An interview with Pascal Kamm: World Traveller and Roamer

We first met Pascal when we began to recruit members to Frameload.

During this first meeting we learned that Pascal is a pilot, something he had always dreamt of becoming. But his passion for photography comes at a near second.

In this interview, Pascal tells us what fascinates him the most about photography, and describes his adventurous experiences while getting some of his favourite shots thus far.

So without further ado, we invite you to learn more about Pascal by continuing to read below. We encourage you to follow him on Instagram @kammpascal - his stories are very entertaining, and you can learn a lot about his technique.

How long has photography been your hobby for?

Since 2011, so about 8 years.

How did it all start?

It all started through a good friend of mine. I met him in the army. One day I remember we visited an airshow and I borrowed his camera to take images of the planes. The clicking sound of the shutter, as well as being able to see the upcoming image through the viewfinder very clearly, immediately fascinated me. That time cellphones had really bad cameras and even though his camera was “only” an entry-level DSLR, the quality was way beyond from what I have ever seen and experienced before. I remember my friend was about to buy a 50mm f1.8 lens and I could not imagine why somebody would spend money on a lens which is not even able to zoom even though he already owns a zoom kit lens. The whole technical aspect woke up my interest and soon I bought my first prime lens with a wide aperture and started to take pictures of just any subject which crossed my way, as I was so fascinated by the bokeh.

What is the thing you like the most about being a photographer?

As my main niche is Landscape and Astrophotography, I enjoy the most to be out in nature and enjoy sunsets, sunrises as well as starry night skies. Sometimes with a friend, and sometimes all by myself. I also like a lot to travel and combine that with photography. Experiencing new places with my camera always feels more intense than if I would just visit there without.

Where do you see yourself going with photography in a few years time?

Most probably in the same niche, and definitely not as my main source of income. I like to do it as a hobby and don’t have any pressure that I HAVE to go out and shoot a particular image. I would love though, to make a side business with my images. I could also imagine entering the videography niche as moving images become more and more important in the future.

What are the photos that you’re most proud of?

One of them is the milky way shot from a small village in Switzerland called “Lauterbrunnen”. It was my first visit there and I did not know much about the place. All I knew is that the valley is directed to the South, the direction where the galactic center of the Milkyway would be visible at night and I had the dream of capturing it. The exact shooting spot was found pretty fast and I set up my camera and started to shoot the foreground during the blue hour to get lots of detail and good quality with low ISO. Then I waited in my car for a couple of hours until the milky way was about to be in the correct place. After doing some test shots to figure out the exact settings, I switched the camera to continuous shooting mode and let it run for about an hour to have a large set of images and be able to choose the best one out of it. During the shooting process, I worked in my car which was parked nearby. After a while, I stepped out to gaze in the sky and enjoy the starry night. Exactly at that time, a huge shooting star passed by, and because my camera was running the whole time, it luckily got captured. Later in post-processing, I chose this image for this obvious reason, and even the milky way was exactly at the perfect position.

Another photo which I am very proud of was captured in another small village in southern Switzerland called “Lavertezzo”. There is a viewpoint which is just perfect for photographers. You can set up your camera on eye level with the village and have this beautiful canyon with the river and some rocks in the foreground. The bridge to the right of the frame is leading into the scenery. My plan was to capture star trails over the village. As described in my previous explanation I also captured the foreground during dusk and then waited for the stars to pop up in the sky. The big challenge was the tower of the church. It was illuminated for the whole night causing huge light pollution. I even walked over to the church with my flashlight looking for information about the lightning, to see if there was a possibility to switch it off, but it seemed like it was going to be on all night. So I had to deal with it, and tried to make the best out of the situation, as I had driven around 3 hours just to get there, and would need another 3 hours to go back home. After capturing the star trails, I started to shoot a whole bunch of darker exposures separated by 1/3 exposure steps to eventually even correctly expose even the brightest highlights which were the church. The final image consists of 132 layers in Photoshop, 17 of them only with the purpose to control the highlights. If you want to get to know more about the editing process head over to my Instagram and read my caption: https://www.instagram.com/p/BPfmYF4Atwd/

I got a lot of feedback on this image from a whole bunch of people. They were very impressed and also interested in the process and patience I put into this piece of work.

Exactly what it is you want to say with your photographs, and how do you actually get your photographs to do that?

I want to capture the beauty of our planet and inspire people to go out, travel and explore all those amazing places on earth. I like to have people gaze at my images and see something which they have never seen before in such a way. With some camera settings like long exposures, you can create effects which are not exactly visible with the naked human eye. You can capture movement in clouds or star trails or simply take images in very dark environments making things visible which otherwise are not seen.

What do you think about when you find yourself in a new landscape? How do you find the right spot?

It all starts with some location research before heading there. This is especially important if I don’t have a lot of time to scout the whole area once I am there. Good resources are Instagram with the location tag feature, 500px, a simple Google picture search and, of course, last but not least — Frameload.

If I am not so much under time pressure, I like to just explore new places all by myself. Usually, I find myself walking around with my cellphone and do some test shots to figure out if an image would work or not. Besides looking around for main subjects like mountains or buildings, I also always try to work with interesting foregrounds like rocks, textures in the sand which I could use to capture the viewer’s attention. Leading lines are another artistic element which I love to include in my images, so I try to find those as well.

