My name is Leonardo Papèra, I’m a 24-year-old boy who started to learn about photography around six years ago; I started a bit like everyone, buying a reflex that at the time I thought it was professional with a classic kit lens, with the sole purpose of taking some “high quality” photos during my trips with friends.
Ever since I was young I’ve always been passionate about everything that involved nature, from the landscapes of the world to animals of every kind and type, but honestly when I bought the first camera I didn’t think of using it to capture something more than a few parties or trips between friends.
Exactly one of these friends, with a greater passion (and will) than mine for photography, introduced me to this world, convincing me to go out in my neighborhood and try to remove the dust from that “automatic mode” that made me so comfortable. So I slowly begin to take dexterity with the basic rules of photography, ie exposure times, diaphragm and ISO. I focused from the beginning on landscape photography, leaving a little space for occasional animal photos.
The months passed and the desire to learn grew more and more, also thanks to social networks that showed me amazing places from all over the world; the desire to emulate scenes and ideas seen around the web as well as the desire to try new techniques made me go out as soon as I had a moment of freedom from the studies.
In 2013 I make my first photographic journey, always with my friend who introduced me to this passion, and the choice of destination falls on a little town called Inari, in the heart of Finnish Lapland: my Nikon D5100, which until the year before did not had never been used in manual mode, found himself facing the rigid temperatures of the Arctic Circle and working hard at high ISO, one of its weaknesses, in order to be able to photograph the northern night-skies and the magnificent Aurora Borealis. On many forums around the web everyone told me not to go on such a trip with that equipment, but I stubbornly wanted to go: in the aftermath, the equipment was the last of the problems; I was probably the one who, because of my inexperience, did not know how to organize such a trip and I couldn’t enjoy it at the fullest, but I still had the chance to see the aurora for six nights on seven totals and that’s where my “love story” for this phenomenon started.
In 2014, I completed the trip that probably has definitely endorsed my great passion for landscape photography: I lived for two months in Iceland, the land of ice and fire. I wanted to make this great step alone, I wanted to live it more like a life experience and not as a simple journey, hoping to grow not only on the photographic side but also personal level. And so it was: I have lived so many incredible experiences in those months that it would not be enough for a book to describe them all, I assure you; I found myself forced to handle situations that I have never been into and this experience has given me a lot, both photographic and personal, just as I hoped.
In 2016, after a not-so-brilliant year at the university and in a bad mood, I managed to find time for a new expedition on Icelandic land, this time however shorter; 15 days to rediscover that “second home” that in 2014 enchanted me. At the photographic level I knew I had grown up compared to two years ago, with a more rational approach, more precise in the compositions and with an eye perhaps more trained to see compositions that could work. Even the second time Iceland didn’t disappoint, in its winter dress enchanted me and once again gave me a bag of experiences and memories I will always carry with me.
From that trip the occasions to be able to take pictures have risen exponentially and I have been able to visit (and return) in many places, including the Dolomites, Castelluccio di Norcia, Val d’Orcia and so on.
In the current year I had the opportunity to explore the northern coast of Spain and visit the French Provence during the lavender blooming period.
I believe that, speaking at a strictly photographic level, the first real breakthrough was in 2014 with the first trip to Iceland, where, in addition to new shooting techniques, I also began to deepen the postproduction phase, a fundamental part of the development of a photography; The second turn has been between my second trip to Iceland and my short stay in the Dolomites, where (also with the help of good light situations) I probably did some of my best photos ever.
Transmitting emotions with the genre of photography I do isn’t easy and honestly sometimes it isn’t even my purpose; sometimes a picture must simply be beautiful, leave that feeling of “wow” in the eyes of the observer almost to say “but are there really such places in this world?”, while other times the main purpose is just to convey a precise emotion and make the observer feel something.
In both cases, whether the purpose is the aesthetics or the message, technique is the basis from which to start and experiment, to plan and to try as long as the results are not obtained. Sometimes I happen to hear “but this is art, it is my personal vision “: there is nothing more wrong that trying to justify your own mistakes by sheltering behind the shield of your own artistic vision. You have to learn from the best (that’s what I’m still doing now) and understand when you can not get a certain result without knowing the technique behind it. Once you’ve learned the “boring” part, you can wisely try to get rid of the rules and manage to get a more original result.
Personally, I believe that the genre of landscape photography is much more “programmable” than, for example, travel photography or wildlife photography; this gives us an invaluable advantage, which I mistakenly did not even consider in the early days.
Now if I’m going to take photos at the sea, first of all, I observe the weather forecasts, check if the sea is raging or if it’s calm, check if at sunset there will be more or less clouds and I calculate, depending on where I want to go, if the conditions that I’ll found fit my ideas and if I can make a picture of which I will be satisfied. I don’t say “today I want to go to take some photos”, but I say “what’s the weather today?” And if the weather isn’t the one I want I simply stay at home.
To make another example, if I decide to take some nightscapes of the Milky Way, first of all I have to think about what time of year is and if the core of the Milky Way (which is the most interesting part, photographic speaking) is visible: if the answer is positive, I have to decide what time I’ll be at the location, as for example in March the core is visible only just before sunrise, whereas in October it is visible just after sunset. I must then consider the moon: is it a full moon, or is it a new moon? With the full moon the milky way isn’t clearly visible in the sky, so it would be an useless trip. Obviously, it’s also necessary to check the weather to make sure the sky is clean at the time when we want to photograph the Milky Way; last but not least, we have to make sure there is not too much light pollution in the place chosen for the photos, otherwise we will see nothing but a glittering glow on the horizon.
I hope with these examples that I have made you understand how I approach the kind of photography that I practice: as in virtually everything, knowledge is what makes the difference. We can not logically program everything, but since this kind of photo allows us to know many variables already before with a good deal of certainty, why not use it for our benefit?
These are all things I’ve learned over time, I had to “kick my head” a tide of times before figuring out how to avoid wasting time, money, and especially how to avoid getting home dissatisfied with photos I did not like.
I hope that you’ll enjoy the time you’ll pass on this website watching the works I produced in all these year!
Awards & Publications
- “The Dominant Sky Award” @ International Landscape Photographer of The Year 2016
- 4 Photos in the Top101 @ International Landscape Photographer of the Year 2016
- Mencion de Honor @ XXVII Memorial Maria Louisa
- PSA Ribbon @ Global Arctic Awards
- TOP100 @ IMS Photo Contest
- TOP100 @ Nikon Talents 2017
- Finalist @ Eye Em Awards 2016
- Finalist @ Shoot the Frame
- 22 Various Awards @ Viewbug
- Published @ Digital Camera N.169 (September 2016)
- Published @ BBC News “Winter Views” (January 2017)
- Published @ Digital Camera N.178 (June 2017)
- Published @ Digital Camera N.180 (August 2017)
- Published @ Gardenia N.401 (September 2017)
- Published @ Digital Camera N.184 (Dicembre 2017)
- Published @ National Geographic Traveler (February/March 2018)
- Nikon D800
- Nikon AF-S 14-24mm f/2.8 G
- Nikon AF-S 24-120mm f/4 ED VR
- Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.8 G ED
- Sigma 150-500mm F/5-6.3 OS
- Nikon AI 35mm f/2
- Manfrotto 055xProb Carbon Fiber
- Remote Shutter
- Haida/Lee/Hoya ND and Polarized Filters