Martin Kristiansen
Leaf Aptus-II 12R
South Africa

"I no longer stitch or use HDR. I find a single exposure on the Leaf Aptus-II 12R supplies me the file I need with no need for fancy footwork on the computer."

Martin Kristiansen

Martin Kristiansen is a South Africa based photographer who uses his 80MP Leaf Aptus-II 12R for both business and pleasure. “I shoot mostly catalogue work commercially. A lot of clothing, shoes, corporate gifts, office furniture, linen and those types of things. The work is technical and very demanding. It is normal to spend several weeks on a single job. This type of work requires accurate color, very clean files and a lot of product knowledge, but is not very demanding creatively. What this type of work does do is it allows me to purchase the very best equipment that I am then able to use on personal projects. I am totally driven by my personal projects.”

As he first discovered photography in the days of print, Martin is a bit old-fashioned in that he only believes that an image exists once it has been printed. “I print big. My favorite size for my landscapes is 2 meters by 1.5 meters. The Leaf Aptus-II 12R pulls this off with no trouble at all. I also love the rotating sensor, as it prevents dust from getting onto the sensor and this is a huge advantage in dusty, dry, hot African conditions. The new firmware has also helped in the field with the outdoor setting greatly enhancing LCD visibility. The massive pixel count allows me to return to my roots. I focus on the scene in front of me and pull off an image without having to consider stitching and HDR. I love it. I would rather be out shooting than sitting in front of a computer. I felt the same in the old days with darkroom work as well though I was a very good printer in my time.”

Born in 1960, Martin, like many pros, knew from an early age that photography was his calling. “At age 14 I decided that I would be a photographer. The thought came to me quite suddenly and out of the blue. I have never wavered in this desire from that time on. All spare time and money was put into my photography while I was at school. I learned to develop and print and was making money selling photographs to my friends and a local newspaper in rural KwaZulu Natal within a few months. The money I made went towards better equipment and materials for the darkroom.”

“My workflow has evolved over the years as equipment has evolved. I was a very early adopter of digital technology. The first digital camera I used was a Kodak DCS 420. I have always been driven by quality and it was an obvious step for me to move into medium-format. My first back was a Kodak DCS 465. It was followed by a Kodak Pro Back. When that failed and was no longer supported by Kodak, I took advantage of the Leaf trade-in offer to purchase a Leaf Valeo 22. That was then traded in for a Leaf Aptus-II 7 and that was traded in for my Leaf Aptus-II 12R. The logical and predictable upgrade policy of Leaf has been a huge benefit to my business and I intend making use of it again when new products are developed.”

Throughout his career, Martin has experimented with HDR, stitching, focus stacking and anything else he could find to extract the most he could from his equipment. The latest Leaf products have enabled him to significantly simplify his post-production efforts. “I no longer stitch or use HDR. I find a single exposure on the Leaf Aptus-II 12R supplies me the file I need with no need for fancy footwork on the computer. I expose very carefully using a spotmeter and always shoot a lens calibration file. All my personal landscape work is shot on a Cambo using four lenses. They are all Schneider ApoDigitars. I use a 47mm, 72mm, 90mm and 180mm. Images are carefully profiled in Leaf Capture and I output a raw file using the calibration file with a daylight balance. The raw file is then imported into Lightroom, where I apply a custom profile before exporting a tiff for use in Photoshop. I do very little work in Photoshop. If the image is strong, well exposed and correctly profiled not much is needed. A little contrast to the L channel in lab color, some sharpening and it's done. I print on an Epson 11880 using Imageprint RIP.”

“My current personal project is firmly based on my love of the landscape but draws heavily on the cultural clashes that have plagued South Africa and Africa. I find that I simply am no longer able to search out isolated pockets of beauty that have been spared by us. Battlefields have come to represent an image of this struggle for me. I have been spending weeks in the battlefields of Zululand trying to find a way to represent how I have come to feel about the land and how we fight over it and how we ruin it with our constant busyness.”

“The hard, dry winters were a particular challenge with the pale sun-drenched landscape not offering much help. I decided to avoid the traditional golden hours of photography and worked only on clear days between 10am and 3pm. I found it very challenging technically, but the equipment was up to the task and I am very happy with my results. The project is not finished, but I feel that I have made a good start. As soon as the current catalogue work is completed, I will take a week or two off and head back to continue.”

About Martin Kristiansen
Martin Kristiansen is a commercial photographer working from a studio in Johannesburg, South Africa. The bulk of his work is on large high-end catalogs. Products range from clothing to pens to office furniture. Martin aims to provide an accurate, easy to use, quality product with no fuss or drama.

He balances his commercial work with ongoing private projects that keep him inspired and on the road around South Africa when he is between shoots. The struggle for land and land rights are issues he is currently exploring when out of the studio.

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