Coloratti Profile – Erik Colombo
by Dave Mobbs – May 4th, 2020
Hello, my name is Erik Colombo and as an X-Rite Coloratti, I will give you an overview of my career, from my first interest in photography, to how I turned it into a professional career.
After completing my studies in cultural heritage, I was unfortunately involved in a serious accident. This forced me to revolutionize my life. I had to give up my passion for football and became home bound for quite some time. During this time, I began to develop a real interest in wildlife photography, which was mainly influenced by watching National Geographic and BBC documentaries. Due to my interest in the animal world and photography, I decided to buy my first camera, a Canon 550D.
It feels to me like an eternity has passed since then, but it’s only been 7 years since I bought my first camera. The first three years were spent trying to understand exactly what it was I wanted to do. So I began working in a photo studio as an assistant. Everything I learned, I learned theoretically. I wasn’t the person creating the photos, but I was the one helping with the lighting, attaching the cables, cleaning the floor etc. It was only during my spare time that I was able to study photography for myself. I took a lot of influence from professionals within the industry. This would prove to be really important in my career path.
First jobs as a photographer
After some time, I was given a job opportunity with Dalani Home & Living, as a product photographer. To this day, I’m still really interested in the world of still life. However, at the end of the contract, I decided not to renew it and go into business by myself. This let me dedicate my time to my real passion, nature photography. It was also during this time that I discovered my love for landscapes and what would be my future vocation, teaching. I also won a minor Italian competition and was delighted to receive some requests for workshops and photography courses.
Shortly afterwards, my photography was beginning to get noticed. I was thrilled that people showed so much interest in my work, but I was quite scared as I was still only 22 years old. I signed my first worldwide contract as an Ambassador in 2017, with Haida Filters. From there, my career grew quite rapidly and I started to create a lot of tutorial courses and workshops, which people seemed very interested in.
I became a collaborator with BenQ for reviews of high-quality monitors for photographers. After that, Il Fotoamatore contacted me about becoming an Italian partner for their stores. I also worked on the beta testing of a photoshop plug-in called Tonality Masks. Lastly, in November last year, I became a teacher for my first Canon Academy Workshop. A dream come true.
How travelling has influenced my photography
Travelling is the best feeling for a photographer, getting to see new places, falling in love every time with the details that make those places unique. I’ve travelled a lot in my life, even though I’m still quite young. I went to Iceland in 2018 and travelled all over the south east coast, going north through the center of Iceland in a Toyota Hilux where we slept.
The first day was incredible. I saw the most beautiful sunset in my life in one of my favourite places in Iceland, Seljalandsfoss. Later we visited Samgafoss at dawn and I was lucky enough to see two rainbows. The next dawn I was at Hveravellir, one of the most unknown and wonderful places in the Icelandic hinterland.
The climate in Iceland usually changes rapidly and this cost us two or three tries to the north. Thats’s why we decided to head south-east and we spent one night in Vestrahorn. The next dawn in Jökulsárlón, also called “Diamond Beach” for its characteristic icebergs that are brought to this black volcanic beach by the strong waves.
In 2019 I went to Tenerife with my students for a photo tour. We focused on night photography. As you might know, the Teide is one of the best places for photography of this kind. The temperatures go down a lot during the evening, and we found that on the beach we felt temperatures of 35 or so, so covered yourself well, even in May.
The Teide is an alien volcanic landscape, with this flowering of Tajinaste, a plant native to the Canaries that reaches even 210cm in height! A wonderful experience!
In night photography the tripod is fundamental, the important thing is that it is solid and that the head is strong! It’s also important to activate the mirror block to avoid movement at the moment of the shot. The focus is set to manual, and you have to use the 10x live view to focus on a visible point in the sky, usually either the pole star or Jupiter.
Also important is the technique of time blending, that is to make a photograph for the foreground during the blue hour and the shot for the sky during the night session, and then go to merge them. The advantage will be to have a high quality close-up at low ISO and then the sky is realized in perfect conditions, usually: 20# f/2.8 ISO 6400 .
In February 2020 I was in Norway for a work trip/scouting session. I had to test a pair of gloves for Vallerret and make time-lapses for Canon. Then do scouting for locations with the idea of organizing a workshop in October this year, which has unfortunately been cancelled.
Here is where I saw, for the second time in my life, the Northern Lights. There are no words to explain this wonderful form of art of nature. I will let my photographs speak. The trip was organized at Lofoten based in Reine, where we slept in a house on the bay, which was wonderful.
