Welcome to Incredible Photographs, a series of short interviews on South Africa’s very best nature photography. We ask the photographers a set list of questions to gain insight into the previsualization, planning, capture, editing and reflection of their best photographs.
Where was this image taken?
I took this image on a recent trip to the mountains of Limpopo. It was actually during a work trip for Sony, who I work with on a regular basis. I was sent on an assignment to go capture never before seen landscapes in South Africa, and I think I managed to do just that.
Did you plan this image or would you consider it a stroke of luck?
This particular tree revealed itself to me by pure chance while I was exploring the area close to our base camp. As soon as I saw it I knew that there would be an opportunity for an image there, it’s almost like God placed the tree there to be photographed.
If planned, how many times did you visit this location?
Unplanned, I found it by chance while scouting the area.
Did you use an ephemeris or AR planning app like Photopills or TPE?
I did use TPE before going to the area to get an idea of how the light will fall onto the mountains in the area.
Do you have any images of failed shoots to provide some background on what goes into an image like this?
I only had time to shoot this composition once, so I had to work with the conditions that I was given. I would love to go back and shoot it during sunrise one day.
Is the location physically challenging to access or is it a brief walk from a parking lot? Also, would you consider the location safe to go shooting on your own or should one be cautious?
This is one of the most remote locations I’ve ever gone to. There are a few hiking trails in the area and very close to this spot, but they all involve hours of hiking and camping to get there. I would say it is safe, but only for strong hikers.
Did you go out on a whim or was this shoot carefully planned in consideration of weather forecasts?
We had a two day window in which I had to film a landscape tutorial for my client, so I had very little time to capture this image and I just worked with the conditions I was given.
How did you feel when you saw the screen light up with that result?
Some images just immediately jump out of the screen and give you that “I got it!” feeling. This was definitely one of them, I knew that I had found a composition that really worked well.
Let’s discuss the technicalities –shutterspeed, ISO, aperture, anything else?
1/160th, ISO 100, f11 (Three image bracketed)
Body and Lens used?
Sony A7Riii with Sony G Master 14mm f1.8
Leofoto Ranger Series LS 324-CEX
If so, explain why (e.g. to slow down shutterspeed) Only a Nisi Circular Polarizer filter
Did you edit it the moment you got home or did you leave it in the photo cellar to mature?
My process is to usually try and edit my best images as soon as possible.
Let’s talk about enhancements made in editing
This image only required basic enhancements like adding some contrast and dehazing, as well as the merging of the three bracketed images.
Do you think this image is one of your all-time top 10 photos?
I think I would say top 15 yes, top 10 is a very difficult list for me to narrow down haha!
Do you feel you’ve done the location justice and you can move on now?
I think the location is very weather dependent. This is the kind of location I will need to go back to a few times to get the conditions I want. Unfortunately it is very remote and not somewhere close to where I live, so I might have to be content with the image that I captured.
Any advice for someone wanting to capture an image like this?
My best advice is to try and find a remote area on Google Earth and then just go and explore it. This will give you the best odds of finding a composition that has never been shot before.
Is this image for sale as a print?
Most of my images are for sale yes, feel free to check out my website for more info.
A big thank you to Janik Alheit for taking the time to answer our questions and his willingness to share the journey of creation behind the image. Below are the details to all his social media – please give them a like and a follow to show your appreciation. If you’d like to learn from him, check out their workshops and most of all, if you absolutely love this photograph, consider buying a print to support the artists.