Igor Titov recounts his journey into photography from a simple hobby to full time career, as he dissects the method of wide-angle photography.
With a passion for outdoor activities and a deep admiration for the raw beauty of natural landscapes, photography has transitioned from a simple hobby to the center of a promising professional career for Ukrainian born Igor Titov.
Having embarked on a trip across Southeast China equipped with a Nikon COOLPIX L120, Titov was captivated by the stunning oriental backdrops. Recalling one trip in particular through the picturesque Guanxi province of Southern China, Titov explains how his desire to pursue professional photography was inspired by a single landscape shot, “I clearly remember seeing [the] Li River and its amazing karst mountains reflected in [the] still water…that was the moment.”
Feeling that a change in scenery was crucial to support his new career in photography, Titov relocated to Wellington, New Zealand two and a half years ago. Renowned for its breathtaking scenery, Titov explains how the essence of Wellington’s raw, authentic landscapes embody his own photographic style, citing characteristics of patience, persistence and passion as the key to his success.
After familiarising himself with the basics of landscape photography, Titov turned to wide angle lenses in order to capture the full panoramas of natural landscapes, and produce images that exceed the parameters of the human field of view.
Through his first-hand experience, Titov offers his thoughts on the different aspects of wide-angle shots and provides some advice in understanding how to master the conditions to best capture them.
“View over the Tasman sea from Paekakariki Hill lookout, New Zealand” - Nikon D7100, ISO: 100, Aperture: f/4.5, Shutter Speed: 1/125 seconds, AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G
“Chilly sunrise in Wellington, New Zealand as seen from Mount Victoria lookout” - Nikon D7100, ISO: 100, Aperture: f/6.3, Shutter Speed: 1/10 seconds, AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G
“Golden morning haze over Bagan, Myanmar” - Nikon D7100, ISO: 100, Aperture: f/7.1, Shutter Speed: 1/400 seconds, AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G
“Pre-storm feather-like clouds over Mt Cook, the highest peak of New Zealand” - Nikon D7100, ISO: 100, Aperture: f/9, Shutter Speed: 1/200 seconds, AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G + circular polarizer filter
“Fiery sunset over Mt Cook, New Zealand” - Nikon D7100, ISO: 100, Aperture: f/14, Shutter Speed: 1 second, AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G + color graduated filter
“Afternoon light over Mt Rolleston, Arthur’s pass national park, New Zealand” - Nikon D7100, ISO: 100, Aperture: f/11, Shutter Speed: 1/30 seconds, AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G
Discussing the benefits of wide-angle lenses, Titov explains, “Wide-angle images give another perspective on scenes we see differently with our eyes. These lenses are usually best for long exposure photography too- as this kind of photo usually works best with significant proportion of moving parts of the image, you would want to capture as much sky or water as possible.”
A wide-angle lens contains a focal length that is substantially smaller than that of a regular lens, allowing more of the scene to be included in the shot. This is particularly effective for landscape shots as it is able to capture the sheer grandeur and unimpeded beauty of the natural backdrop.
While the location and subject are key elements of a shot, Titov stresses the importance of understanding and appreciating aspects of composition in order to yield the best results when shooting wide-angle landscapes, telling aspiring photographers -“You really need to find some distinctive and catchy objects in the foreground to make the shot look complete.”
As wide-angle landscape shots focus on natural surroundings, it is important to understand the different mechanisms of light and how they influence and manipulate the subject.
Titov says light will always be unpredictable and elusive and so it is essential to check weather forecasts to determine how it will affect the natural lighting of the shot. “[The] best pictures are usually taken in unstable weather conditions- a day before the storm is usually an extremely productive time, so checking weather forecast[s] is essential.”
When shooting with wide-angle lenses, Titov firmly encourages “always shoot in RAW format.” In doing so, less picture information is compressed leading to a higher quality finish, with tools and software readily available to aid photographers in controlling levels of exposure.
“Adobe Lightroom is extremely useful for dealing with shadows and highlights. I control exposure with built-in exposure compensation in my camera (+/- 0.7), colour grad filter (Tiffen colour grad 0.6) and processing in Lightroom using the graduated filter functionality.” Titov says.
The second aspect to any successful wide-angle shot is being comfortable with your camera and knowing its settings. Understanding these settings gives the photographer control over the various aspects and mechanisms of their image, providing them the means to produce stunning landscape shots.
