Guest Photographer: John Hurshman ‘Hot and Cold’

Following on from my recent guest photographer post from Kevin Horsefield – Iceland the Frozen North, I want to share a short interview and photographs from John Hurshman who recently accompanied me on my Iceland Frozen North 2016 Workshop. I have had the pleasure of travelling and photographing with John now in both Iceland and Namibia and am looking forward to sharing an expedition to Svalbard with him for Polar Bears next year. Please enjoy the interview by Digital Transitions and photographs from our most recent Iceland and Namibia trips.

DigitalEditors Note: While most of our clients are professional photographers deriving their income from their craft, we also have many clients for whom photography is a passion, but not a source of profit. We thought we’d share the work of one such client, John Hurshman, who has recently traveled to both Namibia and Iceland. This combination struck us as especially interesting as it highlights the robust nature of Phase One digital backs – from the heat of the African Desert to the cold of the Icelandic winter. We interviewed John by email, with some editing for length, clarity, and focus.1_IcelandDT: What is your relationship to the art and practice of photography?

John: I am a retired corporate CEO who has been involved in photography for 35+ years. While early on, I had work published by National Geographic Books, Audubon Calendar and National Wildlife Magazine, the demands of family, career and business travel precluded much time for photography. It is only since I retired in 2012 that I have had the time to re-establish my involvement in photography. Much of photo time is spent in the environs of Charleston SC, my adopted home. Additionally, I now have the time for photo tours/workshops… Namibia in 2014, Iceland in 2016 and Polar Bear of Svalbard scheduled for 2017.2_Iceland

DT: Have you switched to Phase One or do you use it alongside other cameras?

John: I haven’t really “switched” to Phase One, but use is in conjunction with another system… most recently Fujifilm X-PRO2 mirrorless. My primary reason for adding a Phase One back was to take advantage of more pliable files, improved color and tonal gradation, and greater resolution; I have not been disappointed! I am using my Phase One IQ260 on a Cambo tech camera, and enjoy the slower and more deliberate work flow. As a by-product of working with a Phase One back, I have adopted Capture One as my primary image editor; I prefer the interface, workflow and end product.3_NamibiaDT: Why did you select Digital Transitions to make your foray into medium format digital?

DT: Can you tell us a bit about your trip to Nambia?

John: I first worked with DT when I was having trouble getting answers from another vendor that I had previously worked with. DT has not disappointed; you always respond promptly and clearly. I had a tiling problem with my IQ260, and your tech people quickly helped me resolve the problem.5_Namibia

DT: Your trip to Iceland featured a near polar opposite (pun intended) landscape. What inspired you to travel there, and how did you plan your trip?

John: In April 2014 I completed a 20 day trip to Namibia to witness and photograph the country’s unique ecosystem with a group led by noted wildlife and wilderness photographers Joshua Holko and Andy Biggs. It’s one of the most arid regions in sub-Saharan Africa. My primary interest was the dunes at Sossusvlei which feature vivid pinks and oranges because of their iron content.6_Iceland

John: Iceland has been on my “Bucket list” for quite a while, due to its stark beauty, harsh conditions and geological history. I also prefer places where I can more closely interact with and get more involved in the environment… and take my time. Regarding planning my trip… that was done for me by the tour organizers, Joshua Holko and Daniel Bergmann. Following that 10 day tour, I hired another guide, Chris Lund, for 2 more days of travel to places that couldn’t be included in the first tour.7_IcelandDT: We especially enjoyed “Long Stretch of Black Sand Beach.” Can you step us through your mindset and process in creating this image?

John: My thought was for strong leading lines and a long depth of focus to convey the expansive nature of the scene. The image was captured with the Phase One IQ260 at ISO 50 on the Cambo Anniversary Edition with Rodenstock 40 HR-W lens at f/11. I wanted to have the patterns on the snow in the foreground illuminated by the sun, so the shadows would lead into the line of snow and wave receding into the distance. Additionally, I was hoping for the more distant section of the snow covered land to have some sunlight in order to draw the viewer’s eye more deeply into the picture. Sometimes, the foreground was illuminated, but not the background – sometimes vice versa – sometimes no illumination. But, there were enough thin spots in the clouds to encourage sticking with it. After about ½ hour of waiting, the thin spots in the clouds lined-up the way I had hoped. Also, the clouds did not clear completely, but thinned so that the sunlight was softened and not harsh. Sometimes you get lucky!8_IcelandDaniel Bergmann and I will be running our annual winter trip again in 2017 and bookings are now open and places are limited. Just drop me an email if you would like to join us.

Namibia Overland Safari Workshop Complete

Last night I wrapped up my 2016 Namibia Desert overland Safari and I am now making the long journey back to Australia (currently at the airport lounge in Windhoek). I have been on the road since early February with back-to-back workshops and expeditions to the Weddell Sea in Antarctica, Iceland in Winter, the Iceland Arctic Fox Project, Lofoten in Winter and finally Namibia.  This time away amounted to twenty four flight sections and an awful lot of miles travelled. I am now very much looking forward to a couple of weeks at home before I head to the South Island of New Zealand for my Masterclass workshop.

