This week we’re going to take a closer look at one of our wildlife forum moderators,Steve Kaluski!
Steve Rogala-Kaluski was born in Perth, Scotland and has moved all around the UK from North to South; however, London has been the place where he has lived the longest. He now lives about three miles from the center of London, (for those of you who love cricket, that’s about a mile and a half away from the Lords‘s cricket ground), with Alison, his wife of over 20 years.
Steve bought his first camera, a Canon AE1, in 1979, which he needed for his college training as a Graphic Designer. Unfortunately, due to the time constraints of going into freelance work after leaving Art college and then heading into full-time employment with various London Agencies, his photography had to take a back seat, only rearing its head on vacations trips. It wasn’t until 1999,when he watched a series of half-hour TV programs made by a new wildlife photographer, Andy Rouse, that the fire of taking up photography was reignited.
Over the coming years, Andy and Steve would become friends and as Steve continued to follow Andy’s captivating television programs, he began to build on his wildlife photography skills. In 2004, he finally had an opportunity to meet up with Andy in one of his workshops. The following year, both he and his wife, Alison, traded in their careers (she was a very successful senior corporate executive at the time and Steve was a designer and company director of a successful London design consultancy) and they began their own new part-time ventures so they could enjoy life more.
To see more of Steve’s incredible wildlife images, go to www.untamedimages.co.uk
So let’s get to know more about Steve!
Do you consider yourself to be a professional, semi-pro, or student?
I think I fall into Doug Brown’s camp of being a pro, but on a part-time basis. I really enjoy photography and selling seems like too much hard work, although some of my current images are located with well-known agencies. I was given the opportunity to attend the BBC Wildlife awards last year and that also opened a few doors and contacts, so a personal big thank you to BPN member Peter Delaney for inviting me along.
If you’re not a pro, what’s your day job?
I also do design consultancy work.
What do you do when you’re not out with a camera in hand?
I enjoy catching up with friends, enjoying good food, wine, movies and walking. My wife and I currently own a second house in Yorkshire where we enjoy the fresh air and the countryside. It’s also one of my favorite places for wildlife and I have found some excellent locations there over the years.
What make/model of equipment do you use on a regular basis?
I have grown up with Canon and current own one MKIV and two MKIII’s with a good selection of prime lenses and accessories.
What editing software do you use?
I use PhotoMechanic to do the quick, rough edit, then LR & Adobe Photoshop with an occasional plug-in like Nik, but I try to keep things simple in my workflow and processing. For me, it’s all about getting things right in camera so there’s minimal processing involved.
I personally feel that we can become like a ‘deercaught in headlights’, not knowing what software to use, applying it all, and then the image moves away from it’s original look & feel. I would rather spend more time out in the field than behind two big flat screen monitors, hard drives, and keyboards looking like a workstation for Avatar.
Do you only shoot digital or do you also shoot film/slides?
Yes, I only shoot digital these days - ironic because I bought the top film camera at the time, the Canon 1V, only to box it up six months later to buy my first digital camera, the Canon EOS MKII.
What classifications (or genres) of photography are you primarily known for or interested in?
I try to keep to Wildlife, but occasionally stray into Avian & Landscapes. The current postings and the wealth of knowledge on the other sister disciplines are far higher than I have seen elsewhere (from both members & moderators) which can be a little daunting!
When you’re not out photographing one of your primary interests, what else do you enjoy photographing?
Wildlife is quite time consuming and leaves me little time to visit other areas of photography. Currently, we have a young vixen visiting the garden so that might be a new developing project. I do photograph the occasional avian image (also from our garden) and I photograph landscapes when I’m away from home travelling when the opportunity arises.
Would you say your biggest strength lies in your technical skills with the camera, your artistic expression/interpretation, or your post-processing skills?
I would like to think I have a mix of all, but with no big strengths in one particular area - a “jack of all trades” if you will. Someone recently gave me the nickname, “Mr. Detail” - and I agree that I can be a bit of a perfectionist – so perhaps that might beconsidered a strength of mine (although I think it can also be a weakness, too!)
Given my career background, I fully understand color and its make-up, composition and structure, but photography is so subjective. I will also try to crop in camera, reducing the element of IQ loss, always thinking how it could be used, (i.e.with text or as a stand-alone image). This has been a huge help when viewing images that have been posted, as there are areas where clearly you can see parts of an image that could be enhanced or improved upon, but the majority of images need only minor tweaks to help bring out the full potential of the image.
Do you conduct any classes, seminars, or workshops?
I have recently been invited to speak at various seminars and classes which, although nerve racking, is very rewarding and good fun. I especially enjoy the question-and-answer sessions after the presentations and I am thrilled that some nuggets of information have helped people in their pursuit of photography.
Have you ever been published? Won any awards?
