Greetje van Son is a most versatile and talented photographer. She simply shoots what interests her, but her favorites topics are architecture, macro photography and landscape. She is always looking for details and emphasizes them. Her goal is to continue to grow in quality and originality. Let us enjoy the photographer behind the images in this week's interview. Thanks to Yvette Depaepe for conducting the interview.
Briefly tell us about yourself, your hobbies and other jobs.
I was born in 1950 in Eindhoven, a town in the southern Netherlands. At age 15, I started work at the Philips company as an administrative assistant. At a young age I was already blessed with two beautiful daughters. So I got out of the workforce to care for them until they were old enough to study independently. In 1985 I picked up the thread again and returned to Philips, again asadministrative assistant. The last 10 years I have lived in Waalre, a village near Eindhoven and I have three lovely grandchildren. In the meanwhile I'm retired and I now spend a lot of time with my hobbyphotography
How has your history and life experiences affected your photography?
In my youth photo shooting was only reserved for the rich. Since I come from a working environmentally, and my father had to work hard to maintain six kids, there was no place for photography. Once I was married, I bought a good clutch small camera to take pictures of my children. Most of all they were nice family snapshots. But that was the beginning. Over the years I have tried out my creative talents in many areas. During my time painting, I learned to watch. I could apply the lessons of composition and light to my new hobby photography.
Which are your most important experiences that have influenced your art?
I was most inspired by my surroundings to go further with photography. Because family and friends complimented my photos, I became more critical of my photographic work. I wanted more and more to show my photos to others, and began to put my pictures on websites. For instance at zoom.nl, where I received a lot of positive feedback and constructive criticism of my portfolio.
3 years ago I had the opportunity to follow a two-year study at the Dutch Fotovakschool. There I learned the SRL technical backgrounds, processing images in RAW mode, and a preparation for entrepreneurship. But the most important thing to think about yourself, what I want, what style is the most appropriate for me. My graduation theme was commissioned architecture.
What first attracted you to photography?
During my painting period I became more and more impatient. It took so long before a painting was finished. Besides, when I took enough time for a good picture, then I also can put creativity into a photograph. When I had the chance to buy a real digital SLR I go for it. It was a relief to make as much picture as I wanted without to change the film roles andI had the post operation (including the quality of the results) in my own hands.
Describe your overall photographic vision.
A good picture catches your attention immediately. Your gaze lingers longer. That could be a special game of lines, a special blur effect, a fascinating composition or a fantastic scenery.
Why are you so drawn by architecture and abstract photography?
In both, architecture and abstraction, I can view my own vision. I create a new reality for an object through the perspective of my eyes. I can put lots of creativity in both subjects.
What is more important to you, the mood/story behind your images or the technical perfection?
I find both the atmosphere as well as the quality important in my pictures. Although in my abstractions, I find the atmosphere most important. In architecture I want especially quality. In particular, the finishing touch should be good. Straight lines and no disturbing objects for instance.
Do you prepare carefully the locations where you are intending to photograph?
I usually do not prepare my photographic shots. For example, if I go to a city to shoot architecture,I take the light as it is on that day. Sometimes though it gives disappointing results, then I'll go back on another day. I do research on the internet for interesting buildings. Unfortunately, I am forced to travel by public transport, since I don’t own a car. I think that's a limitation for architectural photography.
What gear do you use?
Camera: Sony alpha 77V.
Objectives: Sony SSM, 16-50 mm, SSM f2/8 . Sigma, 70-200 mm 1:2.8 APO DG HSM Sony SAM 50 mm, f1.8. Tamron macro, 90 mm, f/2.8. Tamron 10-24 mm, f3.5-4.5 Samyang tilt/shif T-S 3.5/24. Lensbaby Composer
Accessories: Sony Flash HVL F43AM. Benro tripod
B+W filters: Polarisation filter, gray gradient filter, ND 0.6 gray filter.
What software do you use to process your images?
I always shoot in RAW. This gives me the opportunity to obtain optimal results during post processing. In the RAW converter I do the basic adjustments such as contrast, exposure, lens corrections. I further make improvements in PS6. I make the perspective lines OK and I crop the picture if needed. With NIK software I create the black & white pictures that I want.
Can you tell us something more about your work flow?
I made a basic cluster correction "presets”. With contrast, whites, blacks, local contrast, liveliness.
Then I use ‘lens corrections’ specific to the lens used,
I look if a white balance correction is needed (often inside a building).
With a high ISO I use noise reduction, depending on the ISO values.
Finally, I put the picture right, if necessary.
Photoshop CS6: In case of architecture: I select the whole picture. Via > transform > skew, put the lines straight. Crop the image, if necessary.
Nik Filters: With Silver effex pro 2, I chose a filter, this is always depending on what kind of atmosphere I want to make. I play with it, every time.
Back to Photoshop: The last correction is sharpening.
What is your most important advice to a beginner in architecture and abstract photography and how do you get started?
For architecture it is useful if you have different lenses. For example, a wide 10-24 mm, a kit lens 16-50 mm and a telephoto zoom 70 - 200mm. Preferably light strongly f2.8, so youdo not need to increase the ISO value with low light conditions. With this set of lenses you can make different kinds of pictures. Many large buildings in one picture or details of a building.
It's also handy to immerse yourself in advance into where there are interesting buildings to photograph. This can be via google or a photography site: 1x, Instagram, Pinterest etc. Keep the weather in mind before you go. In pouring rain it is less fun to photograph! If you are at the place of destination, first take the time to walk around the building and look at the different points of view. For instance what is the result of shadow on the building. Take this well into your mind, before you go start shooting. TAKE YOUR TIME! I noticed that when I’m in a hurry, no matter the reason, the results of my photography are less.
Take advantage of the help raster screens in your camera, if you can. This helps to place the lines properly in the composition.
Partly because of them, I learn to look 'differently' and I work more and more to perfecting my work.
Are there any specific directions that you would like to take your photography in the future or any specific goals that you wish to achieve?
I continue to learn and hope to be able to offer higher quality photos in the future. I would like to delve more into editing photos in PS and NIK. I think I can thus get even more of my picturespublished.
I would also like to travel more to see interesting buildings, which is currently utopic for me, because of my financial situation. For example, Valencia with its fantastic architecture Calatrava. On the other hand, it is a challenge to make interesting photo's in my neighborhood and in my own country.
Describe your favorite photograph taken by you and why it is special to you?