The Full Story Behind The Eagle Huntress Image

January 3, 2020 posted by


before we begin I just want to say a huge thank you to everyone who voted both on facebook and on youtube you guys are simply amazing after counting the votes the image you guys found most interesting is number two – “The Eagle Huntress” so let’s start with an introduction… back in 2013 I arrived at West Mongolia I went there since I was hoping to photograph the kazakh Eagle hunters living in the area while the original plan was to stay there for a week i ended up staying for 40 days as I decided to turn my ‘visit’ into a full fledged photography project called the “future generation of hunters” this image of 13-year-old Aisholpan that we’re going to analyze in this video is actually the final chapter of that photography project and this is why before we begin there’s something very important I need you to understand: this image wasn’t made simply by walking around stumbling upon this magical scene this image is a direct result of weeks and weeks of hard work and challenges that were leading up to it in this video you will receive an in-depth look into the exact process that may this image possible so without further ado let’s begin by the time I was getting closer to photographing the iconic image of the Eagle huntress i had already photographed other young Eagle hunters for the project kids like Irka Bolan who are stealing the early stages of training with his dad something that was very important to integrate into the story and images and Bahk Birgen who was the youngest hunter in the province in that time and in my eyes represented this first hunter of his generation after that and you had just enough time and budget to find the last successor for the project and I was hoping to find a new angle for the story this is how the idea to find an eagle huntress came about well… at least that was the idea first of all you need to understand that Mongolia iis a big country meaning that we have to drive four hours from one eagle hunters’s house to the next not to mention that there are no Roads it’s raining it’s very difficult and on top of that Mongolia is one of the least populated countries in the world so as you can understand by now finding the eagle huntress wasn’t an easy thing to do as it took a lot of time and gasoline but the biggest challenge we faced was that everywhere we went to an asked about an eagle huntress the answer was almost exclusively jokh! which means No in kazakh and just as I was starting to think that the idea of finding an eagle huntress was a lost case it was my guide who came to the rescue when working on photography projects it’s extremely important to make sure that everyone around you is involved this is because you can never tell who will be the one to give you the information or help you really need in this particular case of the eagle huntress it was my guide who put us on the right direction – he introduce us to one of his closest friends who on top of being a famous eagle hunter also happen to be Aisholpan’s father later that night we sat down together and I told them about the project I was working on luckily for me they agreed to be a of the project and i was invited to join an eagle hunting training session the next day and now we want to the next part of this video which is: photographing the images the next day we climbed up the mountain range not too far from their home once the training began i started snapping images exploring the scene with my camera at that point in time i already had these predetermined disposition about what kind of element i wanted to integrate into my images i wanted to have the Altai mountains in the background as these mountains are the hunting ground in which is culture exists i also wanted to have snowing my images to symbolize the hunting season which roughly stretch from november to late March the last element i wanted to have was loneliness i wanted to show just how isolated the hunters were doing those hunts in order to convey these elements into my images made two very important technical decisions the first one was using a telephoto lens in order to pull out the Far mountains from the background and give them more dominant in the frame second thing was using closed apertures as I wanted the images to have a high depth of field and allows viewers to see more of a hunters environment and surrounding looking at images now I quite like them you can see how Aisholpan’s father is teaching her how to hold the eagle, both of them are pretty small in the frame giving that loneliness feeling I was talking about before while giving the mountains in the background more dominant in the image but it wasn’t long before I realized that I had a big problem working in that location as you can see almost all of the images are taken from the exact same angle this is because the location was so steep I couldn’t move around during the short break I pointed out to Aisholpan’s father my frustrations about not being able to move around and then I felt like I was missing some really good images to which he simply replied: why don’t we move to a different location? I came to learn that any location in the mountains could suffice as long as it served the Eagle hunting training requirements a few moments later we squeezed into our car and started looking for a better location… it was almost at sunset by the time we found it so as soon as we got to the new location i started photographing. first I made a few portraits I want to get Aisholpan used to being photographed and feel more relaxed with the situation i was quite surprised to see how comfortable she was holding the Eagle especially when considering that she had the least amount of experience in comparison to the other hunters a photograph before another thing that stood out was her smile whenever she was left alone with the ego she was glowing from that moment I knew that the best image i could make that day would be an image that combines both her child’s smile and her natural ease with the Eagle my chance to do that came about when Aisholpa her father practice sending the Eagle away as you can see in the image this is happening while Aisholpan is sitting on rock as if she is riding a horse while her dad is standing in the lower point in the mountain calling the Eagles to him build my composition around Aisholpan as I wanted to be alone in the frame and I left an empty space on the left hand side for the Eagle to fly thru it from there all I had to do was wait squeezing the shutter button on the camera every time the Eagles took off this technique of building a composition around your subject and waiting for something to happen is very useful when trying to make sure you don’t miss out this decisive moment since the sunset was almost over I just snapped images like crazy praying to whoever was listening that I’ll get the shot i was hoping for and right in the nick of time I got it! a moment where Aisholpan have this beautiful smile and her eagle was flying away spreading it’s wings in the Altai mountains we have now covered all of the elements that made this image possible and how it was made now we move on to the last part of this video: The past processing a phase that every image has to go through before being sent to publications first let’s talk about sorting out the images i follow 3-step system that I think works best in order to find the images I’m after the first step is pretty straightforward I go over the entire image folder spending about two seconds on each image whenever I see something that gets my attention to put a mark on it using lighroom’s ranking system this helped me to make sure that the images i’ll be working with are engaging with a viewer at first sight then i go to the second stage where i remove the images who have technical problems – images that are slightly out of focus or images that are over or underexposed in a way that i cant fix in post processing… that usually leave me with about 100 -150 images which I think is a reasonable amount actually examine one by one then begins the last stage which i think is the most important one I go over the remaining images and ask myself only one question does this image serve the story for example the main reason i chose our image was because it represented almost every aspect i want to show in the story about Aisholpan and Eagle hunting you can see the Altai mountains in the background she’s alone in the frame given that isolation feeling I was looking for and of course you can see her beautiful smile while the eagle fly away the only thing I’m missing here in the image is snow – but you can’t always get what you want and in this case I don’t really think it’d ruin the image now when we have selected our image we can go to develop section in lightroom and start editing first of all let’s go into full screen mode so i would like to do now is to share with you some of the global adjustment I did to the image personally I prefer doing edits that affect the image as a whole since I feel it keeps it more loyal to how it was originally photographed so what I’m going to do now is to reset all the changes and then we will bring them back and address why they were made so what you’re seeing right now on the screen is exactly how the image came out of the camera personally I have two problems with it first I feel like the shadow be too dark and second i select the images a bit undersaturated… definitely not how I remember that seance so the first thing I’m going to do is to play a little bit with the shadows and highlights right here first I’m going to brighten up my shadows I can see more of Aisholpan’s clothing and some details in the eagle and the rock she is sitting on I think something like that would be okay i will also open some of the blacks here since Aisholpan’s clothing is mostly black by itself now i’m going to bring as much as I can from the sky i’m going to do that by darkening the highlight section here all the way down now I have a pretty even image i can see a lot of information in the shadows and the sky feels a lot more colorful but if you can see I barely have any contrast in the image so I’m going to add some contrast right here I think about 20 21 should be enough the last thing I’m going to do is add clarity I like this option a lot because it gives a lot of contrast of the image with almost no effect on a dynamic range but as you can see right now whenever I add clarity it can’t dimes down the colors from the image so whenever I add clarity also add the same amount of vibrance in order to balance it out so yeah that’s pretty much all the post processing this image went through i really like how it looks right now the colors are better i can see a lot more details in the shadows and this is exactly how I would put it on the website or how I would send it to publication so yeah that concludes our video we talked about everything from the original idea the photoshoot and the post processing the image went through and this is exactly how I spent publication I just want to say thank you again for everyone who voted and been a part of making this video happened you guys are awesome!! if you have any other questions regarding this image feel free to write me or leave a comment on the video below and that’s the end of this video thank you guys so much for watching and a few guys in about a week

