Editor’s note: Kamil Tamiola is a doctoral researcher from University of Groningen, the Netherlands and a professional photographer. He founded Alpine Photography Labs to create visual storytelling from remote locations. Lumi Toma has a PhD in Chemistry from the University of Valencia, is an Ambassador for the iPro Lens system for iPhone and works as an adventure photographer for Alpine Photography Labs.
Together they travel to some of the most breathtaking and challenging places – most at high altitudes – to shoot stills and video for the outdoor industry.
Kamil and Lumi are “ridiculously busy” (as he puts it) juggling assignments for multiple clients and planning their 2014 schedules, but they took time to share images of two of their current favorite Lowepro bags and answer a few questions about their work and process.
You are an imagery specialist with a very unique point of view and shooting style. What was the inspiration to make a career of ‘visual storytelling from remote locations’?
I do have an academic background. As a matter of fact, my major is in spectroscopy, which deals with different type of radiation, including the visible one, the light. Hence, in my storytelling work, both for still and motion picture, I apply a very scientific approach. Many of our photographs (in worldwide circulation), were an outcome of very careful studies of amazing alpine locations we have visited.
I am a firm believer in a concept of “empowering people with photography”. Consequently, I find the greatest pleasure in passing on my knowledge, born out of experience and experimentation with photo techniques, to a broad audience. The broader the better.
In my photography endeavors, I am constantly looking for visual perfection. The most exciting part of the modern photography is a truly overwhelming number of tools one can use. It is almost like the perfect lab!
In my personal quest for “the perfect job”, I have tried to merge my academic practices with a yearning desire to spend as much of my time as possible in the mountains. I hold no regrets and believe this is the best job ever.
Tell us about your new Long Exposure Time Calculator. How might enthusiast photographers use this tool to get some interesting results?
Long Exposure Time Calculator is a trivial implementation of an existing, yet highly imperfect “rule” of 600, which is used in long exposure night photography to estimate the maximal effective exposure time of a night photograph.
However, I am very proud to announce that my partner Lumi and I have developed a very simple and portable tool which is patent pending, which will make long exposure night photography a completely automatic process, even on point-and-shoot cameras. No more great pseudo-academic debates on how to take these nice starry skies photos. The future is bright 😉
What do you like about the Rover Pro 45L AW? Have you tested it in the field yet?
The Rover Pro 45L AW is absolutely one of my favorite Lowepro backpacks. We have extensively used this model in relatively challenging scenarios of climbing and glacial travel in the high Italian Alps.
The gear capacity of the backpack is spot on. It offers enough capacity for a professional DSLR with 2-3 medium lenses and a set of spare batteries.
The external gear loops can be effectively used as an attachment points for an ice axe or ice tools. The backpack is very comfortable, yet it sacrifices nothing at its customizability end.
For the most of the scrambling or trekking assignments, the stock version of the backpack with its comfortable waist belt is definitely the way to go.
However, for photography assignments requiring technical climbing, one can remove the belt in order to make more space for climbing harness with all the necessary protection gear.
Your Instagram page showcases beautiful images that are equally bold and vibrant to poetic and tranquil. What informs your choices for posting?
I remember my first-ever Instagram photograph taken almost two years ago, on a sunny spring day in Spain. It shows a beautiful tiny hill covered with an amazing carpet of delicate pink flowers and young trees. The photo has a lower-angle perspective, in such a way that the background is not visible. And there is a reason for that: a huge, desolated construction site covered in rubble was just behind. On a full-frame photo, the beauty of the flowers would have been completely overshadowed and indiscernible from the background. The idea behind this shoot was that there is always beauty around us. It is up to us if we notice it or not.
My photographs go around three general concepts: life, nature and adventure. All with a good dose of love and respect for what surrounds us. My Instagram feed has a personal touch, exposing details, or showing the whole picture that evolves around things that have made an impression on me throughout the day.
What is your current favorite Lowepro bag and what feature is particularly useful?
The backpack I have used during our last assignments in the Italians Alps is the Photo Sport Pro 30L AW. I was specifically looking for a backpack that will not only protect my DSLR camera and accessories but just as important, is as light as possible and suitable for traversing glaciers. This means it has to allow me to ergonomically and safely pack a tent, ice tools, sleeping bag and pad, tripod, trekking poles, extra clothing, food, cooking stove and medical kit, besides the photo equipment. And after having it on the glacier, I can say that the Photo Sport Pro 30L AW it is exactly what I was looking for. Lightweight, ergonomic and safe.
What kind of photography at sea level inspires you both? That is, if you ever come down from high altitudes!
We both love mountains and we try to spend as much time as possible at high altitudes. Nonetheless, we do believe that every single place has its charm and beauty, independent of the type of landscape. The Netherlands in spring is a beautiful and unique place to be. The intense color of the flower fields melting on the horizon into an ocean of blue clouds is a spectacle you will not see anywhere else.
Next project on your schedule that excites both of you?
We are right now completely absorbed by the preparations for a cinematic, six-episode documentary on long-exposure photography in the Alps. The first scene for this production will be filmed in January of 2014. It will be produced exclusively for a rapidly emerging broadcaster, EpicTV, which specializes in outdoor productions.
Yet another exciting thing is the patenting of our long-exposure algorithms that will be soon released as stand-alone apps for iOS and Android. We hope these little apps will give people confidence and inspire them to go out and get these awesome starry sky shots themselves.
We do have also our standard photography obligations for our trusted clients and collaborators.
However, among the super-exciting events we can list are talks on behalf of our partners at G-technology hosted by Apple in Covert Garden, London. Kamil will present our work to Apple users and clients, focusing on the technological aspect of outdoor photography.