Interview with Australian landscape photographer Heesoo Chung

Steph Vella

The team at NiSi are very excited to chat with the talented Australian based landscape photographer Heesoo Chung
Learn more about Heesoo’s photography journey below as he answers a series of questions, and allows us to showcase some of his personal favourite images.


Heesoo Chung’s Bio

Hi!

I’m Heesoo from Sydney, Australia.

I’ve always loved exploring, and once I got into photography, landscape photography was the natural progressive step for me. I’ve been a landscape photographer for 6 years now and through photography I have seen some of the most amazing places and have been motivated to go through all sorts of experiences I never would’ve thought I could go through. It’s been awesome and I can’t wait to share snippets of those experiences with you. 

Captured with NiSi S6 with Natural CPL.

‘Solitude’

 I’ve been meaning to visit this spot for 2 years. Stories of the weather becoming unpredictable and savage intimidated me. I also didn’t have the necessary camping gear required until recently.

The new years break provided the time required and the forecast was clear skies. In the middle of la nina clear skies are as rare as gold. It was time to commit.

I spent a total of 3 days alone at this one spot with the only goal of shooting this one place. It was wonderful.
Far from civilisation with no reception and places to be the only things that really mattered were food, water and photography.

I usually like to have either the milky way or star trails in a night photo but it wasn’t the right time of the year for the milky way and I felt that star trails would be too much of a distraction in an already busy composition. 

Shot using the NiSi S6 Pro Natural CPL mounted on the S6 150mm Filter holder adapter ring. This filter was a huge help in shooting this as I could tweak the polarisation effect in the pond reflection. I wanted to keep the reflection but also wanted to minimise unwanted bright areas and the S6 CPL was perfect for this.

Stars were shot around 12am for maximum darkness before moonrise.
General scene and horizon glow shot at 4am
Sunlight shot at sunrise.
Tripod and camera not moved throughout the shoot. 

Q&A with Heesoo Chung


Question 1. What excites you about photography?

Answer
In one word it would be – Adventure. There is nothing more satisfying than scouting different compositions, planning, and then successfully executing a shot I’ve had in my head. Seeing that image with your own eyes is insanely rewarding. I’ve often thought about why that is and I think it comes down to the combination of dreaming of a shot and putting the effort in to get that shot. I see each image as one big adventure that’s required many smaller adventures and behind each small adventure, you form special memories good and bad, small bits of knowledge and skills you acquire, and challenges that you either overcome or fail at and learn to overcome. These adventures become you, I think it’s the most amazing thing and photography provides that for me.

Question 2. What NiSi products do you use and how has it enhanced your photography?

Answer I’ve always used circular polarisers (CPL) in my photography. I currently use my all-time favourite lens the Nikon 14mm-24mm almost exclusively. However, the problem I had with such a wide-angle lens was that traditional screw-on filters wouldn’t work with my lens. The NiSi S6 CPL with the 150mm filter adapter ring solved that problem for me. 

Now I use the S6 every time I use my 14mm-24mm. One look at my images and you’ll see that I love post-processing my images. I like being able to get the most out of the data my camera captures and for this, every little thing adds up. That could mean having a carbon fibre tripod or having a good pair of waterproof boots. It also means having one of the best CPL’s available. The S6 has lifted my photography in both small and big ways. Sometimes it means being able to cut through haze or reflections. Other times it might mean getting just a touch more saturation and depth in the surfaces of a scene or being able to wipe away water droplets easily due to a water-resistant coating. It’s always the little things and the S6 CPL is a big part of the little things in my photography. 

Question 3. If you could take only one NiSi filter with you on a shoot what would it be?

Answer
1000% the S6 Pro CPL! I might be able to blend multiple exposures to handle dynamic range but there’s no way to mimic a CPL in any post-processing. The S6 is super versatile for all kinds of scenes. Shooting against the sun and worried about sun flares? No worries, it handles them like a dream. Shooting sand dunes and worried about the sand scratching your filter? The S6 CPL can fit a lens cap from NiSi that’s perfect for protecting your filter. Shooting waterfalls and you have to somehow wipe away all that water spray off? Haha, NiSi’s water-resistant coating is magic for that, water will bead right off. 

Question 4. What is the one thing that you have learned about photography that you would love to share with others?


Answer
It’s that photography can be one hell (in the best way) of an awesome growth journey if you welcome it. Your photography can be whatever you want it to be. But no matter your decision, behind that final shutter click, through the act of chasing a shot you will automatically end up learning about and experiencing more of the world and it will all accumulate to become a part of your personal growth. I’ve done some insane things I never thought I would be able to do and as a result, I’ve gained so so much. 

Captured with NiSi S6 with Natural CPL.

‘The Mountains are Calling’

 I took this photo just before 2021’s covid lockdowns but didn’t end up editing it until the end of the lockdown. While editing this photo I was reminded of who I was and the adventures I used to go on. 

