CB Friedland may be relatively new to the world of professional outdoor photography, but his passion and talent for capturing the beauty of nature suggests otherwise. Based in Michigan, he provides educational photography services through his company, CB Friendland Photography. As a new contributor to Outdoor Photography Guide, we wanted to get to know more about CB and his work. Read on.
Outdoor Photography Guide: How did you get started in photography? Specifically how did you make the leap into doing it for a living?
CB Friedland: I was told that I needed to reduce the stress in my life, so spending more time outdoors enjoying nature became a priority. While I was at REI looking at boots, packs, etc. I saw a copy of an outdoor photography magazine. I was blown away by the cover and my mind was instantly made up that I would bring a camera along with me in my travels. Fast forward five years and here I am, starting out the transition from my current position in information technology, to one of professional photographer/educator. Even though I really don’t believe in labels, I guess you can say I am an emerging professional photographer at this point. I just started my own company, Shot Out of a Cannon Photography, where I offer tips, training, mentorships, and workshops. I am at the very beginning of my leap into being a professional photographer, and I look forward to sticking my landing soon!
OPG: Do you have any formal training in photography?
CB: I do not have any formal training in photography. Early on in order to learn the basics, I self-studied. I got to a point where I had learned as much as I could on my own. I then sought out different mentorships and workshops to improve my skills. I have been fortunate to have had some fantastic mentors along the way, which have really helped me advance my skills quickly.
OPG: You’ve traveled to some amazing places – do you have a favorite location?
CB: I have not yet traveled to some of the more exotic locations in the world, but I think that is because there are so many beautiful locations to shoot in my home state of Michigan. With the Great Lakes surrounding me, as well as places like Mackinac Island, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, I haven’t exhausted the photo opportunities nearby yet!
OPG: What subjects do you enjoy shooting most?
CB: If you had asked me this a year ago, my answer would have been landscapes by a wide margin. Having grown up with Lake Huron pretty much as my front yard, it is not surprising that I gravitate toward shooting landscapes that include water. Whether it is large bodies of water, waterfalls, rivers, or even puddles, I can’t get enough of them. I have to say that lately travel photography has become a passion of mine as well. I really enjoy taking what I have learned from shooting nature and using it to shoot cityscapes, and the local culture in the cities I visit. Of course when I shoot a city, I think it looks best when I can include water in the frame!
OPG: What’s in your camera bag?
CB: Being relatively new to photography (just over five years), I have not amassed a lot of gear to date, and quite honestly, I hope to keep it that way. I am currently shooting with a Canon 5D Mark II. My lens kit includes three lenses: Canon 16-35mm (f/2.8), Canon 24-105 (f/4.0), and a Tamron 75-300mm (f/4.0-5.6). I use Lee Neutral Density Filters, both solid and graduated. Other than some miscellaneous things like a circular polarizing filter, a headlamp, a remote shutter release, and a whole lot of sunscreen, that’s about all you will find in my camera bag.
OPG: What’s your favorite lens and why?
CB: My go-to lens is my Canon 16-35mm (f/2.8). Its wide angle of view and fantastic clarity just meshes with my style of photography. It allows me so many options to convey what I am seeing to the viewers. I find that I always start with that lens on my camera, and eighty percent of the time, that is all I ever need to use.
OPG: How important is post-processing to your photography?
CB: While I do strive to get as much as I can right in camera, post-processing still plays an important role in my work. I typically use Adobe Lightroom for some minor adjustments, before heading over to Adobe Photoshop to do any necessary exposure blending. My workflow includes some finishing touches with ON1 Software’s Perfect Effects, as well as the Nik Collection from Google. I just started using Macphun’s Noiseless software, and I am really happy with the results I am getting out of it. Finally I head back to Lightroom for a few minor adjustments, and some cropping if needed, to finish out the image.
OPG: What is it about photography that drew you to it as a creative medium?
