This is the 2nd installment of my Guest Artist Blog series where behind the scenes I interview an up and coming artist/photographer from around the world. The first guest was on Miguel K from New York and here is the link to that guest artist post in case you missed it –Guest Artist Miguel K. This week I was able to get a fellow Aussie HDR photographer from Melbourne, Dave Tomek, to share his thoughts on his photography and how he goes about it. His work has been gaining a following rather quickly and he produces wonderful vivid HDR images from Australia. They offer his followers on his Google+ Page a little look into the landscapes of Australia which due to its antipodean location they may never get to see. He is a part of a new generation of photographers who use a mirrorless camera system which have the quality of an entry level DSLR yet are small enough to fit in your pocket, an advantage all of us can understand. He also edits his HDR images on his iphone using snapseed and the results are always a visual feast for the eyes.

So without further ado I give you Dave Tomek – Australian HDR Photographer. His work can be also be found on his zenfolio site-  Dave Tomek on Zenfolio

colourful Pier

Image Credit Dave Tomek- Melbourne Pier

Question 1 – You are known for creating vivid Australian HDR photographs, what attracted you to HDR in the first place and how has it captivated your attention this long ? 

Thanks Luke.  I still pinch myself when I hear people say that.  What attracted me to HDR was seeing some landscape images a year ago that really took my breath away.  Being new to photography, I didn’t know they were HDR images.  But I found them captivating.  They were dramatic, artistic and seemed to make a scene evoke an emotional response. I then started to seek out other examples of HDR (and joined Google Plus) and saw it’s application in different types of photography – such as cars, interiors and cityscapes.  This opened my eyes to the creative possibilities I didn’t know about.  It was the start of my fascination and learning curve with HDR.  I purchased some HDR software, watched hours of tutorial videos, and stayed up many late nights experimenting. There are some outstanding HDR photographers out there, and I am in awe of their work.  As much as I tried to learn from them – I didn’t want to copy them.  I practiced and soon started to develop my own unique style. I started sharing my images on social media including Google Plus and Facebook, and was extremely surprised by the positive response I was getting to my images.  That really motivated me to keep at it. I fell in love with how HDR enabled me to turn my photos into images that told a story, and present a scene in a completely different perspective.

It’s been less than a year, and I don’t see my captivation for HDR ending any time soon. It’s a tool that I use on about 90% of images I process – landscapes, cityscapes, cars, street photography – pretty much everything.

Question 2 – What camera setup(s) do you use ? 

I shoot with a SONY RX100 compact, which I bought in January when I decided to take my photography a bit more seriously.  I knew I needed to take as many photos as possible to become a better photographer.  This camera is small enough to fit in my pocket and goes everywhere with me.  But it’s also packed full of features and manual controls to give me most of what I need in a camera.  To be honest I’ve been blown away with how good the RX100 turned out to be.

Question 3 – Geographically speaking Australian can seem quite isolated, are you envious of people in countries in Europe and Asia or do you see the advantages in the isolation and let it have some influence on your work ? 

Yes that’s so true.  I often see images on Google Plus from photographers in Europe and Asia and think how fortunate they are to be able to capture such scenes.  The castles in Europe, the wild plains of Africa, and the magic of Asia.  I marvel and allow myself to travel to these places by appreciating the images I see.  They capture those parts of the world in the best possible light.  I guess that’s how I draw inspiration from them – I try to capture scenes and create images of our great country that present it in a beautiful and unique way.  The images I appreciate the most are landscapes and seascapes, so luckily for me Australia has some of the most strikingly beautiful scenery in the world.  Our cities are also magnificent.  I dream of one day visiting and photographing Europe and Africa, but in the meantime I have a lot to keep me busy with here in Australia.  When some of my followers on Google Plus and Facebook say they’re inspired to visit Australia after seeing my images, that makes me feel pretty good.

Question 4 – When you head out the door with your camera what do you set out to do?

