Mariko Klug is an amateur iPhone photographer who lives near Munich, Germany and splits her time between being a mother to her teenage son and working part-time for a German airline at Munich airport. She has a distinctive style of landscape photography which has won her several awards and honorable mentions in leading photography competitions including;
- 1st place ‘Animal’ category at MPA (Mobile Photography Awards) 2012
- 2nd place ‘Landscapes’ category at MPA 2013
- 3rd place ‘Trees’ category at IPPA (iPhone Photography Awards) 2014 and 2015.
- ‘Into the Unknown’ 2nd place ‘Landscapes’ MPA 2013
Mariko’s work has also been featured in exhibitions in the USA, Canada and Germany.
Like Mariko, I also have a love of the outdoors and landscape photography so I was keen to catch up with her and find out more about her love of landscape photography, how she approaches the shooting and editing of your iPhone photos and what actionable takeaways she could offer.
How did you first discover iPhone photography?
I really didn’t think I needed an iPhone but about 4 years ago until my husband gave me his used one, an iPhone 4. It was just a phone for me and I never thought I’d ever take and edit pictures with it. But then I saw some Hipstamatic photos a friend had posted on Facebook and soon afterwards I came across Paul Moore’s iPhone photos. I was fascinated of what people were able to create with an iPhone. It made me really curious and I started to experiment. Although I don’t have any background in photography it was not a problem at all. It’s just so simple, take it out of the pocket to shoot and edit at any time, wherever you are.
Landscape photography and nature are a big part of your portfolio of work on Flickr and Instagram. What is it about these subjects that inspires you to photograph them?
I always loved the beauty of nature and landscapes. But since I’ve started to photograph four years ago I’ve learnt to see the world around me with different eyes. I see things now that I haven’t noticed before. Every season and every weather has something special to offer and if you have a closer look there are interesting and beautiful things just waiting to be discovered. This amazes and inspires me!
What is your approach to the lighting, framing and composition of your photographs? Are there any conscious decisions you look to make when taking a photo?
I’d say it’s a mix of conscious decision and spontaneity. If I have time I try to think about composition and framing when I shoot. For example I like to use branches and leaves for framing. Or if I think of composing a photo I try to find leading lines or use the rule of third. But in most cases I have to react fast so I just trust my feeling. If I am not satisfied with the composition I crop it afterwards to try to find the composition I like.
As for the lighting I avoid taking pictures in the sun. Sometimes I wait for a certain weather and light condition to photograph a certain place or thing, like for example a foggy forest.
There is a beautiful solitary air of mystery about your photographs. Is there a process or methodology that you apply to your post production editing?
Thank you! I like to use the Hipstamatic combination Jimmy lens and Blanko Freedom 13 film (with effect flash on) on cloudy days without direct sun or at dawn/dusk because it is rich in contrast and colours and intensifies the mood. In all other weather conditions I prefer to use Procamera or Camera+, sometimes ProHDR.
I always start with PhotoToaster for basic editing like cropping, adjusting contrast etc. Also PhotoToaster has a Lighting Brush Tool which is great to lighten up or darken specific areas. It’s really a helpful tool.
But from then on I don’t have any methodology, the process is always different as this depends on what I want to create. I start experimenting with filters and/or textures. I don’t use them to create but to enhance the mood. The apps I most use are Mextures, Stackables, Alayer, Rookie, Picfx, LensLight, DistressedFX.
What would be your top tips or words of wisdom for other photographers looking to take better landscape photographs.
No words of wisdom, but maybe a few tips.
Take as much photos as you can. The more you shoot the greater the chances to get your perfect shot!
I always try to find a point of interest when I photograph landscapes. It could be a tiny figure, a bird or a house in the distance, a path winding through or just a splash of colour. This makes your landscape photograph interesting and unique.
The most important is the lighting in my opinion. Beautiful landscapes are worth nothing without ideal lighting. As I love moody atmosphere a sunny day with clear sky is not my favourite weather condition. I like to take photos on overcast or foggy days, during dawn or dusk, sunrise or sunset.
If you could spend the day with any photographer past or present, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
No specific photographer but it would be very interesting to spend a day with a courageous street photographer. I am so curious to know how they get so close to strangers and shoot without getting into trouble (or do they?) This is something I’d never do in my life as I am a shy person but I’d like to witness it maybe hidden somewhere and just observing…
Could you choose a few of your favourite photos and tell us the story behind them?
‘Have a Seat’
This is one of my favourite places in Ebersberg, about half an hour drive from my home. Those two old trees on the hill are a natural monument. I was there to see the sunrise.
Photo was taken with Hipstamatic (Jimmy/DC, effect flash on). I imported the image to Oggl and applied the Jane lens and Blanko Freedom 13 film. In PhotoToaster I cropped it slightly, adjusted contrast and lighting and used the lighting brushes to lighten up some dark areas like the bench and the tree trunk. As the sky was clear that morning I added the clouds with HandyPhoto to make it more interesting.
This photo was taken in Bunesfjorden on the Lofoten Islands in Norway. It was a very dark day, just the kind of mood I love. There were a lot of seagulls resting on the beach. Then my dog started to bark and chased them all away. Luckily I had my iPhone at hand and captured this moment.
It was shot with Hipstamatic (Jimmy/Blanko Freedom13, effect flash on). As always I start with PhotoToaster for basic adjustments and used the Lightings brushes to lighten up the gull and the grass in the foreground. I removed some disturbing gulls with TouchRetouch. In Alayer I applied the Texture 11 of the Texture Pack 2 to make the clouds even more dramatic. Finally in Picfx I added the filter Sepia Spot and PFX 5x.
This photo was taken on the island of Sylt in Germany. Very early in the morning I was driving to a nearby lighthouse to see the sunrise when I saw some sheep grazing alongside the road. I stopped to have a look. Then these two sheep came and met on the road and started ‘whispering’. It was like they were wondering about that crazy human taking pictures at this time of the day…
This photo was taken using Hipstamatic with my favourite combo Jimmy lens/ Blanko Freedom 13 film. In PhotoToaster I adjusted contrast and added a vignette. The sky was somewhat boring so applied the ‘WindowWash’ Grunge texture in Mextures and removed the white dots of this texture with TouchRetouch.