Feature Friday: Jan Breckwoldt
Sydney-based photographer Jan Breckwoldt has been on our radar since we came across this bold, brilliant image of Sydney Opera House on Instagram. What a unique view this shot offers — so different than so many others of the exact same landmark. “For some reason, I liked this specific puddle so I got out my Platypod to get as low to the ground as possible and start shooting,” Jan explained on the Instagram post of this shot.
This image is one of many that Platypod users have inspired us with. One of the things that photographers love about Platypod is that it gets them super low for those low-angle shots that offer bold, unique and powerful perspectives. But while Jan’s work proves the power of the low angle, his story proves the power of photography — not just as a hobby, but as a community.
Jan, who works as a Risk & Compliance Analyst at Groupon, tells us his favorite photography lesson this year didn’t come from the pictures he was taking, but rather from the people alongside him. Check out our Q&A with Jan to learn why and be sure to connect with him on Instagram.
How did you get into photography? Although I had a special thing for photography since high school, my photography journey really kicked off when I bought a DSLR camera in 2013 — the one I still use today — and learnt how to edit photos in Adobe Lightroom to my liking.
What is your typical gear set up?
Canon 70D, 11-16mm f2.8 and Canon EF-S 18-135mm STM f3.5-f5.6
Your work is fantastic! What are your 3 top images from 2018, and why?
Lavendar Fields, Bridestowe Estate (Tasmania, Australia)
The main reason for my 10-day trip to Tasmania was to shoot the lavender fields. Unfortunately, I was already a bit too late in the season and it wasn’t as colourful as I expected when I got there late January. It was a very hot and cloudy day, so my expectations of getting anything decent were rather low. However, since I didn’t have anything else to do, I decided to wait in my car for four hours until after closing time to see if sunset would be any better. It was a long, hot and boring wait, but oh my, was it worth it. The sky literally exploded and went through all sorts of colours from orange to yellow, red and purple and all of the sudden the lavender looked like as purple as it would have been in its peak season.
Rams Head North, Snowy Mountains (Thredbo, Australia)
Although this exact location is only about 45 minutes from the next lift and 30 minutes from the main track to Australia’s highest mountain, most people don’t even know this beautiful place exists and continue on to the rather boring highest mountain. However, I found this moon surface look-a-like location on 2000m much more interesting which is why I decided to hike up there Easter Saturday. There are no tracks or signs up there so it took a while to find it but it was definitely worth all the effort. This photo actually shows the full moon during a three-minute exposure which lit up the area like it was daylight.
CSIRO Parkes Radio Telescope (Parkes, Australia)
There is one thing about being at a great location (the Parkes radio telescope was the telescope which received television transmission of man’s first steps on the moon 1969 and broadcasted it to the world) but also get perfect conditions and have a bit of luck. The main reason for me being at the telescope in rural Australia six hours west of Sydney was to attend an astro photo festival. What better timing for a clear night sky. To our surprise, the gates to the telescope weren’t locked and we were able to walk right up to the last fence where this photo was taken from. Normally, the whole area is well lit but due to official time-lapse recording for CSIRO project most lights were switched off – perfect for shooting astro. I then managed to capture the telescope in its resting position between jobs where it points straight up into the sky instead of tracking objects. This was definitely a highlight for an astro photographer.
What are your biggest challenges with getting great shots? Weather (light, clouds, colour), timing (I can only shoot after work or on weekends). But, it’s usually the weather which is difficult to predict along with timing. I work in an office five days a week. and seeing a beautiful rainbow or sunset outside during office hours almost makes me cry. At least in the summer, it’s possible to shoot sunsets after work.
When did you start using Platypod and what has your experience been? I came across Platypod in 2016 when I saw an article about it on Fstoppers and on Kickstarter as well. Having faced the tripod police and liking the idea of shooting low, I was immediately intrigued by the simple product. I always carry it in my bag and it does the job perfectly. I’m quite happy with my purchase as it made shooting from low angles a lot easier and lets me take long exposures at places normal tripods are not allowed.
What has been your favorite lesson learned about photography this year? Shooting with other people is so much better than doing it alone. After four years of photographing by myself and getting intimidated by other photographers, I ended up being part of a photo group in Sydney and that’s changed a lot for me. Not only did I make new friends, it also helped me to improve my photography skills as we shared ideas, techniques, photo locations and events.
I got to try other people’s expensive lenses which I would have never been able to afford — like the Canon 400mm prime lens for the Blood Moon! — and also started to plan trips with other people instead of going by myself. It’s also a lot easier to tell people to get out of your shot when you know them. I still go out and shoot by myself, but for the majority of my trips, I go with a few other like-minded photographers to share the fun.
Currently working on any cool projects you can share with us? Nothing planned at the moment, but continuing to upload interesting stories for my Instagram followers is always high on my list. A lot of people probably follow me more for my stories than the images. A good example is my recent trip through Germany in September. I saved the entire photo story if you want to get an idea of how my Instagram stories usually look:
Each Friday, we feature the work and stories of our fans and followers on social media. We especially love to post stories of Platypod users and their experiences with the product. If you are interested in being featured, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.