Every day we changed location according to weather conditions. We visited Nusfjord, Skagsanden, Haukland beach and HamnÄy. The weather there changes easily. A 10-day trip with two days of flights and ferries became a 5-day trip, caused by a mixture of Covid-19 and storms that blocked the ferries, closing bridges and cancelling flights. The beauty of landscape photography is facing the adversities that make you appreciate a place. It is these types of difficulties that will push you to make the perfect photograph in a shorter time.
Equipment & Techniques
Landscape photography is a fascinating subject for me, and it is very important that the equipment and preparation for the shot is right. I use a Canon EOS 5D Mark4 with a 16-35mm f/2.8 mk2, my favorite optics. I prefer wide-angle lenses, as they are great for completely capturing the scene.
When these lenses aren’t enough, I use more advanced techniques such as perspective blending and this technique consists of changing the position of the camera and obtaining more shots and then merging them together in photoshop, making more horizontal shots to get a vertical one. The focus stacking instead is the basis of landscape photography, making many photographs combining the focus point and then obtaining in photoshop a single image with a total depth of field.
It is also important to use the bracketing technique to create an HDR. That is why we make many photographs with different exposures, and then merge them in Photoshop and have a better starting point for our post production.
Finally, there are other techniques to make overviews and arches of the Milky Way, this technique is particularly difficult but will make you perceive your panorama at 180 º and beyond, seeing both the tail of the Milky Way and the core. If you want to approach landscape photography these techniques are fundamental!
The filters I use fall into four categories: ND, GND, Clear Night, and polarizing. They are optical glass with variable neutral density, used to filter the light allowing us to create long exposures even in full light conditions.
The GND is similar to the ND filter, but completely full and fades to pure optical glass. This is ideal for sea photography or near a visible horizon, but not recommended for mountain scapes.
The Clear Night instead, is a filter that is not dominant black but magenta. You should use it at night when there’s strong light pollution to reduce the dominant yellow in the sky. This allows us to better extrapolate the Milky Way, especially the core.
Finally, there’s the polarizing filter, which aims to change how the light impacts the water surfaces and the water particles in the atmosphere. It allows us to see under water, to make a perfect mirror on a lake, or to accentuate the color of the sky by extrapolating the white clouds. It can also help emphasize or remove a rainbow.
X-Rite partnership and becoming a Coloratti
I’ve always been committed to education and understanding the importance of color management in my workflow. That’s why it was such a pleasant surprise when X-Rite approached me. Colour is such an important aspect in my photographic workflow. I firmly believe that color is not something complicated; it’s just understanding key principles. I try to make this topic as easy to understand as possible for my viewers.
Becoming an X-Rite Coloratti was like receiving a beautiful gift on a Monday, something really unexpected but very important. I chose to work with X-Rite due to their reputation as a quality brand that specializes in photo and video education. The important thing for me when working with a company is the human relationship that between yourself and the people you’re working with. I am very proud of my relationship with X-Rite.
Plans for the future
Unfortunately, I had to put many projects on hold because of the pandemic. As soon as the situation calms down, we will start again with more passion and determination than ever before. Some of the projects I have in the pipeline include: developing my YouTube channel to help better support my workshops, providing even more education on colour, and many other minor projects.
In this period of quarantine I firmly believe that you should still study and work on yourself and your photography. For example, I’ve started learning about Macro photography. I’m rediscovering the beauty of ‘tiny’ nature aspects including flowers, insects, leaves etc. Never stand still, and the results will come.
Any advice for aspiring photographers?
The advice I want to give you, to all those who are reading this blog, is this: never stop dreaming and working on yourself. One of my dreams was to work with Canon by the time I was 35. Through hard work, passion and dedication I am proud to have achieved this by the time I was 25. You will receive many “NO’s”, there will be many doors closing in your face, you will receive many criticisms, especially from the photographic panorama. Don’t ever let these things get you down; continue to study and above you must remain unique.
I believe that I am where I am today because of my friends, my parents, even strangers who supported me. This is also due to the people who criticized me constructively. Never give up, and I assure you that you will succeed.
Collaborations with other companies certainly helped me during my career. I would say that they were fundamental, and one of these companies is X-Rite, to which I am very attached to, and look forward to working on many future projects together.
Thank you for your reading my story and I wish you a good day. A big hug from your Colorful Coloratti, Erik Colombo.
Find out more about Erik at his website here – www.erikcolombo.com
Coloratti profile – https://www.xritephoto.com/ph_coloratti.aspx?id=2918