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The challenges of shooting ‘boring’ nature

3 years ago


We are pleased to reveal Arvids Baranovs as our new monthly winner of the 2019 Sony World Photography Awards. He has won the December prize with his image of a deer running across the landscape of the Latvian countryside.

Baranovs is a photographer and filmmaker with passion for nature, outdoor lifestyle and travel. Having recently added fine-art photography to the list, Baranovs’ portfolio of work is as diverse as ever, and is a perfect representation of his personal nature. 

Baranovs has trouble settling down with just one style of artistic expression - he loves to take aerial photographs of grand landscapes as much as he loves documenting outdoor adventures and experimenting with light painting and astrophotography.“What was first an anxiety about my inability to find my style has become the very fabric of my work - for me, happiness is defined by change,” says Baranovs.


 Please tell us a bit more about the image was chosen as December Monthly Winner

It was a calm and misty summer morning in Latvian countryside, during a video project I was working on. As usual, while everyone was still asleep and getting rest from the busy schedule of a video shoot, I decided to take a stroll around the nearby fields. And there I noticed the two inconspicuous ears of a roe deer sticking out of the long wheat straw. Roe deer like to sleep in these fields as it works out as a great hideout against predators. Since I’m not an established wildlife photographer and don’t haul an 800mm lens around, I had to get close to the animal in order to get a decent capture with my 200mm lens. Slowly and quietly, I crawled closer while looking through the viewfinder of my camera, waiting for action. Once the deer heard (or smelled) my non-camouflaged approach, it jumped up and was gone in matter of seconds. High ISO, fast shutter speed and a bit of luck enabled me to catch it mid-flight. Also the mist served as a great background for the animal to stand out. Later, this experience inspired me to compose a funny story about a rare species of “flying roe deer” that can only be observed on misty summer mornings.


Why did you become a photographer?

I’ve always loved being in nature. The love that grew exponentially once I got to travel all over the globe and take part in adventures that were worth telling about. Being a visual person (I started as a graphic, web and motion designer), photography and video was a natural extension to my lifestyle without a special intention at first - I just happened to have a camera with me at all times. As time went by I thought a lot about composition, technical execution and post-production. Having technical questions out of my way, I have finally started contemplating the meaning of it all. It’s a never-ending journey for me, and I have a feeling that I’ve just scratched the surface. 


You are based in Latvia. What do you enjoy photographing?

Latvia is an excellent place for development of a nature photographer, because there’s very ]few ‘epic’ landscapes. There are no mountains, no canyons, no deserts, no exotic animals, nothing that makes your jaw drop in an instant. Just forests, some rivers and a beautiful, but somewhat monotonous 500km long beach. It takes more imagination from a photographer to create stunning work, because shooting epic nature is easy, shooting boring nature is a challenge. A challenge that gets my creative juices flowing and helps to create work that’s a bit more unusual when I do finally get to travel.

You also make films as @eaglewoodfilms. What are you currently working on?

Since it’s the ‘dark season’ in Latvia with only a handful hours of daylight (from which most are grey and featureless), I’m finishing work on footage shot during the summer and my travels, which I’m selling as stock), and I’m also preparing for the new season. My first project will be on a small island community of Træna, 65 kilometres (40 miles) from the mainland Norway on the Arctic Circle, where I will be artist in residence.During the night I will work on my drone-light-painting series “Darkness/Light” during the night. During the day I will create a film about life in the archipelago and document the winter festival “Ta Træna med Storm”.