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The Blog

The daily, and somewhat random, musings from Ben. From the journeys, to the vlogs, to the behind-the-scenes-into-the-world moments.

Filtering by Tag: photography

Photographer Q and A || Valerie Derome Masse

Zachary Kilgas

Q: Why do you explore / adventure?

A: A few years back I fell in love with wildlife photography. It appeared to me in the most random manners and at a time when I needed it the most. I began creating a little library of my own. These moments were crafted without any sounds or human words. I now basically live for moments like these and that is exactly why I love to go out there and explore with my camera; to collect animal portraits and embrace how alive it makes me feel. 

Q: Why take risks in life?

A: Because the worst that could happen is you learn a lot from yourself. Creating memories is all about getting out of your comfort zone. 

Q: Where are you from?

A: I’m from Montreal Canada! I grow up on ski surrounded by the natural beauty of Quebec.

Q: What is your 9-5?

A: I graduated 2 years ago from Grad school with an architectural degree. I’m currently starting an architectural visualization & 3D studio with a close friend of mine. It’s a project that’s been on my mind since I first started architecture school and I’m super excited that I finally found the perfect partner to transform this project from inception to reality. I’ve always been fascinated by images which explains my dedication to photography. Architecture visualization is a such a fascinating industry and I feel like it’s the perfect marriage between art and technology. 

Q: When you were growing up what or who did you want to be

A: I’ve always been very much fascinated by my father who invested his whole life into creating a company of his own. He’s someone who puts his heart into everything he does and there is never a project that scares him. He always challenged himself into learning new ways of creating or learning about a new topic. He inspired me to become a curious, determined and passionate creator. 

No goal is to high nor impossible. You’ve got to chase for these opportunities to grow.

Q: Favorite place you've visited 

Definitely Iceland. I got instantly seduced by the Nordic culture. The changing forecasts also makes for outstanding and unique photography opportunities. It’s the first destination that opened up my relationship with photography. 

Q: Place you most desperately want to visit? 

At the moment I would say I’m obsessed with South Georgia and the sandwich Islands. It’s definitely a place I want to visit as it would allow me to go out of my comfort zone as it feels like such a remote location. But truly the main reason is that I’d love to know more about the largest penguin colony in the world and being there in person would make for incredible photography opportunities. I would also love to go back to Iceland and photograph the arctic fox whose main territory is far north in the west fjords. 

Q: Must haves for travel

A: As the Norwegians would say, there is no such thing as bad weather only bad clothing. With that said, you should always do some research and know in advance about the location and weather forecast to plan your gear ahead. 

Morning Coffee

Ben Ashby







The morning came fast, we had photographed until dark the day before. We began in Seattle and worked out way towards the coast. Stops at Crescent Lake and Forks, and a very long hunt for props and supplies and coffee made our arrival to La Push, Washington very late. We pulled into town as the sun was setting on the horizon. We ran towards the driftwood and rocks to capture the most magical glowing orange light. As darkness swept across the ancient lands of the Native American tribe that lives in La Push we remembered we had yet to find a hotel for the night. 

Along the shore were rows of A Frame cottages. We assumed the red neon sign proclaiming No Vacancy was accurate, but we checked anyways. We were rewarded with the final cabin. No TV, no phone, no wifi, and no cell service were the price we'd have to pay for sunrise views of the Pacific. 

As the sun began to rise I pulled out my camera and began to snap images of Brandon as he prepared his morning coffee. I had already been along the shore for the first hints of the morning greys and pale blues, but by the time I returned a soft light had filled the tiny cabin...





Sunflower Fields Forever

Ben Ashby



Whenever I get a new camera to test and review I ask to shoot friends of mine. I thought I'd start sharing my shooting on the blog. This series I did in Beaver Dam back in July using the Fuji X100F. I especially like the Fuji because of its ability to shoot in low lighting and for its built in chromatic filter. It allows for very easy Lightroom editing.





The Folks | Thomas Seear-Budd

Ben Ashby


THE FOLKS 009 || @thomasseearbudd


1) How and when did you realize that photography was your passion? I developed a strong interest in photography while completing my degree in Architecture. Photography naturally made into into many of my projects during architecture school. I would often have to photograph urban spaces to superimpose my designs into. For my final year thesis I proposed an architectural intervention amongst a stand of burnt mountain ash tress in Australia. Photographing these beautiful 90m tall trees ravaged by fire and studying the regrowth occurring around their base became a critical part of my project and further spurred my interest in landscape based imagery. After I graduated university my growing interest in photography took me to the arctic for three months. In the north west of Greenland and central highlands of Iceland I documented the effects of climate change with a focus on the deteriorating ice sheets.


