Oystein Gunther is a brilliant amateur photographer from Norway. He has a beautiful way of capturing his shots, be it landscapes, animals, people, or the world around him. Oystein has a very refreshing approach to photography which is a breath of fresh air. His ability for finding beauty in every moment is incredible. He can take a regular moment and turn it into a complete image. A good photographer’s love for life and sense of fun shines through his pictures. You can find his passion through his photostream and it becomes evident that he does his homework well on photographic techniques. In addition to his skills, there is also a distinctly inventive, playful and creative dimension to his photostream. We are very happy to have him with us here on this website.
Hello Oystein, please tell our readers about you:
I am an amateur photographer from the southern part of Norway. My photography is self taught by reading countless books and spending a lot of time outdoors. In the past I studied economics and computer science and since leaving school in 1996 I have been working as a computer programmer. Photography is a great spare time hobby and rewarding to me as it forces me to be creative in a complete different way than my technical daytime work.
Tell us about your association with photography:
I have always loved taking photographs and when I was young I fooled around with a point and shoot film camera. Back in the days, I had no idea what I was doing, nevertheless I got some good memories out of it. Back in 2007 I started taking photography more seriously. I bought my first digital SLR, a Canon 350D with a standard kit lens. Little did I know how big part of my life photography was going to be. Since then I have had lots of cameras and other equipment, e.g. studio lights, filters, tripods, lenses and all kinds of gadgets.
There is no secret that I have been influenced by others and always open to try new stuff. I have been and still am on a long journey, having an urge to try everything. I have done landscape photography using filters, long exposures, macro, sports, weddings, street photography and the list goes on. Nowadays, I am trying to find my voice and get rid of the stuff I no longer need. I consider myself an enthusiast and I shoot at least a couple of thousand shots each month. Getting time to shoot is always a struggle, but when it comes down to it I think it´s a matter of prioritizing.
What interests you most in photography?
My key area is heading more and more towards fine art and street photography. I am constantly looking for interesting shapes and shadows. When shooting outdoor I try to think in black and white. My biggest achievement so far is the completion of a 365Project. One thing is for sure, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Early morning February 19 last year I was thinking about how to improve my photography and what to shoot. I had no ideas and no clear answers to how I was going to become a better photographer.
Then I got thinking about choosing a theme and a format. Before long I got inspired and was thinking about black and white and square format, not a big surprise as I have always been drawn to monochrome images. In a split second I then decided to give this a try for a year and my 365Project was born. Driving to work that day, I was so pleased with myself, having this awesome project, that I shot my first frame from inside of the car.
The goal to my project was “learn to see better”. Today, I believe I see a little better and I am certain that I at least see deeper. In that context, I have succeeded in my goal. As for the image quality, I know I have good and bad ones. Some days I have a hard time picking the frame of the day. Typically, the day after a successful shoot, I failed, and being true to the project I could not pick a picture from yesterday. That was frustrating, but I think I learned from that also.
One of the biggest challenges I believe was the pressure to produce every single day. One major criteria that I was true to was “I have to try”, the project would not be worthwhile if I was only going to press the shutter.
This winter has been particularly difficult as there has been no light after work. I have spent countless hours driving from one location to another, looking for light. I have been freezing, wet, pissed off, hungry, stressed out, you name it! But, when it comes down to it, I feel privileged to have been able to commit to such a project and that I have a wonderful understanding girlfriend. Today I’m really glad I made it and that I did not miss a single day.
What camera/lenses etc. do you use and why? Also tell us about your clients and workflow.
As a photography enthusiast I shoot mainly for my own pleasure, but I have done a few weddings and have felt the pressure. The next time a couple comes along I will have to do some serious thinking, because this really is not my cup of tea.
When shooting the streets I mainly use the Leica M9 and a FujiFilm X100S. For sports I use a Canon 1D Mark IV and Canon 5D Mark II for landscapes and portraits. These days I am slowing down and going to spend more time shooting film. I shoot 35mm with a Leica M6 and medium format with the Mamiya 7II. I process most of my film in the bathroom and scan the negatives. Sometimes I send the rolls off to a guy in Latvia for developing. He does great work and the pricing is way lower than local stores.
