Painter in light
He began his artistic career as a painter, and that experience still marks his work today: light, color and structure blend into a harmonious whole in his eye-catching compositions. He used the Distagon T* 2,8/15 lens from Carl Zeiss to explore the domain of super wide angle photography, which was relatively new for him.
How did you come to photography?
I am self-taught. Having grown up in a family of painters and architects, art and aesthetics were an important part of my life from early childhood. Until I was 30, I worked as a painter. I never had any formal photography training. I studied photography books and spent a lot of time in museums and art galleries to familiarize myself with the technical and creative aspects of the art. My father taught me the basics of photography as a child, but my deeper insights have all come from painting.
How would you describe your style of photography?
I do not worry so much about style. I just take photographs that grab me at a particular moment. Once I have finished a series, I try not to revisit the topic again. I prefer to look for new challenges and new perspectives. That is what inspires me.
What projects are you working on at the moment?
I am currently doing a photo essay involving hydropower stations around the town of Gijón, where I live. The architecture and design of these structures are perfect for exploring all the capabilities of the new ZEISS Distagon T* 2,8/15 super wide angle lens. This lens is ideal for capturing the space and beauty of these locations and meets my needs exactly.
Can you describe that in more detail?
To tell the truth, apart from a few images, I had never worked with a super-wide-angle lens. But the experience I have been having with the Distagon T* 2,8/15 has been wonderful. I can capture all the space in a single shot. The image quality is spectacular, so there is no need for stitching in post-processing. The images are free of distortion and chromatic aberrations. I have always believed that the best part about photography is to experiment and enjoy new challenges. The Distagon T* 2,8/15 gives you a world of options to do that. You can capture anything, from wide, dramatic perspectives to close-up details, and from any angle you care to imagine. The result is always surprising.
What makes a good subject in your view?
I like places that tell a story and show visible traces of life — natural locations, free of visual ‘pollution’. I particularly like photographing industrial environments and good architecture. In big cities like Havana, Mumbai and New York, my interest is drawn especially to their decadent aspects.
How do you approach a photography project; can you always see the picture in your mind?
Once I have an idea in my mind, I explore it as thoroughly as I can: I read about it, study images or use Google Earth to plan strategies. I form a mental imprint of every detail of the streets and buildings, particularly in terms of the action and play of the light on the facades. For me, photography is also a constant source of new ideas: I am always on the lookout for images that define me, both as a person and as a photographer.
Which places would you still like to photograph in the future?
I really enjoy traveling and getting to know other cultures. I am fascinated by structures that stand as symbols of human culture: the pyramids in Egypt, the monumental buildings created by the architect Oscar Niemeyer in Brasilia, the Sydney Opera House, Le Corbusier’s chapel in Ronchamp, or Frank Lloyd Wright’s legendary “Fallingwater” – a house built on a waterfall.
What camera do you use?
I have always liked cameras. These days, I use a digital, full-format, single-lens reflex camera with a range of different lenses. I also have a quality digital compact camera and some other analog single-lens reflex and rangefinder cameras. But my favorite camera is still the Hasselblad 500CM with a ZEISS Sonnar T* 4/180. This incredibly precise lens lets you get right up close to your subject – it is like reaching out and caressing the textures.
What kind of weather and light conditions do you prefer?
I like the sun, particularly the contrast between light and shadow. And when I am taking photographs I also prefer sunny to grey days. For interiors, I mainly use natural light, very rarely artificial light – and I never use a flash. I used to work with POL filters as well, but not since the advent of digital photography. Why would you? A tripod is often an essential tool, but whenever possible I like to do hand-held shooting.
Your proudest moment as a photographer?
The fact that every day I work at what I love doing.
How do you draw attention to your work?
There is always a synergy between my “normal” professional work and projects with an artistic element. My artistic work generates interest, and ideally lead to commission assignments, without which I couldn’t fund my artistic work. The two are closely intertwined, as are my website and blog. The website is a vehicle for showing my whole portfolio, whereas the blog focuses on specific projects, impressions and my personal views.
What’s next for you in the world of photography?
I just want to keep taking pictures for as long as I can. Hopefully, my best work is yet to come.
What advice do you give to amateur photographers?
Practice, practice, practice. Learn from your mistakes. And never lose your passion.
About Carlos Casariego
Carlos Casariego, born 1952 in Oviedo, Spain, now lives in the port city of Gijón in northern Spain. He grew up in an artistic family and followed that path from an early age. Until the age of 30, he was completely absorbed by painting. His pictures were widely exhibited, and he accepted commissions as a photographer and graphic designer to boost his income. He has been a fulltime photographer since 1985. His architectural and design photography has fascinated practitioners and the general public ever since. International award: “Hasselblad Master 2003”, Göteborg, Sweden.