2) How has digital technology impacted your work both positively and negatively? During my travels to Iceland and Greenland in 2014, I was shooting exclusively on my 1980s Hasselblad medium format film camera at the time. It taught me a lot about composition, exposure, framing a shot and analysing a landscape when there’s no electrical technology to do that for you. It didn’t even have a battery. As I started to shoot more projects, the expense and slow process of developing and scanning film began to outweigh the benefits of this beautiful and incredibly rewarding process. Instead I took the compositional lessons and patience I had learnt with my Hasselblad and applied them when using my Canon. That way I was able to focus on the part I enjoyed most - taking the photos, and could be more experimental without worrying about the cost of film or whether the image had been exposed onto the film at all. 




3) When you think about your favorite work, what makes it stand out from the rest? I look to instil an element of wonder and aspects of the sublime in my work. These pieces are also often from tough journeys into unique landscapes so I find them really satisfying to look at. The abstract works I created of the Greenland Ice sheet stand out for me because they were incredibly tough to get. We had to travel all the way from New Zealand to Kangerlussuaq in Greenland. We then drove a few hours to the edge of the ice sheet to camp there for three days before heading onto the ice for one night. It was insanely cold and isolated once on the ice sheet. The images I created really posses the mysterious, beautiful and very powerful nature of the ice sheet. 


4) If you weren't a photographer what would you pursue? As well as being a photographer, I also work in a creative architecture practice in Wellington, New Zealand where my eye for design is a key part of my work also. If photography wasn't a part of my life I would still work in architecture but most likely supplement it with another art form such as graphic design.


5) Has any one person or one location stood out amongst the rest when you think about your past work? Shooting the Greenland ice sheet will always be a stand out experience for me. However, Mueller Hut at Mt. Cook in the South Island of New Zealand also stands out. My last hike up there could not have been more perfect. The sun was out and the air perfectly still. We had the entire hut to ourselves surrounded by cracking glaciers with a direct view of Mt. Cook.





6) What is the biggest challenge you face when shooting a new subject? Understanding what I really want to get out of the images is always a challenge. I struggle against photographing stunning landscapes for the sake of photographing them. I want my work to go beyond that. It needs to embody the experience of being in that place.


7) What message do you want people to receive when they look at your photographs? It depends on the work. The abstract works I created while in Greenland sought to reveal the dynamic, sublime and enigmatic qualities of the ice sheet, inviting the viewer to contemplate their own relationship with landscapes undergoing drastic change. My other travel orientated work seeks to inspire others to get out into these amazing landscapes. I want to hold the viewer’s attention, make them question the landscape in front of them and captivate them with the textures.




8) What gear, apps and technology do you use most to help you be successful? My camera, drone and Lightroom.


9) What essentials do you pack when traveling? My camera, a sleeping bag, thermals, and gloves. 


10) What motivates you to keep taking photographs of the world around you?  Being inspired by the work of others and seeing new locations or hikes that can take me into an environment I haven't experienced before. The feedback and collaborations I develop from fellow photographers on social media helps to fuel the fire as well.


11) What is something you wish you knew when you first started shooting? The best way to get better and be unique is to experiment. Don’t be afraid to try different shooting styles and definitely don’t be afraid to break any ‘rules’ of image making. 





12) If you could go back 10 years, what would you tell yourself? If you work hard, good things will come. Just keep working, working, working. Trying new things with intensity is the key.


13) Favourite breakfast cereal? Weet-bix.


14) Favourite coffee shop? Customs in Wellington.


15) Favourite view? The 360-degree panorama view from Mueller Hut of the mountain peaks, glaciers, and rock faces. The view from my house in Wellington is also pretty great looking over the city and harbour framed by a beautiful Copper Beech tree.





16) First photo ever taken. I can’t remember the first photo I took but it would have been of my mother or father using a basic film camera. I remember being fascinated by these disposable film cameras as young child. When my family bought a computer it came with a webcam that could be used as a small travel camera. I vividly remember taking this to the zoo with a friend to photograph the Cheetah.


17) Road trips or flights? Flights, because they get me to really hard to get places. Unless I am in a Land Rover Defender then road trip hands down. 





18) Do you prefer the heat? Or the cold? Cold for sure.


19) Where are you based? Wellington, New Zealand


20) Give us one piece of advice. As cliche as it might sound, hard work really does pay off.


