Article by Jonathan Gunther
Photography has been a new thing for me over the last couple of years. In September 2009, I deployed to Afghanistan and spent a hard year there working with the Army and Air Force near Kandahar.
When I got back from that deployment, I was struggling to adjust to the things that I had experienced there. I started searching … I needed time to process. I quickly found that the solitude and physical activity of backpacking spoke to my soul in a way that nothing else could. I could get lost in the back country, and look out at God’s creation and see that there were still good and amazing things in this world. That promoted healing in a way that I needed.
While out in the back country, I started to capture some of the beautiful country that I was seeing. I had bought a Canon Rebel Xsi DSLR camera a few years back and started to bring it on my backpacking trips. After taking a few photos, I very quickly figured out that landscape photography proved to be a very challenging and difficult pursuit. It was a challenge that I quickly embraced, and loved that feeling when I would get that one image that looked amazing!
Over time I started to learn the basics of exposure and how to frame a shot in different light conditions to get the effect I wanted. I also sought the advice of my triplet brother, Joshua Gunther who works for DreamWorks Feature Animation in California. He has had a lot of success recently with his own photography business. He taught me about different shooting techniques, the advantage of better equipment, and how to have fun with your camera. Josh’s mentorship has been a real encouragement to me and allowed me to share a hobby with him that we both truly enjoy.
This last year I decided to invest more time and money into this hobby. I started off by purchasing some quality lenses. I first picked up a good zoom lens, the Canon EF 70-200mm F/4L IS. This lens came in handy during a summer trip to Glacier Bay Alaska, where I was able to capture some wildlife and the beautiful glaciers there.
After that I invested in a good wide angle lens, a Tokina 12-24mm F/4 Pro DX II. The Wide angle lens was a game changer for me. The ability to capture more of the scene and get the kind of results I wanted when taking landscape photos was huge. A sturdy tripod was also key, and helps to keep your images sharp when shooting in low light.
Before going out to Guam on a recent deployment, I also upgraded my camera body to a Canon EOS 7d. This is a Simi professional level camera that accepts all lenses that Canon makes. It also has some advanced focusing features that give a photographer the ability to control where the focal point is in a scene.
Post processing is important, and I use Adobe Lightroom as my primary photo software. For High Dynamic Range (HDR) shots that I take, I use Photomatix 4.1 to combine multiple exposures in the computer and that produces a high range of colors and detail that you can’t get any other way.
Photography continues to speak to my soul. It gives me the kind of peace that I need outside of all the stresses in life. When I am standing there, watching a beautiful sunset and taking photos, it relaxes me in a way that nothing else can. I also view it as a spiritual experience and a way to enjoy God’s creation in all its splendor.
I hope you enjoy my photos! You can find some of my best work on my Flickr page.
Jonathan’s bio –
Jonathan Gunther is a B-52H pilot currently stationed at Minot Air Force Base, ND. He is an amateur photographer in his off time and enjoys backpacking and camping.
Links for brother, Joshua Gunther –