ColorEdge Case Study

Hermann Hirsch and Jan Leßmann - the photographers behind "Zeitweise"


Jan Leßmann and Hermann Hirsch are not only excellent nature photographers whose often abstract photos regularly take top places in renowned photo competitions. With their company "Zeitweise", they offer exciting online and offline workshops and run a YouTube channel and podcast.

Leßmann and Hirsch not only share the same year of birth (1993) and place of birth (Ruhr region) - both have also developed a great love of nature and photography. However, their paths only crossed in 2018: Hirsch had booked accommodation that was actually too large and expensive for a photo trip to the Scottish Highlands, so he was looking for other fellow travelers and asked Leßmann, whom he had previously only known distantly from the Society for Nature Photography (GDT). Leßmann went along and from this trip and numerous other joint ventures, a close friendship developed, which ultimately led to the joint company "Zeitweise" in 2021.

Interview with Hermann Hirsch and Jan Leßmann

We spoke to Jan (JL) and Hermann (HH) about team photography, visual language and their approach to nature photography, among other things. In this interview, the two nature photographers from Germany also give an insight into their image processing set-up and explain their choice of monitor.

Shortly after you wanted to really hit the ground running with "Zeitweise", the pandemic threw a spanner in the works of most of your plans. How did you deal with it?
JL: We developed online workshops. They not only worked very well during the pandemic, but are still very popular today and are a permanent part of our offering alongside our face-to-face workshops and trips.

What makes a good nature photographer for you?
JL: You have to be a bit crazy. Nature photography is often frustrating because there are many factors that are out of your control. You have to be patient and persistent. Curiosity is helpful and you need a trained eye for situations and motifs.
HH: Knowledge is also important: on the one hand about photographic technique and on the other about what you are photographing. You don't have to know the Latin names of the animals you want to photograph, but knowing where to find them and when, and how they behave, greatly increases your chances of success. And ideally, you will also develop a visual language.

What makes your photography special?
JL: The term "serendipity" describes it best. We try to make use of "serendipity". Specifically, we try not to stick doggedly to a fixed plan and get frustrated if the project cannot be implemented 1:1. Our basic attitude is rather "what can we do today that we can't do on any other day" and turn it into a great picture. In this way, we always try to recognize the special in the ordinary.

Your pictures inspire with their unusual angles and abstract realizations. How do you come up with that?
JL: It's the result of a lot of trial and error, practising and remaining open to new things. If you've been looking at the big picture for a long time, your eye for detail and abstraction sharpens over time. Then it's no longer about capturing a particular animal as perfectly as possible, but about experiencing things in nature and creating creative images in these situations. It is no longer about pure documentation. Nature provides the framework for creative artistic expression.

What are your limits?
HH: For us, the experience of nature is always in the foreground. Our pictures are always taken on location, just as we show them. 
JL: However, that doesn't stop us from taking objects with us to photograph, through which we then photograph on location and through which we achieve alienating effects. This can be a steel sponge, a prism or even a cheese grater, for example. 

What role does technology play in your work?
JL: Nature photography often simply requires a lot of equipment such as fast cameras, long focal lengths, remote triggers or light barriers. We are very demanding in that respect. The equipment simply has to be really good and work. But the technology is only ever a basic requirement for strong images. 
HH: You also have to master your technique. In animal photography in particular, you often have to react within fractions of a second to capture an extremely fleeting and fast-moving situation. That simply requires practice.

Now "Zeitweise" not only appears as a company, but you also submit pictures to competitions together as "Zeitweise". That's unusual, isn't it?
HH: That may be, but it's only logical: when we work together on themes or image ideas, we do it as a team and don't deliberately do the same thing. We split up, use different focal lengths, different angles or locations, for example. What counts here is the end result and not who happened to have the more suitable focal length, the more ideal angle or simply had more luck. 
JL: And with complex set-ups with light barriers or remote-controlled cameras, it's often not possible for us to say which of us took the photo anyway. These are then "Zeitweise" photos. 

What significance does digital image processing have for you?
JL: We optimize our pictures to bring out our artistic expression more clearly. But basically we follow the GDT competition rules, we don't remove anything from the image apart from sensor dirt or add anything that wasn't actually there. 

What does your image processing set-up look like?
HH: Mobile computers are now so powerful that we do everything with our MacBook Pros. At home, the MacBooks are then connected to ColorEdge monitors from EIZO.


Hirsch uses the ColorEdge CS2740 with the optional CH2700 light protection screen.


Leßmann uses the ColorEdge CG2700X and particularly appreciates the built-in calibration sensor.

What importance do your monitors have for your image editing workflow?
JL: Unfortunately, many photographers don't think about their monitors. And I also want to spend as little time as possible on the monitor, so that I can concentrate fully on my pictures. But to do this, I need to be certain that my monitor is displaying an absolutely precise image of my picture files. Unfortunately, the vast majority of monitors do not achieve this. On the one hand, most monitors are technically incapable of displaying photos in the required color space. On the other hand, the display is often so imprecise that they are not suitable for sophisticated image editing.

Which monitors are you currently using and why did you choose these monitors of all things?
JL: I use the ColorEdge CG2700X and Hermann uses the CS2740. As I said, we are quite demanding when it comes to our technology. And that's where you end up relatively directly with EIZO. Our monitors have 27 inches and on the one hand we appreciate the wide color space coverage, the excellent homogeneity and the sharpness of the 4K resolution. On the other hand, EIZO's excellent factory calibration ensures absolutely precise image display and fast recalibration. My CG2700X can even calibrate itself. That's incredibly convenient. 
HH: It's also just super practical that you can connect our MacBooks to the monitors via USB-C with a flick of the wrist and they can also be charged and connected to the peripherals connected to the monitor. 

What's next for you?
JL: We are working on expanding our range of workshops. We're really looking forward to scouting new destinations and more instructors will be joining Zeitweise. We also want to further expand our YouTube channel and the recently launched video podcast.


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