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Kerstin Hellmann

Born and raised in Germany my father introduced me to photography at an early age. As soon as I was able to hold his heavy film SLR camera in the late 1980’s, I started to capture my surroundings on family trips. In high school I joined their photo club and learned the art of post processing in the darkroom. Photography, both analogue and digital, was a big part in my studies for my hon. BA in Graphic Design, which I received in 2006. Shortly thereafter I found a job as a Graphic Designer in the west of Ireland. In 2010 I moved to Louisburgh, Co. Mayo, where its spectacular scenery inspired me to
re-kindle my longtime interest and to deepen my knowledge in outdoor photography.

Since then land- and seascape photography developed from being a hobby to becoming a full time job. Beside the sales of fine art photographs and commissioned photo shoots, I also give workshops to beginners and enthusiasts who wish to improve their photography skills.

I like to capture Ireland’s pristine and vibrant land- and seascapes the way I see and feel them. To achieve that, I use two or three exposures, taken of the same scene and angle within seconds of each other, and blend them together in post-processing. My aim is to create the natural look our human eyes can see, that even the best camera can’t accomplish on its own. I use MEB/HDR as a tool and not as an effect to prevent its typical halos, over-worked, over-saturated and depth-less looks. While using editing software, such as Photoshop, to enhance my images as described above, I do not use it to manipulate the scenery captured in the photo. I want to display Ireland the way it really is and not an illusion of several locations “photoshopped together” to create one fabricated scene. If the place is missing an interesting fore- or background I simply move around until I find a good viewpoint, instead of copying trees, skies, lakes, etc. from other images. I always publish the locations I photograph, and I know that when people go to those areas they will find the exact same mountains, lakes and rocks that appear in my pictures. 

Shooting long exposures enables me to create a sense of gentle movement within a static photograph. It also adds a calming ambience to the scene.

The most important thing for me is to get the light to be just right. It is not uncommon for me to set up the camera and wait for several hours until the position of the sun, the length of the shadows and the colours are exactly what I had envisioned. And if that doesn’t happen that day, I will come back another time.

When I am on a photo trip I only cover a very small area at a time, so that I can focus on one or two particular locations for as long as it takes me to capture them, rather than spending a lot of time in the car and only getting snap shots before it’s time to go to the next location. Sometimes I might get lucky and shoot about three good photos in one session, but usually it takes me an average of six hours on location and sometimes multiple attempts to capture just one image that I will proudly exhibit in my gallery.