Ismo Räisänen’s exemplary nature photography stands out because of his crisp compositions and astounding vibrancy of colour. Ismo primarily focuses on beautiful country scenes.
Ismo clearly knows the right times to venture outside. From magical summertime sunsets to frosty winter mornings, the sheer wealth of quality landscape images, makes me want to book a flight to Finland!
In his artworks 'Small Wonders of Nature', Ismo captures the light beautifully on flowers that reveal their deep, colour rich, qualities.
The detail is in the lighting, in all of Ismo's nature photography. It is this vital component in the photographic artistry that Ismo has captured brilliantly, bringing out the detail in every element.
You can view and purchase Ismo’s work on his Pixels website https://ismo-raisanen.pixels.com/
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Please talk about where you grew up and where you live now...
I grew up in Vihti, which is located near Helsinki, the capital of Finland. Vihti is an idyllic town with a colourful and diverse nature which is why I still enjoy living there.
How did you discover photography?
I have always been interested in photographs. When I was younger, I loved to look through photo albums that my parents and grandparents made. It was amazing to look at the pictures and go back in time and hear all the stories that were captured in those pictures. During that time, I seldom took any of the pictures even if I appreciated the pictures in the albums. It wasn’t until my early 20s that I really got the spark into photography. I was looking through my parents’ photo albums and found some really nice landscape pictures from family holidays. Could I be able to capture pictures like that? I wanted to try and bought my first camera and started practicing.
During the first months with my new camera, there was this one July evening that was a turning point for me. I had just found a really nice place to photograph sunsets and, what is more, the lighting conditions were perfect that evening. The beautiful vivid sunset colors in the sky were reflected on the still lake surface. It was like a dream come true - and even more for a beginner! Suddenly, the sky started to get darker as large, rolling clouds approached. The sky illuminated more and more red color, which created a magical scene in front of my eyes. It was something I had never seen before (and haven’t seen since). But the weather started getting worse. I decided that it was time to get back home. And I’m glad that I did! When I got inside the house, the heavy rain and wind started. Soon, it was obvious that this wasn’t any normal wind but a storm wind: I saw how some trees got knocked down in the neighborhood. This was quite an experience that I will always remember!
That night I realized that photography gives me exciting, new experiences that I might otherwise never get. That’s why I still love doing photography!
What, in your opinion, is the most important elements when shooting nature/landscapes, in getting that perfect shot?
Getting the perfect shot requires lots of preparation, planning, and patience. Before you can head off on a photo trip, you have to find the perfect spot. You need to scout out beautiful locations and take trips out to judge their potential.
Once the perfect spot is found, having patience helps because you usually have to wait for the right time and conditions to be able to shoot the photo you want. The right lighting conditions can transform an already beautiful scenery into something stunning. The best times to photograph are often during the golden hours around sunrise and sunset when the sun is low in the sky casting a warm golden light over the landscape. But it all depends on what kind of picture you have in mind.
The last key element is the correct composition. It’s all about deciding from which viewpoint and angle your subject looks the best. This is a very subjective area, and it’s hard to give a definitive answer what the correct composition is. There is often more than one ’right’ way to arrange the various elements in a scene within the frame.
Needless to say, no matter how well you plan your photo trips something surprising can always happen. Therefore, it is good to have some ideas and expectations in advance, but you should also keep your eyes and mind open to new ideas and opportunities. Whenever you see there’s a good chance for better photographs just change your plans and improvise.
Please describe your post processing process? (Programs and adjustments, etc)
I like to shoot my photos in Raw and edit them in Lightroom. I do some basic adjustments (like film simulation/camera profile, white balance, contrast, curves, sharpening, noise reduction and saturation) and usually, that’s it. For Fuji Raw files, I sometimes use RawTherapee for editing if I have a certain look in my mind. Even then, I finish the editing in Lightroom.
What equipment do you use when you are on a shoot (Camera, etc)?
Currently, I’m shooting with three cameras: Fuji X-E1, Olympus Om-d E-M10, and Ricoh GR. I have a variety of zoom and prime lenses with different focal lengths from wide angle to telephoto. In my opinion, having too many cameras and/or lenses with you on a shoot tend to make it harder to concentrate on photographing. I’m also a fan of traveling light. That’s why I usually take with me only 1-2 cameras with 2-3 lenses (with different focal lengths). Also, I seldom take my sturdy tripod with me. That lets me be more mobile and find those extra pictures that I hadn’t originally planned for the photo trip.
Other equipment I sometimes use: circular polarizing filter and a flash for macros.
What lenses do you have and which is your most used and why?
The lenses I have:
Fujifilm XF 14mm F2.8, XF 23mm F1.4 and XF 18-55 F2.8-4.0,
Olympus Zuiko 14-35mm F2.0, 50-200mm F2.8-3.5 and 50mm F2.0, and
Ricoh GR 18.3mm F2.8.
When it comes to landscapes, Fuji 14mm is my go-to lens. It’s a fantastic wide angle with very little distortion and weighs next to nothing. And, what means the most to me, it offers the field of view that I find perfect for my wide landscape shots.
Olympus 50-200mm is another wonderful lens that I enjoy using. It is a heavier lens but has a really nice zoom range with great quality. This zoom lens offers the reach that I need for subjects far away like birds, but it works great for landscapes, too.
One more lens that I tend to use a lot is Olympus 14-35mm. This lens is truly a quality standard zoom. It offers excellent optical results and works great even in the most difficult shooting conditions. For me, it has only one weakness: sometimes it isn’t wide enough. But otherwise, I’m more than happy having it in my bag.
Where is the most beautiful location you have photographed and why?
Well, this one’s a tough question. There are so many places that are beautiful in their own way. Yet, one place does come to my mind. Last spring (2017) I visited Lake Vanjärvi for the first time. And since then, it has been one of my favorite locations. Lake Vanjärvi is a bird lake in my hometown Vihti, about 30 minutes drive from my home. It’s an important area for birds as many migratory birds (like the Common crane, the Greater white-fronted goose, and the Tundra swan) rest and feeds there during spring. I must say that it is quite an experience to see a few thousand birds and hear all the sounds these geese, ducks, swans etc. together make. They are pretty loud… And there is something special about seeing the first flocks of birds coming in spring. I’m already looking forward to seeing this show again next spring.
What strategies have been successful in marketing your work?
Marketing today is tough. So many people are marketing their products and services that it can be difficult to get noticed. If you want to reach your audience you need to take the time to promote your work constantly and consistently. Yet, there’s no guarantee that sales will follow. Turning likes into purchases is harder than you might think.
Marketing my work happens with my website, where I sell prints and other products, and social media channels. Twitter has been by far the one that I have received the most return from. I’m also on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest but there I haven’t had as much luck. One reason is the fact that my time available for marketing is quite limited. This has led me to concentrate my efforts mostly on Twitter because it’s better to do less well than too much badly.
As a photographer, What future goals do you have?
During the past year, I have dipped my toes into the world of bird photography. It has been so much fun that I want to develop that side of my photography further. Another goal that I have is to make a road trip to Lapland and all the way to the Arctic Sea sometime in the near future. The plan is to photograph some beautiful northern landscapes there. I’m sure it’s going to be a nice little adventure!