It takes a talented and knowledgeable photographer to capture nature in all its stunning glory. Daniel Vorkauf has done that and more. A brilliant landscape photographer who captures awe-inspiring vistas, each of Daniel's images tells a beautiful visual story that inspires an emotional connection and transports the viewer to the moment the shutter clicked.
StudioVox had the opportunity to talk with Daniel about his incredible Landscape Photography:
SV: How did you become interested in landscape photography?
DV: The beginning of my photographic journey started in 2009 when I visited Iceland for the first time. 7 years ago I just a had two small pocket cameras and my mobile but I think I did 1000 images in 12 days. It was the birth of my love to this country and the birth of photography too. When I returned, the images became “visual documents” of my experiences with the nature of Iceland. I had no idea when I would return again and I was glad to have images in my head and as prints. I visited many web pages which focused on photography in Iceland and I began to see my first images with different eyes. I did those typical snapshots and thought it would be fantastic images. I saw unbelievable good images - nightshots with northern lights, waterfalls with silky water, close-ups of puffins and other birds, aerial photographs - tons of images beyond my imagination and I recognized that my images were really bad – in a technical way: Burned out sky, underexposed images, wrong colors … I just did snapshots but I wanted more. I started to learn about photography – the basics about exposure time, ISO, aperture. I switched from pocket camera to bridge camera and in 2011 I bought my first DSLR. In 2012 I travelled to Iceland for the fifth and it was the first journey to areas of the Icelandic highland: Landmannalaugar and Laki. Parts of the country that are a MUST for everybody who is into landscape photography. I still wasn`t deep into technical aspects of photography but with some knowledge I was able to do better shots – landscapes and northern lights. I started to shoot in RAW too. The results were so much better than my first steps the years before but I recognized that it would need a long time to find my own style and to get those results I desired for. Many people think that landscape photography is easier than other genres in photography. But it isn`t not at all. To find the special view, the right composition, the right light … there are many aspects that make landscape difficult and I think a lot of people know that kind of disappointment when the image doesn`t look as the photographer saw the scene with his/her own eyes. I am always going out and telling myself “My camera is blind, my camera is blind …” and I am responsible for the result. The good thing is in landscape photography, that you have billions of possibilities to express yourself and to give the scene a unique character. When you know what you do than landscape photography offers infinite impressions and emotions.
SV: What do you love about Landscape Photography?
DV: Playing with light. But it is more than just to paint with light. I think in nature and landscape we can read a lot of things about ourselves. The variety of emotions, the ambivalent fields of colors, lights and shadows – chaos – natural order, everything around us is inside us. I always try to reflect on those thoughts and I love to add some philosophical stuff in my image descriptions: An image without a story is not worth to be shown. There should always be a second (or maybe third) stage of reception, not only a visual one. I am not a light hunter, I am not only interested in sunrise nor sunset images. I am open minded for all conditions – dramatic skies, lowlight conditions, storm and rain, winter, spring and my favorite season – autumn - everything causes different impressions to create artistic expressions. There isn`t just landscape – everything we see (and how we see) depends on the conditions around (and inside us). A lake during summer sunset isn`t the same lake that lays frozen in winter. The colors of spring are different compared with the colors of autumn. Landscape photography is to catch the circle of life – not “just” a single moment.
SV: We've read you mainly focus your photography in Iceland. Can you expand? What do you find inspiring about the landscape?
DV: Well, this would be a huge story and I will try to reduce it to the main reasons. I was born, grew up and live in Germany. A country that is nearly completely cultivated and nearly everywhere you can find civilization and human footsteps. We have beautiful nature too but when you visit a country like Iceland everything is totally different. I always see in realtime the creation of the world – active volcanoes, lava fields, wild rivers, giant glaciers … Of course you can find all those things everywhere in the world but in Iceland all is close together. The isle of fire and ice – a ceremony of opposites. Iceland is small but you can get lost very fast. I love to see and to feel the power of the earth. And when you leave civilization you just have to drive some kilometers to be in wilderness. Caused by volcanic activities you can find unbelievable formations of lava, mountains, volcanos. You can find waterfalls everywhere I am not only talking about the well known waterfalls. Yes, water is essential in Iceland and you can work with the flow everywhere. The colors are breathtaking – when I visited Landmannalaugar I was flashed – ryolithe stone – an ocean of colors! The craters of Laki were a surreal experience - I hiked up to the top of a crater and I could see that nearly 30 kilometer long fissure with round about 100 craters – the largest volcanic eruption in human history from 1783 that brought a climate change, starvation and death worldwide. Caused by fire but not far away from this large eruption area you can see Europe`s largest glaciers in eastern and western direction. And you can see it everywhere in Iceland – opposites. Depending on the light situation and season a lot of spots look different. I visited spots like Kirkjufell many times but it is never the same. In early spring the colors are pale, the landscape looks poor and lifeless but in the short summer, you`ll find plants, flowers, and many colors. Extreme sunrise/sunset colors can add some magic to all your images and when you see Icelandic landscape under the northern lights you feel to leave reality and to enter another world. In autumn I feel this kind of “sleep is coming”, the circle of life will be finished soon before a new spring will be born. The possibilities in landscape photography are endless and after 16 times in Iceland, I always find new perspectives, different emotions, and conditions. And I am sure it will never end.
"There is only you and your camera. The limitations in your photography are in yourself, for what we see is what we are." - Ernst Haas