Each Monday, weâ€™ll highlight one indie photographer whose body of work deserves special recognition. Please enjoy their photography here, and make it a point to enjoy the rest of their work on their website.
This weekâ€™s Indie Spotlight features Nick Gatens from Louisville, Kentucky in the United States. Nick is a macro photographer at heart who gives us a very different and pleasing perspective on things that we see everyday but rarely take time to stop and appreciate their beauty.
Nick currently shoots with a Canon Digital Rebel T2i, he owns three lenses â€“ a100mm f/2.8 macro, the 50mm f/1.8, and the 18-55mm kit lens. Nickâ€™s favorite lens is his 100mm f/2.8 macro, and it is particularly suited to his style of photography. Macro photography was the main reason Nick wanted to become a photographer; macro photography mirrors his lifestyle as his modus is to take the time to appreciate the little things in life â€“ and itâ€™s the exact same when he has his macro lens in his hands.
Nick takes on the difficult task of Â shooting the majority of his macro shots handheld, using natural light. he shoots using full manual settings on his camera except for sometimes utilizing auto focus. Â Nick avoids carrying a tripod or a huge backpack full of gear, so he has Â adapted his shooting style accordingly. Â Nick prefers the control that the manual settings afford him; he finds that shooting in manual mode forces him to slow down and put more thought into composition. Â Like most experienced photographers he also shoots in RAW. Â In his post production flow, Nick strictly use Lightroom for any adjustments, starting with a handful of presets. Â Having these self-customized presets allows Nick to determine Â where he might be able to take an image, after this determination he then starts at the top of the develop module and drags almost every single slider to both extremes to see what effect they have on the image. Though Nick often has a preconceived idea of where he wants to go with an image at the time of capture, heÂ sometimesÂ stumbles into better results by letting the process take him somewhere that he didnâ€™t consider.
Tips, Tricks and Techniques:
While shooting macros, Nick often will first focus his lens on his subject, be it auto or manual focus, and then physically move himself and his camera toÂ achieveÂ his final focus and composition,Â naturally this is another reason while a tripod does not work in his particular style of shooting, but his style ofÂ shootingÂ requires the care of a surgeon andÂ nervesÂ of steel. Â In composing his image Nick often moves Â toward or away from the subject, crouches down or raises up. This is particularly difficult because slightest movement can entirely change a macro shot but Nick likes the ability to have Â more control over his results, rather than trying to keep his camera in a single spot and focusing only with the lens itself.
Nick learned to shoot â€˜throughâ€™ things with his Â macro lens. Â Prior aÂ breakthrough, Nick used to make his macro subject the most prominent part of his foreground (and would often remove itemsÂ in frontÂ of his subject for that reason). Â As Nick says “For the longest time, it never occurred to me that using a very shallow depth of field would throw the foreground out of focus just as much as the background; as soon as I realized how to use this to my advantage, I began to use it often to add even greater depth to a photograph.”
As will all great photographers, Nick finds inspiration in the work of other photographers. Â The first of two of the photographers that Nick most admires isÂ Steve Shaluta who is the person responsible for Nick picking up a camera; before Nick even owned a camera Steve encouraged him, answered his questions and taughtÂ NickÂ the ins and outs of working as a photographer. Fleur Olby is the second of Nick’s inspirational sources he gains greatÂ inspirationÂ from her workÂ photographingÂ flora. Â Nick is so impressed with Fleur that he says “”her work never fails to inspire me. She is able to show me things I havenâ€™t seen in plants that Iâ€™ve photographed countless times myself.”
Nick’s love ofÂ photographyÂ encourages him to want to shoot any and everywhere but his current project is one in which he is attempting to shoot in all 50Â statesÂ of the United States before moving on to Canada. Â In Nick’s macro photography he always finds something unexpected to shoot at any location, he revels in capturingÂ exquisiteÂ detail at any location be it flora/fauna or architecture. Â While thisÂ doesn’tÂ necessarily mean macro in the traditional sense that most people think of. Â Nick’s often uses his macro lens to capture detail in a larger scene that may be beyond the capability of less pristine lenses. Nick also has a strong desire to dive into street photography. Â As we photographers know this takes particular courage to overcome fear of rejection and being rebuffed, but like many of us Nick is in the process of getting over his fear in order to meet this goal. Â Nick has also current is engaged in Â a very special project that he hopes will open doors for him during the course of the year.