Big & Bright Photographers Part 3: Ismael Ma

In this four-part series of Big & Bright Photographers, four shutter masters reveal the exact ways they evoke emotion in just one shot.

Introducing Ismael Ma,Videographer and Landscape Photographer.

Image: Ismael Ma

How does a landscape photographer transform a scenic view that has been shot countless time, into their own?

Art is subjective and everyone has their own twist to their photos. In the digital age, everyone can take the same photo but everyone has their own editing style which of course gives the photo an entirely different feel. This doesn’t just apply to landscape photographers, it applies to all types of photographs — you really just have to feel the photo and put your own twist into “making it” yours. Like I mentioned above, exploring a little bit around the area and constantly trying new styles and ways to shoot the same place or object will instantly make the difference.

With something so stagnant and still, how do you make it come alive with a click of the shutter?

Lighting, composition, texture, colour, timing, technical skills, patience and luck. What I love about photography is trying to capturing how I’m feeling at the exact moment. If my viewers can see a photo and invoke a similar type of emotion of how I felt when taking the photo, that’s when I feel I have done my job. Also, a photo doesn’t have to be “still and stagnant” all the time, motion blur can be applied to show movement within a still image which in turn can feel more alive.

How can one always ensure that they get the best shots?

You have to do your fair share of research about the location and what time of day might be the best time for you to capture the moment. Also, exploring a little bit beyond the area to see if you can find new angles can be rewarding at times.

Lighting is the biggest component in differentiating a good and bad photo. Playing around with your composition and having a lot of patience to wait for the right moment for the shot. If you really want to shoot a place properly, you really can’t be rushed. For example, waiting for the right timing of day at a certain location. I love shooting when the light is extremely soft during dawn and dusk hours.

Your most memorable experience of shooting the great outdoors.? 

During my road trip in the US before coming back to Malaysia. My camera was constantly next to me as I had the privilege to stop anywhere and anytime I wanted. Starting out my trip from the Big Island of Hawaii, I flew into San Diego and drove all the way up the West Coast of United States, stopping in San Francisco, Portland and ending my journey in Seattle. That was definitely one for the books in 2015. In 2016, it was definitely my hiking trip to Mt. Rinjani in Lombok, Indonesia.

Once in a while, we get your perspectives of Kuala Lumpur and other cities. What are the differences in photographing these two landscapes? 

The difference is simply being out and quiet in the peaceful nature or in a busy urban concrete jungle. Some days you just want to shoot a place busy with buildings, people and traffic. Other times you just want to shoot a place busy with trees, mountains and a body of water. Both invoking different types of perspective and emotions, so I’m really 50-50 on that.

Who’s the one person you wish you could learn from? 

Chris Burkard — his passion and thirst for thrilling images are never-ending and they are always so inspiring to look at. It’s the dream job to be able to do what you love, and he seems to be doing just that and is constantly inspiring me. That dude’s a legend and I hope to be remembered one day as the guy who takes awesome photos of nature. 

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