As is always the case it is going to be many weeks before I can sort through all the photographs I made during these trips, edit and process my selects and share them on my website and social media. My priority is actually to now finish my work on the Arctic Fox Project and have the book ready for release later this year (I will also be formally announcing a new gallery showing of this work). In the meantime I hope you enjoy this image from  the abandoned diamond town at Kolmonskop in Namibia. See you back in Australia.Kolmonskop

Photo of the Month April 2016 – Golden Dune Namibia

It seems appropriate that the photograph of the month for April 2016 should be one from Africa; as I currently in Namibia leading a small group workshop to photograph the incredible landscapes of this country. This photograph of the golden sand dune was taken near Dedavlei in the late afternoon as we were returning to our camp for dinner. I took a short hike up into the dunes to gain a more top down perspective and then focused on the play of light across the dune. The wind was whipping the sand off the top of the dune and was beautifully illuminated against the dark backdrop. In many ways this is an iconic photograph for me that really captures the feeling of the desert here in Namibia.Namibia

Packing for the Desert of Antarctica and the Desert of Namibia

In a few hours I will start the trek to South America where I will lead a twelve day photography Weddell Sea Expedition to Antarctica. On this expedition we are looking forward to giant tabular icebergs in the Weddell Sea as well as vast Adelie Penguin colonies. At the conclusion of this expedition I will travel to Iceland (poles apart) where I am going to spend ten days completing my project on the Arctic Fox before guiding my annual Winter Workshop with friend Daniel Bergmann. At the conclusion of our workshop I am flying to Lofoten where I will lead a new workshop for landscapes in winter with my good friend Martyn Lucas. I then fly to Namibia for a ten day workshop in the oldest desert in the world – the Namib. Its going to be quite the adventure!

This extensive travel schedule means I need to pack my Arctic / Antarctic winter gear as well as clothing suitable for the deserts in Namibia. I have juggled this packing challenge before (two years ago when I co-led a trip to Namibia with Andy Biggs) and found that it was possible to survive in Namibia with just a couple of pairs of light weight trekking pants and shirts (which thankfully don’t take up much space). As a specialised Polar photographer it does feel a tad strange to be packing a wide brimmed sunhat and sunshirts with my arctic boots and winter clothing. The issue of packing is somewhat compounded by the fact that Antarctica, Iceland, Lofoten and Namibia require very different approaches in terms of camera gear which adds both weight and complexity. Perhaps doubly so as I am carrying long and heavy telephoto lenses for my project on the Arctic Fox.

Two Canon EOS 1DX’s and a EOS 5DSR  will be my cameras of choice for these trips. Although the new Canon EOS-1DX MKII has been announced it will be some time before actual delivery and as such I will continue to shoot with the EOS 1DX as my primary cameras.

Gura Gear Bataflae 32L: (carry on luggage – Believe it or not this does all fit in the one camera bag!)

  • Canon EOS 1DX Pro Body Camera x2
  • Canon EOS 5DSR Body
  • Canon 16-35mm F4L IS
  • Canon 11-24mm F4L
  • Canon 24-70mm F2.8L MKII Lens
  • Canon 70-200mm F2.8L IS MKII Lens
  • Canon 6000mm F4L IS MKII Lens
  • 1 x Spare Battery for the 1DX’s
  • 2 x Spare Batteries for the 5DSR
  • Leica Ultra-Vid HD Binoculars
  • Cable Release
  • Assorted CF and SD Cards totalling around 100 Gigabytes
  • Rocket Blower and Dust Cleaning paraphernalia
  • Complete LEE Foundation and Filter Kit with Soft and Hard ND Graduated filters and LEE Polariser

On my last visit to Namibia I carried two TSE lenses specifically for photography at Kolmanskop ghost town in Namibia. This abandoned town is the ideal location for Tilt and Shift lenses and I found them extremely useful during my time there. However, I decided against TSE lenses for this trip as I am already carrying an extensive array of lenses and I want to try a different approach to this location on this trip.

Gura Gear Chobe Bag: (carry on luggage)

  • 15″ Macbook Pro with Lightroom 5 and Photoshop CS6 with the Nik Plugin suite
  • MacBook Power Adapter
  • Canon 200-400mm F4L IS Lens with inbuilt 1.4 TC (Watch the Unboxing Video)
  • 1 x LACIE Thunderbolt External 1TB Hard Drive for in the field Back Up.
  • Various Power Adapters / Chargers and Associated Cables
  • Canon 1DX / 1DS MK3 Battery  Charger
  • Sandisk USB CF and SD Card reader
  • Passport / iPhone / Wallet
  • Portable battery for charging iPhone and other devices
  • A lot of these items I store inside Gura Gear Etcetera cases inside the Chobe. (These cases are fabulous for organising accessories)

On top of the above I have two North Face duffle bags with the rest of my clothes and gear. Getting all of this to Antarctica and then onto forward destinations is always a challenge, but once on location the benefit of having the right equipment makes all the hardship worthwhile. See you in South America…


Photo of the Month February 2016 – Namibia Dune Field

The photo of the month for February 2016 was taken on my first workshop to the desert of Namibia back in 2014 with Andy Biggs. We were driving back from an afternoon photography session at Deadvlei and pulled over by the side of the road to explore a sand dune area. I chose to take a short hike up into the dunes and was rewarded with some really lovely golden light in the late afternoon. I was fortunate that there was also some strong wind blowing the sands around which has created a nice surreal sense of movement in the image. I am very much looking forward to returning to Namibia in late March this year for a small group workshop. I am particularly looking forward to more time to explore and photograph in the giant sand dunes at Sossusvlei.Namibia