Camera: Canon 5D Mark III || Dream Camera: Phase One

The Folks | Corey Favino

Ben Ashby




How has digital technology impacted your work both positively and negatively? Digital technology has allowed me to view life from a different perspective, it has allowed for me to gain a greater appreciation for the beauty of this planet because with digital technology and my camera I’ve been able to capture things I would have never of had the opportunity to actually see (i.e. the milky way). Digital technology has also affected the way I enjoy life. I love to share the things I’m doing and adventures I’m on through social media so I feel as though I’m always posting something or uploading something and it seems to be taking away from the actual enjoyment of the adventure itself. Something I’ve been trying to balance lately. 


When you think about your favorite work, what makes it stand out from the rest? When I think about my favorite work, I think about the journey it took to get there. My favorite work is some of my milky way shots and the reason they’re my favorite is because of the tiresome and long journey it took to get those shots, behind the scenes stuff that most people will never know about, but because of what I went through to get them, they’re my favorite pieces. 


How and when did you realize that photography was your passion? After I dropped my marine biology major my freshman year of college, I was sitting in a mobil gas station parking lot with my best friend explaining to him the dilemma I was having with choosing what I want to do with my life, and he said to me, “your always taking pictures when we go exploring dude, and they’re good. Pursue that.” And the rest is history! 


If you weren't a photographer what would you pursue? If I wasn’t a photographer I would definitely try and pursue some sort of involvement with different charities and devote my life to that for a few years to get the opportunity to travel and help people along the way. 


Has any one person or one location stood out amongst the rest when you think about your past work? The Point Judith Lighthouse in Narragansett, Rhode Island has always held a special spot in my heart. It was the first place I ever captured a picture of the milky way after trying for months and months, it was 10pm, late September, and I don’t think I’ve ever screamed louder when I saw what I had just captured on my LCD screen. 


What is the biggest challenge you face when shooting a new subject? The biggest challenge I face when shooting a new subject is finding the vibe. I tackle each shoot with different vibes and I don’t usually ever determine that vibe until I’m there, so finding that vibe is usually the toughest part, but once its established, the shots just flow!


What message do you want people to receive when they look at your photographs? The message I want my photos to read is to adventure. To take what life has given you, wether it be your current life situation, your environment, your job, anything, and make an adventure out of it. I try and inspire people to not just sit at home waiting for the next season of your favorite Netflix show to be released, but to go and watch a sunrise, go star gaze, get lost and find your way back home, enjoy your life while you’re here, and always remain happy. Life’s too short to be anything but happy. 


What essentials do you pack when traveling? When I travel, I tend to pack my hammock, my tripod, an excessive amount of camera batteries, and a blanket! I always end up using and needing my blanket so i never travel without at least one!


What motivates you to keep taking photographs of the world around you? The thing that motivates me to keep taking photos is the feedback I get. Hearing someone say “your photos have inspired me to go watch a sunrise” or “your photos inspired me to go star gazing!” or even “your photos have inspired me to start taking photos again myself” stuff like that is what keeps me doing it. Knowing I can be an inspiration to people, wether it’s just little things like going to watch a sunrise, those are big things to me. 


If you could go back 10 years, what would you tell yourself? If I could go back 10 years, I would tell myself is no matter how unrealistic they sound, always follow your dreams. I didn’t realize that until I was 19 years old. If I had known that when i was 10, I would've pursued photography from the get go, I never saw it as a profession, just a fun activity, but now that I’ve discovered its my passion, I haven’t looked back.


What is your favorite breakfast cereal? Favorite breakfast cereal is 150% cocoa puffs. 


What is your favorite view? Favorite view would easily be the night sky. Something about a sky full of stars makes me feel like a little kid. I could never get tired of it.


Road trips or flights? Definitely more of a fan of road trips, because along with the excitement of having an awesome destination or end goal in mind, you get this awesome adventure along the way of seeing new things and exploring new places.


Do you prefer the heat or the cold? Definitely more of a heat fan, big ocean lover and dedicated surfer so the cold doesn’t allow me to really enjoy either of those things, but I can still enjoy a nice winters day! 


Where are you based? I’m based right now in Rhode Island! Going into my senior year at the University of Rhode Island with definite plans of packing up and heading out soon after graduation this May!


Give us one piece of advice. One piece of advice is: don’t have a plan B. Having a plan B is indirectly doubting your plan A. Find your passion, set your goal, and give 110% to that and only that. 


I currently use a Sony a7 full frame mirrorless camera! Cheapest full frame mirrorless I could afford on a college budget, and my dream camera is the newly released Sony a9

The Folks | Nathael Labat

Ben Ashby






How and when did you realize that photography was your passion? I've traveled for eights years now and I was taking pictures with my phone each time I was traveling. I loved to do that so two year ago I bought my first camera and now I am here.

