Life is a constant journey. A journey of growing and refining who we are. The same goes for photography according to Ying Luo. Originally from China, the photographer believes that there is more to the art than just clicking a button. “You continuously learn and explore. Photography reflects life. It is an adventure with all kinds of learning, exploring and surprises. Be patient when you are waiting, be calm when things are not going as planned and remember to enjoy the current moment. Put simply, stay positive and you will be rewarded.”
Luo’s journey with photography began when she was only 11 years old. Travelling to Singapore for summer school, she bought her first camera to record the places she visited. In a flash, Luo advanced from average tourist photographing to a more professional setup upgrading to a DSLR camera during her college years in the US. “With my first DSLR camera, I discovered a whole new world of photography as I started to learn about aperture, exposure time, ISOs, focal length, composition and how to combine them in different situations. It was very difficult, but also very rewarding when succeeding!”
Although Luo’s passion for photography was sparked from a young age, it was during a trip to Utah in 2014 that she fell hopelessly in love with the art. “It was the first time I travelled to a destination solely for the purpose of shooting photos. Like it was yesterday, I remember how the world turned from peaceful to vibrant when the first rays of sun came out behind the Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park.” Ever since that trip, Luo has been travelling around the world with a camera in her hand portraying those shivering moments.
Mesa Arch Sunrise, Canyonland National Park, Utah, USA - Nikon D800, ISO160, f/22, 1/13 seconds, AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED at 24mm
Cloudy Day at South Coyote Buttes, Utah, USA - Nikon D800, ISO100, f/5.6, 1/800 seconds, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED at 14mm
Konigssee Lake, Germany - Nikon D800, ISO500, f/10, 1/160 seconds, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED at 14mm
Luo’s style of photography follows the cycle of the Earth capturing the sunrise, the sunset and the stars. Light plays a central part in her work and during the golden hour, she uses rays to paint ravishing yet quiet moments. “That moment of time shortly after sunrise or before sunset is when the light is the most colourful, warm and soft. It always gives me the most stunning photos. I prefer to apply as much contrast as possible as it helps landscape photos become more vivid. I also like to come back to the same spot at a different time so I can compare my shots. This really shows you how much of a difference the light can make.”
Planning her trips ahead of time is key for Luo. Besides searching for dazzling locations, Lou always reads other people’s blogs and watches the weather report closely. Once she’s at the site, the hunt for the perfect viewpoint starts.
“I try to give myself enough time to explore the location trying different angles to see which one would give me the best view.”
Luo brings the AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED lens wherever she goes. This lens offers both wide-angle landscape photos at 24mm and close-ups of details at 70mm, which makes it the perfect companion for adventures. Other essentials for catching sunbeams include a tripod and a remote control. These tools come in handy during golden hour when the light changes by the second.
Sunrise at Vermillion Lake, Banff National Park, Canada - Nikon D800, ISO125, f/8.0, 1/5 seconds, AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED at 45mm
Milky Way at Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, USA - Nikon D800, ISO3200, f/2.8, 30 seconds, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED at 14mm
Sunrise at Monument Valley, Utah, USA - Nikon D800, ISO100, f/16, 1/6 seconds, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED at 24mm
Bison and Morning Mist, Yellowstone National Park, USA - Nikon D800, ISO100, f/5.6, 1/800 seconds, AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED at 70mm
Growing up, Luo was surrounded by beautiful and different sceneries. From subtropical rainforest in Xi Shuang Ban Na to thousands-feet tall snow mountains at Shangri-La; or the astonishing manmade terraces at Yuan Yang to naturally formed Karst Stone Forest at Kunming, these shaped her love for landscapes from a very young age. Mountains are especially dear to Luo’s heart. “I used to be very close to the mountains and my family hiked almost every weekend. Despite being separated from the mountains when I left my hometown, my love for them has never faded away. Every time I go to national parks in the US, I feel the reconnection between my heart and the mountains, and I instantly feel a step closer to my family. Looking back at my work, I realise that my best photos are captures of the mountains.”
Luo’s most memorable experience as a photographer was when she shot the Milky Way and the Perseid meteor shower in Grand Teton National Park in the US. Accompanied by her cousin, the two set off in the middle of the night driving into the wilderness. “It was the day of the new moon, which means minimal light pollution, and in addition, it was also peak time for the meteor shower of Perseid. The Milky Way was so clear that I could see it with my naked eyes! We kept taking photos for hours trying out several techniques. You can search the basic setting requirement online on how to snap a photo of the Milky Way, but when you stand there in the dark, it is a totally different feeling. I had to try different exposure times, different angles and manually focus the stars to make small adjustments while I was there. But it was all worth it!” To end off this unforgettable experience, the two girls slept in their car and woke up to the pink sunrise over Mt. Moran.
Rainbow after the storm, Er Hai, Dali, Yunnan, China - Nikon D800, ISO400, f/5.6, 1/2500 seconds, AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED at 70mm
Shanghai Huang Pu River Night View – Nikon D800, ISO 800, f/16, 30 seconds, AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED at 24mm
Tian Chi at Chang Bai Mountain, Jilin, China, Nikon D800, ISO 160 f/16, 1/125 seconds, AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED at 24mm
Milky Way and Meter Shower, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, USA - Nikon D800, ISO3200, f/2.8, 30 seconds, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED at 14mm
Photography is like a free space to Lou where she can channel her feelings and creativity. Living in the city and facing a computer screen every day, photography is Luo’s excuse for her to get out on adventures. “Photography has brought me so many different opportunities. I keep learning, keep exploring and keep finding surprises. I hope my photos can bring hope with every sunrise and bring peace with every sunset.”
Ying Luo was originally born in Kunming, Yunnan in China. After spending her college years in the US, she considers Bloomington, Indiana as her second home. Currently, she lives in Saint Louis, Missouri, as a full-time cost analyst and a part-time photographer.