Adobe Lightroom is my workhorse organizing and developing software. I also use Photoshop CC and the NIC plugins. As my approach to photography has nothing to do with journalism I believe that photo manipulation is ok. However, 99.9% of my images are real and have basic and minimal adjustments: levels, contrast, curves, sharpening, etc. I seldom remove or add elements to my images, but I have done that on rare occasions.
Sometimes I get creative and dive into composites and surreal manipulations and that is of course very obvious to the viewer. In my world, I don´t document, I create images.
What is the reason behind creating black and white images? What goes in your mind when you are shooting outdoor?
Tough question. Somehow, I tend to appreciate monochrome images more and especially when done in square format. I often see more emotions and atmosphere in black and white. When going out to shoot, I always decide in advance that today’s images will be monochrome. This way, it´s easier to look for shapes, lines and shadows. Black and white images are classic and I think it´s easier to draw attention to the subject, not having the distraction of color. Also, black and white images with hard contrasts tend to be more dramatic and that´s a wonderful thing.
How does it feel like shooting in your part of the world? What are your future plans?
During winter there are few hours when we actually have light. Therefore, I am really looking forward to spring and longer days. I live close by the sea and have great opportunities to shoot sunsets and seascapes. The mountains and fjords are only a couple of hours drive away. As I have been wandered the local streets so much, I know them as the palm of my hand. I live in a small town and there is little happening on the streets, at least to me as a local. Therefore, I think I will have to travel more in order to sustain my creativity and determination.
My ambitions for this year is to continue my monochrome journey and be more creative in my compositions and perspectives. I do shot color, but I want to become a better black and white photographer before trying to understand color. Of course, now and then I will head out and capture the sunset, but I know the following day I will be tuned right back to monochrome.
Tell us about your inspirations and method of shooting perfect strangers:
I get inspired by all the talented people on Flickr, 500px, magazines, books and YouTube channels. There are so many good photographers that the list will go on and on. But to name a few: Henri CartierBresson, Ansel Adams, Elliott Erwitt, David LaChapelle, Sebastião Salgado, Robert Capa, Jean Michel Berts and Thorsten Overgaard. If not to quote one of the many famous quotes from Mr. Adams, I really like this one from Hirano Aichi: “I record what is there: the air; the warmth; the humid. As I see it; as I feel it…”. When shooting strangers I have a long way to go and my main source of inspiration is Eric Kim. For fun and inspiration I also recommend the following YouTube channels: “DigitalRev TV”, “theartofphotography”, “Framed Show” and “FilmPhotographyTube”.
Any words of advice for our young readers?
As much as I love equipment, I would advise not to go crazy buying the most expensive equipment right away. The camera industry comes up with new models all the time and of course they want us to upgrade. I’m not saying that new gear is never needed or fun, it´s just a reminder that your camera does not become obsolete when the new model arrives. I have found that the used market is flooded with almost new gear at affordable prices. Learn how to use your camera, learn it so well that it becomes an extension of your arm.
This way you will improve your chances of getting the shot, not having to fiddle with settings. Off course, you need to know the basics of the exposure triangle: ISO, aperture and shutter speed. Read books and use the Internet for inspiration. Don’t try to copy others work, because you will fail. Be prepared to spend a lot of time trying to learn. You need to practice and have to make lots of terrible shots in order to get some good. Photography is difficult, but very rewarding when you succeed. Take part in online communities and post your images. Spend time commenting on others work and this way build your network. You have to give in order to get feedback.
You will need a computer with some kind of software to organize your work. I recommend Adobe Lightroom, it´s easy to use and very powerful. The software runs on both Windows and Mac, whatever you prefer. The application helps you get organized and find your images based on keywords and has great editing features.
Finally, keep the camera with you at all times, i.e. have it in your hand and not in the bag!
Oystein Gunther links: Website | Flickr
Note: All images appearing in this post are the exclusive property of Oystein Gunther and protected under the International Copyright laws.