Behind the Scenes: Creation of Lonely Ibex
We can learn something valuable about the techniques the authors used. It shows me that a lot of things didn’t work out as planned and how people found creative solutions. I find it entertaining and like to see just how much effort someone put into the creation of the final result.
I’d like to take you behind the scenes and tell you the story of how I created one of my pictures. Who knows? Maybe you can learn something from it. Or you’ll see that it’s not rocket science. Great things can happen simply by being in touch with your true motivations.
To give your a better insight, I have to dig deeper and explain a little bit about my background.
Staying true to myself
For several years, I tried to please other people and tried to fit in. I went to university, got a normal job and did what was expected of me. At some point, I started to feel empty and drained of that exciting energy I used to feel.
Photography couldn’t become yet another stressful activity. I wanted to avoid to do things that were going against everything that feels right to me. To a certain extent, learning from others and reading articles is important. But we are who we are and trying to fit into a mould would only make us feel unhappy. Square peg round hole…
Wondering why I’m speaking so much about my background?
I want to really take you behind the scenes of my photograph. In order to do so, I also have to take you behind the scenes of my personal background. This will give you a better understanding of what I’m trying to express through my work.
Struggling to fit in
Ever since I was little, I didn’t really want to fit into the “normal” social circles around me. This was particularly true at school. I preferred to have a few meaningful friendships than to be surrounded by big groups of people.
Smalltalk has always been something alien to me. It felt like everybody was being pretty superficial. Also, at times when everybody seemed to love partying, I felt so different. Instead of going out, I instead wanted to go to the mountains.
Escape to the mountains
There was that particular time when I was 19. I had just finalised my secondary school final exams. Most of the other ex-pupils met up for 3 days of non-stop partying. That sounded pretty boring to me, so I decided to go to the mountains instead.
With a big rucksack on my back, I cycled to the back of a valley in Bavaria. In fact, look it up! The name is Oytal valley and it’s close to Oberstdorf in a beautiful region called Allgäu. Click here to see some photos. Unfortunately, it’s all in German, but the pictures say it all!
Anyway, it was May and there was still a lot of snow around. I pitched up my tent in the middle of a high valley next to a mountain stream. Staying up there for 3 days was very nice. It felt so different from home. I remember that, if I put my ear to the ground, I could hear rocks rolling in the river bed.
One afternoon, there was a big thunderstorm that came and went. It was almost overwhelming to be out with no one else around. So much time to think, so many views to take in. It was as if my mind had suddenly sprung to life, as if it was “talking” to me. I can still picture every minute of it.
I don’t remember if I took a camera with me, and it didn’t really matter. What mattered was the healing process. The longer I stayed out there, the more I could think clearly. In everyday life, I often used to feel self-conscious. But up in the mountains, I felt like I changed into a different, more real person.
Back to the real world
This experience deeply affected me and I desperately tried to find a way to repeat it. And I did, from time to time. But ultimately, I failed to reconcile my deeply ingrained needs for the natural world with the necessity to be earning a living. For many years, I struggled with living a “normal life”. This was something which others didn’t necessarily notice as I’m quite good at adapting to all sorts of environments.
Of course, not everythong was negative. Some amazing things happened to me during that time. I got to travel a lot and met the love of my life on a tropical beach. We got married and had our first child. And it’s exactly these amazing moments that finally helped me realise what’s really important in life. So when I rediscovered my love for the mountains and photography, I wanted to make sure I’d stay true to my motivations. That means, to me, putting the experience first and coming back with photographs second.
How I took the photograph
Let’s get back to the photograph I chose to name Lonely Ibex and the behind the scenes story. I took the picture during an evening hike to a summit close to where I live. I’d been at work all day and loved to be standing on top of the world. I was looking down at civilisation which now seemed to be so far away yet close enough to see.
The evening sun was still warm, there were nice Alpine flowers up there. Everything felt pretty peaceful. However, I wasn’t alone up there as two Ibexes were sharing the summit area with me.
They seemed to be delighted by my presence and were walking around me. It even looked like they were grinning and asking me “What are YOU doing here?!” After a while of taking in my surroundings, I pulled out my camera and took a few photographs. As the Ibexes were moving around, it took me a few frames to get a good photograph. Finally, I thought that the animal fit in well with the general composition of the image.
Behind the scenes: Post-processing the image
Now, let’s have a look behind the scenes of how I post-processed the image. I didn’t feel it needed too much altering. However, it still took lots of little steps to get to a good final result. I took a few “snapshots” of the different processing stages. Whereas, on my PC, I could see clear differences in the four different versions, they don’t show up as easily on the internet.
This goes to show how important it is to work with a good calibrated screen with a large colour space.
I mainly did global and local adjustments to the following: Colour temperature, exposure, highlights/shadows balance, contrast, colour curve. Further I adjusted the contrast, micro-contrast/clarity, vibrance and saturation. I raised the vibrance and lowered the saturation and did some individual colour adjustments. In general, I prefer to do lots of little corrections. Big slider movements don’t tend to work for me.
I used Adobe Lightroom for post-processing, I also use it to keep track of my images. This is where I added metadata, keywords and a colour tag to my image. I also changed the file name and description.
I chose to name this photograph Lonely Ibex for several reasons and I’ll give you one of them: Without wanting to sound cheesy, sometimes I feel like I’m a lonely ibex in a positive way. Always looking for my own ways, rather solitary and at home in the mountains.
Pulling it all together
I think that this example shows that, in photography, we need a real mix of skills. We need to be able to dream and use our imagination. We need to have good technical skills for post-processing and camera operation. And we need organisational skills in order to keep track of our images.
It’s not always easy to master all of these sometimes conflicting skills but, with some experience, it’s feasible.
I hope you enjoyed this story that went behind the scenes of my image creation. Did this article answer any question you might have had about the creation of Lonely Ibex? Is there anything else I should have talked about? Should I have written more about the technical side of things? Did this experience and my background resonate with your own story?