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Interview with Anne Archambault of wideangle.ca


Anne Archambault is the photoblogger behind wideangle.ca.


PetaPixel: Could you tell me a little about yourself?

Anne Archambault: My name is Anne Archambault and I’m a French-speaking Québécoise. After living in most provinces in Canada, Indonesia, India and Belize, I now reside in Seattle, WA. I love the outdoors and mostly pursue my photography on climbing and backpacking escapades in the Cascade and Olympic ranges. When my limited vacation time allows for it, I also like to travel to more exotic and far flung venues. My last trip was to the Italian Dolomites and I’ll travel to Ecuador later this year.

I retouch all of my pictures – from mere cropping and tonal adjustments to more radical perspective shift or artifact removal. My goal is to create compelling images and I’m not attached to the ideal of accurate representation – at least not in my own work. I also like to dabble with infrared and panoramic photography. Next on my list is kite aerial photography!


PP: Why have you lived in so many different places around the world?

AA: I’ve always had a fascination for other cultures, places and languages. I discovered quickly that I much prefer to live in the same small community for months on end than to do a whirlwind tour of the tourist sights. I was lucky enough to be able to line up volunteer work overseas on a few different occasions. My projects ranged from planting trees in the Himalayas to setting up an environmental education program for a nature reserve in Belize. Living and working in a foreign country has afforded me access to unique situations and experiences — which I truly relished as a photographer.


PP: How did you first get into photography?

AA: I showed an interest for photography and started shooting at a young age. My father was a film director and we had a darkroom at home. I remember borrowing my mom’s Kodak instamatic camera in grade 1 on a school trip to the zoo!

But my passion for photography didn’t really take off until the digital era. In the mid-nineties, I worked for the Banff Centre for the Arts (http://www.banffcentre.ca) where I had access to a digital camera for the first time. The possibilities that having an instant preview opened up were instantly clear to me and sparked my renewed experimentations with photography.

Most recently, I worked for Microsoft’s Rich Media photography group where I had the privilege of working alongside world-renowned photographers Art Wolfe, Bambi Cantrell, John Shaw, Matthew Jordan Smith and many others. Their tremendous talent has been a great source of inspiration and motivation for me.


PP: What is your goal in photography?

AA: I shoot and process my photos for the sheer love of creating what I consider compelling images. The very act of framing an image forces you to look at your surroundings and to uncover a unique element or moment in what could otherwise be a very mundane situation. The most satisfying images are not the obvious sweeping views that anyone with a point and shoot could equally capture (who cannot make a half-decent shot of the Grand Canyon at sunrise?). Rather, they are the ones that even surprise you as the photographer as you release the shutter. As Ernst Haas said: “Don’t take pictures, be taken by pictures.”

PP: What was your first camera?

AA: I honestly cannot remember – it’s been too long!


PP: What equipment do you use now?

AA: I currently shoot with a Canon EOS 40D and an IR-converted Canon EOS Rebel XT. I also typically carry around a pocket Panasonic DMC-LX3 — which I love for its size, its wide and fast lens, and its ability to shoot RAW. It’s a great little camera for climbing and mountaineering trips where a DSLR would be too heavy or cumbersome. I also use a Gitzo 1540T Traveler tripod, a Canon Speedlite 580EX and an array of lenses (10-22mm, 18-200mm, 70-200mm, 50mm, 1.4 extender, LensBaby) and filters. I carry all this equipment in a LowePro Vertex 200AW backpack.

I import, tag and develop all my photos through Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2.0. I enjoy working in Lightroom so much that I now only use Adobe Photoshop CS4 when absolutely necessary! Finally, I print on an Epson Stylus Photo R2400 with Ilford Gallerie Gold Fibre Silk paper.


PP: Can you briefly explain what it means for a camera to be IR-converted?

AA: A camera that has been converted to infrared is sensitive to infrared light but blocks most of the visible light spectrum. In practice, this translates into dreamy images with very dark skies and bright foliage. You can get an overview of the process on Wikipedia. Several outfits can permanently convert digital camera sensors to only shoot infrared images. Based on conversations with Reed Hoffman at Blue Pixel, I chose to use LifePixel to convert my Canon Rebel XT and have been very happy with my choice. Although landscape photography lends itself particularly well to infrared photography, I have also found myself experimenting with portraiture and wedding photography.