My main priority is to make sure my camera is always on me.  If I see an interesting scene, I never want to miss an opportunity to capture it.  Some of my best images have been taken on the spur of the moment, especially street photography. When I plan a shoot, I ALWAYS choose dawn or dusk.  These times of the day give me plenty of what I’m looking for when out shooting – long shadows, changing light, and vibrant colours.  Early morning shooting always rewards me with the best photos.  It also has another advantage – there are far less people around.  I find this gives me more time to compose an image properly, and capture the scene in a way I wouldn’t have usually considered. The other thing I always set out to do is take as many photos as I can.  I’ll eventually only keep 30 or 40% of them, but taking heaps gives me a bigger pool of images to work with over a longer period of time.  Not taking multiple exposures also helps – especially with longer exposure shots.  Rather than take 3 shots at different exposures, I’ll take 3 different shots instead.  When processing, I’ll make virtual copies of each image at different exposures.  HDR purists will say this isn’t true HDR photography, but I’ve found it works for me.

Question 5 – How has your transition gone into a mirrorless camera system, and have you found any issues with it ? 

The SONY RX100 is the only camera I’ve really used.  I haven’t had to unlearn or compromise my photography because it’s all I know.  It has enough manual controls to make it a mini DSLR, and I’ve found the fixed lens to be perfect for the camera.  I may consider an upgraded NEX7, but will most likely just upgrade to the RX100 II – that’s how well its served me.

Question 6 – What are your favourite photo editing software programs at the moment ?

I use Niks plugins – HDR Efex Pro 2, Color Efex Pro 2, Define 2 and Silver Efex Pro 2.  They’re powerful tools, and the use of control points for selective editing makes them unique. When processing HDR images, I always start by making minor adjustments to the original image  in Adobe Lightroom – clarity, highlights, shadows, and then export 3 virtual copies of -2, 0, +2 into HDR Efex Pro 2 to create a merged image for tone-mapping.  I find this process is quick, and sufficient to extract more than enough dynamic range from a single RAW file.  I also use Snapseed on iPhone quite a lot.  This powerful app is great for editing previously finished images on the go – especially BW conversions.  The drama filter also gives HDR images a nice fresh coat of paint and a visual kick.

Question 7 – If you could give one HOT tip to upcoming photographers what would it be ? 

That’s a tough one.  I guess if I could give one tip it’s to take as many photos as possible and be as creative as you can be while learning and developing your own style.  There are lots of “rules” in photography and its easy to get intimidated into doing the same thing as everyone else.  That can stifle creativity.  Learn from others, listen to constructive feedback from others more experienced, but don’t be scared to get adventurous.

Question 8 – Where do you go for inspiration on and off the internet, and what can you recommend to others for sources of inspiration ? 

I spend an incredible amount of time looking at other peoples images – both online and in magazines.  Online, I’m a member of lots of Google Plus photography communities such as HDR Photography and Landscape Photography where others images often inspire me.  I also do the same on similar Facebook pages including – an awesome page.  I also subscribe to Australian Photography magazine and HDR Online magazine.  By far the most value I’ve received is from sharing and learning from others Google Plus.

Question 9 – What is your favourite image that you have taken and give us a little background on it ? 

That’s a hard one Luke – I have quite a few favourites!  One of them is this one.  It’s special to me for lots of reasons.  It was taken in Melbourne on the banks of the Yarra River.  With this image I learned to combine several facets of photography into the one image – HDR processing, long exposure, night photography, and cityscapes

Melb Yarra

Image Credit: Dave Tomek “Melbourne Yarra”

This one is also a favourite.  The subtle use of HDR helped make this image feel cold and moody –


Image Credit: Dave Tomek

This is another – taken at Princes PierMelbourne – 

Melb Pier

Image Credit: Dave Tomek “Princess Pier Melbourne”

I love sunrise shots and cars too  –

HDR Cars

Image Credit: Dave Tomek

So that is all for the 2nd Guest Artist Blog Post and I wanted to thank Dave Tomek, such a humble guy !, and share that his work can be found at his Google+ Page and you can purchase his images from his print shop here Dave Tomek on Zenfolio

Looking forward to sharing another artist in the 3rd installment of the “Guest Artist Blog Series”

If you like Dave’s work or just want to show your love you can leave a response below. 

Cheers, Luke

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