On April 11th we published a theme featuring the dreamlike world of water-drops, as revealed by the macro photography of J.P. Peter. I asked Jan about this project, and what gave him the idea.
Jan replied, “On a blog I read about macro photography with reverse mounted lenses and tried that technique. I became immediately fascinated by the shallow depth of field that draws all attention to the in-focus areas of the picture. At this magnification a simple drop of water becomes a whole world in itself to explore, a tiny universe that we fail to notice with our normal perspective.”
Jan created this magical effect with a surprisingly simple and prosaic list of materials:
- Canon 5D Mark II
- Canon 24-105mm lens (reverse mounted)
- Studio strobe (420 Ws) with soft box
- Remote flash trigger
- Spray bottle of water
This project was a bit of a departure for Jan, as he usually focuses on glamour and fashion photography. “At this point photography is a side business for me, as I want to be able to choose which projects to take on. So I only do commercial projects if they are interesting.”
Jan grew up in a small, quiet town in Bavaria, and after working as a system administrator at a radio station, he moved to Munich, where he has lived for ten years. He now works for Microsoft on Bing Maps.
What got Jan interested in photography? “My father did travel documentaries on Super 8 and (later) on video. He taught me a lot about composition and technique, and his old mechanical SLR was the first camera I had. When I started with photography I developed my own pictures in black and white. But the real breakthrough came with the first digital SLRs where you could see the results (and mistakes) immediately.”
Jan prefers working in the studio as it gives him the most control over the picture. “But the captured photo is just the raw material,” he says. “The most important part is the post-processing on the computer… I primarily use Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop for this. “
I asked Jan about the artists that inspire him, and he said there are too many to mention – but the long list includes Salvador Dalí, Max Ernst, René Magritte, Mikhail Vrubel, and Alphonse Mucha. “I love photos that tell a story. My goal is to create pictures that are food for the mind as well as the eyes.”
What advice does he have for aspiring photographers? “Don’t pay too much attention to the ‘rules of photography!’ It is good to know them, but you also have to know when not to follow them. There is no right or wrong. Sometimes an unusual crop or strange color is what makes a picture really interesting.”