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Ross Buswell

17 March 2021

Dreamlike and ethereal landscapes are the speciality of Ross Buswell, who appropriately goes by the moniker Atmospherics. Read on to find out more about how Ross caught the photography bug and what his favourite conditions are to achieve his unique look.

What is your backstory?

In a nutshell, my creative life so far: photographer, creative director, graphic artist, music composer/producer and DJ.

I'm Vancouver, BC based but I travel to shoot quite extensively... up until the pandemic hit. I grew up here in sea-to-sky country. I love exploring this area but I definitely have a need to explore more of the world. I never went to post secondary school for art or photography specifically. Instead, I went to school at one of the most respected technical colleges for TV production in western Canada. After that I ended up starting my own graphic design company, and soon after that a record label with a few friends. My schooling gave me the foundations and confidence to start my own ventures.

How did you first start out in photography?

I first started out with photography around the age of 10. I was given an old, used point and shoot film camera and I haven't stopped shooting since. Things really took off for me in my grade 9 graphics class in high school. I was in the darkroom constantly, and I converted rooms in my parent's basement into make-shift darkrooms. I used to shoot a lot of concert photography back then too. Smuggling cameras into shows and faking my age when I was 16-18 years old. These experiences, that early on, were profound for me. I've since had some of these images published by a few well-known bands. I've always been into landscape photography but I think what really jump started my Atmospherics project was getting my first full frame DSLR. That was a game changer for me. The latitude in exposures. What I could do when extremely underexposing images. Also travelling to far northern locations and experiencing the quality of light in these areas is something i'm still drawn to in a big way.

What are your sources of inspiration?

I would say most of my inspiration comes directly from the surroundings I'm in. I'm inspired by the places I shoot. Music is a huge inspiration too and I often listen to music while I'm shooting.

I love to view art and photography, but I'm never trying to express anyone else's artwork directly in my work. I think this is very important in keeping an originality to my own work.

Although, this all said, I do have a few favourite artists who have been powerful creative influences to me.

How would you describe your style?

For my Atmospherics project I try to zone into the areas where light, shadows and colour help accentuate the power and beauty of the scene I'm photographing. I'm actually trying to get closer to how I felt at the time of shooting rather than trying to create something further away from the original scene.

What subjects do you like to shoot and why?

My preference is to shoot scenes where light and shadows are working together on a scene. When these elements are in harmony, they create a powerful, mysterious feeling on a landscape. I'm trying to capture that energy. I want my images to trigger the viewers imagination, hopefully to create a story in their mind. It's hard to put into words. But the best times for these conditions are early light or twilight / dusk times or pitch black darkness for night skies. That said, sometimes I don't have a choice and have to shoot in full daylight. That's a challenge in itself to create a powerful landscape image that's equally lit in the early afternoon.

Are you an impulsive or planned shooter?

I shoot scenes as I see them. If I'm on a trip to shoot I'm planning my days on where to explore and what cameras to have with me but that's about as much planning that goes into it. If I'm not on a trip and shooting locally I have a camera with me at all times.

What's in your bag when travelling?

When I'm travelling to different countries on my landscape shoot trips, I keep to a fairly limited set of equipment, 2 DSLRs and a Blackmagic cinema camera. I usually take 4 lenses: a Nikon 80-200mm f2.8, Nikon 20mm f1.8, Vintage Zeiss Jena 35mm 2.4 and a Rokinon 14mm 2.8 for astro photography. For filters I use a Lee Big Stopper for daytime time exposures and a B+W circular polarizer (I find myself using polarizer filters less and less these days). I use a Manfrotto Be-Free carbon fibre tripod with a larger ball head than the one it came with. Weight is so important for me on these trips and my 80-200mm telephoto takes up most of that weight but I love it and work around it.

If I'm on a road trip travelling from home, in my own vehicle, I take more of my analog gear. I also take another heavier tripod with me.

How do you achieve the look in your photos?

I don't do any in camera editing. I shoot RAW in flat settings then colour grade after. I don't use Lightroom. I use the Camera RAW interface to do all my basic adjustments then do the majority of my colour grading in Photoshop, mainly using selective colours, curves and levels.

How do you feel your style has changed/evolved over the years?

I used to shoot a much wider variety of images. From creative art photography to portraits to product shots for clients of my graphic design company. Since I started my Atmospherics project I've really been able to settle in and develop my own voice within landscape photography which has always been my number one favourite area of photography. There's more appreciation now of a wider variety of approaches to landscape photography. There's far more acceptance to the blending of creative art and landscape photography now. This is what interests me the most.

Do you have any stories to share behind any of yor photos?

Here's a couple of roads I've travelled to get to the locations of some shots.

1. Canadian Rockies

On the road in the Jasper Parkway... get to here

Northern Norway (Senja)

On the road to Senja... get to here

What advice would you have for people getting into photography?

Go with your passions. Shoot what you want how you want. Pay less attention to what others are doing and focus on what you really want to do. Learn the basic physics of photography past just pointing and shooting with a phone.

Don't shoot for social media likes. Shoot to tell a story, shoot to try to express your own view of the world around you.

How has COVID-19 affected your photography?

I'm shooting more locally and trying to plan the exploration of places in my home province that were lower down my list - they are now at the top of my list.

What are your thoughts on Instagram as a photography platform?

I love the community around me on Instagram, I'm thankful for the community I've been able to build up through social media. The downside is that growth on Instagram can be a fleeting thing. Organic growth is very hard now. You have to have a plan and a mindset for the long term that goes beyond just growth. Finding a healthy existence for the long term on social media is so important. The rat-race of it all has forced too many great, creative people off the system.

What are some of your hobbies besides photography?

Music, outdoors, health/fitness. All these feed into my creative process. I wouldn't call them "hobbies" more so integral parts to my way of life.

Thank you for speaking to us Ross. Any final words?

Thanks for asking me to do this Fading Hours! Love the work you're doing with this account.

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