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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Wilderness Warrior

Joseph Rossbach breaks from the crowded overlooks and usual vantage points to capture original and compelling landscapes

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Cholla cactus and the spires of the Superstition Mountains captured during magic hour in Lost Dutchman State Park, Arizona.
Going Digital And Getting Creative
As digital technology emerged, Rossbach was quick to embrace it. “When digital capture was just beginning to be developed for professional photographers, I made the switch immediately for my work in sports and photojournalism,” he says. “It wasn’t until about four years later that I started shooting digital for all my nature photography. The most important thing I had to learn was how to handle exposure and develop RAW files. It was such a departure from working with slide film. Now, the newer camera models capture images at exceedingly high ISOs. This has opened up a brand-new world of low-light photography opportunities, and I love it.”

Rossbach’s cameras of choice these days include the Nikon D300 and D700. “I love the ability to do multiple exposures, which is one special effect I use when light painting,” he adds. For most of his work, Rossbach relies on Nikkor lenses such as the 17-35mm, 12-24mm and 70-200mm ƒ/2.8 VR, and for wildlife, he uses the versatile Nikkor 200-400mm VR lens.

In the field, before deciding upon whether to use a straight-on approach or to make a more abstract image, Rossbach first considers the scene in front of him and the quality and direction of the light.

“A great composition bathed in beautiful light is a powerful enough tool on its own,” says Rossbach. “For my abstract images, I often use multiple exposures and camera movement to create images bordering on the edge of surreal. That’s a lot of fun and often has led to some of my most popular images.”

Still, Rossbach learned quickly that the photographer often comes home empty-handed. “If I can’t produce a dramatic image with great light, rich colors and a well-defined composition, there’s no need for me to photograph,” he says. “It’s best, at least for me, to return at another time to get an image that stands above the rest.”

To stay fresh and competitive, Rossbach attempts to shoot in new places as often as possible, and he works to be his own harshest critic. “I try to analyze my images of places I’ve shot before or iconic locations others have photographed and then come up with my own way to create unique and fresh photographs,” he shares. “This requires doing a few things, including working long hours in the field, shooting on the edge of bad weather and light, and using creative and abstract techniques for creating an impression of a place and not just a record of what I saw.” (See Rossbach’s article “High Dynamic Range Done Naturally,” Outdoor Photographer, December 2009.)


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