by Editor Marius Cinteză
Jørgen Feldstedt is a talented artist photographer from Copenhagen, Denmark (and an active 1x member since 2009) who has developed a particularly abstract style based on the Lensbaby system: evocative, simple and straightforward. The creative freedom and the unique results obtained convinced him that these 100% manual lens are the right day-by-day photography tools to use.
His works published in the 1x gallery are often minimalist compositions, full of intense and mysterious mood conveying simpleness, dramatic and profoundness. Jørgen agreed to disclose his Lensbaby secrets in the interview below. I invite you to discover more about the person behind the photos and his perfect companion for these exclusive works: Lensbaby!
Jørgen, thank you so much for taking the time to participate to this interview! To start, I would kindly ask you to introduce yourself and tell us shortly about your first steps in photography?
I have started at rather late age with the photography, I was 36 years old when I bought my first camera in 1988. At that time I used to walk around Copenhagen a lot and a friend of mine asked me why did I not take pictures of what I saw? My first camera was a Yashica and I used it for a number of years; now, that I had my first camera I also thought it was a good idea to learn some techniques, so I registered for an evening school course of photography. Here I also learned dark room techniques and immerse myself into the B/W world. These would be basically my first steps in photography!
For many of us the photography is either a hobby or a way of life. How would you define the photography?I would call it a big hobby. I really spend a lot of time with the photography, taking pictures and processing them on the computer, but also attending many photo exhibitions mostly here in Denmark and partially in southern Sweden that is close to Copenhagen.
What was the most important experience so far that have influenced your steps in photography?
This is a very good question! There were probably a couple of experiences influencing my steps but the most important one was discovering the darkroom and the B/W pictures. I found out that B/W was the way I wanted to go to. Please do not understand that I do not like colour pictures - I definitely do, there are so many beautiful colour pictures here on 1X.com!
Jørgen, your Lensbaby works are impressive! Can you please explain why have you chosen Lensbaby as your day-by-day tool?
The first time I tried Lensbaby was on a photo course and that was not a success! I found it difficult to use, no autofocus available, etc. I saw once some blurry pictures on a Danish photo web page and one of the comments there was: "Why is this kind of picture on this page? They are blurred!" But I thought they were really exciting pictures! They were taken with a Lensbaby Plastic Optic and I talked to myself: “I must have one of this!” After a little practising, I found a way to take the better pictures and to process them in the computer so that to obtain the particular expression and the mood I wanted.
Your photos are often minimalist compositions, full of intense and mysterious mood. How the Lensbaby helps you to obtain such photos?
Yes, firstly, the weather is very important: the blue sky and the bright sun are not my very best friends, and looking for the grey weather, humid air, fog or mist is the first step to go for me. I mostly use Plastic Optic because it offers a slightly diffuse - not sharp – picture and shooting mostly at f/8 I get a fairly uniform image. I mostly use a crop camera and there is a difference compared to the full frame camera when using Lensbaby. At the end a little processing work in the computer helps me obtain the right mood!
What is the Lensbaby equipment you currently use? What other gear do you use (e.g. camera, lenses, bag, tripod, etc.)?
I actually use most of the Lensbaby devices that are not being manufactured any more - Plastic Optic, Soft Focus Optic and Zone Plate Optic mounted either on Composer pro or on Scout. However, I also have the newer Optic lens from Lensbaby, but not all of them. For the camera, I use Canon 5D Mark III and 450D and also my older 40D. For the lenses I own Canon 24-70 mm and 70-200 mm - the most used Canon lenses. I also have a pair of photo bags, but I prefer to leave them in the car and only carry what fits in my pockets. I also use a tripod, but for long-time exposures only.
Can you please tell us something more about your workflow with Lensbaby?
It starts when I take the picture and I ask myself: how it should look like when it's done? Well, it does not always work like this. All my processing works start in Lightroom, where I adjust the image and make a B/W copy. From here I export it to Photoshop or Nik Software where I typically use 2 exposures of the picture as layers. I then adjust in one layer at a time until I'm happy with the final picture. I would call it a simple workflow.