CB: When I started out five years ago, I was going to set the world on fire with my photography, earning countless awards, magazine covers, and fame. As time has passed, I realize that was not my true calling and that teaching others was my real passion. While my own work still excites and energizes me, I am finding that seeing that “AHA!” moment in my students eyes mean so much more to me than any award, magazine cover, or fame ever will.
OPG: What is the goal of your work? What do you aim to convey with your images?
CB: The goal of my work is always to try and convey the emotions that are stirred in me as I look out on the scene I am shooting. Whether it’s the awe that the beauty of nature brings, or the feeling of being absolutely tiny that a vast vista view can make you feel, I want my images to reflect that. A great example is my image of the alligator, pictured above. I was in Louisiana and had the opportunity to go out in a small boat and photograph wildlife in a swamp near New Orleans. I had never really been up close to an alligator before and I was blown away at just how beautiful their eyes are! While it probably isn’t the best thing to get lost in the moment staring into an alligator’s eyes while it is only a few feet away, I just couldn’t stop looking at them. So when it came time to take the image, I knew that I wanted to capture that awe I was feeling, so I shot and processed the image to showcase the intricacies and beauty of the alligator’s eye.
(By the way, if you would like to help the victims of the recent flooding in Louisiana, I encourage you to consider donating to the Red Cross. Click here for more info.)
OPG: Why nature photography?
CB: I am most at home when I am outside. I was one of those kids that headed out first thing in the morning and came home when the street lights came on. Having grown up on Lake Huron, there was so much beauty right there, there was never really a need or desire to go explore in the woods. When I attended grad school at Penn State University I visited the school’s nature center, Shaver’s Creek, and fell in love all over again with being outside, this time in the woods. Besides the miles of hiking trails, they offered birding classes, plant identification courses, and much more. (I even learned how to collect and make maple syrup!) When I was told that I needed to reduce my stress, I knew that being out in nature would be the place to do it. I just happened to bring a camera along this time.
OPG: If you could describe your photographic style in one sentence, what would that be?
CB: One sentence? That’s a tough one! I would say that my photography style falls somewhere between the classic landscape photography which was very much realistic in nature and the more modern, in what I like to call the “in your face” style of landscape photography that takes advantage of low angles, long exposures, and a much wider dynamic range of light. (You didn’t say it couldn’t be a run on sentence!)
OPG: What motivates you to teach others about photography?
CB: One of the things that I found frustrating when I started out studying photography was that there was no one place (or at least one easily found) that I could go and get everything I needed. This is why I am so excited to be a contributor here at Outdoor Photography Guide. With so much great information, coming from so many talented photographers, it is that “one place” photographers can go and get what they need. I also have been fortunate to work with some fantastic mentors through the years – ones who so willingly and selflessly shared their knowledge with me, who have inspired me to make my mark in the photography world in the same way. When you get right down to it, I just love to help and teach others, and it makes me happy. We are always told to do what makes us happy… that is why I teach!
OPG: What advice would you give to someone just starting out in photography, or just starting to develop their eye?
CB: One of the things that I notice is that most beginning photographers try to run before they can walk. I know I did. I think taking the time to learn how to use your camera and knowing it so well that you just “do” things from muscle memory, and don’t have to think about the camera, should be every beginning photographer’s first step. Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of all your lenses is also important and something that is typically overlooked. When you free up your mind and are not focused on how to operate your camera, that is when you really begin to see and create art with your images.
OPG: Where are you planning to go next?
CB: What’s next for me? It’s going to a busy last quarter of the year for me. I just returned from shooting in Toronto. In the next week or so, I am going to begin scouting out Turnip Rock here in Michigan for a fall shoot. The end of September I am leading a cityscape workshop in Chicago. October I will be shooting the fall colors in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. November brings the Avengers Half Marathon in California, and I will be shooting on the days that I am not actually running. In December, my wonderful wife surprised me with a return trip to Europe. We will be visiting the Christmas markets along the Danube, while touring Germany, Austria, and Hungary. Then in January… I am going to sleep all month to recover!
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