My name is Alex Spielman and I am a wildlife and nature photographer based in Philadelphia, PA. I have been passionate about photography for most of my life, starting off composing landscapes and open vistas on mobile devices. Over time, I gravitated to single subject animal images, currently shooting on Sony. I capture animals in a range of environments, from their natural habitats in local, state, and national parks, to a more structured approach in zoos and gardens.
I have always had a fascination with art & photography, going back to when I was little, but it really picked up during my first cross country road trip in 2011. A friend and I drove out to Yellowstone, Arches, and the Grand Canyon, with many spots along the way, which was truly a turning point in my life. Up until that point, my sense of adventure was in the comforts of a hotel at the Jersey shore. But, because of this single, epic, and life changing road trip, where we have countless and countless stories about coming close to Bison in Yellowstone, to experiencing the wonder of the Grand Canyon for the first time, my now preferred trips are of the more adventurous type.
I documented everything from this trip on an iPhone 3 (or maybe an iPhone 2). The camera probably had like 1MP, and while most of the images are truly unusable, I created a photo album with them since they hold such sentimental value. At the time, I remember being quite proud at some of the mountains, canyons, and wildlife I captured. I knew nothing back then… clearly shooting with JPEGS and had zero sense of editing. I truly consider this to be the official start of my photography journey.
Up until recently, I was being stubborn about my camera of choice, shooting on the best and newest cell phone – the Galaxy S20 Ultra at the time. My dad was already a few years into full frame mirrorless shooting on Sony and finally convinced me to transition. I was SO naïve and stubborn, and even though I wish I made that jump years ago, I’m happy I did in April of 2021. To say I’m hooked is a huge understatement.
The reason I mainly shoot wildlife currently is because of the vast differences versus cell phone photography, where it is virtually impossible to get close to birds, squirrels, bees, etc. My current camera of choice is the Sony a7R2, and even though I only get like 4-5 fps of uncompressed raw, which I guess is super slow by today’s standards, the 42 MP allows me some leeway to crop in when needed. The dream camera is the Sony a71, so I’m saving up for that. The lens I use is the Sigma 150-600mm 5-6.3f Sigma Sport for E-Mount. I truly love the lens.
My editing workflow mainly looks like this:
• Import raw image into Lightroom classic
o Edit the highlights/shadows to flatten the image slightly to hopefully resolve any clipping issues on histogram
o Take away all default Lightroom sharpening
o Enable lens correction
• Use a combination of Topaz DeNoise, Sharpening, and GigaPixel if needed. My favorite pictures are the ones that are hit perfectly in the field, with the perfect aperture and shutter speeds for critical sharpness while not overly sacrificing on ISO. Since I’m still new to the technical side of photography, I find I still slightly miss many shots, so the Topaz applications help me recover.
• After Topaz, it’s standard edits in Lightroom. I have a few go-to combinations of certain sliders I use to maximize the separation of my subject and background; mainly taking away texture, clarify, and denoise after masking the background). I find that works for me.
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