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Athena Carey

landscape portrait  athenacarey.com

Who are you and what kind of photography do you specialise in?

My name is Athena Carey, and I am a fine art photographer and teacher, based currently in Geneva Switzerland. My photo work is quite diverse, but consists mainly of long exposure and minimalist landscapes and creative child portraiture. These are essentially polar opposites in the field of photography, but I love both equally.

In addition, to share my love of photography with others, I teach various photography courses locally to enthusiasts from all over the world - workshops, one day intensive specialist classes and 5 week mastery classes.

What cameras and lenses do you use?

I have been a photographer for quite some time, so my gear history goes back to film and moves forward through several years of dSLRs, but I’ll just cover what I am using most these days.

Presently, I shoot primarily with a Canon 5Dmk3 camera in all situations.

For landscape and architecture work I typically use either a 24-105L or a 17-40L lens. They are not fast (both are F4), but neither is my work. I typically shoot at between F8 and F11 and very often with filters, so having a fast lens is not important to me. I have recently purchased a 24mm TS lens and am very eager to set aside some time to get to know it better. I have a feeling it is going to become a favorite.

For portrait work, what I use depends on where I am. In the studio I will often use the same 24-105L lens, because there I can control the light. But outside the studio, where I have to either bring my own light or made due with what there is, I prefer to use faster lenses such as the 24-70L 2.8, 85mm 1.8, 50mm 1.4, or even the 70-200 F2.8.

As time goes by I am realizing that one of my most important considerations with gear is weight, so I think carefully about exactly what I will need for each shoot. Before buying new gear, I assess what gear I have but don’t use and sell it. I suppose very much like my LE landscape style, my gear style also tends to be “less is more”. You don’t need tons of gear, so long as you buy carefully, understand what you have and use it well.

What kind of extra equipment do you use whilst shooting?

Out on landscape/architecture shoots I always have filters with me. I use Lee Filters - the Big Stopper, 3, 2, and 1 stop filters and 3 and 2 stop graduated filters. I carry a Gitzo 1542T Series 1 Travel tripod because they are light and durable. Having been through a LOT of tripods, at present this is my favorite if I have to do any hiking or traveling to get to a location. And of course the accessory that I am best known for by other photographers - black tape. I use it for all sorts of things from covering light leaks to stopping lenses from creeping.

In the studio, I have far more accessories - Elinchrom lights and modifiers, Larson reflectors, Manfrotto tripods and background stands, Savage paper backgrounds, and Lastolight fabric backgrounds. I have been through various brands of equipment through the years, and these are the ones I have come to consider my favorites. Because I do infant portraits, I also have a lot of knitted and ruffly props and accessories - a must.

What hardware do you use for post-processing?

I do all my post processing on a Mac Pro with a NEC 27” calibrated monitor and I use both a mouse and a Wacom Intuos 4. Completed work is either sent to Jeff Gaydash for printing or printed on my own Epson Stylus Pro 3880 on fine art papers.

What software do you use for post-processing?

I am pretty old school, using only Adobe Photoshop. I’ve been using it for years and it does everything that I need.

My images go from the memory card to my computer, are opened and developed in Adobe Camera Raw and then move into Photoshop for various adjustments, almost always including at least one run through a Nik Software product. That’s it. Easy Peasy. :)

What is missing from your current workflow?

No much, I must say. I have given my workflow needs a lot of thought in the past several years and have pretty much all I need.

I can only think of 4 things:
A better/easier/more reliable way to back up my data.
An infrared converted camera - I am fascinated by IR, but the IR filter inside the 5Dmk3 is very strong, so externally filtered IR shots have to be very long exposures.
A high quality, lightweight, small camera to throw in my bag for scouting.
Tickets to and hotels in all the places on my “go to” photography list, and the time to shoot them.

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