Luscious Landscapes by Dr. Pramote Laoprasert
Calumet has a rich history of selling high-quality equipment to some very talented photographers, both professionals and serious amateurs, and we are proud to have an opportunity to share some of their work through Parallax.
Dr. Pramote Laoprasert is an acclaimed neurologist at Children’s Hospital Colorado and is on the faculty of the University of Colorado School of Medicine’s Departments of Pediatrics and Neurology. He has also been an avid landscape photographer for the past five years, using a wide range of camera formats, from 35mm DSLR’s to medium format systems.
His amazing landscapes were brought to our attention by Chris Snipes, business development manager at Calumet Ft. Lauderdale, who has been responsible for providing product and direction to Dr. Laoprasert over the past few years.
We had a chance to interview the talented doctor recently, and are happy to share some of his thoughts, photographs, and insights with you here.
What got you interested in photography in the first place?
I’ve always loved the arts but have no talent in painting. Therefore, photography is my way to express myself. My first SLR camera was a Nikon F3 that my dad bought for me as a gift for my acceptance into a prestigious high school in Thailand. It was with me all the time and I still have it. Bangkok had a lot to offer for all kinds of photography including street, architecture and landscape photography.
After acquiring the F3, I started to travel with friends in high school and continued to do so in medical school when I started to become more serious about photography and began joining photography clubs.
My friends who studied photography at the university loaned me photography books by Ansel Adams, and those books changed my life forever! I’ve been doing landscape photography almost exclusively and eventually began using medium format (Mamiya RZ) and 4 x 5″.
What led you to medium format and what do you feel are its main advantages?
The advantages of medium format are its larger-size films and sensors, viewfinder and handling. It allows me to print very big. The color and dynamic range of medium format are also very attractive to me. But I think, most importantly, it slows me down and gives me more time to think!
How much equipment do you travel with (cameras, lenses, tripod, etc)?
It depends on what kind of trip I’m taking. For a car trip like driving to California, Utah and Arizona, I will bring both my 35mm DSLR system and one of my medium format systems. I’ll bring as much as I can load! For a vacation trip that I have to fly with my family, I will bring a 35mm DSLR and a medium format DSLR (two carry-on bags). For business trips, I generally bring one carry-on bag with a 35mm DSLR. When I get to the hotel, I will select a couple of lenses and put them in the backpack and Think Tank belt system for walking around.
I have different kinds of tripods ranging from a lightweight carbon-fiber Gitzo/Manfrotto for travelling, an all-purpose Gitzo GT3532 and the largest Gitzo GT 5541LS, depending upon what kind of trip I’m on. The best and most cost-effective ball head is the Benro B4 ($190 with a 40-kg load capacity). The Arca Swiss D4 is also a great gear head.
What factors into your choice of camera, since you also have several DSLRs as well as medium format?
I use my Canon 5D Mark III with 400, 500 and 600mm super-telephoto lenses for nature photography. For landscapes, and especially for hiking, I will use my Nikon D800E. Its dynamic range is just outstanding. It’s also great for very high ISOs up to 3200 and long exposures of approximately 20 to 30 seconds that are required for freezing stars and the Milky Way, and for shooting star trails with long exposures of 30 to 60 minutes, although I will certainly replace the D800E with a Phase IQ 260 for a very long exposures in the future. Whenever I require the highest quality photos, and whenever possible, I will use either my Hasselblad H4D-40 or my Phase One IQ180.
Who are some of your favorite landscape photographers?
Ansel Adams and Galen Rowell. I’ve also learned a great deal about light, color and composition from paintings by various artists, especially Van Gogh, Picasso, Cezanne, Monet, Matisse, Dali and Renoir to name a few.
How much time do you devote to your photography?
As much as possible, but not as much as I’d like. With my real job, I can only be a weekend photographer. Photography keeps me sane from my job as an academic physician, which is a very competitive and demanding profession.
How much time do you spend in post-production or are most of your images pretty much captured in the camera the way you present them?
Besides shooting in the field, this is my favorite part. I’ve been using Photoshop for more than 15 years and can’t live without it. I’ve also been very impressed with Capture One, although I’m still not very good at it. I can spend anywhere between 10 minutes to one hour on one picture. It’s my meditation.
I think of Photoshop as a gateway to make my pictures look the way I see them when I shoot. The RAW file has never been good enough for a final print. The hard part is to keep processing at a minimum. I don’t do HDR as I’ve never felt that it looks natural. The photo needs to have shadow and highlight, like Ansel Adams’ Zone System.
You’ve published a successful book on neurophysiology. Do you have any plans on publishing a book on your photography?
I’ve always thought about publishing books of my photography, although there are already many good books on the market. I will absolutely consider doing it when I retire. When that time comes, I plan to spend weeks or months in one place such as national parks or places of my dreams and explore them from every angle. Maybe one day I will figure out how to publish an extensive landscape photography book with a completely different point of view. I believe it is possible.
To see more of Dr. Pramote Laoprasert’s work be sure to stop by his portfolio: http://pramotelaoprasert.zenfolio.com