Meet Alex Greenshpun, known on DeviantArt as alexgphoto
. She's a photographer based in Israel and has an absolutely amazing gallery. Describing herself as a Visual Poetess, Alex creates magical images with beautiful colours and vibrant backgrounds. Alex is a self taught fine art photographer and the main focus of her work is natural close ups and animal photography. She has recently published a photobook featuring some of her best nature-related works. You can find alexgphoto
here on DeviantArt or over at her website Alex Greenshpun
or on Facebook.
The Bio... I'm a self-taught fine-art photographer, currently based in Israel. Photography appeared in my life in a serendipitous way back in 2012. Nature is filled with magic just waiting to be discovered. There are fairy tales behind every leaf; each petal, seed and the tiniest of dewdrops have something to tell us. So many stories are hiding in plain sight. It is my wish to make these stories seen.
Until recently I used to work with a Canon 60D, but now I've switched to a Canon 6D. Most of my nature macros are shot with a Canon 100mm macro lens, sometimes with an addition of a Raynox DCR-250. My workflow involves both Lightroom and Photoshop, as I always shoot RAW. Editing usually includes color correction; curves; white balance; etc. It's important for me to create and present each image from a personal, artistic perspective.
Whatever image I am working on, it has to be perfect in-camera before clicking the shutter. It is very important for me to check that the subject is shot from an interesting angle; that there is nothing distracting in the background; the light has to be flawless; and of course, the frame must be well composed. For me, this often means staying with the same subject for a long period, sometimes more than an hour, to get that one frame just the way I had envisioned it.
Where does your vision come from? Where do you get the ideas from that we see within your Gallery?
Much of my ideas and inspiration come by simply being out in nature. To me, photography feels as a constant exploration of new worlds. There's this sensation of wonder whenever I look closely at a certain subject and suddenly find something beautiful and unexpected, like an intricate pattern. Sometimes, I discover fairy tales and stories in leaves, dewdrops and seeds. This feeling of surprise and wonder creates a vision in my mind that is usually intuitive and quite instant, and this gives me the inspiration and ideas on how to best represent the subject in a photograph.
You have some incredible animal captures within your gallery. What's your secret for getting cuties like this to pose?
In May last year, my partner and I have found five nursing kittens, abandoned in a cardboard box. We took them in and took care of them until they were ready for adoption. Two of the kittens found a home together, another one was adopted by a friend (she's hiding at the back so doesn't appear in this photo), and we ended up keeping the other two (the one sleeping in the middle and the curious blue-eyed tabby on the right). We simply fell in love with them.
That photo was taken a day or two after we'd found them. We had a kitty-house that belonged to our cat when he was younger, which he didn't use; the five girls, however, quickly cuddled inside. They all just squeezed in together and so I grabbed my camera and even though it took a while for them to settle down, I got my shot at the end.
Do you have any tips for creating clear, crisp bokeh like you have in the image below?
In general, I'd recommend a depth of field at least f/2.8 for smoother bokeh. If you're focusing on a specific subject such as a blade of grass or a flower, make sure there's a relatively good distance between it and whatever remains in the background. Check for stems or leaves coming up closely behind your subject. Not only would any such object be a distraction from your main subject, but they could also ruin the smoothness of your background. As a general rule of thumb: highlights in the background can help create a nice bokeh. So, it's often a good idea to try and play with the direction of the light, such as backlight for example.
One of the best opportunities to get lovely bokeh is early in the morning when the grass is filled with dew. If you shoot with a shallow DOF against the sun, from a relatively low angle, you'll find the sunlight reflected in the dew creates a beautiful effect. Below are some more examples...
What does Israel have to offer you in terms of photographic opportunities?
Well, Israel has a great natural diversity and there are many interesting places here to see. However, the one characteristic of Israel's nature that is relevant to me is its weather. Our winters are short, and usually resemble autumn with their rainstorms and winds. Summer and spring fill most of the year and the weather is quite warm. As a matter of fact, it's so warm that it's not unusual to see people bathing at the beach in the end of December and even January.
The great thing about macro photography though is that you don't actually have to travel far to find something interesting to shoot. For example, I often find subjects on my own balcony, or in parks close to where I live.
How did you achieve the below image?
This image is one of my Daily Deviations called Dancing in the rain..
Exif: Canon EOS 60D + Canon EF 100mm Macro f/2.8; 100mm; 1/320 s @ f/3.5; ISO 400...
While most of my works are taken outdoors, I like to collect beautiful natural things to later photograph at home. On one of my photo-walks I found some beautiful flower seeds and a big, curvy autumn leaf of red-orange coloration. At home, using two simple table-lamps I back-lit the leaf with one of them and sprinkled some water. I put several seeds on the leaf, but none of them were stable enough on their own. These two, however, stood quite nicely, leaning on each other. It immediately reminded me of a romantic couple dancing in the rain, hence the title. I used the second lamp for the fill-light and took the photo. The image was then processed with Lightroom 4 and Photoshop CS5: basic curves, color and sharpness corrections. There are many tutorials for Macro Photography within my gallery.