon to hold the shape of cornstarch. How do you come up with such creative solutions?
Such ideas are developed over quite a bit of time. As described above, I often do not know, what the final result will look like. The idea of the "nebulae" series developed when I was looking at the title of Stephen Hawking`s book "The universe in a nutshell". I thought why not take this title literally and try to create the illusion of a universe in a very small space. So I started to experiment with all different kinds of media to create that illusion. Finally I came up with using the fibre glass lamps to create the nebulae. Sometimes, after a project is finished, the technique to achieve the result seems fairly easy, but it goes a lot of research into it.
How do you achieve vibrant and clear colours in all of your photographs?
Having a color sensor in the camera helps quite a bit :-) Seriously in some of the projects I cannot influence the colors, for example in the Soap Bubble series. But wherever I can control the colors, I think about them for a long time and experiment with many combinations before deciding on the final colors to be used.
Many of your photos are shot in studio. Could you share your lighting tips with us?
I use customized High Speed Flashes, that I modified to freeze the motion seen in my images. These units are capable of creating flashes at an extremely short duration. The drawback of these flashes is that, the shorter the duration the weaker the light output. Therefore I often use more than 6 units to get enough power from them. If you go to my "stories" section of my 500px site, you can see the setup used for the "dancing colors" series.
What are your thoughts on post processing?
99.5 % of today`s images go through post processing before being published. In my case, it depends on the project, how heavily post processing is used. For example in the “millefiori” series, I barely touched the images coming from the camera, I just enhanced them in terms of sharpness and saturation. But the "Nebulae" images are created from dozens of individual images. It took longer to compose the final images than shooting the raw material.
Millefiori Nr. 02 by Fabian Oefner
What camera/s do you shoot with and what is your favorite equipment?
How do you market your work?
I use different kinds of channels. I was fortunate enough to be able to publish some of my work in renowned magazines all over the world like The New Scientist or Esquire. This is of course a great way to make yourself known to a larger audience. Nowadays I offer my works for sale in galleries, both physical and online ones.
What advice would you give to beginner photographers?
Try to find out what genre of photography you are most interested in and strive to improve your skills in this particular type of photography. I think it is very important to experiment with all different types of photography at the beginning of your career but at some point, you have to decide, which direction you want to go. Otherwise you risk the danger of dissipating your energies by trying to be good at everything.
Do you have any memorable stories to share from any of your photographic experiences?
A funny story happened to me the other day. I was working on a new project, where I use a lot of red paint in a very messy way. So I was working in the studio the whole day and when it got dark, I returned to my apartment. On the way to my door I passed by my newly moved-in neighbor. I greeted her, but to my surprise she just looked at me in a mistrustful way. It was when I entered my apartment and looked into the mirror, that it dawned on me, why she was a bit distrustful towards me: My clothes were covered with red splatters all over plus I was carrying a heavy tripod and a large, black bag...I haven't met here since. She probably still thinks her neighbor is either a trophy hunter or a serial killer :-)
Tell us 5 things about you that are unrelated to photography, which would introduce us to the person behind the lens.
Thanks to Fabian for being interviewed and to you for reading! Feel free to leave a comment or question to the photographer below, we love your feedback :)
P.S. Send your interview suggestions to email@example.com.
Want to get featured on our blog? Every Monday a theme is announced and you have until Sunday to submit your entry. Upload photos to your 500px profile, then email us the links. You may already have a photo that suits or you can see it as a weekly photo challenge. For announced theme and deadline continue reading. This week's theme was: Ending War.
Theme is open to interpretation so get creative, get snapping and send us the links to firstname.lastname@example.org. Deadline is September 9th at 12pm (EST). Big thanks to everyone who participated this week!
A picture is worth a thousand words, and we'd like to hear what they are. Today's guest post is by Isak Pretorius, a 33 year old professional wildlife photographer from South Africa. Here is his story of "White buffalo" photograph taken in the north of Kenya.
The north of Kenya is wild country. Most of the popular tourism only extends as far north as Samburu National Park. From there the roads get tough, the land gets dry and you might run into some friendly or not-so-friendly tribes. These tribes still live very traditionally, off the land, and have to defend their land and culture from other hostile neighboring tribes.
I recently guided a photographic safari to the north of Kenya where we wanted to photograph this land from a different perspective. From a helicopter we were not only safe but we also got the required unique angle and a great appreciation of how the habitat changes from mountains to savanna bush-veld and beautiful rivers. Much of that land also forms part of the Great Rift Valley and from the air it is a fascinating landscape with lakes, craters and streams of solidified lava from as little as ten thousand years ago. It is like seeing geological formation in action.
One morning after photographing the colorful pools of the Magado crater we headed north past the town of Archers Post. This town is known as the border between civilization and the wild country. We wanted to fly along the Usao Nyiro river which is a beautiful shallow river lined with palm trees and lots of birds. Just before we reached the river we saw a herd of buffalo moving towards the river through some thick green vegetation. Most of the buffalo were almost white, probably from a recent mud bath in the patches of white mud, from sodium carbonate, that were visible in the area. This created a nice contrast to the green vegetation and a perfect opportunity to showcase this unique environment. Party cloudy skies, mountains, river, striking green vegetation with a herd of white buffaloes all contributed towards the scene. The execution was simple, I took out the wide angle lens and after making a few turns in the helicopter over the herd I got the shot.
Thanks Isak for sharing this great story and thank you for reading! Feel free to leave feedback or questions to the photographer in the comments below.
Visit Isak's 500px page and enjoy more of his wonderful wildlife photography, add him to friends or check the photo specs of his work (exposure, aperture, equipment, etc).
Our blog is a place to promote 500px photographers and their wonderful photos. If you have a story, photo, DIY or tutorial to share feel free to email us. We are open to your ideas and photo experiences. Today we'd like to introduce you to...
Baris AKBULUT a street photographer from Istanbul, Turkey. Working in both b&w and colour his images tell honest narratives that humble the heart.
To see more of Baris’ work or to add him to friends head over to his 500px page.
Thanks for reading! Leave a comment below, we love your feedback :)