Featured Member: Daniel Bruhin
Daniel Bruhin’s photography makes me want to leave home. His ability to capture images of staggering beauty in places I’ve never been makes me both envious of his eye for color, light and composition and wish I wasn’t stuck in this office chair. Patagonia landscapes are impressive and Daniel does an impressive job of photographing them. -J
Daniel Bruhin: Landscape Photography
Who are you and where do you live?
I was born in Switzerland and at the age of 15 started to work in offices as a commercial clerk. After some 6 years of that life, I no longer wanted to live in an office and did my first trip of one year to New Zealand (1981) which was a memorable trip but I still was an amateur photographer. I Returned to Switzerland into an office for 5 more years to make then the big jump (in 1986) in my life emigrating to Chilean Patagonia where I live now and started a career as a Landscape Photographer one year later (without knowing it myself that my new office would be photographer in that new land).
How (and when) did you get started in photography? In short, tell us the story of your photographic journey.
With 11 years of age, in Switzerland, I received my first instamatic camera for snap shots such as family, animals and some landscapes. Later, when I was 21 years, I bought a Rollei 35 S film camera with a fixed 40 mm lens. That was bought before a trip to Kenia/Africa visiting some key national parks with great wildlife and landscapes. Being still an amateur, I discovered with time, that people who watched my photographs liked them because they had a good composition. And starting with a 40 mm lens, I specialized already in landscapes.
Later, after a trip to New Zealand with my Rollei, I started to be very interested in botany and flowers. So in 1985, I bought a NIKON F3T with some Nikon lenses such as a 105 mm Macro, 35 mm and a 20 mm and except some landscapes, I started to take macros of flowers. In 1986, I started a trip to Chile, which also has an exceptional flora and visited various national parks taking its flora and landscapes such as the Juan Fernandez and Torres del Paine National Parks. I loved Chile and finally stayed there until today. I first took many pictures during the last years of the military dictatorship and when democracy finally arrived, tourism started to flow into Chile. Therefore, the image banks needed lots of pictures for tourism promotion and others.
In 1992, I started my own publishing company, first with postcards, which gave me a very good income for 17 years until the digital age. Now I still publish postcards, but also make prints, calendars and books. My profession never was photographer, but in Chile, I started to be a professional (self-taught) after a lot of reading and making slowly a living from it. It was quite easy, because important places such as Torres del Paine, Juan Fernandez and others were still unknown so I was one of the first locally to explore thorough fully these places for years. Shortly, I was at the right place at the right time. I never left again Chile.
Who (or what) have been your main photographic influences and inspirations?
No special influences, because I started to photograph some national parks in Chile where nobody had yet photographed except from the roads so I had to create my own style because I had no examples of photos of these places. I am proud to say that I was the first to explore the interior of Torres del Paine in modern times. Later I got some books and I loved the teaching of Galen Rowell and all the tips of Outdoor Photographer which I receive for the last 25 years. My preferred photographer at the moment is Marc Adamus who is really an exceptional photographer and who has admirable eyes with his vision of the earth.
Your Photo.net portfolio is primarily filled with scenic and travel images. How did you get started with this type of photography? Did the traveling come first? Or does the photography drive you to travel?
In fact I travelled to Chile not only to learn to know its national parks and know its flora which was my main interest, but also to learn Spanish. Finally I loved Chile so much that I specialized photographing only some parks in Chile all my life. Being a photographer, also allows you to be a completely free person. I could say that I make a living mainly from Torres del Paine National Park and Patagonia in general.
Explain how you see your body of work and what draws you to do the photography that you do?
Apart of making a living of my photography, I am very aware that I need to leave a legacy for the future generations. In these times of very rapid climatic changes and living around many glaciers, these are disappearing fast. Therefore, my photographs I publish in books will be, in the future, witnesses of the past. I do not think that only man is responsible of the climatic change, the other cause could be to some cycle of the sun and just now both reasons at the same time. But anyway, big changes are coming to stay, but mainly because of the overpopulation of the human species. If the total population of humans is not controlled very soon, we go directly to disaster and will destroy the earth without doubt.
Have you ever worked as a professional photographer? If “no”, why not? Is it something you would like to do? If “yes”, do you wish you could do more of that work? What does it bring or take away from your photography?
From the start in Chile, I worked as a professional. Not because I studied that visual art, but because I live from it. I have some other 12 project books to be published in the future and hope I will be able to make them in time.
What do you enjoy most about photography?
Being in the outdoors alone with nature. Could be out there with other persons, friends or a female company, but only if they feel the same.
What was the most recent photographic technique that you learned or mastered? And what is the next photographic technique that you would like to learn?
Whether you believe it or not, I am only working with RAWS in the last 2 years. Before, I only edited JPGs. I also learned to take pictures at stars or the milky way, as well as night shots with painting with light, just in the last 2 years too. I started digital slowly only in 2004, and until the year 2011, only with small cameras with small sensors. In 2011, I started with a Nikon 7000, and a bit later with a Nikon D800 and DF. I bought only a few lenses and having a very wide angle helped to see differently. This helped a lot to make better pictures. From 1985 to 2006, I was working with slides, mostly Fujichrome 50 D or Velvia.
What was the most recent piece of truly useful photographic equipment that you purchased? What is the next piece of equipment that you are looking to acquire?
A mirrorless system of Fujifilm which helps a lot for the mountains as the weight is much lighter and the quality is quite exceptional. Next piece of equipment would be a new Fujifilm body when they get one with some 25 megapixels.
What is in your camera bag on a typical day?
Nikon DF and D800 bodies with lenses 16-35 f/4, 70-200 mm f/4, 50 mm f /1.2, Feisol Tripod, Graduated ND filters, Polar Filter, lots of batteries as sometimes I disappear into some remote place without electricity for more than 5 weeks.
What is your typical downloading/storage/sorting/processing procedure? Where do you store/backup your images? What programs do you use for post-processing?
First, I download all memory cards from a trip onto the computer. Start to pick up the best RAWS and edit them and put them in files called BEST in categories of places around Chile or the world. Later, I keep all RAW files from that trip in a Lacie Drive which I keep at home. I duplicate same files onto a second drive which I keep in another house. Post-processing is done with Photoshop.
What words of advice or encouragement do you have for anyone just starting on their photographic journey?
Hope they have a love and respect for nature and a good eye to see. Having that, it is worth the trip to explore our planet with a camera.
A favorite image…
One of my preferred pictures is also the first I sent to Photo.net. It is Laguna Amarga, near the entrance of Torres del Paine National Park. It was a very special day. It had been very cold for days so that the Laguna froze completely. I went around to some uncommon lookout on the beach and found some very attractive stones trapped in the ice but above the surface of the ice. There was also a nice stick nearby frozen on the ground. The foreground was very exceptional to make a perfect shot and I was lucky enough to see a sunrise of the Torres at the same time. That´s paradise and magic. Picture was made with a Nikon Body (D800) and a prime Nikon Lens 24 mm f/1.4 and a Graduated ND Filter. 125 ISO, Aperture 16 and Speed 0.5 seconds. Tripod: Feisol with Ballhead CB-40D. 15.6.2014 – 08:54 h. No wind.
Processing: Photoshop CC
Images ©2016 Daniel Bruhin.