Within the first year of becoming a photographer, I was granted my Associateship to the Royal Photographic Society. I subsequently won my first award, the PSA (Photographic Society of America) Gold award in Wildlife and, in each of the last two years, the Royal Photographic Society’s Gold award for Wildlife in print. These awards mean a lot to me, as the image travels from cradle to grave (from the initial shot, processing, then to physically printing it) so you need to get color, detail, clarity & sharpness spot on, as the judges are very pre-eminent and sticklers for overall quality. I have also, like a number of members here, got through to the Finals of the BBC Veolia Awards (though sadly I have not won an award yet), and recently had nine images selected for “OutdoorPhotographer” magazine in four different disciplines.
My work has appeared in various magazines including “BBC Wildlife” & “Outdoor Photographer,” high-end travel companies, commissions, and various websites. I’ve sold images from my own website as well.
What was it about photography that first drew you in?
I have always enjoyed wildlife and that, perhaps, stems from outdoor activities such as fishing, where you spend a lot of solitary time outdoors enjoying the natural world; plus, I adore animals in all shapes, sizes and forms.
What keeps you coming back for more?
I am constantly learning. Each time you take your camera out you hone things. The more you understand your camera, the more it becomes an extension of you and things then become instinctive.
Alison says that my best image is always going to be ‘the next one’ and I think it’s that yearning for getting a better photograph that keeps me coming back for more.
Whose work do you most admire and why?
Firstly, it has to be Andy Rouse because of his superb vision and wealth of knowledge and because he is someone who always puts the animals first & foremost. Plus, he is a true storyteller! I also admire Nick Brandt and Dereck & Beverley Joubert for how they portray their animals and the medium used. I also admire Joe Cornish for his stunning Landscapes.
How have you personally grown and/or changed because of your love of photography?
Wildlife photography is difficult because you spend a lot of time researching, planning,and waiting to get the perfect set-ups for your images. Understanding animals and their behaviors is a big factor in getting quality images. If you can gain their trust, you will be rewarded tenfold.
During my time here at BPN, I have mentioned that it is good to occasionally put the camera down and just watch what is going on around you. Living your life behind a lens can become rather solitary and, by setting down the camera, you get the opportunity to see the bigger picture (or, more importantly, another angle in which to photograph your subject!)
Has your photographic style changed over time? If so, how?
I have always threatened to take only a 70-200mm or a wider lens on a trip to make me shoot differently or to include more habitat but, sadly, it appears the 500mm lens has been surgically attached to my arm! When I do opt for a wider approach it is very rewarding so I do suggest to others that they shoot wider, knowing they have not yet fallen into the arms of the 500mm!
How has holding a camera to your eye changed the way you interact with the world around you?
Yes, overall, it has changed how I interact with the world around me. I have become far more passionate about the animals that share our planet and I am keen to promote anything to protect the tiger which, to me, is the most majestic of animals. Also, having had the privilege to photograph Polar bears, it is hard to believe that this animal could soon disappear within the next 30 years.
How long have you been involved with BPN?
I have been involved with BPN for only a very short period of time, some 2.5 years, and within the first four months was offered the position of Wildlife moderator - which was a real privilege. It’s good fun and has recently been very rewarding with some of the contributors here, plus the interaction with the other moderators. It also provides a good network too, where exchanges of information, locations and images have happened outside of the forum and created some excellent relationships.
How has being involved in our forums changed your photography?
There have been some fantastic nuggets of information given freely here which has enhanced either the way I shoot or tweaked my post-production skills. The tutorials are excellent and a testimony to the depth of knowledge that can be found here.
What’s been the best piece of advice you’ve received here at BPN?
Thati s a tough one, although “shoot wider” is something I now do try to think about. Also, one from James Shadle is,”let’s have fun and promote the Community of BPN”.
Got any advice for future photographers?
Look, watch, listen, ask, and distill from the feedback offered and, if you are unsure on what has been suggested, simply speak up, as we have all been there. If you do not ask you will never know. If you understand the problem, you can solve it, so there is no such thing as a silly question.
We all have different ways we work. Robert Amoroso & Morkel Erasmus may go into more depth on how to do things, with an almost step-by-step approach;however, I tend to suggest without going into too much detail. The reason being is that I want people to experiment with the various suggestions. In that way, I feel you will understand more about what each component in post-processing can do. Moving a particular slider all the way from one end to the other will show graphically what happens, then you can move things back to the desired level. In doing so, you will have a greater understanding of the features available to you and what effect it can create. Likewise, playing with the compensation levels in your camera or DOF will also show you what is available to you, but each to their own and no route is best, only the one that helps you develop.
What’s currently at the top of your photography dream list?
I would like to go back to photographing Grizzly & Polar bears, along withTigers.
We’ve all heard the phrase, “You can’t take it with you” but if you COULD take it with you, what one camera body and lens would you strap around your neck for all of eternity and why?
Thecurrent MKIV and 500mm lens.
Anything else you want to add?
You can never buy experience...