Behind The Shot: David Köster’s landscape photography

Fjord View by David Koester
Fjord View
Not pictured:
• Hours spent in a Zodiac boat through arctic waters
• a 600 meter steep, vertical climb
• 5 blisters and 100 mosquito bites
• < 2 minutes to calibrate your monitor
An elevated perspective is oftentimes a good way to capture a landscape in all its glory. After hiking through the arctic tundra for several days, we decided to climb one of the rugged mountains framing Tasermiut fjord. We had to conquer a 600 meter steep climb that was almost at a 45 degree angle. We made the climb practically on all fours, carrying our camping and photo equipment as we went. When we finally arrived – drenched in sweat, bitten by mosquitos and with trembling knees – a mystical world awaited us. Below me, was the seemingly endless fjord with its deep, petrol-colored water and numerous icebergs, which appeared as tiny white dots from my vantage point. Ice-covered mountain ranges with their fierce, jagged peaks cut into the sunset like black knifes. Finally, I came upon a small waterfall that reflected the magical colors of dusk in this pristine place. I knew it was the perfect foreground for my image, and that I only had a few minutes of this sublime light in which to capture this moment of sunset.

Patagonia Star
Not pictured:
• 5 hours of waiting
• 100 images to capture the perfect moment
• a surprise appearance of native guanakos (similar to llamas)
• < 2 minutes to calibrate your monitor
As a landscape photographer, I’m always searching for new and unknown views. When backpacking through Patagonia’s wilderness for four weeks, one day I found a scenery I had never come upon before. This location in the National Park Los Glaciares included almost everything one associates with Patagonia; the legendary silhouette of the peaks of Cerro Torre and Fitz Roy, a glacier with an ice-filled lagoon pooled around it, and an outflowing river that meanders through the pampas, capturing and reflecting the brilliant colors of fall. I pictured how spectacular the scenery would be if I was able to include a sun star into the image composition. My scouting app told me the sun would set right behind Cerro Torre, which would be perfect…but that was going to happen in 5, and a lot could change until then. Nonetheless, it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and since I doubted I would ever return to this location again, I held out for several hours perched on a small, windy and uncomfortable rock spur. Clouds soon started to form, and all I could do was hope that the sun wouldn’t be completely covered, ruining my intended shot. But my wait was awarded as the clouds parted, leaving an opening in the sky. Shortly before the sun touched the horizon, I installed my camera on my tripod and set the shutter to continuously take images to capture just the fraction of the second that would give me the sun star. Click, click, click, click, click, click. When the sun dipped behind the mountains, I checked my series of images on my camera display, and let out a shout of joy that echoed through the solitude. A smattering of native guanacos pranced away, and I had captured the perfect moment.

Mirror Island
Not pictured:
• Waterfall-crossing at night
• 3 failed attempts
• 7 days of trekking in Aigüestortes National Park
• < 2 minutes to calibrate your monitor
Patience is both a virtue and a necessity when it comes to landscape photography. You can’t let yourself get discouraged when you don’t get the image you want on your first attempt. When I was hiking through the Spanish Pyrenees, I found this small island in a glacial lake with these amazing trees. It was raining cats and dogs that day, but I could envision how beautiful this scene would be on a clear, calm day, when the island was reflected on the surface of the water. For the next three days, I returned to that exact spot before each dawn, since the chances of calm waters was most promising before sunrise. Each time I had to make my way through the mountains before daylight, carrying my photo equipment through a small river and a waterfall. The third time was really a charm since on that attempt, everything came together – no rain, no wind, and a crystal-clear, mirror-calm, water surface. The soft morning light hit the island from the side, illuminating it in three dimensional splendor. Once more, patience and persistence paid off.
David Köster uses SpyderX to calibrate his monitor.

  About the Author – David Koester  
David Koester Photography

David Köster is a Germany based landscape photographer, photo trainer and book author. In his images he stages wild, epic nature scenes. By means of dramatic perspectives, atmospheric imagery and the systematic use of natural light, Köster creates works which often appear to be paintings rather than photographs. For his artistic pictures David has been awarded with several international awards. His works are mainly used by agencies, publishers and tourism institutions. As a photojournalist, David regularly publishes his stories, articles and photos in print and online media worldwide. Since 2015, David also guides landscape photography workshops. In January 2019 his brand-new book “Der Start in die Landschaftsfotografie (The start in landscape photography)” about the art of landscape photography is being published by German Humboldt Verlag.


Articles from David Koester