Tell us more about yourself – what you do, where is home and what do you love?

I am a passionate and driven young man that likes learning new things and experiencing life to the full. Home is where the heart is and my heart belongs in the mountains. I don’t have an “official home” at this stage as I am still travelling. I quit my job to follow my passion of climbing, seeing the outdoors and photography and have been travelling for the last three months.

How did you first get into photography?

As a kid, my mom always took lots of photos of us. I started playing around with her camera but they never looked the same as the photos in my dad’s magazines and I wanted to figure out why. Why were the photos in the Getaway and Weg Magazines so much better than the ones I could take? My inquisitive nature took over and, through photos, I found a way for my creative side to flourish and to express myself.

Do you have any formal training in photography?

Initially I didn’t, I taught myself until I won a photography competition held by the University of Pretoria. The award was an advanced photography course by Vega School of Photography and a Q-Photo voucher.

What do you like to photograph? What inspires you?

I like the way that you can capture a moment that says more than any words could say. I get my inspiration from light. Light reacts in different ways in different environments and I like the challenge of capturing it in unique ways. I have always loved stars and mountains.

Which photo are you proudest of?

There are a couple which I particularly like. The one I won the university competition with is probably the most noteworthy because I was still a super beginner back then. I took the photo standing on a roof of one of buildings on the LC de Villiers Sports Campus with some rocks as a tripod. I had made my own filter from glass cutoffs from PG glass and stuck cellophane to it while taking a long exposure shot. As I was experimenting with the self-made filters, I did not expect the red and green to make such a good combination. I know now that red and green are opposite on colour wheel, but it did not immediately come to mind. The photo was submitted in the SOOC (Straight Out Of Camera) category and I have left it unedited since. I didn’t have Photoshop back then. The photo tells my photographic journey and shows just how much I’ve grown over the years.

What gear do you use most and why? What gear would you like to add to your kit?

I love my nifty 50mm lenses. The aperture is great for low-light conditions. I’d like to get a full-frame body which is better at low light and a fast wide-angle to take more photos of the stars and of mountains. That would be my dream.

What is your approach to post-processing and photo editing?

Personally, I don’t like to edit my photos too much as I believe less is more. I want to make a photo look amazing without any post-processing, and if need be only with minor edits here and there. But, I do like seeing what Photoshop is capable of when people go all out!

What advice do you have for a beginner wanting to improve their photos?

Don’t get discouraged! Don’t criticise yourself too much before you get to the 10 000 shot threshold. Learn something new, more often than not. Play around with your camera and when in doubt, Google it!

What have you started experimenting with or would you still like to learn?

I have started experimenting more with star trails which is such a great challenge! It has taught me a lot of patience and to think differently about light. I would like to learn and improve myself in this area.

We chat with Oan de Waal, a true adventurer with a passion for travelling and learning something new every day.