Titov explains,“I shoot in manual mode with preset settings for landscape photographs. Nikon D7100 has a really useful functionality of U1 and U2 presets…some of the key settings I use are aperture (f9), shutter speed (should be more than 1/60 seconds if shooting hand-held photos) [and] exposure compensation.”
Familiarising yourself with your camera’s settings also enhances the characteristics of different lenses and allows them to be used to their maximum potential and more importantly, for their specific purpose. Titov recommends the AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G as its versatility is perfect for both landscape and travel photos, “It is sharp [and] wide enough to capture landscape scenes…and sometimes the most important for hikers, it is extremely light.”
“View over the limestone formations near Port Campbell, Victoria, Australia” - Nikon D7100, ISO: 100, Aperture: f/9, Shutter Speed: 1/160 seconds, AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G + circular polarizer filter
“Ngauruhoe volcano (Mount Doom in the Lord of the Rings movie) in winter” - Nikon D7100, ISO: 100, Aperture: f/9, Shutter Speed: 1/50 seconds, AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G
“Classic view of Mount Taranaki dominating the lake Mangamahoe (New Zealand) landscape” - Nikon D3200, ISO: 400, Aperture: f/9, Shutter Speed: 1/125 seconds, AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G
“A street vendor selling Bahn Mi sandwiches in ancient Hoi An, Vietnam” - Nikon D7100, ISO: 1250, Aperture: f/1.8, Shutter Speed: 1/80 seconds, AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G
“Walking through the Fiordland wilderness, Routeburn track (New Zealand)” - Nikon D7100, ISO: 100, Aperture: f/11, Shutter Speed: 1/400 seconds, AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G
“A fiery sunrise over Remarkables range, Queenstown, New Zealand” - Nikon D7100, ISO: 100, Aperture: f/7.1, Shutter Speed: 1/10 seconds, AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G
“Violet glow over Remarkables, Queenstown, New Zealand” - Nikon D7100, ISO: 100, Aperture: f/7.1, Shutter Speed: 1/8 seconds, AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G
“The world famous lake Wanaka willow tree, New Zealand” - Nikon D7100, ISO: 100, Aperture: f/13, Shutter Speed: 1/6 seconds, AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G
“Lake Wanaka willow tree, New Zealand” - Nikon D7100, ISO: 100, Aperture: f/8, Shutter Speed: 4 seconds, AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G , ND8 filter
“Milford Sound, New Zealand in winter” - Nikon D7100, ISO: 100, Aperture: f/5.6, Shutter Speed: 1/200 seconds, AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G
As he continues his career in professional photography, Igor Titov encourages aspiring wide-angle photographers to invest time and care into their craft and not be deterred by the challenges, suggesting a firm mindset and good technical skills will show through your final images.
Titov shares, “90% of photos with [a] wide angle lens are taken at sunrise or sunset [,] so laziness to wake up early or sacrifice the dinner or party usually is the hardest challenge… but with the proper mindset, all these challenges are nothing compared to the reward you get by taking [the] picture you’ve always dreamed of.”
As an up and coming professional wide-angle photographer, Igor Titov reveals his favourite pieces of equipment and leaves readers with his top five tips for succeeding with a career in photography:
Top five tips:
1. Study the weather patterns in the area you shoot and be able to determine the signs of a glorious sunset or sunrise in advance
2. Always carry your key gears. Better sacrifice the comfort of your trip or hike then regret not taking the photo of a lifetime
3. Plan well - always know the sunrise/sunset times, and position of the sun. Going to the location in advance and exploring it during lunch time can be very helpful too.
4. For photos near your place - take a model with you and shoot sunrise first and then you have 30 minutes to capture the model in perfect light.
5. Be at the location 20 minutes before the sunrise and never leave until 10 minutes after the sunset. Sometimes the skies are totally unpredictable and can deliver 30 seconds of magic when you are not prepared.
Starting his journey into photography through his love of the outdoors and natural landscapes, Igor Titov has uprooted his life to the picturesque city of Wellington, New Zealand. Valuing the solitude and tranquility he finds in shooting nature, Titov has mastered the technique of wide-angle shooting to capture the grandeur he sees before him. As his career in photography continues to flourish, Titov remains passionate as ever as he continues “chasing the light” and looking for the next shot.