10 Comments

10 Replies to “The Full Story Behind The Eagle Huntress Image”

  1. Dan Lior says:

    amazing insight! can't wait for the next "Behind the photo" video

  2. אדי מטיאש says:

    אשר.תודה רבה על ההשקעה ועל ההסבר המאלף.נהנתי לעקוב אחרי החשיבה הצילומית שלך.בהצלחה בהמשך הפרויקטים.

  3. Julia Parker says:

    Another great vid and a fascinating insight into the process.. Looking forward to more amazing images and bts blogs!

  4. Delgermaa Bayarmaa says:

    just found out it was you behind all these mesmerizing and extremely beautiful pictures! thank you for being a true artist!

  5. Michèle D says:

    Awesome! So inspiring,! I wish I go there to meet some tuva singers. 🙂

  6. Robert Profunser says:

    Thank you so much for this Tutorials. It is really helpful. I often find it very hard to find the right image. Thanks again…

  7. Jacek Oleksinski says:

    Very inspiring video. Excellent photos and determination to complete this interesting project.

  8. Blake Rupert says:

    that was extremely enlightening to watch. really loving following your story man! educational and inspiring, thank you!

  9. cassiophoto says:

    so happy to come across your video, I m a fashion photographer in Tokyo…planning to go on a trip to Mongolia next summer…looking exactly for what you shared…the eagle hunters!!

  10. Steppe Yoga Tours says:

    Omg this is soo beautiful see the whole process of one of the most powerful photo's birth. I am so hoping to see her this year. Thank you thank you! Are you going back to Mongolia this summer? Selenge

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