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When Portraits & Landscapes Collide: The HDR Composites of Patrick Knecht

By Hanssie on February 10th 2015

When we begin our photography journey, finding what we love to photograph is one of the first steps that everyone goes through. When I got my first DSLR, aside from photographing my newborn, I loved shooting inanimate objects. I remember telling my best friend that I would never photograph people, because well, you had to deal with people and people were difficult. Looking back, now having countless weddings and portrait sessions under my belt, I’ve never went back to shooting “inanimate objects.”


From the time he was a young boy, around 10 years old, German photographer, Patrick Knecht loved photography. He developed a fondness for photographing landscapes, people and weather. And like many of us, when he got his first DSLR five years ago, tried out many different genres of photography – from animal photography to 3D photography  -before discovering his true passion, which lead him back to landscapes, people and weather all at once.

Two years ago, Patrick read a book by Matt Kloskowski, landscape photographer and Photoshop Guy. Within the last few pages, Matt mentioned compositing and also a photographer named Joel Grimes. After looking at Joel’s work, Patrick knew the genre he wanted to pursue. He wanted “to bring portraits into landscape photos or buildings.” From then on, Patrick began photographing landscapes during his vacations and compositing them with portraits shot in his studio. The creative possibilities were endless.



Patrick now photographs many athletes and combines them into his HDR landscapes, which he shoots as panoramas. In the photo above, “Water Sprinter,” Patrick’s vision was to gave the impression that Gamghe Gaba, the fastest German 400m sprinter, defied the force of gravity with his speed.

Below Patrick talks a bit about his settings and gear for this image. (After much effort on the part of Patrick’s limited English and my non existent German, a translator and Google translate, hopefully, I’ve conveyed his words properly).

I photograph my models for my composing in the studio with a Three-Edge-Light Setup. Two 60×90 cm softboxes from Photix with grids and a 150 cm Octabox from the front as fill light.

My flashes are Jinbei HD 600 to freeze the sprinter mid stride with a flash duration of 1 / 15000s. The flashes were set to 1/128 and the camera setting was : ISO 400 and aperture of 5.6. I used a Canon 5D Mark III with a Canon 16-35 L 2.8 II

_83B3713-Bearbeitet Panorama_hdr unnamed

For the backgrounds, keeping my composite in mind, I photograph to 95%. Even then, I prefer a very high resolution in panorama format; this gives me a larger space to create. I always shoot the backgrounds in HDR -2.0, + 2 or depending on the contrast range also times with a 5 or 7 series. My lenses are a TS-E 24mm L II lens or a Canon 16-35mm L II on a Really Right Stuff PanoHead.


Before he finishes the photo, Patrick will leave it for a few days and come back to it with a fresh set of eyes to make sure he didn’t miss anything or that nothing else can be improved upon. Check out some more of Patrick’s work below and also on his website, Urban Natural Photography and follow him on Facebook here.

Patrick-Pnecht-sports-landscape-1 Patrick-Pnecht-sports-landscape-2 Patrick-Pnecht-sports-landscape-3 Patrick-Pnecht-sports-landscape-6

CREDITS : Photographs byPatrick Knecht have been used with permission for SLR Lounge. Do not copy, modify or re-post this article or images without express permission from SLR Lounge and the artist.

This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links, however, this does not impact accuracy or integrity of our content.

Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at Follow her on Instagram

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Paul Blacklock

    great article

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  2. Tosh Cuellar

    fantastic article, stunning images

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  3. Bill Bentley

    That soccer player better be careful. He’s liable to break his ankle when he lands in that trough.

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  4. Ed Rhodes

    pretty cool!

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  5. Basit Zargar

    Amazing images

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  6. Jason Boa

    Great shots ……BUT are they portraits ??? I think not !

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    • Chuck Eggen

      Jason, what defines a portrait. I say, whatever a client wants.

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    • Jason Boa

      I was always told that a a portrait is a image in which the likeness of a person is the dominant aspect of the image, sure the surroundings involved in these pictures contribute to you understanding a facet of the person but the above are very commercial in their nature and more illustrative than portrait .
      They above images are very at home on a sports shop wall , but would they sit as comfortably on your lounge wall as a likeness of the sitter ??
      I would image the photographer himself would agree that they are not actually portraits .

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    • Stan Rogers

      The root of “portrait” is “portray”. A mere likeness may occasionally do the trick, but if one really wants to find misuses of the word, then take a look at the world of beauty and glamour, where the subject of the photo is the look and styling, not the person. It would be VERY difficult to argue, for instance, that Yousuf Karsh’s iconic portrait of Pablo Cassals is not a portrait, yet he sits with his back to us, tiny in the frame, solitary, engaged completely in playing his cello. Look to the Renaissance, and you will see portrait subjects among the trappings of their interests, jobs, positions and power.

      It is perhaps the case that these pictures are composites for the sake of composition–portfolio pieces that tell us nothing of the people portrayed–but the fact that these aren’t stodgy formal studio shots of passive people wearing their Sunday best doesn’t mean they aren’t portraits. If they lead you to know more about the subject, then they are far more portraits than anything that’s ever been done in front of a mottled blue backdrop.

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    • Scottie Nguyen

      The title is when portraits and landscape collides. To me a portrait captures the essence of a person. All of them seem to capture the essence of the people the images are portraying. I get an idea of what defines each person. And, the title said landscapes also, it did’t say just portrait. Your technicality resembles jealousy in the astounding work the artist is portraying.

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    • Phil Bautista

      They’re portraits. Get your brain out of the box and widen your horizons.

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    • Phil Bautista

      Moderator please delete my above comment. I think it comes off as mean spirited and that was not my intent.

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    • Tobias Heyl

      No, they are not. At least not all of them.

      It has nothing to do with widening the horizon or thinking out of the box. A portrait has a definition and the word is derived from the french language. It means that it describes a person and telling a story by the face and that needs to be at least partially seen or the upper body, almost everytime taken in front of the person.

      I don’t buy a Mercedes and start thinking out of the box and telling everyone it’s a BMW because it is as good as a BMW.

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    • Phil Bautista

      Portrait photography or portraiture is photography of a person or group of people that displays the expression, personality, and mood of the subject. Like other types of portraiture, the focus of the photograph is usually the person’s face, although the entire body and the background or context may be included.

      This is from Wikipedia. Based on this definition, the above pictures satisfy the requirements set forth above. I’m not saying that Wikipedia is correct but that’s my basis for calling them portraits. Just sayin.

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    • Jason Boa

      Glad to have got a bit of discussion going , photography is supremely subjective.
      I still don’t think they are portraits and nothing written has convinced me they are ??
      And Phil I do think your comments are mean spirited based on the fact you know nothing about me or my background in photography , and I feel everyone should be allowed to express an opinion

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  7. Chuck Eggen

    Chasing Joel Grimes. Nice work!

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    • Ben Perrin

      That’s just what I thought. I was sure it was going to be Joel Grimes when I saw the images!

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    • Ben Perrin

      Excellent images. Very close to Joel Grimes but with a unique flavour. Those environmental effects are really well done.

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  8. Bogdan Roman

    the images are stunning

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