I basically lived for these adventures, it had many ups and downs, moments of excitement and anxiety, hikes that were easy and pleasant and others that were uncomfortable and torturous. There was always something to look forward to and also to fail at and learn

With NSW about to hit freedom day, I couldn’t wait to get back into the pre lockdown routine of going on weekly adventures. I was feeling the call of the mountains. 

The NiSi S6 CPL worked wonders for this image. The falls in the lower right were almost completely white without the CPL. With the CPL the camera saw through that white and to the rock underneath. The cliff face in the upper right was also distractingly bright and again the CPL toned that down and provided a deep saturation to the rock face. The thing that surprised me most was the filter’s ability to handle flares while shooting into the sun. There was very minimal flaring and due to it I came away with an image that was much cleaner around the bright highlights of the rising sun. 

Captured with NiSi S6 with Natural CPL.

‘The Sun and a Tree’

When you visit a spot for the first time, you explore the area looking for different compositions and find a few that might work. Every now and again you run into a composition that just clicks with you and fires off a mental image in your head. You mentally imagine, analyse and build the scene with the various weather conditions needed to achieve the image.
So to get the ‘”ideal” conditions – I needed the sun to align which was only for a limited time during a year, a dark moody sky with a slight gap in the horizon for the sun to shine through and the valley had to be filled with a decent amount of haze to engulf the scene with light.
Of course, I’ve gotten skunked by the weather for a good number of attempts over past 2 years (classic) but man was it worth it when things finally clicked.

The valley was filled with a ridiculous amount of haze. Once the sun passed through the gap the entire area was engulfed in warm light, it was stunning. There is however such a thing as too much of a good thing. The haze was almost too much, without the NiSi cpl (I used the S6 CPL) it was very hard to see much definition in the valley ridges below. In scenes like these a polariser goes a long way to cut through that haze and provide an additional sense of depth to the image. 

Captured with NiSi S6 with Natural CPL.

‘When Things Align’

Oh man, what a trip. Getting this shot was quite a frustrating journey.
I first shot this composition a few years ago.
The amazing Sydney icons as the backdrop, some nice rocks for the water to flow in an interesting way, the moss on the rocks that grow at a certain time of the year capped off with a banging sky over it all. This pre visual I had at the time made had me so excited.

However, since then I’ve tried many many times and I just couldn’t nail it due to so many factors and conditions that just had to align. Sometimes the water would be too high or too low, the sky didn’t burn at all despite a good forecast, it was the wrong time of the year for the sun alignment and moss. And of course, if you’ve tried shooting sunset here at all you’d know just how crowded this place can get both with photographers and selfie takers standing right in the middle rock platform.

Getting all these factors to align just seemed impossible… I had pretty much given up on the shot until recently.
The satellites showed an incoming sunset that was potentially good but by the time I realised this, it was too late to go anywhere else. So on a whim, totally not expecting to get anything I tried again and this time I finally got it.

Again I used the S6 CPL with my Nikon 14-24mm for this shot, this combo pretty much never gets off my camera. Even in times when you don’t think you need a polariser, it’s always worth trying it on. I always want to get the most out of the data in my images. This can mean the slightest almost unnoticeable improvements from the CPL but those small improvements can go a long way.

Captured with NiSi S6 with Natural CPL.

While I am a landscape photographer and I take images of all sorts of landscapes. I love creating epic time blends that have been shot over the course of many hours. I really enjoy taking moments of different parts of a day and combining them into one viewable image. To me it’s a way of choosing and seeing multiple specific moments of a time period all at once rather than whatever moment you happened to be there. 

Unlike my usual day-to-night shots where I don’t move the tripod throughout the entire shoot, for this one I had no choice but to move the camera. On one hand I feel okay about it because there was no choice (if you’ve know me, you know I would’ve stayed if I could!) but on the other hand I feel a bit dirty haha.

I scouted the scene before sunset and everything seemed good to go except the tide… the tide level shown here and while I was scouting was about 0.9m. By the time the Milky Way aligned like shown here the tide level was 1.9m.
So I could either try anyway and get pumped by waves or shoot the Milky Way from higher ground.
I opted for the latter choice but using photo pills I made sure to note down the position and timing of the milky way relative to the scene to keep it as accurate as possible.

Using the S6 CPL was a necessity for this spot. The black rocks here are insanely smooth and reflective. Without a polariser the scene would be a mess. The S6 did a wonderful job at minimising the reflections and distractions. I would have hated to have gone through all that effort only to find the S6 was missing in my bag. 

– Milky way shot at 7:40pm from higher ground
– General scene and horizon glow taken during blue hour
– sun taken during well sunrise
– sunlit/more textured water taken after sunrise

To learn more about Heesoo and to follow his social media please check out the link below:

Instagram@chungy_photos

FacebookChungy Photos – Photography

Websitehttps://chungyphotos.com/

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