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Travel Stories

Time Lapse with Dennis Owens

Agnes Valko (avalko)

Keywords: photojournalism, photographic, disciplines, guides, tips

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Something that has been an interesting topic and one that I'd like to give a try is, creating Time Lapse videos. And who better to talk to, then Nikonian, Dennis Owens (DennisOwens). He takes great pride in his work, and has a creative edge like none other. His Time Lapse (TL) Videos are something else, and remarkable, to say the least. So, who is Dennis, and how did all this all come together? Let's take a look, at an exclusive interview and find out more :)

Dennis Owens - Courtesy of Nikonian: (donsanborn)

1.)  Please tell us a little bit about yourself (Where you are from, what your hobbies/interests are, etc.)

Well, my name is Dennis Owens (52), and I am from Colorado Springs. I have been living in Germany now for almost 19 years. I am a retired USAF MSgt, my main career has been and still is as a Computer Technician on the USAF and NATO AWACS aircraft both in-flight and as a ground computer systems maintainer.  I am still employed by NATO as a civilian and still go where our AWACS jets goes to maintain the onboard computer systems.  It was the USAF that brought me to Germany in January 1994.  I like Europe so much I decided to stay here after I retired.  Germany and Belgium have the best beer in the World!!!  My hobbies are naturally Photography and auto racing like Formula 1.  I try to go to two races per year, the Belgium and the German Grand Prix.

2.)  Who or what influenced you to become a Photographer? Has it always been a passion of yours? (did you take photography in school, graduate in this field? Why is Photography important to you?)

I remember my father taking a lot of slide film when I was very young as he was in the military and we toured Europe.  I have a digitized copy of that work he did and I really enjoy looking at them with him.  I have that camera in my Guest room of my house today.  I remember a time when I was about six years old, I had an old Kodak Brownie, you know the kind that was mostly plastic and you looked down the viewfinder, and my father showing me how to compose the photo.  I remember taking photos of Arlington when I was that young.  Interested yes, skillful no way at that age.

Photography is very important to me because once you understand light and the language of light you can speak to anyone in the world with your work.  I love the way great photos are remembered forever.

3.)  When did your career start in Photography and have you evolved over the years in experimenting in different areas of Photography? (ex. Different styles of photography, Time Lapse video, etc.)

This is an interesting question…  I have always had cameras through my life, I remember back in the very early 1980s getting my hands on the Canon AE1 and thinking this thing is doing a lot of the calculations for me, Super!  I had a lot of fun with that camera, but slowly lost interest again for many years.  I would pick up another camera and use it for a few months and lose interest, then get another one and for a while it was all new to me, but it was the wait for the film to be developed that I did not like.

Then in 1998, I met an Olympic photographer and my dear friend now, Mr. Charlie Booker.  He was a Nikon guy with the Nikon F4 and F5 and D1 and some great lenses.  He later became the only official photographer for the FIBT, Federal International Bobsleigh and Toboggan.  The FIBT is the governing body for the winter sport with Bobsleigh, Skeleton and such just like the FIA is for the sport of Formula 1.  Charlie took me with him to shoot a few World Competitions. Man, did I learn a lot about panning, portraits, lens choices, shooting in the cold and that sport.  I also saw his relationship with the athletes.  Charlie owns this sport as THE photographer!  The athletes love him!  I thought that would be cool if I could own a sport like that someday.  Charlie gave me an old fully manual camera and a bunch of film and taught me to creatively expose my photos manually.  We shot many things together and later compared our notes with the actual results of the image.  Attention to detail was really fun and extremely necessary when you shoot with film.  I really enjoyed shooting Christmas lights after dusk with him. Low light photography is cool!  It was Charlie that taught me the most about photography in my life.  I am forever indebted to Charlie for passing this “virus” on to me called photography. You can see Charlie’s work at www.bobsleigh.de.

I shoot almost all subjects of photography from macro to night photography now, including weddings, portraits, sports of all kinds, landscape and now I am dabbling in Time Lapse.  I have not found a subject of photography or lighting situation yet that I could not get my head around it and perform well.  I absolutely love using flash both onboard and off the camera!

Living in a very small town in Germany you get to know everyone.  I started doing a lot of street photography like the carnival, the town parades when they would celebrate the newest town king, band parties, Oktoberfest, First Communions and such.  I was highly advised to create an official business with the German government so as I sold my prints for peanuts, so I would not get into trouble on the German tax side.  So, I officially started my business in 2001 as a “Street Photographer”.  It has evolved into the Dennis Owens Event and Studio Photography business, that it is now.  Today I mostly shoot Equestrian events, weddings, portraits, and sports of all kinds for the local High Schools and towns.

I had discovered my sport of choice, Equestrian; these people have the money and desire to purchase great photos of them and their horses in action.  In May of 2005, I was asked if I would be the official photographer of a Horse Tournament in a local town in Germany.  I had to learn quickly the sport of Equestrian, Dressage and Show Jumping.  You cannot walk into a sport like that as the event photographer not understanding what makes a great shot in the right phase of movement of these majestic animals performing the will of the riders.  You won’t last long.  I listened to the critiques from the riders as I asked them how I could make the photos better and slowly I was nailing that specific millisecond of timing needed to capture the exact timing of the horses in action with one shot consistently in both dressage and jumping disciplines.  Gymnastics and wagons pulled by one to six horses soon followed.  I really like the equestrian people; they seem to have both feet in the mud.  Nobody today covers an Equestrian event like Team Dennis Owens here in Germany.  Check out this video, this might give you a taste…


(2 Votes)
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Originally written on January 14, 2013

Last updated on August 25, 2016

Agnes Valko Agnes Valko (avalko)

Basic, 1 post


Tom Manson (slothead) on November 30, 2013

Donor Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014

Thanks Dennis and Agnes for this great post. I think I gained the most from question 10, but the majority of them were all good info. I've only made a couple of TLs by strapping my N1 on the railing of a cruise ship balcony and recorded entering and leaving a port berth - pretty boring. I'm looking to do more and maybe celestial stuff.

Zita Kemeny (zkemeny) on February 27, 2013

Thanks for share with us this valuable thoughts.