Discover what it takes to fly to the moon (and back!) with Matej Tandara. He shares his journey with us, what makes a successful and confident photographer and the secrets behind his surrealistic work.
"Flying to the moon" by Matej Tandara
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how, when, and why you started photography?
My name is Matej, I come from Croatia and I am soon to turn 21. My whole life I have been the guy in the group who wanted to photograph everything and anything, from sunsets and dogs to birthdays and other big events in one’s life.
When I was about 15 I decided to buy myself a DSLR. So I went out, after extensive saving, and bought myself a brand new Nikon D3200. At first I was just pointing my camera at pretty things and trying to make them even prettier. At the time I thought I made awesome photos but seeing them now I would say otherwise. My photos were awful but my post processing was even worse, all I knew was to slide the saturation slider as far as I could, but it made me happy and I thought they looked cool so I continued.
Your photo "Fly me to the moon" is very interesting and surrealistic - can you tell us more how this photo came to be and what was happening behind the scenes?
The photo was taken in early July in beautiful Split, Croatia. It was around 8PM and it was starting to get dark when I saw this plane flying by the moon. I quickly grabbed my camera and my 200mm lens and took a photo of it. The original was a bright blue sky with the plane trails barely visible.
I took the photo to Lightroom and turned it into black and white. I also took the luminance slider for the blue colour and dragged it all the way down to make it much darker giving the photo the illusion that it was took at night. After that, the contrast between the now dark colour of the sky and the trail of the plane was perfect and the moon was perfectly exposed too. I then cropped it since I originally took the photo in horizontal orientation and that was it.
Can you share some tips for our wider community on how they could try and take similar photos? What needs to be done?
The thing that I would definitely recommend is using the luminance slider for individual colours in your editing program and playing with it, making the colours brighter or darker.
Next time you see a plane try the trick that I explained in the text above and you’ll be amazed how good it can look. It is really useful to use a tripod if you’re shooting in the evening, especially if you’re using a longer lens which usually have worse low light performances than shorter zooms and primes.
You say in your profile that you are "trying to learn and improve every single day". How are you achieving this and why are you trying to get even better? Is there a stage, in your opinion, where people reach a certain level and can stop learning?
When you first get your camera you’re all caught up in taking photos of a bunch of things and editing them to your liking and you don’t really think about improving your techniques as much. I guess it happens to everyone in the beginning. After a long time of just pointing my camera at something and pressing the shutter button I thought a bit about what I wanted to express and capture in the final image. I put a lot of thought behind it and did my research. Today we live in such an era where we can find answers to almost every question with a few clicks, this is especially useful in photography since there’s a ton of visual tutorials showing you how to improve your photography. I have this goal of trying to learn the most I can. I want to know all of it, from the physics behind the lenses to how a sensor works, etc. and if you think you know all about photography, then you don’t know enough.
The best way to improve is to go and practice. If you want to shoot some landscapes, do your research on the internet, pack your gear and go out. If you want to get better at portraits, ask your friend to pose for you and shoot. Just. Go. Shoot. I can’t stress this enough. Nobody expects world class photos on your first try, all photography is is trial and error. Don’t be afraid to fail or produce a “bad” image, don’t be afraid to learn.
Once you master portraits, try astro photography. After that try architectural photography. Trust me, you can never stop learning, photography is such a wide field, you will never get to a point where you can’t learn anymore.
"Rainy mornings" by Matej Tandara
On Excio you are providing people with feedback on their photos, why do you think getting feedback is good and what are the main principles you follow?
Feedback is the most important thing to improve your photos. Don’t think because I am reviewing photos that my photos are any better than the ones I submit.
If I can see which parts need improvement it doesn’t mean I could’ve done better. That’s why feedback is so important. Many beginners think that their photos are better than other’s and I am guilty of this, too. When you start out you only hear compliments from your friends and family members who in 9/10 cases don’t know anything about photography.
That’s why today, when I review photos, I point out the things I wish someone had told me sooner about my work so I could’ve improved and not taken a hundred more photos with the same errors in them.
"The peace and the quiet" by Matej Tandara
Where can we find you online?
You can also find photographs that Matej has reviewed on our Blog.