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Blog // Images
April 12, 2011

Interview With Piet Van den Eynde

Last year, on the Lumen Dei tour to Ladakh, I had the chance to meet Piet Van den Eynde. I was immediately impressed, not just with Piet’s photos and the amount of gear who could lug around, but also with his manner and generosity. I learnt a lot from shooting alongside Piet and watching him […]

Piet Van den Eynde in Ladakh

Last year, on the Lumen Dei tour to Ladakh, I had the chance to meet Piet Van den Eynde. I was immediately impressed, not just with Piet’s photos and the amount of gear who could lug around, but also with his manner and generosity. I learnt a lot from shooting alongside Piet and watching him develop images.

So, it’s great to see that he as a new ebook out today called The Power of Black & White: In Adobe Lightroom & Beyond. It’s a very substantial book and for five dollars (even less with the discount code below) it represents great value.

So, with this new ebook out, I thought it would be good to introduce Piet to you all in an interview,

Q. Piet, how did you get into photography?

Well, I have, like many other photographers apparently, a completely different background: mine used to be in finance. Which is really as mind- and soul-numbing as it sounds :-). So I looked for a more cultural antidote and since I was too impatient to take drawing courses, I chose photography at the Academy of Fine Arts where I live. So much for motivation! After a restructuring at my employer’s, I decided to give it a try to turn my hobby into my profession, as the saying goes…

Q. You undertook an amazing photographic cycle tour of Asia. Tell us a little about that.

Yes. It was something my girlfriend and I had been wanting to do for a long time, and in 2009 it finally became possible. So we left for a 6500 km trip by bicycle through parts of Turkey, Iran, India and Indonesia. The journey was called ‘Portraits Of Asia’ and the aim was to portray, both in photographs (me) and in writing (my girlfriend Ruth) the people and the countries we visited. Being on a bicycle is something I’d highly recommend anyone and photographers in particular, because you really get off the beaten track. We often found that the journey in between major landmarks was as interesting if not more than the monuments themselves. I carried a little portable Polaroid Pogo printer with me and with some sponsoring by ZINK, the paper manufacturer, we distributed printouts to our local models-for-a-minute. I lugged about 12 kilograms of photography equipment and even had strapped a small collapsible flash umbrella to my bike!

Q. Any plans to come back to Asia?

Absolutely. We love Asia. In fact I’m planning a photography trip to India with a photographer friend of mine. I’d still want to visit Myanmar some day, too and Northern Vietnam.

Q. Right now you do a lot of teaching in Europe. What kind of courses do you offer.

I offer a lot of courses on photographic workflow and postprocessing in general and on Adobe Lightroom in particular. I also wrote a Dutch book on Lightroom. My workshops are small-scale (8 people max.) but high energy :-). They vary from an introductory evening course to highly focused Masterclasses like the one on Black & White. I also do webinar trainings for companies such as Nik Software and X-Rite and finally, together with my partner-in-crime Jürgen Doom, I run a workshop about using small flashes and postprocessing those pictures, called ‘From Speedlight to Lightroom’. My workshops are offered in Dutch and upon request also in English. Most professional photographers only show their best work after processing, so it’s easy for people starting out in photography to think: ‘I’m never going to be able to do that’… I like to think my post-processing workshops help to cover a bridge: they show that, although you have to get it ‘as right as possible in camera’, the digital darkroom offers an impressive additional vocabulary to make your pictures speak out.

Q. You use Nik Software and I remember you showing me some amazing features. Why should photographers check out Nik’s plugins?

Well, it’s highly addictive software :-). You just feel that the Nik Plugins are developed with the photographer in mind. And whenever they release a plugin, they get it right. Think of HDR, for example. One might think that horse has been beaten to death already and they were quite late to join the HDR party: their plugin HDR Efex Pro plugin was only released late last year. But it’s received – rightly so – stellar reviews. It allows you to process HDR as natural or unnatural as you choose, and provides all the controls for finalising the picture in the plugin itself.

One feature – that is available in all of Nik’s plugins – is the Control Points. These allow you to perform selective edits to a picture without having to make complex masks. Think of it like dodging and burning on steroids :-). I also love the fact that the plugins can be used as a Smart Filter in Photoshop, so you can always tweak your settings later. Right now, my favourite Nik plugin is Silver Efex Pro 2.

Q. Right now you have ebook available through Craft & Vision. What can we expect from that?

Well, C&V already had a series of three e-books on B&W in Photoshop, and a lot of people were asking about how to achieve B&W in Lightroom. I met David Duchemin on last year’s Lumen Dei in Ladakh and one thing led to another… So my e-book is an answer to those questions. I talk about the specific tools that Lightroom offers for B&W conversion. There are a couple of case-studies that illustrate a typical B&W workflow, problems that might appear and some obvious and less-than-obvious solutions of dealing with those. I also try to see my post-processing as a way of letting the picture express better how I felt when I took it. There’s a chapter on dodging and burning in Lightroom, using graduated filters and adjustment brushes. I also include an overview of interesting B&W plugins such as Alien Skin’s Exposure and of Silver Efex Pro. I’m biased of course, but at 5 $ I think the ebook offers a lot of useful information on workflow and post-processing that will even benefit people who work mostly in colour. And I should mention that, while I use Lightroom, much of what is said is also valid for Adobe Camera Raw users: after all Lightroom and ACR share the same processing engine.

Q. Any other projects in the coming months that we should keep an eye out for?

Well, I’ve already got a couple of ideas for a new e-book and there’s a reprint of my Dutch Lightroom Book that should be published somewhere in May. So I’m looking forward to that.

I hope by now you’ve a got a sense of what makes Piet such a cool photographer and teacher. You can find his new ebook over at Craft And Vision. It’s available in 4 parts, if you have a very slow internet connection, but I’d recommend going for the full download version (complete PDF).

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