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Artists of APN: Enkphoto

Journal Entry: Mon Apr 16, 2018, 6:00 AM
AnimalsPlantsNature
Your Home for APN Photography


Hello and welcome to an interview series that will introduce you to the artists of Animals, Plants and Nature Photography - with a touch of Macro-Nature - here, at AnimalsPlantsNature! We are excited to be bringing you an interview with a well-known APN and Macro-Nature photographer, to get a closer look at his photography and the thoughts behind the amazing photos he shares with the DeviantArt community: Enkphoto.

Enjoy the interview!

Sunset over a Dusted Canyon by Enkphoto

Before we get started, please take a moment to introduce yourself and talk a bit about how you got introduced to the world of photography.

:iconenkphoto:
My name is Ryan, I'm 36 years old, and I am an artist and photographer. I've been creating under the name Enkased for as long as I can remember. I was born in Baltimore city, but I always loved the ocean, so I moved to the Maryland coast at 21 years old so I could take up surfing, and embody the coastal lifestyle. Within that first year while learning to ride waves I also formed a great admiration for nature, especially the sunsets and sunrises that accompanied my sessions. It was this experience that inspired me to pick up a camera and learn photography. My sister studied photography in college, so I knew she had an SLR somewhere, so I gave her a call and she mailed me her film gear which was at my mothers house collecting dust. I still remember opening the package, it consisted of a Ricoh Superll SLR body and a Sigma lens. I shot that camera for about 2 years, and learning in that environment was tough. Difficult light, moving water, and on top of that I was using a camera with no meter, and no automatic settings. Later this proved to be a very valuable and educational for my photography, but it was also an extremely frustrating process. Despite the difficulty, once I got it dialed I fell intensely in love with the craft, and couldn't get enough. That was almost 15 years ago


Groomed Powder by EnkphotoOn the way by Enkphoto

You have been a member of DA for nearly a decade and have tried your hand at many kinds of photography. If you had to name a favorite kind, what would it be?

:iconenkphoto:
That's a really tough question. I love macro, infrared, and my latest venture is exotic and modified cars... but right now I'm focused on Landscapes - in fact last July I left a great job in north Florida, packed my belongings, and moved across the country to pursue landscape photography from a more ideal location. Now I'm in Utah doing just that.


Me and my lady, watching a sunrise by EnkphotoIndian Flower Mantis by Enkphoto

Many people on DA know you for your Macro-Nature photos, but you're also an avid photographer of landscapes. What would you say are the challenges of photographing both such small subjects and wide expanses?

:iconenkphoto:
There are many challenges in both macro and landscape, but my biggest challenge would have to be shooting live insects. The more you understand the movements and patterns of the subject then the easier it is to photograph them, but anyone who has shot dragonflies, jumping spiders, etc, understands that the majority of them just refuse to cooperate. One thing that really helped me with spiders was housing them and observing them on a regular basis. When I started to understand their behavior patterns I could predict the most opportune time to have a session and get the shots I'm after. Lighting and diffusion gets very difficult when shooting these subjects as well. Due to the small size, I'm working in the life size and beyond range of magnification. I prefer to shoot prime lenses mounted backwards (reverse macro), which leaves me dealing with a dark viewfinder, flashes, diffusers, extension tubes and a very short focusing distance. Focus stacking also comes into play and complicates an already quite complex situation... that said, after countless hours of practice I eventually developed a method that works well for me.

Shooting landscapes is just about the polar opposite. I never use flash, I shoot mostly an ultrawide lens or a telephoto, and besides the weather the subject is static and it provides the light for me. It does demand dealing with weather, the elements, and travel, all of which are unforgiving and unpredictable. I work rather slow during landscape shoots, and have to work as fast as possible when dealing with macro. Landscapes have you on the road and strung out, hiking long distances in crazy locations, freezing cold or soaked in sweat while surviving on shit food, and warrants good physical shape and mental strength and discipline. Studio macro is shot in the comfort of my home using artificial light and controlled environment. I think that is why I love both of these forms, the variation keeps things interesting for me.


