Dirk Wustenhagen Photographs Moments of Solitude in a Blur

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“Maybe I am emotionally too close to the moment of shooting them to appreciate their value,” says Dirk Wustenhagen of his blurry captures of lonesome scenes. He adds, “I appreciate these images more over time.” Wustenhagen is a photographer who transitioned from analog snapshots to digital photography and art in the 2000s. He often appreciates his images more when revisiting them after a significant period of time has passed since their capture.

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The Essential Photo Gear Used by Dirk Wustenhagen

Dirk told us:

  • Canon EOS RP
  • Canon RF 24-240MM f4-6.3 IS USM lens
  • Canon EOS 60D
  • Canon EOS 70D
  • Canon EF 50mm f1.4 lens
  • Manfrotto and Rollei tripods
  • Infrared remote

I rely on a variety of Canon Cameras. For me it is most important, that these are relative light and quick and easy to use, so instead of the bulkier EOS Mark XX cameras I opted for the middle class models. Another small item is quite important: an IR remote, because I shoot a lot of self portraits or I put myself into my images whether while shooting or in post.

The Phoblographer: Hi Dirk. Please tell us about yourself and how you got into photography.

Dirk Wustenhagen: I am a self-taught artistic photographer and digital artist from Germany. I took up photography rather late in my life, approximately 12 years ago. Before that time, I occasionally took photographs with analog equipment, but these shots were no more than snapshots. The rise of digital cameras allowed me to take as many shots as needed without the high costs associated with the development of analog film rolls. The growing popularity of photo communities such as Flickr in the 2000s and the images I saw there, and the possibility to communicate with artists whose work I liked, helped me to express myself through photography.

Furthermore, I started editing and manipulating my images with the help of Photoshop and other editing software, which further refined my skills and initiated the forming of my own style and imagery.

‘Dreamy woods’

The Phoblographer: When inspiration arises do you jot down ideas and then recreate them outdoors? Or is it something spontaneous that you experience when you’re out and about?

Dirk Wustenhagen: I only make notes of ideas when I want to create composite images, sometimes also making pencil sketches of these ideas.
With regards to my Blurscape images – I started this series about 5 years ago, and it is an ongoing and evolving one. Usually, I find an image in my archive and have an idea to use it for abstract work. It might start with an exact idea but often changes while editing.

When I am out shooting, I generally take pictures of everything that I find interesting. It might happen that I see something that I am sure of to use in a special way afterward, but most of the time, I don’t work on images immediately after I took them. It might take days or weeks until I take a look at them again after importing them into LR. It might even happen that I have absolutely no idea what to make of my shots and that I don’t like them at all. So it often is best to let some time pass.

‘Hollow Ghosts’ – Surreal forest scenery with a man whose feet are grown into the ground

The Phoblographer: Typically how often does it take to create a Blurscape piece (from concept to shooting to edit)?

Dirk Wustenhagen: I discover photos in my archives to use for these kinds of images, so I don’t really shoot photos with a concept for one particular Blurscape in mind. Though I am aware that some situations and conditions are better suited than others for this. I avoid sceneries cluttered with details and distractions.
The creation of these images involves a lot of trial and error. Sometimes it only takes half an hour, and sometimes I try and try again over days until I’m satisfied or have to realize that it doesn’t work at all.

‘Back to Isolation’

The Phoblographer: There’s an extreme sense of solitude that comes through from this project. What is your personal connection to this sense of loneliness being portrayed?

Dirk Wustenhagen: Loneliness is an integral part of life that everyone experiences to a lesser or greater degree.
I can accept this fact and can see it as a positive experience, especially out in nature, be it mountains, seasides or forests.

‘Evening Spirit’

The Phoblographer: There aren’t many green Blurscapes. Was this intentional? If so, tell us why.

Dirk Wustenhagen: I wasn’t aware of that, and I found out that there are some images with green tones, but unfortunately, these few are not included in the Blurscape gallery on my homepage. They found their way to agencies for book cover usage. So, no, not intentional.

‘Unsure’

The Phoblographer: Tell us about the spiral Blurscape. What was the inspiration for this piece? What’s the story behind it?

Dirk Wustenhagen: The basic photo was taken using a tripod. Myself walking into a kind of archway made of small trees within a forest with tall old beech trees. I really felt encased by these trees. Their dense canopy made it actually quite dark for an otherwise sunny spring morning, and it felt like walking through a tunnel towards an exit into the light.

Man walking through a tunnel of light – abstract forest hike

The Phoblographer: Do you find yourself more attracted to the forests or the beach for this series? What elements of either draw you towards them?

Dirk Wustenhagen: I like the seaside, but I am living about 400 km from the nearest coast, so forests are more accessible. In creating this series, both have their advantages and challenges.

‘Strangers on a beach’

The Phoblographer: Is life whizzing past you in a blur of moments? What do you do to slow down and enjoy each day?

Dirk Wustenhagen: I don’t feel like life is whizzing past me. To me, this series expresses more a feeling of being in a moment, being by myself, and that time is not so important.

I enjoy riding a bicycle, taking walks, practicing martial arts and meeting friends. And I love creating images.

Lone walker on the beach of Barnville-Plage, Barnville-Carteret, Normandie, Frankreich

All images by Dirk Wustenhagen. Used with permission. Visit his website to see the extended collection of Blurscapes and more of his work.

Feroz Khan

Never seen without a camera (or far from one), Feroz picked up the art of photography from his grandfather at a very early age (at the expense of destroying a camera or two of his). Specializing in sports photography and videography for corporate short films, when he’s not discussing or planning his next photoshoot, he can usually be found staying up to date on aviation tech or watching movies from the 70s era with a cup of karak chai.