Mas­ter wood­lands

Ev­ery month we join a top pro for a one-day mas­ter­class. This is­sue, Lau­ren Scott trav­els to the Czech Repub­lic with na­ture pro Janek Sed­lar to cap­ture the beauty of forests

Digital Camera World - - ONE TO ONE -

All land­scape pho­tog­ra­phers know that the best time to shoot is early morn­ing, when the light is golden, soft and low in the sky. But that doesn’t make the rise out of bed any less painful. The sun is nowhere near peek­ing its head out as I climb into Janek’s car at 4am. He re­as­sures me that this will be the best time for shoot­ing – once we’ve driven sev­eral hours to reach our des­ti­na­tion for sun­rise, that is...

Our shoot is go­ing to take place in the White Carpathi­ans, a moun­tain range on the bor­der of the Czech Repub­lic and Slo­vakia. This is an area that Janek has ex­plored since he was a child, so he knows it in­cred­i­bly well. He’s been pho­tograph­ing the re­gion se­ri­ously for at least the last five years; his im­ages prove how use­ful it can be, as a na­ture or land­scape pho­tog­ra­pher, to get to know what’s on your own doorstep.

It’s still dark when we park up, and we hike to our shoot­ing spot on the top of a ridge with head torches on. As we walk, Janek tells me about his re­la­tion­ship with pho­tog­ra­phy: “It was at a dif­fi­cult part of my life that I started us­ing my cam­era when out in na­ture. Im­age-mak­ing en­abled me to be more present, to con­nect with what was around me, and also to es­cape. I of­ten find that my clients turn to pho­tog­ra­phy as a way of deal­ing with some­thing big in their lives.”

Janek cap­tures the forests largely for his own plea­sure, but as a trained psy­chother­a­pist, he’s started us­ing pho­tog­ra­phy to help his clients, too. “We head out for long hikes in na­ture and talk,” he says. “When they have a prob­lem with some­thing, they can use the Fu­ji­film In­stax I take along – it’s easy to use – and look for el­e­ments in na­ture that help them to work things out.”

As we con­tinue to walk, sun­light starts to peek through the trees (and my sleepy eyes), and I start to be­lieve Janek’s prom­ise that the early rise will be re­warded with a good dis­play of warm light...

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