Saint James Infirmary Blues by EnkphotoEase and Grace by Enkphoto

With many of your landscape photos, you mention in the description that they were taken while on a road trip or a hike. When you plan these trips, do you already know the places you're driving or walking past and know these are places you intent to photograph, or are some of these photos taken by coincidentally coming across these nature scenes?

:iconenkphoto:
Honestly, it's a little bit of both, but the magic usually happens during times of spontaneity. The best things in life are rarely planned, and this seems to ring true in the world of my photography.

I'll give you a good example, I was in Aspen a few days ago - I went there to shoot the mountains of Aspen and Woody Creek, but the best shots of the trip were not taken in either of the targeted locations, nor was it planned. After driving through the night I made it to the Maroon Bells trail for sunrise, then checked out Woody Creek, but on my way out of town I stumbled on an amazing view of Mt. Sopris bathed in the golden light of morning. One of the best scenes I've ever watched unfold in my life, by accident.


Habronattus festus by EnkphotoThe Chase by Enkphoto

A lot of the jumping spiders you've photographed, are actually your "pets". What differences do you experience when photographing spiders you've hand-raised, and wild spiders?

:iconenkphoto:
Captive spiders always seem more laid back for sure, but this depends on several things beyond how the spider is raised. There are some species that are far more docile and easier to work with naturally. A good example is the giant Phidippus Regius found in Florida.. they're wonderful to work with, the females pose and show no fear, it's incredible. On the flipside, while dealing with P. Mystaceus or P. Putnami you will certainly have your patience tested - especially if they are male. That is a big factor with spiders, males are extremely elusive and fast, and they do not like being photographed. Habronattus are tough too, very small and fast... but manageable after some experience dealing with them. A good trick is simply to feed them first, once they are fed they tend to slow down. I absolutely love Salticidae (jumpers), and I refuse to harm them in any way, or freeze them - and it really bothers me that other people do. That is not fair to the spider, and I think it is a real cop-out as far as the photography goes... if that is their practice, they lose my respect immediately.


Sorong Phase by Enkphoto

You've photographed your share of reptiles, like the Green Tree Python above. Could you talk us through the process of creating this photo?

:iconenkphoto:
There was a guy in Florida that I would trade reptiles and insects with, and if I remember right this is the day I took him a Pygmy Rattlesnake that I had been housing. He had a few of these Pythons and after getting them out for us to check out I decided to have an impromptu session with this particular one (which is a Sorong phase). I found this snake very beautiful, and noticed it's calm temperament. I clearly remember shooting him with flash and a diffuser at first and not liking the results, so I decided to try something I had been working on at that time, natural light stacking. So I bumped my iso up a few steps, opened the aperture up a little, set my camera to continuous and started blasting off sequences while slowly pulling my camera back to cover the focus distance and create stack-able shots. I struggled with the framing, but eventually got the positioning and framing how I envisioned it. While working in post there was actually very little done other than stacking, which is how it should be if you nail the shot(s).


Light and Liquid by Enkphoto

Lighting plays a big part in photography, and it's evident from your photography that you play a lot with natural lighting to create the ultimate picture, like the old pier above. Could you tell a little about the circumstances and creative choiced you made in taking this photo?

:iconenkphoto:
I remember this session clearly, this is the St. Augustine pier which actually got destroyed during Hurricane Matthew - but I shot this a few years before that. The sun was just about done setting, which is my favorite time for long exposure. I have a specific method I developed for long exposure work, which is that I will manually bracket anywhere from 3-9 exposures ranging from 10 seconds to 2 minutes in exposure time. This was on the shorter side, I think 15 seconds to 1 minute, and the result is a manual blend of 3 shots. The 15 second shot is used for the foreground and some of the sky, a 30 second exposure is used blend into the 15 second shot to even out the levels and give it a uniformed look, and finally the longest exposure, the 1 minute exposure is used to create the burst of light beneath the pier. With light fading these decisions have to be made on the spot, but the conditions actually made it quite easy for me in this case.


Under Red Skies by EnkphotoAtmospheric Morning by Enkphoto

With the natural seasons offering different circumstances and perspectives of nature scenes, do you have a favorite season during which you prefer to photograph?