If you weren't a photographer what would you pursue? I love and study history, so why not a historian.

What message do you want people to receive when they look at your photographs? I want to inspire people to travel as much as possible, to discover the beautiful places that the world has to offer.





What motivates you to keep taking photographs of the world around you?  My passion for photography, the desire to explore more places and share them with the world. My followers are a true inspiration, it's always a pleasure to read their comments and see that they want to go to the specific place, they love my photos etc... .

If you could go back 10 years, what would you tell yourself? Work is the only solution to improve your skill. So if you want to be a photographer : go out, shoot and have fun.

What is your favorite breakfast cereal? Corn Flakes.





What is your favorite view? Sunrise/Sunset in Norway is always a special moment.

Road trips or flights? Road trips

Do you prefer the heat or the cold? I don't like when it's too cold and when it's too hot.





Where are you based? Near Bordeaux, France.

Give us one piece of advice: Work while having fun

What camera do you use? I use a Panasonic Lumix FZ1000. My dream camera is a Panasonic Lumix GH5.



The Folks | Natalie Wall

Ben Ashby


The Folks 004 | @nataliewall


1) Where are you based?

Salt Lake City, Utah

2) If you weren't a photographer what would you pursue?

I'm actually a medical student, studying to be a doctor! Photography is my creative outlet; something that allows me to express myself outside of words and textbooks.



3) If you could go back 10 years, what would you tell yourself?

You're not going to please everyone, so don't kill yourself trying. It's alright to be different, non-traditional, and at times a little lost. Life is a journey of self-discovery; some people will agree with the path you choose, and others won't. It's a fact of living, and it's perfectly okay. Embrace it, learn from it, but don't let it dictate your self-worth.



4) Favorite breakfast cereal?

Frosted Flakes.

5) Give us one piece of advice

Drink your coffee while it's hot, eat your cereal before it's soggy, and always dip your cookies in milk. That's technically 3 pieces of advice.



Currently own a Canon 6d, use a Canon 7d for back-up, and really love the Sony a7r ii; but honestly I'm pretty content with what I have.


The Folks | Federica Maiolo

Ben Ashby


The Folks 003 | @federicamaiolo_


1) How has digital technology impacted your work both positively and negatively?

My job was born thanks to technology, and I can't see negative sides because the technological revolution broadens my horizons and let me learn new methods to do my job the best way.

2) When you think about your favorite work, what makes it stand out from the rest?

They're different because they represent three different times of my life, when I changed as a photographer, and every time I look at the they give me the right strenght to go on.

3) How and when did you realize that photography was your passion?

Growing up I felt natural to shoot everything, then I got my first camera and I realized that photography would be a part of me.

4) If you weren't a photographer what would you pursue?

Great question! During my teenager years there was a time when I almost completely abandoned photography to pursue different endeavors. But I quickly came to the point that photography was the only way to go.



5) Has any one person or one location stood out amongst the rest when you think about your past work?

Over the last couple of years I traveled a lot with my boyfriend, we found that even little mishaps can bring something epic. That was the case when we visited Königsee, one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. It got under my skin and I had the chance to tell the place through my photos.

6) What is the biggest challenge you face when shooting a new subject?

Mostly interpreting what's in my mind.



7) What message do you want people to receive when they look at your photographs?

I'd like to transmit my emotions and my inner self. If I succeed in this then my work has accomplished its goals.

8) What gear, apps, technology do you use most to help you be successful?

I shoot on a Fujifilm xt10 with the following lenses: 35mm, 16-50mm and a wide 12mm. I postproduce exclusively on my Macbook.

9) What essentials do you pack when traveling?

Just my camera and the essential clothes. Everything else is of less importance.

10) What motivates you to keep taking photographs of the world around you?

The desire of showing what I love through my eyes.

11) What is something you wish you knew when you first started shooting?

I would have loved to study photography from the beginning, I basically learned everything by myself.

12) If you could go back 10 years, what would you tell yourself?

Be more confident of your skills and always listen to your heart.

13) Favorite breakfast cereal.

Absolutely Choco Pops!

14) Favorite coffee shop

None in particular, I just love the coffee I brew at home!

15) Favorite view?

Buchenegger Wasserfälle.

16) First photo ever taken.

Family portrait.

17)Road trips or flights.

I prefer road tripping.

18) Do you prefer the heat? Or the cold?

Definitely cold!

19) Where are you based

I live in Friuli Venezia Giulia, a region in the Northern East of Italy.

20) Give us one piece of advice

Always shoot with your heart.


Dream Camera:  Fujifilm Xpro2