Photography Interview With Kathy Kuhn

Today I’m pleased to share with my readers an interview with photographer Kathy Kuhn. I’ve admired several landscape photos that Kathy has posted on Viewbug, including the one you see above. You can view Kathy’s Viewbug profile here.

Here is my interview with Kathy:

1) How did you start in photography? What got you involved?

I started photography when I got my first film camera at age 10.  Because I got the camera right after my youngest sister was born, for several years I thought I was only supposed to take pictures of her!  I learned the basics of composing a shot and the importance of being close enough to get subject’s face and expression.  Of course, I was parsimonious about how many pictures I took since it was film and I had to earn the money to pay to develop it.  That also meant most of my photos were on black and white film (this was cheaper).  When I was 18, I met my husband who had a Nikon F Camera.  I immediately adopted his camera, which was a big jump up from my box camera.  That is the camera I used as we raised our family.

About 12 years ago, my youngest sister got me to start trying my hand at digital photography, joining her on various on-line sites.  It took a year or 2 for me to really convert, but by 10 years ago, I was only shooting digital.  I loved taking macro shots of the many small and large spring flowers in my garden.  I had always carried our old Nikon on backpacking trips & hikes, and so also moved to landscape photography with digital.  Basically I live to be outside, and photography gave me another excuse to be out and about.

2) Is there something that attracts you specifically to landscape photography?

As I mentioned, I just love being outdoors.  I love the play of light through the clouds, the trees, the leaves, the mountains, across water and snow.  I love the curves, lines and repetition of shapes in the natural world.  I love finding patterns in apparent chaos, finding a means to compose a shot that brings one particular aspect of the landscape into center stage.  I love the colors, light and dark, shadows and the flow of the land, water and sky.  I am alive outdoors, and there is always something I can find to shoot.  The possibilities are endless.

3) What is your favorite lens and camera?

For most of my life I’ve shot one Nikon or another, going back to the old Nikon F Camera.  I love my Nikon D300 — just a great workhorse of a camera and very versatile with the 18-200mm lens.  But a little over a year ago I wanted a camera that was lighter than my Nikon D300 or D610, so I decided to try the Sony a7ii (mirrorless).  I love it!  It’s much more portable than the Nikon, has great color, is intuitive to learn to shoot moving from the Nikon and is a great all-around camera.  My favorite lens with the Sony is the 24-240mm, which like the 18-200 for the Nikon, gives me great variability of range, from very wide angle to a good zoom.  I just used it as my primary camera on a trip to Costa Rica where I was routinely shooting at ISO 6400 and it performed wonderfully with very little noise.

4) Can you offer any tips to other photographers for a great landscape shot?

The best way to get good landscape shots is to first choose early morning or late afternoon/evening light.  Mid-day is harsh and won’t show any landscape to advantage.  Besides lighting, you want to scout a location to try to find a good composition.  I look for diagonal lines drawing your eye to your chosen main subject, or repetition of objects (leaves, branches, trunks, rocks etc.), and always try to find a way to convey depth by having a foreground as well as middle and far distances.  Sometimes the foreground will be the subject and sometimes it will merely set the stage for the subject.

5) What is your typical photography workflow? What software do you use for post-processing?

Generally I download after a shooting expedition and do a cursory run through the images, tagging those that look promising to work on.  Then I go back and zoom in on ones I’ve tagged to make sure the crucial areas are sharp.  When I’ve chosen an image, I open in RAW, make my adjustments, then open in Photoshop.  I often use Nik filters.  Sometimes I use texture layers, though less often for landscapes.  Very occasionally I use Topaz filters.  Occasionally I use a couple of exposures and manually create an HDR image, or I use Photomatix.  But generally, I prefer the simpler work flow of non-HDR images.