We look into the life of Landscape Photographer Liesel Kershoff, the youngest of three daughters, adventurer and a devoted tea drinker.
An average day for Liesel
While importing photographs from the previous night’s shoot the kettle will be boiling, ready to start the day off with the first of many cups of tea. Then after answering emails and doing some necessary admin, she’ll turn her attention to the processing of photos. Sorting; retouching; uploading etc… this, keeping her busy for at least 4-5 hours. Round about 3pm and you’ll find her checking the weather for the UPTEENTH time, cleaning her camera gear, packing batteries and filling up a backpack with extra clothes and a water bottle. Dressed in her sensible hiking clothes, she’ll leave the house for sunset shooting. (She likes leaving the house a while before sunset as it gives her time to scout the area.)
A little bit of history…
Born on a farm outside of Caledon, Western Province, she can still remember when they moved from the farm to town and how she, then a young teenager, made the vow to leave after school never to return. Boy, how things changed! After travelling the world she returned to Caledon, started a business and got married, growing to “love the town I so despised as teenager and I am now very proud to be living in such a small town”.
Liesel has been exposed to photography from a young age since her father and grandfather were avid family photographers. At the age of 32 she enrolled for a photographic course and when it came to the practical side she never cared for portrait or macro photography, she always wanted to photograph the beautiful landscapes she found so appealing!
A Common Misconseption about Landscape Photographers
People may think that landscape photographers drive to a cool spot, click the shutter and VOILA! a landscape photo. Liesel assures us that it’s a far cry; it takes weeks of intense planning. Driving for many kilometers and hiking for many hours to find the right spot, “looking at weather forecasts day in and day out trying to decipher the best possible day to return for optimal weather. I sometimes return to the location up to 4 times before the weather plays along”. By the time she clicks the shutter she has already invested 2-5days on one photograph.
Lately, she’s really gotten into the whole time-lapse thing and now shoots time-lapse about 99% of the time! She loves that you have to be so involved, having to keep a close eye on constantly changing exposures continuing to say that, “the best thing about shooting time lapse is that I have loads of different exposures to choose from!”. Nowadays she mostly chooses the best exposure as a landscape shot.
A look inside Liesel’s backpack?
When it comes to equipment, she prefers Nikon since they are known for their weather resistant bodies.
In her backpack you’ll find the following:
- A Nikon D750 Body with Battery Grip ideal for battery-killing time lapses
- The Nikon 16-35mm Lens that is constantly on her camera body
- The Nikon 70-200mm Lens which she loves since it adds a lot of drama to a scene, putting the landscape into perspective and at f3.5 gives a beautifully dreamy effect to the Overberg Hills
- A set of Lee filters that has walked the road with her for more than 6 years
Liesel was kind enough to share her workflow routine with our readers. It is as follows:
Using Lightroom she will do the ordinary retouching such as fixing white balance and tint. Also preferring Lightrooms saturation and luminosity sliders compared to that of Photoshop. Then she will play around with tonal ranges, bring out shadows and remove any dust spots or Chromatic Aberrations. Once happy with the image she will then export them to Photoshop.
In Photoshop she’ll dodge and burn, play with curves and levels, fill layers and gradient layers to fine tune the photograph till pleased. Then a final sharpening before saving it as a 100% Tiff for archival and 100% Jpeg for everyday use. Lastly the photo will be resized and saved for the web. Resizing the image might denature it so she usually ups the Saturation about 8% after resizing for the web.
Her Personal Opinion about Landscape Photographs
We all know that taste differs from one individual to the next, and photography is a form of art which is defined as ‘the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power’. Liesel’s opinion on what makes a good Landscape Photograph is that it is a photo that “pushes the boundaries of what has already been done. One that gives a different angle or view to a landscape.” She believes that a great shot will make you stop!
“A Good Husband makes a Good Wife” – John Florio
When asked who played the biggest role in her career and growth as photographer she gave us an answer so touching I simply have to quote the whole thing! “This may sound corny to some people but my husband played the most pivotal part in my career. He has always pushed me to follow my dream and has also been the one who financed my expensive gear when I started out full time. He has never complained when I am out shooting and he had to make supper! Without his support and pushing me to follow my passion, I would have been a normal housewife today. Instead he has a wife who owns more gadgets and survival gear than most men he knows!”
The next Ansel Adams
She considers that if your name becomes synonymous with photography that you’ve pretty much reached a higher level of success. She’d love to be the next Ansel Adams or Annie Leibovitz but counts herself lucky as she has the opportunity to be interviewed and share her work in this digital age.
“I love exploring”
Liesel loves to explore and says that you could probably drop her off anywhere in the world and she and her camera will be happy! Her dream is to photograph landscapes less known to us and we truly hope that her dreams come true. It will not only be fun for her but visually stimulating to the lucky ones that know about her work.