Martin Podt is a landscape photographer based in the Netherlands.
Tell Us a Bit About Your Background
I was born on a farm in the eastern part of the Netherlands, which is a rural area in which I still live. I have a Ph.D. degree in applied physics. Along with my job as an R&D engineer, I have a passion for photography. My main subjects are trees and forests. It is important to me that photos express a certain mood as well as evoke emotions and feelings. For this reason, photos of misty tree-lined roads are my favorites.
I became involved in photography as a child through my father, who let me take photos with his SLR during our holidays. In this way, I grew interested in landscape photography. Through photography, I have gained a great appreciation for the Dutch countryside. However, the forests in my area are a continuous source of inspiration for me.
What Is the Most Important Element of a Good Landscape Image?
I would say depth. The light conditions must also be right, but just great light is not enough. In my photos, I always try to create depth. I want the viewer to feel that they are actually in the scene.
How Do You Go About Creating the Perfect Image?
The best time to shoot forest photos would be in the morning, just after sunrise. If I plan to shoot at a location further away, I carefully check the weather forecasts. But when it comes to shooting closer to home, I just go and shoot when the conditions are right and I have some free time. I always take my camera with me to ensure that I never miss a special moment. I mostly shoot using a tripod, so that I can use a low ISO. To me, post-processing is also an essential part of creating the perfect image.
How Do You Find Your Locations or Do They Find You?
Most of my photos I have shot close to my home. But I have found many locations by riding around on my mountain bike. For the rest, I choose locations mainly for their forests. It has been scientifically proven that being in forests can decrease stress and potential burn out. I would agree with this, as I have come to realize that it works for me. Being in forests makes me happy and therefore my main reason for liking forest photography so much.
How Do You Go About Choosing the Award Winning Image for a Competition?
For a contest, I simply choose the photos that speak to me, which is probably easier said than done. I think that if you want to improve your skills, being able to select your best photos is a very important skill. I am very critical of my own work. Sometimes my perfectionism can almost drive me crazy. There are moments I hardly like any of my photos. But, I do think that my perfectionism also helps me to push my limits and improve my skills.
Can You Share Your Insights on How Other Photographers Can Grow Their Social Media?
Although I do have many followers, I am not focussed on gaining followers. In general, to be successful you should follow your heart and do what you like. Spending a lot of time on social media can help to gain followers, but I think that approach is unsustainable and pretty useless in the end. I think the best is to do what you really like, then your skills will improve automatically and success will come. Don’t listen too much to others. Be yourself and don’t let others tell you what to do. Never stop improving yourself.
What Is Your Go-To Gear in Your Camera Bag?
I like to travel light. So for forest work, I use a Sony a6500 with a Sony 18-200mm lens, or a 10-18mm lens and a remote control. For any other shoots, I carry several spare batteries, memory cards and a lightweight tripod. I have other photographic equipment but do not use this for forest shoots.
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Do You Have Any Accessories That You Love and Cannot Work Without?
Strangely enough, this would be fog. I am addicted to shooting forests in foggy conditions. For forest photos, I feel that I cannot work without the fog. When there is no fog but I want to do forest work, then I shoot macro. I like shooting spring flowers.
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How Do You Decide How Much Editing Needs to Be Done?
It is important that photos express a certain mood as well as emotion. The amount of editing depends on how good the starting point was. Sometimes I don’t like the background so I replace it. For example, when I plan to shoot a location during sunset but the sunset is not spectacular, I might replace the sky to create the image that I had in mind.
For faster editing, I have developed my own workflow in Photoshop. I have made a set of Photoshop actions and I mainly use those for editing my photos. I have made something similar for editing portrait photos, although my workflow for portrait retouching is more structured than for forests.
It took me quite some time to develop my Photoshop actions, but the effort has paid off. Using these actions, I can work much faster which saves time and maintains my creative flow.
Which Photographers Inspire You?
Many photographers inspire me for different reasons. These include Trey Ratcliff, Max Rive, and Jimmy McIntyre for their great photos and editing skills. I am also inspired by fellow photographers who I have worked with or gone out on shooting excursions. Music also inspires me, especially during editing.
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