It was through his father that Raymond Larose, at age 13, discovered his love for photography and nature. Since then, he has been fascinated by water and his home state of New Hampshire (USA) offers a stunning backdrop. Larose, 40, likes working without a flash, strobes and reflectors. He believes nature should show the magic of water as it is, while his role is to capture the moment.
Raymond, you’re a passionate photographer. Did you have any role models who helped define your style?
Yes, first my father, who was always taking pictures. He stirred my very first interest in photography. I also admire the nature photographer Ansel Adams. In addition, a lot of my contacts on Flickr have helped me shape my own style. An example is Alonso Diaz. He was also the one who introduced me to ZEISS lenses. I must have asked him hundreds of questions and he openly and honestly answered every one of them. Other contacts from the community who I definitely have to mention are Dylan Toh, a successful Australian photographer, James Neely, and Aaron Reed. The nicest thing is that these people have become much more than role models; they’re also friends.
What do you want to express with your photography?
My biggest motivation is to shoot and present nature as it really looks. Water creates wonders. I’m just there to capture the moment. For me, water is a magical place where I can really lose myself in nature. Water is extremely dynamic and can be used by photographers as a subject, backdrop or an accent to your photo.
What kind of water scenes do you like to photograph best?
There are three classifications of water shots that I like to shoot: the calmness of lakes, the rhythm of the ocean with the waves crashing into the coast, and the power and force of a raging river or waterfall.
Living in New Hampshire, I am close to all types of water, including many lakes and the Atlantic Ocean. I’m surrounded by mountains full of rivers, streams and waterfalls. Water is one of the biggest gifts from nature to the photographer.
How do you approach the shooting process?
From my point of view, it’s all about what nature is going to give you and working with that. One of my favorite scenes is a dead-calm lake with a warm, glowing sunset and interesting clouds to reflect from the surface.
My method for capturing this involves watching the wind speed on my computer and iPhone. When I see that the waters look promising, I look to the skies to see if they are interesting. A lake on a clear night doesn’t interest me that much. I want something reflecting, something that can bounce all that beautiful sunlight around and paint the scene. And clouds at sunset sure know how to put on a show. Normally I get to the lake around 30 minutes before sunset. I use the time to scout the area and see what I want framed into the shot, for example kayakers, rocks, trees or the sun itself.
How many photos do you make of such a scene?
Usually, there’s only about 30 minutes of shooting time. During that time, I’ll take around 250 photos. My goal is to get one perfect image that relays the atmosphere and tells the story. In post-process I’ll usually set the white balance to cloudy to get a “warmer” result. In general, I aim to do nothing more than a signature stamp in Photoshop.
What kind of equipment do you work with?
My gear consists of a Nikon D700, a Manfrotto 055XDB tripod with an 804RC2 head, and various ZEISS lenses: the Distagon T*3,5/18, Distagon T* 2/35 and the Planar T* 1,4/85. For a lake sunset, I use the Distagon T* 3,5/18 or the Distagon T* 2/35 since I like them wide. Sometimes, to give an extra warm glow when it just isn’t there, I’ll use a GND8 filter to balance the sky and water.
What’s important to focus on when you’re shooting sunsets by the water?
A huge challenge when shooting lakes at sunset is a sky that is much brighter than the reflections in the water. My trick is to do a slightly longer exposure and move the filter around a bit, blurring that line where the GND8 stops and goes to clear glass.
How long have you been shooting with ZEISS lenses, and which one do you use the most?
I’ve been using ZEISS lenses for about a year now. I had been researching them for several months, looking at the work of some of my contacts on Flickr. I particularly liked the crispness and depth of the images taken with ZEISS lenses. It was totally different to what I had known until then. After months of comparing similar images taken with different lenses, I decided it was time to give it a try. My first ZEISS lens was the Distagon T* 2/35 – and to date it’s my favorite lens. I use it for everything, from landscapes to near-macro work to portraits.
What are your experiences with POL filters?
Oddly enough, as a nature photographer I currently am not using any filters with my ZEISS lenses. However, I am planning to get one to put on my Distagon T* 2/35 and experiment.
Looking back, which photography projects are you most proud of?
I was honored to be asked to shoot Boston Harbor at sunset for the US Coast Guard’s Commander’s Challenge Coin. Once the coins were minted, the Coast Guard brought my family down to present me with a plaque and some of the coins to take home. That was a moving moment. Another project I’m proud of is a gallery showing last year which included 25 scenes from our local lakes. I shot the lakes from 25 different perspectives. Among them is a black-and-white photo of my children running through a fountain.
What are your next projects and plans for the future?
In the short term, I will continue to work with some models. I’m also going to shoot a couple of concerts and the wedding of a friend. Though I always shoot landscapes, I want to continue learning new styles and new ways to improve my photography. I don’t think you can ever stop learning in this field. Top on my list is figuring out how to capture people in a way that tells a story — their story. No studio shots, no poses, but just people in their environment, doing their thing. I really want to begin exploring this documentary style of shooting. And one of my biggest dreams is to be published by National Geographic, or to shoot for them full-time.