:iconenkphoto:
I will always love the shoulder seasons, spring & fall. The skies seem to light up during these times to make for ideal sunrise/sunset conditions. They are also ideal for hiking and travel. I used to love summer, but I spent so much time on the beach I rarely even miss it.

That being said, I am enjoying Colorado and Utah in winter... despite the cold, and the difficult access the mountains, it seriously lights up once they are capped in snow. Over the past few weeks I have experienced some of the most beautiful scenes I've ever had the privilege to photograph.


Unidentified fly by EnkphotoUtah in Fall by Enkphoto

Could you talk us through the standard equipment you pack when you go on a hike or road trip, and also, what you use to photograph your "pets" at home? To what degree does post-processing factor in on the final result?

:iconenkphoto:
For travel I carry everything in a Swiss pack, for a body I'm currently shooting a Nikon D600. My workhorse lens is Nikon's newest 18-35G ultrawide which I absolutely love, it is tack sharp, super light, and at 18mm on full frame is plenty wide for my style. I also carry a Nikon 50mm 1.8G, a 70-300VR, and my old, but superb Sigma 105EX Macro. Just in case I always have my diffuser as well. On the ultrawide I use an NDgrad filter, and for my long exposures I use a 10 stop ND filter. I keep a B&W UV on everything but the 50 which I shoot naked. I also carry an old beat up Slik tripod that desperately needs to be replaced.

My studio kit for macro is quite minimal. Depending on magnification I will shoot the D600 or a D3200 (my fiance has a D7200 that I will use as well). I have two primes, a 28mm and a 24mm Ai-s prime, both of which are shot reverse either alone or on extension tubes. Any natural light macro is shot with my Sigma 105EX, and some high mag stuff is shot with the 105 coupled with extension tubes. I LOVE that lens... I've used it for probably 7 years and it's a beast, I've tried others and none seem to compare. I also have a 55mm Nikon AF Micro that is used for natural light macro on occasion. I use the pop up flash on full when I can get away with it, but I have a few flashes around if needed, and anytime I shoot flash I diffuse the light well - this is the most important piece of my macro kit - my 7$ diffuser. Macro is all about flash diffusion, that is what separates the great shots from the good.

For both macro and landscape post processing is a factor, but it is far more detrimental in my landscape work. Other than slight sharpening and focus stacking, which I do manually (no program), my macro is generally straight from the camera. Landscape, on the other hand, heavily relies on blending exposures, dodging and burning, light painting, and sometimes even tone-mapping or exposure-blending depending on if I am satisfied with the dynamic range. Any blending is done in Photomatix Pro, and the rest is done in Photoshop.


Light Rays over the Rockies by EnkphotoAsheville Pano by Enkphoto

In closing, do you have any tips for aspiring photographers?

:iconenkphoto:
If you really want to become a photographer it takes far more work than what most people think. I believe the proper (and best) way to learn this craft is by getting your hands on an old film SLR that does NOT have metering capabilities. Take the time and master that camera, and I promise you that by the time you learn how to properly expose a shot in any condition thrown at you, you will be an excellent photographer. Now, this is not the easy way, in fact this is probably the hardest way... but it's all in what you want... if you want to be "cool" and follow the trend, sure, go get a digital camera or just use your phone and call yourself a photographer. But if you really want to pursue this, and if you plan on being here when the trend blows over, I would read my advise below.

Now, if you want to truly master the craft, appreciate the art, and create work that is respected and has a chance at living on much longer than you, you have to put the work in. The right way is never the easy way, but the payoff is unparalleled... and there is nothing on this planet that has given me as much as photography. Not even close. It has inspired me to travel extensively, it has shown me a side of this world that is incredibly beautiful, serene, and inspiring, and it has become the most enjoyable faction of my life. It also led me to like-minded people who I now call my friends, and eventually to my fiance - who is also an artist and photographer, and who now has become my travel partner, best friend, and perpetual inspiration.

Most importantly though, just shoot as much as possible, develop your methods, create your style, and have as much fun as possible while you do.


Now for a feature of Enkphoto's work!

