James Kirschberg at the 2012 Ocean Beach Art Show
One of the first photography "rules" that I was taught as a boy was that I should never point my camera lens directly toward the sun. This is good advice, as the full-on sun can cause serious damage to your eyes and camera equipment. But I was always attracted to the colors and intensity of direct sunlight refracting through the sky, or reflecting from the water, or from ice and snow, or from glass, and I simply couldn't resist pointing my camera toward where this gorgeous natural light was originating from. Although these types of images are very difficult to expose properly, and lens flare is always an issue to contend with, I eventually figured out a few techniques that have given me the results that I was seeking.
Sometimes, usually when I least expect it, light and form will abruptly coalesce into a scene that stirs my emotions in profound ways. If I respond quickly and surely, and have the proper equipment at hand, I may bring home a photo that can affect others the way the original scene affected me . If you want to be a successful photographer you had better be ready to recognize and act upon those fleeting moments of serendipity, as that will make all the difference.
The pictures on this site were captured using Nikon digital and film SLRs and lenses, and almost exclusively handheld using available light. The advent of high-ISO and high dynamic-range digital sensors, along with VR/IS (Vibration Reduction/Image Stabilization technology) has almost completely freed me from the tyranny of the tripod. I occasionally shoot a modified Nikon D80 DSLR that has been reconfigured for sensitivity to short-wave infrared and have been very satisfied with the resulting "otherworldly" images (see The Passage, Oak Beach, Saint Patrick's Church, and Seatuck). My main field camera is currently a Nikon D600, my favorite zoom lenses are the Nikkor 14-24 f/2.8G and the Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G. For prime lenses I prefer the Nikkor 28mm f/1.8G and the Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G.
All modern landscape photographers owe a debt to the past masters and innovators of the craft, but I especially admire the work and respect the ethos of Galen Rowell. Mr. Rowell (a world-class mountaineer, traveler, writer and environmental activist, as well as an artist and superb photographic technician) would always seek to place himself in unique environments and extreme geography, and was rewarded with a body of work that is truly outstanding. To capture his renowned and award-winning "Rainbow Over The Potala Palace" Galen Rowell explained that while in Tibet he saw a rainbow beginning to form, observed the water vapor conditions that cause rainbows and ran several miles across a mountain field knowing that the odds were good that if he positioned himself just right, the rainbow would end directly on the Dali Lama's Potala Palace. Getting these factors to line up this way not only took mental focus and determination, but also specialized knowledge and diligence in understanding the science behind the craft of the outdoor photographer. "My vision came true as the sunlit curtain of falling rain stayed in place while the rainbow moved with me in relation to the sun," Galen Rowell wrote. It's been said that destiny hardly ever makes the first move, and I believe that to be true.
Thank you for visiting my photography site. I hope you have enjoyed viewing my images as much as I have enjoyed capturing them.
And remember: If you're heading out, never leave your camera behind. Go look for the light, and it will find you when it's ready.
- James Kirschberg
James Kirschberg is a Long Island native currently residing in the south shore hamlet of East Islip. His photographic work has been exhibited at many local venues and art festivals and have won several awards including 1st place at the 2013 Fire Island Lighthouse Juried Art Show. An avid boater, he may often be found out on the water with his camera equipment prowling for the light along the many Long Island beaches, bays and byways.
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