Daniel Lemin, 33, had a brief stint as a professional photographer, but he went back to a career in marketing when he realized that trying to make money with his pictures was sapping him of the passion to photograph. Check out more of the Los Angeles-based photographer’s work at www.daniellemin.com.
Q. What are we looking at here?
A. This is a section of the rim of a sulfur pool in a geothermal area in New Zealand’s North Island. You’re looking at the edge of the pool-fluid bubbles up from the earth’s core and causes these geothermal activities, similar to Old Faithful. The different colors are mineral deposits that have collected over the years. The section in this photo
is probably no more than 2 feet wide.
Q. Where are you standing?
A. I had my camera on a tripod looking straight down. I’m standing about a foot back from the edge of what they call a champagne pool. It’s very hot. Sulfuric steam rises from it constantly and blows in all directions.
Q. Any problems while shooting?
A. The whole series had a lot of challenges, but the biggest one was getting over the smell. It was a windy, cloudy day, and the light was very inconsistent from frame to frame. The steam was blowing in different directions, and because the steam is yellow it kept messing with my white balance settings.
Q. What equipment did you use?
A. This was shot with a Hasselblad H3 and an 80mm lens. The H3 is a 39-megapixel beast; the camera itself weighs 8 or 9 pounds. I had to bring a lot of batteries. I like shooting with it because it allows me to capture the finest details. Sometimes I blow these pictures up to wall size. The largest I’ve made is 5 feet by 7 feet-they just come alive at that scale. I was shooting on manual focus to make sure I could focus not on the water and bubbles but on the mineral deposits that formed the pool. They’re fairly deep-you can see it’s like a steep cliff down about 5 or 6 feet from the edge. Mostly I shot pretty fast, about 1/350 sec at ISO 200. I normally take long exposures, but in this case I had to shoot fast. If I’d used a slow shutter speed, the steam would have blurred and looked like fog.
Q. Did you do much editing afterward?
A. I had to. Because the steam was causing so much condensation on my lens, I spent hours retouching out the water spots. If you look closely at the outtakes, you can see them. The outtakes are straight RAW conversions from the camera-you can see what it would look like without color enhancement. The final actually looks like it did in life, though. There really were these fluorescent colors. It doesn’t look like it’s real, but it is. And it’s beautiful.