Landscape photography is your passion. What is your dream landscape? Have you been there? If not, when do you plan to go?

The diversity of landscapes all around the world is what makes landscape photography so interesting to me. I’ve been to Iceland, which comes pretty close to my dream landscape, however even shooting there would get boring at some point. I think dealing with all kind of landscapes and different light situations as well as temperatures and weather is what makes photography so interesting. I remember shooting in Hong Kong - it was so humid that, every time I left the hotel, I could not shoot for at least one hour because the camera and the lenses gathered lots of condensed water coming out of the cold hotel room. So I ended up hanging my camera bag out of the hotel’s window overnight to be able to shoot at sunrise without waking up one extra hour earlier. Then I shot star trail images during winter in the Swiss Alps, and left my camera in the same place for a couple of hours. When I finished shooting, all the dials of my camera including the tripod were frozen and I had a hard time detaching it. When I finally did, I could not the tripod’s legs, so it barely fit into my small car.

Other dream landscapes which I am eager to visit are the Faroe Islands, Lofoten islands and New Zealand. The last one seems very interesting to me as it is located on the Southern Hemisphere where the starry sky looks totally different than what I have ever seen before. I am very lucky to live in Switzerland though, where we have a wide diversity of landscapes spread over a very small area so it is easy to visit many places even if I have only one or two days off.

What other types of photography fascinate you? Perhaps aerial photography, since you love piloting?

Definitely aerial photography with my Mavik. It is amazing how we can make a well-known location look very different by flying the drone up in the air even if it is only a few meters above our heads. Still, I often feel very limited by taking pictures with the drone. The dynamic range of this small sensor is just way behind DSLRs, and shooting proper long exposures (which I really love) is also pretty much impossible, especially if you want to expose for several minutes. Shooting a whole bunch of congruent images and later blending them in post-processing is also very difficult, as there is almost always at least a little bit of wind around. Still, I love drone photography maybe even for the fact that I have certain constraints. I think it boosts creativity and forces me to think outside the box.

Speaking of aerial photography, lately I tried shooting out of the flight deck. This is very challenging, as pilots are not allowed to do anything unrelated to the flight below 10000 feet (3000 meters) altitude. Sadly this is exactly the time when the most amazing shots could be captured during taking off and landing. So I tried working with tools such as clamps, suction cups and cable releases, so that I could shoot images without having to actually do anything. But then another challenge needs to be overcome: the thick windows and the position of sun, both making it impossible to shoot a proper and sharp image. I tried a new product from a great little startup company called “The ultimate Lenshood” which is basically a black rubber lens hood which you can use to block most of the reflections out in the window. If I open up my aperture all the way to f1.4 and focus on the very far away landscape, the window will be so out of focus that it is sometimes possible to get some great results.

Little tip: You can also apply those exact same tips and shoot some great stuff through the passenger’s window.

What photographers do you follow on Instagram and which ones do you admire the most, and why?

Elia Locardi (https://www.instagram.com/elialocardi/)

He has great skills and I love how he creates images in his very own and recognisable style. His images are always perfectly exposed, colours are on point and they very often make me want to visit a place.

Peter McKinnon (https://www.instagram.com/petermckinnon/)

Although he is mainly a videographer, he takes great images as well. His Youtube channel is very entertaining, and he has a great style of teaching. It is very impressive how much you can reach and how many amazing people you can meet through social media, no matter what background you have.

Manuel Dietrich (https://www.instagram.com/manueldietrichphotography/)

I love how he includes himself very often in his images giving them a sense of lifestyle. I also love his editing style and the fact that he posts on a daily basis, which is very impressive to me. His outdoor images inspire me a lot to go out on hikes and road trips, and just be in touch with nature.

Beboy Photography (https://www.instagram.com/beboy_photography/)

I love how he mixes landscapes and cityscapes. His images are very vivid and it is easy to recognise he puts lots of effort in them.

Fabio Antenore (https://www.instagram.com/antenorefabio/)

He works a lot with long exposures and time blending which I also love to do. As he is also from Zürich he has tons of images from places around Switzerland which is a huge inspiration for me.

Rustam Azmi (https://www.instagram.com/ra.visual/)

My buddy Rustam is based in Dubai and he has lots of mind blowing stuff in his feed. Lately, he is very active and there is a lot of inspiration every time I visit his feed. His rooftop shots from all those skyscrapers, and the dope fog shot which is a very rare occasion in Dubai, are just out of this world.

How do you think technology is impacting the world of photography and the role of professional photographers nowadays?

Cameras get better and better, which is a great thing for me as a photographer. Sensors get more dynamic range, high ISO images look cleaner than ever before, and there is no end in sight. However, I don’t think that better technology puts professional photographers out of the business. There are other elements other than high quality equipment which separate professional photographers from hobby photographers.

To receive daily inspirational notifications from Pascal, please follow him on Instagram @kammpascal.

If you’re a photographer in Switzerland looking to expose your portfolio, find new clients and connect with a talented creative community, visit us at www.frameload.com.

We would like to thank Pascal for taking the time to answer these questions for us, and for being a part of the Frameload community. We look forward to seeing his new work coming out on Instagram!

Stay tuned for more interviews coming up soon!

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