Eva Grabner (alias: evineslike) is a self-taught photographer from the central part of Slovenia. Her passion for photography is deeply intertwined with nature, which manifests in a very diverse portfolio – from landscapes and long exposure to macro.
Living in the suburbs of Slovenia’s capital, Ljubljana, Eva takes many of her photos on the nearby fields and hills. To her, photography is a “serious hobby”. When she’s not behind the camera, Eva studies for her master’s in microbiology.
Eva often wanders around alone with her camera as a form of relaxation, however, she also enjoys the company of her family and their dog Poso.
What appealed to you about photography in the first place?
I have a funny story about this! My parents told me that when I was a toddler, I used to carry around a photo album instead of toys! So, I guess I’ve been interested in photography for my whole life in a way. However, we never had good cameras around at the time.
I got my first point and shoot camera (it was waterproof!) at 12 back in 2009. I used to carry it everywhere I went and took photos of every flower I saw.
My next camera was an Olympus stylus XZ-2, and luckily for me, it had a manual mode, and even a focus ring. With it I started searching for better motives and got into long exposure for the first time.
The next logical step was to move onto a camera with interchangeable lenses, which happened only recently – I bought my current DSLR in the last days of 2018.
Since you’re a student and photography is only a hobby for now, how does faculty homework impact your photography?
I’d say it only has a small impact on my photography, especially from a creative standpoint, since photography and nature have always gone hand in hand for me.
Timewise, most of my schedule is taken up by University-related assignments, so I have to adjust my photographic activity to it. That has taught me to be more spontaneous for sure, that’s why sometimes I grab my camera without any prior planning and just go out and shoot!
What kind of gear do you use?
- Camera body – Nikon D7500.
- Lens – AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR – this kit lens is my only lens for now, but it holds up really well.
- Extension tubes – I use a set of Meike extension tubes for macro and closeup photography.
- Tripod – Genesis base ABT and the Genesis ABH-36 ball head.
- Filters – Two ND filters: MarumiND 8 and Hoya ND200.
- Flash – Built in. I don’t use the flash all that much to be honest- I wish to get a flash just for macro one day though.
- Remote control – Pixel TW 283.
Which of your photos is your favourite? Does it have a backstory?
I don’t have a definite “favourite photo”, and my selection of favourites is constantly changing. This must be good in my opinion, like some kind of a validation that my photography skills are improving! I will be talking about two photos here.
My first favourite is the photo of a physalis plant seed I took in 2016. I took it in manual focus using the aforementioned focus ring on the camera I had back then and was the best amongst the photos I took at that time. It stood out so much that it was my favourite for a long time. I still enjoy the colours on it, although it could be improved with higher aperture value and consequently more depth of field.
My current favourite photo is this stone bridge in the forest with a small stream I took in February. It’s a long exposure, but it was not particularly difficult to pull-off from a technical standpoint. I simply adore the scenery, because it looks like something from a fairy-tale (or Skyrim) to me. It’s one of those photos I can’t stop looking at, even if it’s my own.
Among the gadgets that you own, is there something that you wish you hadn’t bought? Why?
No, not yet. I’m sure to find an answer to this question one day, even though I am someone who does a lot of research into items before buying them.
In the field, what are your settings?
I shoot various motives and naturally always try to find the settings that work best, so I’d say that they are very versatile. The only thing I like to avoid is high ISO due to the noise it introduces. Long exposure is a technique that stands out to me – it takes some more planning, but is oftentimes the most rewarding.
What kind of tools do you use for post processing? Explain your workflow.
I’m a big fan of open source software, so I use just that. The main program I use for postprocessing is Darktable. My editing process usually consists of adjusting the tone curve, local contrast, sharpening the image and fixing the colours a bit, and then just playing around with settings until I achieve what I think looks the best.
I’m not concerned about consistency all that much. I also find myself using masks in almost every photo, either to enhance the subject in some way or to remove disruptive background elements.
Sometimes I manually stack images or remove larger elements from the photo. I do that in Krita, which is primary a painting program.
Another fun fact is that since I’m left-handed, I can use a graphic tablet and a mouse simultaneously when editing, with a stylus in my left and a mouse in my right hand.
How have you educated yourself to take better pictures?
Especially in the past, I just practiced a lot. Recently, I started actively looking for additional information, usually by searching on the internet for answers to specific questions.
I also enjoy discovering new ideas from other photographers who share their own tips and tricks, and sometimes I’m simply driven by curiosity as I attempt something for the first time and search the internet for the proper technique later.
Overall, I still learn by experimenting with what looks best. As a hobbyist I’m under no pressure to deliver a certain look, so I’m free to experiment. I don’t need my shots to turn out perfect all the time, and sometimes they don’t.
Whose work has inspired you the most?
I think it is unfair to point out individuals as an answer to this question. I adore a wide stylistic range of photos and a lot of them don’t come from the top photographers, but rather from my peers.
I am inspired by people who manage to get amazing shots in ordinary settings or in their local area, and those who go on long hikes and carry a tripod all the way up a mountain. As I said before, I am quite literally influenced by photographers who share their creative process, either online or in a conversation with me. And I hope that I also inspire someone this way.
What is the one photography-related thing you wish to tell your past self?
Double check the settings.
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Matic is a photographer and avid teacher of photography from Slovenia. In 2020, he founded Photutorial.com, website/blog dedicated to teaching photography, writing honest and helpful reviews, and inspiring photographers.