Photographer of the Month – Varina Patel
I have long been familar with fellow TimeCatcher’s member Jay Patel’s fine photography so his work needed no introduction to me. Over the last several years I have come to know and love the work of his wife, Varina Patel. Many couples in nature photography have one spouse being the shooter while the other spouse does admin. What I like about Varina and Jay is that they are both super accomplished photographers and experts in Photoshop. And when you compare their work from the same shoots (they often travel together) they each have a distinct style – no one is riding on the other’s coat-tails. These folks know their way around a camera!
Sometimes when I look at a photographer’s work, individual images are stunning but when taken as a whole the images are just too much of the same stuff; fomulaic and repetitive. When I look at Varina’s images, there is an expressive range that is refreshing and engaging and never boring. There is depth to her vision. And Varina’s comps are so clean and simple, they look effortless, but it is a rare photographer who can so easily make order out of the chaos of nature.
Also I admire the way Varina processes her images. Her images look ‘real’ but vivid and they never cross over into that cartoonish or garish zone so common with nature photography today. Look closely at her backlit work (she loves to shoot backlit scenes) and you’ll see someone who is a master at blending images with super wide tonal ranges into something that feels ‘real’. In fact Varina and Jay offer workshops on Intelligent HDR where they teach photographers how to make high dynamic range images from several exposures of the same scene by using layers and masks in Photoshop. I have seen their process in action and think it is something every landscape photographer needs to know how to do. I have yet to see another process that works so well! Best of all it is a simple 3-step process that is not overly complicated. If you get a chance be sure to sign up for one of their workshops.
Thanks Varina for the inspiration!