KC by EnkphotoKarma's Tail by Enkphoto
That Spectrum by Enkphoto
First Trip Out by EnkphotoClosing Colors by Enkphoto
Unidentified Moth by Enkphoto
One of Many Giants by EnkphotoPygmy Rattler by Enkphoto
Winter Sunsets by Enkphoto
Automeris Io by EnkphotoZ32 2205 drgn EDIT S by Enkphoto


Journal skin by UszatyArbuz
Photo by The-Panic
I had the immense pleasure to talk to one of the photographers whom I've admired for a long time: Enkphoto
Curious about what he had to say about his APN and Macro-Nature Photography? Do read it to learn more :la:
Add a Comment:
 
:iconokavanga:
Okavanga Featured By Owner Apr 19, 2018
Glad to see a feature and interview with Ryan - one of the first people I met when I joined DA. Great photographer who taught me a lot. He's had a few names here (Enkased you didn't know!) so some people may not pick up on this. 

Great photos and well deserved exposure.

David
Reply
:iconmouselemur:
Mouselemur Featured By Owner Apr 19, 2018  Hobbyist Photographer
I am not ashamed to admit that when I got free range to ask many kinds of photographers for an interview, I at first took to the people I've admired for a long time.
Of course, I didn't think many of them would respond... But a lot of them did, and it's a real honor! Ryan was actually one of them - a photographer I've admired from the time I joined DA and someone who was actually keen on being interviewed. I learned a lot about him and photography from this interview, and I hope the same will go for many others :)

I remember Enkased, and then it was Blaklisted, and now it's Enkphoto so it's back to something a bit more familiar. I hope that with the tag it might work, but when you don't know the new name, it might be tricky.

Really glad you like this interview David :aww:
Reply
:iconokavanga:
Okavanga Featured By Owner Apr 19, 2018
Ryan is an erudite fellow and he knows what he is talking about. You managed to bring that out in the interview, and that is a sign of good interview technique. We get to learn things we didn't know. So alpha pluses all round!

David
Reply
:iconanjicle:
anjicle Featured By Owner Apr 18, 2018  Professional General Artist
Amazing photos and what a great interview. :D
Reply
:iconmouselemur:
Mouselemur Featured By Owner Apr 19, 2018  Hobbyist Photographer
Thank you :D
Enkphoto is an incredible photographer and it was awesome to talk to him :clap:
Reply
:iconanjicle:
anjicle Featured By Owner Apr 19, 2018  Professional General Artist
Love
Reply
:iconjenfruzz:
JenFruzz Featured By Owner Apr 16, 2018  Hobbyist Photographer
A wonderful interview, as always <3 <3
Reply
:iconmouselemur:
Mouselemur Featured By Owner Apr 17, 2018  Hobbyist Photographer
Thanks, Jen :hug:
Reply
:iconlucytherescuedcat:
lucytherescuedcat Featured By Owner Edited Apr 16, 2018  Hobbyist Photographer
Incredibly beautiful Photography, such spectacular views! Thanks for sharing this interview! Very talented Photographer!:hug:
Reply
:iconmouselemur:
Mouselemur Featured By Owner Apr 16, 2018  Hobbyist Photographer
Thank you :D
Big fan of his work, so being able to talk to him, learn more about his photography, was pretty great :D
Reply
:iconlucytherescuedcat:
lucytherescuedcat Featured By Owner Apr 16, 2018  Hobbyist Photographer
Indeed! You're welcome, always a pleasure! :hug:
Reply
:iconbeckykidus:
BeckyKidus Featured By Owner Apr 16, 2018  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Very interesting!
Also, above the question "With many of your landscape photos, you mention in the description that they were taken while on a road trip or a hike. When you plan these trips, do you already know the places you're driving or walking past and know these are places you intent to photograph, or are some of these photos taken by coincidentally coming across these nature scenes?" you have two photos. Under them there is the text "(possibly replaced for Aspen photos)". Just FYI - I guess this is something you forgot to delete.
Reply
:iconmouselemur:
Mouselemur Featured By Owner Apr 16, 2018  Hobbyist Photographer
Glad you enjoyed it ;)

There was a possibility it would be published a lot later, and I hoped I might be able to include photos from the trip mentioned in the answer to the question... I put it there as a reminder to myself to look for it again, and then completely overlooked it later :faint:
Thanks for pointing it out, I'll take care of it!
Reply
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