I can say that you have built your own style based on this lens. How would you describe your style?
I would call my own style evocative, simple and straightforward. First of all, is about the mood when I take the pictures and then about the processing work later on the computer. They all together are my style compounds. Pretty simple!
What would be your most important advice to a beginner in Lensbaby photography?
First and foremost: have patience, because it takes some time to get used to Lensbaby. Try out, find out how the lenses work – for example some of them do not require underexposure. Think in pictures not in equipment and listen to your inner self, Lensbaby is a tool only.
Mood it is obviously the main ingredient of your wonderful works. What else do you count on to obtain a perfect result: story, composition or processing?
The mood is indeed very important to me. Also, the story is an important ingredient, but it is also the hardest thing when I try to find a kind of symbolism in my pictures.
You are an active member of 1x community since 2009. Where did you first learn about 1x and what did you feel when you have got your first photo published?
I heard about 1x the first time from Codrin Lupei, a Romanian photographer I met on a Lensbaby page. His pictures simply hit me inside! A link to his portfolio at 1x opened a new world for me. I was in doubt if my photos were good enough for 1x because the quality is very high here. But I signed up and I am very happy to be here! When I got my first picture published I was extremely happy! I was so glad, it was like getting an OK stamp on my pictures; the sun was shining a little more for me that day!
How much effort do you put in the preparation of your Lensbaby landscape photography? Do you carefully choose the locations where you are intending to photograph?
I live in Copenhagen which is located on the Zealand island. I have been almost everywhere on this island and I take here about 95% of my pictures. I choose where to photograph to according to the mood I am in at that moment. Sometimes, I decide in advance where I want to go, so I have to find the mood there!
How do you approach a new location when shooting for the first time: are there any specific subjects or compositions you are looking for?
No, I'm not looking for something specific beforehand and I take it as it is. I'm thinking a lot about the weather; for example: if it's snowy we all know that the trees are black and most people have dark clothes, thus resulting a lovely contrast! The fog and dizziness give a little mystery to the pictures – another example of the weather influencing my choice when shooting in a new location.
One of your latest photos published in 1x Gallery (Winter mood 04) was taken using Lensbaby. Can you please share with us the story behind this capture?
My picture "Winter mood 04" was taken one day on a trip to Hareskoven, a small forest just outside Copenhagen. I have walked in the woods and taken a picture when I got to the outskirts, somewhere I had never been before. And then I saw the open gate and I thought that I could use it in a picture. My Plastic Optic was on a full frame camera which means that the sides of the picture become very blurred and this effect I used for the tree on the left side of the image. On my computer at home I did a little work on composing and adjusting the light and clarity of the picture. Quite simple, I think.
Jørgen, can you please tell us who are your favourite photographers whose works have influenced you and your photography?
Very good question! I think there are many names to mention, both photographers and painters whose works I saw in exhibitions. Who do I start with? The first name that comes to my mind is Codrin Lupei: I've been drawn to his pictures from the first time I saw them and it's probably him who had the greatest influence on my artistic vision. But I have also seen and enjoyed all the classic masters. I enjoy seeing a picture almost every day: "The walk to paradise garden" by W. Eugene Smith - it's nothing but awaking emotions in a quiet way. I would also mention a book who influenced me: "Camera Work - The Complete Illustrations 1903 -1917" by Alfred Stieglitz. It's an exciting book, with amazing pictures of the old masters. Recently, I was made aware of an American photographer whose pictures I find very exciting: Susan Bernstine, I will follow her closely!
Jørgen, we nearly reached the end of this interview and now I would kindly ask you to share with us your future plans or photographic projects you would like to involve in.
Inside me I’m thinking of making some portraits with my Plastic Optics, but since I'm a little hesitating, it's probably going to be a thought only. Also, it's been a while since I've attended a photography workshop, so also I’m thinking of fixing this because it's always nice to meet other people with the same interest as mine.