PP: What’s on your wish list?

AA: A new Canon EOS 5D Mark II has been on my wish list since before it was even on the market – though the newly announced Canon EOS 7D sounds like a great option with its improved focus system, HD video, wireless flash system and electronic level. The extra reach that comes with the cropped sensor is also useful in many shooting situations (wildlife photography, sports photography, etc…). I’m still curious to see how it behaves at higher ISOs and might be willing to wait a bit longer before moving to a full frame sensor…

Some sharper and faster glass including the Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L II and the 24-70mm f/2.8L lenses are on my list – especially once I move to a full frame sensor. I also want some neutral density filters to slow down the shutter in bright conditions and the Singh Ray Vari-ND filter (http://www.singh-ray.com/varind.html) would be a sweet choice. Finally, I’m on an elusive quest for the perfect backcountry shooting bag. I had thought that the F-Stop Tilopa was going to be a great choice – but unfortunately, it doesn’t fit my smaller frame…

PP: How would you describe your photography to someone who has never seen it?

AA: My photography is a combination of nature, landscape and travel photography. I like to look for the incongruous and odd juxtapositions. And as my blog’s name suggest – I am partial to wide focal lengths!


PP: Do you have any personal tips or tricks for landscape photography?

AA: A lot has been said and written on this subject! At the risk of stating the obvious — be prepared and be patient! Do your research up front to understand when is the best time to shoot your subject and what kind of equipment you’ll be needing (lenses, tripod, filters, etc…). Scout ahead of time or at least arrive early enough to setup ahead of the best light, tide or feeding time. And then, just be ready to frame the shot and wait out the perfect moment: whether it’d be the human silhouette that crosses the frame and gives perspective to the surroundings, the sudden gust that creates a dreamy effect as flowers swirl in the wind, the spectacular colours and cloud formation, or the mountain goat that timidly approaches you.


PP: How long do you spent post-processing your photographs?

AA: That varies wildly from one image to the other. Adobe Lightroom, especially version 2.0 with its local adjustments, really has revolutionized the way I process my pictures. I now spend less time than ever on post-processing. I typically do a quick pass in Lightroom to scan the images from a shoot and delete any clear rejects. I batch meta-tag everything with copyright information, location and keywords. I then do a quick edit and rate my favourite images. I may tweak them in the Development module as I go as a way of assessing the potential of an image. For instance I may quickly convert an image to black and white or change the aspect ratio to 16:9. I tag blogging candidates and process them more thoroughly in the Development module before exporting them as JPG’s. I occasionally open up the image in Photoshop CS4 for some effects I can’t reproduce in Lightroom. My best images get posted on wideangle.ca and I tweet about new entries (@wide_angle). I typically only post a single image from a given shoot – it forces me to be highly selective and keeps the blog fresh.

PP: Who are your favorite photographers?

AA: Surprisingly, given my own photographic style and choice of subjects, my favourite photographers mostly fall within the photojournalist tradition. Folks who documented the events of their time like Henri Cartier Bresson, Robert Frank, Sam Abell and Jay Maisel. Their ability to capture truly ephemeral and often poignant moments is captivating…


PP: Who is one person you would like to see interviewed on PetaPixel?

AA: I would love to see an interview with Jimmy Chin. He’s an extremely talented adventure photographer who has achieved recognition as both a National Geographic Emerging Explorer and a sponsored North Face athlete. His work combines my personal passions for travel, mountaineering and photography. It’d be fascinating to read more about the behind the scenes of his photo shoots…

Chase Jarvis would also offer an insightful perspective for Petapixel readers. He’s been a tremendous supporter of the Seattle amateur photographer community and is a pioneer in bringing together photography and social media. And of course he’s now the iPhone photography guru!

PP: Anything else you’d like to say to PetaPixel readers?

AA: Close the browser and go shooting! And thanks Michael for this great opportunity to share my work with the PetaPixel readers!