PlayStation London’s Creative Director and keen photographer Nigal Raymond had his Petzval lens on hand to capture some vibrant scenes on the streets of Japan. Check out his beautiful photos and our exclusive interview with him.
Name: Nigal Raymond
Camera: Sony A7R and Canon 5D Mark 3 *Website:* Flickr
Please introduce yourself and tell us about your work.
Hello everyone, I’m Nigal Raymond and I’m a Creative Director for Sony PlayStation based in London. By day I lead a small but amazingly talented team of video editors and motion graphic designers and in my spare time I have a passion for photography, cinematography and travelling.
Even at the office my camera is never far from my hands and I’m easily distracted by shiny new gadgets and technology. My personal work is mostly a mixture of landscape and candid street photography.
I’m fortunate in that I get the opportunity to travel a lot for my job and while on these trips I always try and make the most of my free time by exploring new locations or joining photo walks. Recently I’ve been spending an increasing amount of time working from our Tokyo offices. This is a dream come true for me as I’ve always been fascinated by Japan’s rich traditions, vibrant culture and people. Most of my recent photography is the result of another extended stay in Japan where I picked up the Petzval lens at Lomography’s Akihabara store.
How did you get into photography?
I’ve always been interested in the creative arts, everything from traditional drawing and painting to design and architecture. I originally studied Graphic Design and Photography at Art college, where I learned the fundamentals of design such as form and composition along with the basics of traditional film photography and developing in the darkroom. I feel a lot skills necessary for good design are the same as good photography.
Back then I used to always have a small compact camera with me most of the time but it wasn’t until I picked up my first DSLR and a 50mm prime about seven years ago that I really began to take my photography more seriously. That first “nifty-fifty” prime re-awakened my love photography all over again and I began taking more and more photos. I subsequently joined many of the photo sharing social websites such as Flickr and more recently Google+. Through these services and their communities I have been exposed to some truly inspirational photographers from all over the globe and have met some wonderful friends both online and in the real world.
Tell us about your experience shooting with the Petzval Lens and which was your favourite shot.
Shooting with the Petzval is always a fun and interesting experience. It can be quite tricky to master but feels wonderfully natural or organic in practice. In the right situation, where you have your subject in focus right in front of you and a deep and varied background the lens results in some really beautiful and artistic images. I love most of the the dreamy autumnal landscape shots from my recent Nagano expedition but my favourite Petzval shot so far is a street portrait of one Harajuku’s colourful teenagers. Some tourists had already stopped the group of girls to pose alongside their wild fashions when I seized my moment to ask for a quick solo portrait. One of the girls kindly agreed and the Petzval lens really helped capture the cartoon-like vibrant fashions. The lens is full of character and pictures taken with it often feel more like paintings than photographs. It’s also an eye catching piece of design in itself and can quickly become the centre of attention when shooting in a public environment. My friends always comment on its retro appearance when I bring it along and strangers have stopped me in the streets to enquire more about the background of the lens and why I’m using it.
If you could shoot anyone in any place with the Petzval, whom would you choose?
I’d love to say someone unquestionably cool like Japanese cinema legend Watanabe Ken but I must confess I’m a (not so secret) massive fan of the Japanese electronic pop trio Perfume. I love how their videos and live performances combine music and choreography with graphic design and experimental technologies (also Daito Manabe, one of their visual designers is another personal inspiration of mine). Going behind the scenes at one of their video shoots or perhaps some fashion portraits with those women in the neon streets of Tokyo would be sure to result in some dynamic imagery.
Do you have any advice for new and future users of the Petzval Lens?
Although the Petzval lens is an iconic design and the perfect tool for analogue photography, I think it really comes into its own when combined with a modern mirrorless camera. The high quality live preview on an LCD or digital viewfinder can show you exactly how the famous dreamy bokeh swirls will look and the manual focus assistance tools like spot zoom and focus peaking help make sure you keep your subject in perfect focus (that said, even the blurry shots often have their own special magic about them)
What are your future projects?
A lot of my photography so far has been dedicated to documenting my experiences while working and traveling abroad. Recently however I’ve been getting a little bolder in stopping strangers and asking for street portraits… although not always successful it has made me much more interested in taking portraits.
I’d really like to try some more formal portraiture work or fashion projects in the future, so I can lean more about directing models or working on location or in a studio. I’m always trying to learn more and experiment with different tools and techniques in both my photography and my design career… you never know, I might even end up using the Petzval for a video if the right project comes along.