Welcome to Kevin Wells Photography! Sharing my work with others is a big motivator for me, so thank you for taking the time to check out my photos.
I am a native Oregonian working as an Ecologist in Oregon and Washington. I specialize in monitoring of vegetation, wildlife and aquatics. I studied Biology and Spanish at the University of Oregon and got a Master of Science in Forestry from Bangor University in Wales. I have spent much of the last 5-10 years living abroad for work and traveling. I’ve lived in Costa Rica, Belize, Australia, Wales, and England, and have traveled to many places during those years such as New Zealand, Perú, Ecuador, Panama, Spain, Scotland and more. Pursuing professional ecology work abroad has been a highlight of my life and I plan on keeping international travel a core piece of my future. When I’m not taking photos I climb rock and mountains, backpack and hike, play tennis, and work on other forms of art.
I’ve been taking photography seriously since 2007 and have developed my skills mainly through self-taught methods. Before that I had a combination of film and digital cameras, but I think the low quality digital sensors and hassle of developing film put me off of the idea of taking it more seriously. As better digital cameras were made, and I was introduced to them through friends, the tech-geek in me got excited. When I discovered I could capture the natural world in a way that expresses how I view it, I was hooked. Ever since I was a little kid I would pick up animals, turn over rocks and stare at the bugs, and tromp through wetlands looking for frogs and snakes. Not much has changed! It has improved my life significantly to learn photography, spend time outdoors capturing what I find, and share it with others.
I enjoy most types of nature photography, however I specialize in wildlife, macro (close-up), long exposures, and night (astro) photography.
Making my photos look real is important to me. I want somebody to be able to admire a photo I took, and to be able to go to that place and see that exact thing. I never significantly alter a photo by adding a sky or a moon that wasn’t there, or removing a road from a landscape. My post processing involves standard techniques such as cropping, contrast, color hues, noise reduction, sharpening, etc. For more advanced photos I use blending techniques. I used to diligently avoid taking multiple exposures and blending them because it felt like a hassle and I wasn’t good enough at it to make it look right. More importantly it felt like cheating, like the final result was overly “photoshopped” and fake. Other photographers told me I’d eventually change, and they were right. My philosophy is to make every photo look as natural as possible while capturing the beauty of the scene, and exposure blending is a very effective tool in making that happen. I do feel that some of my photos look overly processed, but it’s not intentional. I would encourage you to try post-processing a photo to make it look both real and beautiful, it’s hard! Finding that balance is a journey I will probably always be on. The main blending types I do are focus blending and exposure blending. Focus blending involves taking the same photo several times while focusing on different parts of the scene so that when combined later, all parts of the scene are in focus. Landscape shots typically require 2-4 shots, but for other subjects, for example insect close-ups, I take hundreds of separate photos all focused slightly differently so that the final image shows the entire insect (or a large portion of it) in focus. Exposure blending involves exposing for different parts of the scene and blending them together later (usually called HDR for High Dynamic Range). The human eye has an incredible dynamic range, meaning it can see detail in dark shadows at the same time as seeing detail in very bright places. To make a photo of a landscape look like it did with the naked eye, you usually have to brighten the shadows and darken the highlights considerably, and the best way of doing that to achieve high image quality is taking multiple shots exposed differently and blending them together later.
My first DSLR was a Canon Rebel XTi (400D) with a kit lens. I eventually upgraded to a Canon 7D and a slightly better lens lineup. I currently shoot on a Canon 5D Mark IV body with these lenses:
Canon 16-35mm f/4L IS
Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS
Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II with a Canon 1.4x III extender
Canon 100mm f/2.8L IS Macro
Rokinon 14mm f/2.4 SP
Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art
For super close-up macro I also use 68mm of extension tubes and a Raynox DCR-250 (8 diopter) closeup filter.
For field macro shots I use a homemade rig of metal brackets carrying dual Canon 430ex II flashes, both diffused, triggered remotely with a Canon 90ex flash.
For astrophotography I use a SkyWatcher Star Adventurer tracking mount.