About - noshortcuts

Kyle VanEtten

No Shortcuts: the Photography of getting there - and my adventure making pictures in my everyday life. Since I love taking pictures, and I love going on adventures... This is one way for me to share those two things as best as I can! I hope you enjoy - "There's Treasure Everywhere!!!"
5 - Self Portrait - Hairbeard - plain background - Copy

Hi my name is Kyle - this page is a place for you to get to know a little about me and my journey into photography :)

My curiosity and aspiration to take good pictures fueled a desire to learn and experiment with photography and what actually makes a good picture (something I learn more about every time I go out and shoot). For as long as I can remember, I have always enjoyed taking pictures, though I never started to take it seriously until my senior year of college.

The most important part of my journey happened at that time when I discovered Trey Ratcliff (through his website stuckincustoms.com), and his unique style of photography called High Dynamic Range (oversimplified, HDR is taking multiple pictures of the same thing at different exposures and then combining all of the shots to make one final image with a larger range of light). Trey’s pictures blew my mind – I had never seen anything like them: the light, the colors, the textures – they were the most amazing pictures I had ever seen. So, I decided I wanted to try and learn how to take that kind of picture . I wanted to be able to see and capture beauty in that way, which is the primary reason why I love photography, and the reason that I try to avoid taking clients and instead just keep my photography as art instead of work.

I committed a large majority of my free time the rest of my senior year to improving my photography. Trey offers a free HDR tutorial on his site (which I recommend) as well as a longer paid tutorial which I gladly purchased. These tutorials helped me get off the ground both with composition and taking pictures, and also with post-processing which has become a huge part of the way I “make” pictures. I started a blog and picked the name No Shortcuts, bought my first real professional camera (my Nikon D300), and have never looked back. Now over the last two and half years I have taken around 40,000 pictures and have enjoyed photography as a love of mine that lets me explore and be adventurous.  I now shoot with the Sony A7r (which I love)!

Currently:  I am a landscape and travel photographer in Central Connecticut (and happily married to my wife Danielle since Dec 2013 who is pictured with me above hehe) and a Master in the Arcanum where I teach photography to a cohort of apprentices in an online community. For me so much of photography is recapturing that childlike wonder which allows us to see beauty everywhere we go. In my photography, I strive to both be impacted by beauty itself, and then to create images that have that same impact on whoever sees them - to create photos that move people, and I love helping others learn to do the same. I love teaching others to see the world around them differently through their own unique lens, and to utilize techniques from out in the field shooting, to processing and sharing an image in a way that communicates vision and creativity. To make photos that tell a story to all who see it. As my favorite comic book character Calvin says, “There’s treasure everywhere!” That being said it certainly doesn’t hurt to be in exceptionally beautiful places, and with that I love to travel, road trip, hike, and generally adventure whenever I can. I am often scouting out new places, or driving down new roads around home and beyond to go shoot, and when I can’t find any, returning to old favorites to find some other hidden beauty I have yet to see. Work outside of Photography Outside of photography I am a campus minister at the University of Connecticut with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. I work with an incredible bunch of students creating space for discussions around faith believing that is an important part of the college experience - I LOVE my job. Photography has always been tied to my faith, and is an important creative outlet for me, both for rest, and as a part of the rhythm of my life.

My Workflow: I always shoot in Raw and typically in aperture priority mode – and because of the HDR I often shoot on a tripod. Taking the picture is only the first step in the journey for me since I love to post-process my pictures. After moving the pictures to my computer, I rate them using the star system in Lightroom to find my favorites and then the processing begins. First, I create an HDR version or versions of whatever shot I am working on using a program called Photomatix. Then I create a second version or versions of the picture in Lightroom. Finally, I combine those two resulting images together in Photoshop and make final adjustments, such as contrast and sharpening. Any one picture takes me anywhere from 5 minutes to over an hour to five plus hours to get to a point I am happy with. My goal is always to make the most beautiful image that I can, which is why I am so heavy with my post-processing. I view my pictures as art, and so I see my pictures as made, not simply taken. Personally, I do like to try and keep the integrity of the image intact by attempting to reproduce what I actually saw, or take it just a little bit further to make it more fanciful and fun, though occasionally I will venture into the realm of "Artographer" and create a totally new look for a shot!

~Kyle

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