High Flying Photography with Karim Nafatni5 comments
Karim Nafatni. Nikon D300s, 10mm © Karim Nafatni
We spoke to airline pilot and photographer, Karim Nafatni, to find out more about his stunning images taken in the cockpit with Nikon equipment.
Which did you start doing first, flying or taking pictures?
I have been a professional pilot for the past 13 years but photography has always been a passion since my childhood. I never took the time to really get into the art of photography until I bought my first DSLR 3 years ago, a Nikon D3100. I’d say that having the opportunity to fly and see amazing scenery from above really got me addicted to taking pictures. I don’t take my camera with me in ‘the office’ very often but I always find some time out to go out and shoot.
What do you remember of your early photography?
Well, my early photography is not that early as I seriously started shooting 3 years ago, but I always like to go back and look at the pictures I was taking at that time and see how ugly my work was! I am very hard with myself in life and I do not easily like my work even if a lot of people appreciate it. It took 3 years to say of one of my pictures, “I like this shot”. It’s my favourite by the way, “Sunrise In The Office”.
Sunrise In The Office. Nikon D300s, 200ISO, 10mm, f10, 1/10s © Karim Nafatni
Do you have a preferred body and lens that you use?
Well I have been a Nikon freak from day one. I do believe that a proper body is important, but good glass is even more so. I was very happy with my D3100 (which I still have, by the way) and I’m in love with my current camera, the D300s. Then it’s all about budget to be honest. I’m planning to go for FX very soon and buy the Nikon D800. The lenses I use most are wide angle (12-24mm) and fisheye (10mm) in combination with the D300s.
Numbers. Nikon D300s, 10mm, 100ISO, f3.5, 1/400s © Karim Nafatni
Your beautiful images are the result of ‘exposure bracketing’. Can you explain how this works for you?
I do not use the built-in HDR feature but the bracketing mode available on the camera. I usually take between 5 and 7 exposures from -1 to +1 EV of the same composition, which I blend at a later post processing stage using the layer mask technique on Photoshop CS6. What I do is not proper HDR but rather digital blending. I play a lot with highlights and shadows as well which gives the impression that my shots are HDR, but in fact they are not.
Tell us a bit more about working on your images outside the camera.
I strongly believe that post processing is part of photography nowadays even if a lot of people disagree with this. Straight out of the camera is not and has never been an option for me. I mostly work with Lightroom 4 and Photoshop CS6 when it comes to post processing my pictures. I do not have a defined routine but I always go with my emotions and my mood. All that will reflect on the final picture.
The H.Q. Nikon D300s, 10mm, 200ISO, f2.8, 1/1000s © Karim Nafatni
Your flying takes you to different destinations. Do you have a favourite?
In the past decade I’ve had the chance to see most of the world and a lot of amazing places but no matter how beautiful those were it cannot be compared to the beauty we witness from the flight deck up above. So definitely I would say that my favourite destination is my office no matter where it takes me.
The View From Up There. Nikon D300s, 10mm, 200ISO, f6.3, 1/320s © Karim Nafatni
What advice would you give to someone getting started in photography?
Start slowly and get to know photography properly. Even though it’s an art, there is some knowledge to understand, so dig deep. Do not empty your pockets on expensive gear that you probably won’t use once you find the type of photography you want to get into. But target your expenses on stuff you really need. Get inspired, get into photography communities and look at others’ work, always update your knowledge. There’s always something new to learn whether it’s a post processing or shooting technique.
Last but not least: get out there and shoot as much as you can. And LOVE what you do!
You can see more of Karim’s work on his website at www.knxposures.com.