Intense Macro Magic

August 27

10 min. to read

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German Sven Kluegl is armed with high-tech Z-stacking and Intensify Pro.

An incredible world of close-up photography is all around us.  Photographers like German Sven Kluegl are exploring this frontier armed with high-tech software and hardware, techniques like Z-stacking and tools like Intensify Pro. We interviewed Sven recently and came away both impressed and totally inspired about his background and style of photography. Be sure to also view his gallery on 500px.com - wow!

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Hi Sven, we’d like to know more about you- could you introduce yourself and tell us how you got into photography?

Sven: Sure — hi folks! My name is Sven Kluegl and I live in Heppenheim, a beautiful historical city & wine region in Germany. My passion for photography started 3 ½ decades ago: I took my first pictures during a vacation in France, when I was 13. A few months later, I was already developing and enlarging B&W pictures in a darkroom. Over the years, from analog to digital, I invested more and more time (and money!) in photography.

But it’s "only" a hobby, right? So how did you learn and improve your skills?

True, it is only a hobby for me, but you might be interested to know I am a certified optician. In the beginning, I learned mainly from special photo magazines, and then later from video-trainings. And I was a lucky guy to be accompanied by a professional photographer who taught me so much – I always called him my "photography dad."

This and your pictures show that your focus and style changed & developed a lot through the years.

Yes, I started with landscape and astronomy. It took 10 years for me to discover people photography. First outdoor portraits only, and later in my own little photo studio where I still take picture of my friends and some artists I know. 

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And what is your favorite subject currently?

I always say "I shoot everything – except weddings." I find them too time-consuming and just not interesting for me. But almost everything else is fair game: nature, people, events, fireworks... Whatever comes my way. And I truly enjoy macro photography, with enlargements up to 20:1.

And you do really well at that! Your pictures are tremendous. What kind of equipment do you need for your macros?

Thanks a lot! I use special software and hardware—for instance, macro slide or Z-Stacking. And Intensify Pro by the way! As some equipment unfortunately is unbelievably expensive or just not available in the form that I need it, I construct many things on my own.

So you combine handicraft & digital benefits for overcoming limits – nice! Is there something beside your "photography dad" that inspired you?

I never had a certain idol, but I keep my eyes open. When I find the time, I view hundreds of photos from different photographers a day.  But I don’t wanna just copy pictures. Of course I find inspiration, but I always try to make it my own style.

Is this something you would recommend other photographers?

Definitely. There are already enough "clones" out there. Make it your way & try to find your own style!

What about your style  - are you more a spontaneous guy, or do you develop and plan your shootings long-term?

Well, that always depends on the idea! For a shooting with steel wool for example, careful planning is essential: after all, it's a fire hazard! For people photography, usually you need to get some props or decoration as well. But as I am taking pictures for such a long time now, I now have a nice treasure of equipment, props and more at home. Or I build something new on my own!

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That’s independence... Nevertheless, if you had a wish, would it be a special gimmick or technique?

Yes – a camera that includes all the great features that are currently split into at least three different cameras from the same manufacturer.

Do you remember a particularly thrilling or extraordinary shooting experience?

The most exciting and surprising to me right now is macro photography, as you only realize after the stacking process if you did everything correctly. And, whether the result is what you wanted. You dive into an absolutely fascinating world that suddenly appears on your screen.

In your photographic career, is there something special or anything you are very proud of?

It might sound strange – but I learned to "read" images.  My photo dad used to say 'Sven, if you want to become a good photographer, you need to be able to read pictures.'

This means if I see a photo, I try to understand how it was created. Since Photoshop, it became more and more difficult. But still I get immediately an idea of how it was taken and edited. The clue is: Your original assumption does not have to be correct. Regardless though, you get inspired and it stirs you to think how you could shoot the next time.

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Is this something you would recommend beginners? Or perhaps another tip or trick?

Well, in 175 years of photography, enormous knowledge and skills have been given from generation to generation. Many photographers wrote excellent books, full of experience and creativity. Even if they are old, say from the analog era, their vision is still up-to-date. I am thinking of Ansel Adams for example. Here's the point: when a cheap used book comes your way, snatch it up! It’s important to understand that photography begins long before pressing the shutter, and not with a file or Photoshop. My advice, think before taking a picture.

Knowledge is power! Whoever develops a solid basic knowledge will be able to read pictures, without asking how it was done all the time. It’s kind of challenge to figure out how the picture was taken, without directly asking and that's half the fun! 

Since I've started using Skylum, I find I use one of the apps for almost every picture, usually Intensify. But I always try to get a natural style, not too artificial. So, my advice is to find a look you feel comfortable with and go for it!

We definitely like your style! So where can we see more of your pictures?

I am quite active on Facebook, actually as well in the Skylum Photography Group. But, I don’t have my own homepage. As hobbyist, I've found 500px.com is an ideal platform.

I do however, have a YouTube channel and try to upload new tutorials or making-of’s regularly, however they are all in German. I certainly could have more followers if I spoke English, but unfortunately my English is just not good enough for trainings.

Thanks for the interview Sven!  

To see more of his work, click on a link below:

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