DETAILS FROM THE WITNESS: THE PHOTOGRAPHY OF ESZTER HORANYI
Any time spent around Hyperlite Mountain Gear will quickly reveal that we have some very talented photographers from all over the globe in our family. There are a million ways to document a place or people and a moment in time, but a great photographer captures it all while telling you a little bit about themselves, too. We’re pleased to introduce you to Eszter Horanyi. Read on to learn how Eszter approaches her craft and gain a few skill-building tips and nuggets of wisdom in the process.
Words & Photos from Eszter Horanyi
Name: Eszter Horanyi
Residence: Mobile, American West
Years Shooting: Lifetime of mucking around, two years of focus
Favorite Location(s) to Shoot: Outside
Camera Setup: Sony a6500, Lenses: Sony 10-18, 18-135, 70-350, 200-600
What got you into photography, and what keeps you at it?
I’ve always been a photo documentarian, carrying around a little point-and-shoot camera on mountain bike rides, backcountry ski days, and other outdoor adventures and then posting the images on my blog. When I developed an obsession with birds about six years ago, I taught myself how to use a bigger camera. It took a few years to transition from just shooting birds and wildlife to being willing to haul a larger camera on outdoor pursuits, but now it’s just a regular part of my kit.
Photography has added a huge and fulfilling element to my outdoor recreating. As a former ultra-endurance racer of various forms, I’ve used the camera as a way to slow down and see a landscape instead of rushing through it.
Out in the wild, what are the elements in a setting that will stop you in your tracks and make you grab your camera?
Amazing light is maybe the overly obvious answer here. Sometimes I feel like half the reason I go on multi-day trips is so that I can experience the golden hours of the day in a spectacular location. My photo-taking frequency throughout a full day outside definitely resembles an inverted bell curve.
I’m a sucker for wildlife of all types. I once had a friend ask, “How many pictures of a Weka (a cheeky, flightless New Zealand native bird) do you need?” All of them. I need all of them.
What elements will you wait or hunt for? Where and why?
I rarely head out with the sole purpose of trying to take a specific picture. That being said, if I can coerce my adventure partners to go out early in the morning or late in the evening, I do, even if they grumble in my general direction.
The birder in me goes hunting for specific birds, but in the end, that’s often just a good excuse to go see someplace new.
If you couldn’t use words to describe what kind of photographer you are–you could only share one of your photos–does one come to mind? Why? Where was it taken? Describe the scenario.
I took this photo in Paria Canyon in the spring of 2021. My friend Meghan and I had gotten some last-minute cancellation permits because, well, the weather forecast was unseasonably cold for two days. Rain in the previous days had the river higher than normal but far from dangerous. When we went to pick up the permits, the ranger gave us a once over and dubiously commented, “Well, you have coats. So that’s good.” It ended up being an absolutely stunning and freezing overnight traversal of the canyon.
Always give it a nudge, I say. Always give it a nudge. You never know what will happen.
You can pass five short tips on to aspiring shooters. Go.
As someone who’s fairly new into this obsession called photography, I’ll aim this more towards new shooters. I don’t pretend to have years of professional experience under my belt, but I’ve learned a few things the past few years while climbing the steep part of the learning curve.
Shoot a lot. The best way to learn a skill like photography is to go out and do it. You can study books and read all the theory on image composition and whatnot, but the best way to get better is to get out and take a bunch of photos. Being armed with the basics of camera operation and being able to shoot manual (or anything but auto) will go a long way towards getting nice images.
Choose your camera wisely. If you want to carry a bigger camera on your adventures, it can’t be so big that you don’t want to take it with you. Camera size often comes with image quality compromises, but if your camera is sitting at home because it was too heavy to carry, it doesn’t matter how nice of images it could theoretically take. Also, get everything insured. We’re playing in the outdoors, it’s only a matter of time until a camera gets dropped in the water or a lens smashed against a rock.
Don’t feel like an impostor. People can spend a lot of money on photo gear, and it’s super easy to feel massive impostor syndrome in the presence of big lenses and cameras. Just remember two things, everyone started somewhere, and expensive gear does not guarantee great photos. If you’re thinking about your images and constantly working to make them better, you’re a photographer in my book.
Reward your models. In my first years of shooting, I had several adventure partners who were endlessly patient in letting me take images of them, re-riding or re-running sections of trail so that I could try something new or different. Send them images after an adventure. I also like to send a print or two at the end of a season to the people who’ve been the most tolerant of my photography habit as a thank you.
Learn image post-processing. I think it’s real romantic to hope that the image that we see on the back of the camera is the final, perfect image that we present to the world, but it generally isn’t. Learning an image processing software can let you do so much with images. YouTube is actually a really great resource for this.
Where can we see more of your work?