Before & After | Heiko Schmidt

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“Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” ~ Road Dahl

Although we don’t always see or believe it, our world is full of magic and wonder, and it’s images like this that help remind us. But, it takes more than a good camera to capture that magic. It takes an adventurous heart and a keen eye. And, like Ansel Adams said, “A good photograph is knowing where to stand.”

Heiko Schmidt’s capture of this German castle is just such an image. Let’s hear from him just how the magic happened.

First, tell us a little but about you.

My name is Heiko Schmidt. I’m 24 year old graphic designer from Germany. I am from a small town called Wetzlar, better known as the birthplace of the Leica Camera – but I never had one. I’m just a guy with a camera, who likes to capture memories and have a good time with people. Most of all I like to photograph people and landscapes.


By what artists/creatives are you influenced? What inspires you?

There are many influences, but I guess music is the most important source of inspiration for me. I listen to a lot of Instrumental/Trip-Hop. It really gets me into a thoughtful mood. Also, I try to travel a lot and explore different places. But sometimes it is even a stage play or movie that inspires me. But above all, it is the people around me and the ones who I look up to – like the German photographer Johannes H. (@IG: pangeaproductions)

Do you have a vision in mind before going out and shooting? Tell us about about your workflow and how the vision comes to life before shooting and in post:

Sometimes I prepare everything in detail – I even draw what I imagine for the shoot on paper. Often I just shoot with gut instinct. And suddenly I see something I want to implement. And other times I don’t even start taking photos in the first place but observe my surroundings in detail.

In post-processing I think choice of color is most important; I play a lot with colors.

Now tell us how this amazing image came together, from conception to completion: 

After stressful weeks at work, I had to get out. In search for some relaxation, only one thing came to my mind: a fresh breeze and quiet. Inspired by other photographers on instagram, the destination was easily found. So I asked some friends to go on a walk through the woods with me. 

We left the house at 4am to get there before sunrise. We hiked in the dawn through the dark forest in between rabbits, foxes and deer. 

As soon as we got to the castle, the sun has slowly risen and the fog that surrounded us on the way has gone. It was a really cold day and the first sun rays gave us an incredibly warming happy feeling. 


First I tried to capture the castle from many different perspectives.




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After we had some good shots, we decided to move on. Past the castle, I took a last look back, for another photo. A strange perspective slightly from the side.

After I checked my photos on the computer I felt very frustrated – no fog and too much harsh light. Not the fairytale mood I expected. Through post-processing with Lightroom I tried to get the fairytale mood back onto my photo.


First I cropped and straightened the castle. To fill it with warmth I changed the white balance.

I lightened up the photo and corrected some areas with the adjustment brush to highlight the fog. 

With the dehaze slider I reduced the haze to get more structure of the castle.


After that, I experimented with VSCO Presets, but I wasn’t satisfied with the colors.

So I took out the green and changed yellow into orange.


At the end I added some Graduated Filters with more saturation to intensify the orange colors of the forest.


Et Voilá.

Follow Heiko’s work!

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