Location: Prague, Czech Republic
Key Links: I spend most of my time on Google+. I’m on flickr too, but I’m not very active there nowadays. You can see some of my older shots there. Maybe I’ll start a blog someday, when I have more time and my English skills improve.
Favorite Color: I would like to answer with a quote from Frank Sinatra: “Orange is the happiest color.”
Filip: I’m sorry it took me so long, I’m about to finish secondary school in 2 months, then I have to pass an entry test to University. I’m a little bit overwhelmed these days. Damn you procrastination. Thank you for being patient!
Andrew: In a few words, fill us in on who you are and what you do.
Filip: As I said, I’m from the Czech Republic. I’ve been living in this city since my birth, but my parents are foreigners. My father is from Syria and my mother is from Slovakia. Right now I’m taking an electro-technical course in secondary school in Prague.
Andrew: How did your interest in photography start?
Filip: It was around 3 years back, before I took a vacation to Egypt. I had an old and tiny digital camera which was about to die, so I decided to buy a DSLR. It was a Nikon D60 with an 18-55 kit lens. To be honest, I was disappointed a little bit; my expectations were too high. I thought it would be a piece of cake to take beautiful photos with this big thing (my Nikon D60 was also the first DSLR I held in my hands. I remember I was quiet amazed with the weight and size of it). However, my real interest in photography started a few months afterwards when I stumbled upon Mr. Trey Ratcliff’s blog, Stuck in Customs. After seeing his shots, I was hooked immediately.
Andrew: In your opinion, what makes a good photograph?
Filip: This is not a very easy question to answer with my simple English. Generally, the shot should make me pause for a moment, think about it, evoke some emotion or just make me say WOW. It may sound cliché, but that’s how I and most people really feel it.
Andrew: You shoot a lot of HDR photos. What about HDR really attracts you?
Filip: Mainly because it captures the world around me how I feel it. Sometimes you just can’t reproduce the scene well without some post-processing (you probably can with some filters on, but I don’t use them).
Filip: I store all my unprocessed stuff in a Lightroom catalog. Here is what I usually do. Firstly, I export the brackets (RAW files) to full size JPGs. Sometimes I make slight adjustments in Lightroom before exporting, I get rid of CA, correct white balance and so on. Secondly, I feed Photomatix with the exported JPG files. My usual settings in Photomatix are: Strength: 100%, Luminosity and Microcontrast around 5, Smoothing 7-10, Micro-smoothing around 2. I don’t use the rest of the sliders. I may use some of them, but very rarely. Thirdly, Photoshop editing. I spend 90% of my processing time here. I use layer blending and masks to achieve the final look. The last thing I do is sharpening, sometimes noise removal, in the skies mainly.
Andrew: About how long do you usually spend editing an HDR photo?
Filip: It depends on the shot and my mood. Normally I would say around 20-30minutes, sometimes even longer. Post processing is part of the fun!
Andrew: What’s your favorite item in your camera bag?
Filip: My Tokina 11-16 lens. I’m totally in love!
Andrew: What’s your top advice for aspiring photographers just starting out?
Filip: Shoot a lot, try various light situations and compositions, discover what type of photography you would like to do and work on it. Accept critique, but don’t apply it blindly. And the most important thing, have fun! That’s what photography is about, right?
Andrew: Thank you very much for your time!
Filip: Thank you very much for inviting me Andrew!