Download Oloneo PhotoEngine
Buy Oloneo PhotoEngine

Beno Saradzic

By: Alexandre Clappier








Beno Saradzic

45 year old


Professional photographer

and filmmaker



Born in Slovenia, currently lives in Abu Dhabi, UAE


Canon 5D Mk3, Canon 5D Mk2, Canon 60D


14 to 800mm lenses

from Canon, Nikon & Sigma


Gitzo & Manfrotto tripods & heads


Promote Control remote controls, control hub and bulb ramping kit


Oloneo PhotoEngine





All images  © Beno Saradzic



HDR from high above

Beno Saradzic positively enjoys heights, likes to walk on rooftops and disdains vertigo. And while doing all that, he also takes remarkable photos.


Besides being an award-winning filmmaker, art director and recognized 3D computer animation artist, Beno Saradzic is a renowned master in aerial and rooftop photography and demonstrates how HDR and Oloneo PhotoEngine are an integral part of his workflow and creativity.



Favorite subjects and themes

Coming from an architectural background and living in the United Arab Emirates where there is no shortage of very impressive buildings, it is easy to imagine what Beno Saradzic likes photographing the most: skylines and urban spaces.


"I never liked the idea of boxing myself into one specific photography field - it hurts your creativity, makes you stagnate, it limits your options. I like exploring with my camera to see where it takes me next. I've tried a lot of different types of photography, from L.A.P.P. (Light Art Performance Photography), aerial, time-lapse, corporate, fine-art, industrial, landscape, architecture, interiors and even portraits. Frankly, I loved them all! I'm still looking for new ways to take and process my photos. It's a never ending quest and it's very exciting."



Influences and inspirations

Who are your favorite photographers? What influences you the most in terms of graphic design and photography?


"I often study the works of the great masters. When it comes to landscapes, my gold reference is Ansel Adams. Nobody in the entire history of photography understood the craft, light, exposure and importance of post-processing better than him. I keep Ansel on the highest pedestal among my inspirations and tutors.


I am a huge fan of aerial photography and my idol remains Yann Arthus Bertrand who turned the bird's eye photography into an art form on his own. I adore the urban aerial photography of Vincent LaForet. His eye for spotting the 'Brazil anomalies' (a reference to Brazil, Terry Gilliam's masterpiece film), the textures and intriguing geometric patterns among the faceless urban machinery is unmatched.


I've always been a fan of Alex Roman's work. He is a 3D artist with near superhuman abilities. Watch his 'The Third & The Seventh' 3D animation and you'll know what I mean. One can only dream of possessing his talent and the range of technical as well as artistic abilities.


I am influenced by classical and contemporary music, vision of the future, shiny skyscrapers, movies and film music, industrial design and fashion, colors of nature, gifted people who surround me and the people I love. Beauty and happiness are the food of my soul."



3D experience

Talking of computer graphics animation, it looks like we share a common interest and background in 3D graphics. What was your specialty?


"I was never much of a 3D modeler although I knew how to do this task quite well when needed. My real fascination with 3D Computer Generated Imagery however was creating the imaginary, surreal, yet photo-realistic worlds from technical drawings, sometimes sketches. There was such magic in seeing those cold drawings emerge from the flat 2D world to become vivid, three-dimensional, photo-real images. It was like taking photographs with a mind's camera in a fictional world. It's an amazing process which never failed to impress me."



From 3D to 2D

So did your 3D skills help you to become a better photographer?


"Architectural visualization was my job but it was also my passion hobby for nearly 18 years. I was an artist of the new kind, using a pressure sensitive graphic tablet instead of a pencil and a state-of-the-art 3D workstation instead of a paper sheet.


When I finally picked up a camera, I already possessed the knowledge of photographic composition. As an architectural visualizer, I learned how to position the camera in relation to the subject, how to light the scene in order to maximize its appeal. I was a salesman of some sort and sexy looking images which sold architectural concepts to the end user was my game. 3D Graphics taught me all the basics of photography, long before I even owned a camera. Once I started shooting, I had to teach myself how to master exposure, focusing, depth-of-field, all the photography terminology, how the lenses, filters and the rest of the camera equipment worked. It was a steep learning curve because I had no one to teach me. There were no shortcuts for me. I'm still learning. I don't think I'll ever stop."



A need for HDR photography arises

"One thing I took for granted from the days as a 3D artist, was the Dynamic Range.


My computer rendered images did not suffer from the limitations of a digital camera sensor. No matter how bright or dark the light, computer could resolve the faintest details in the shadows or in the brightest areas in the image. Renderings never showed any clipped shadows or highlights. That suddenly became a huge issue once I started taking pictures with a real camera. Photographed sky lacked the punch I remembered seeing with my own eyes. Clouds were washed out, colours and textures were mostly flat and shadows were too deep to see the details they were hiding. I was bothered by what I was getting out of the camera and frankly, disappointed."



Oloneo PhotoEngine: love at first sight

"To be honest, I was completely blown away by PhotoEngine's near real-time performance. I could not believe how fast it was to work with 7 or 9, 16-bit TIFF images. There were some great, usable presets and a very easy, intuitive interface. My learning curve was almost non-existent.


The most important feature of PhotoEngine was and remains the quality of images it outputs. There were no more nasty white halos to deal with, no cartoonish colors, just natural looking images with a very deep, wide dynamic range. Images suddenly, and for the first time, looked the way I remembered seeing them; rich in color, rich in textures, full of lighting nuances and character.


I was instantly hooked and PhotoEngine has been my primary post-processing tool from Day 1."




PhotoEngine: an integral part of Beno's workflow

Do you use PhotoEngine often?


"Apart from my time-lapse and aerial photography work, I'd say about 90% of my shots are processed with PhotoEngine, even those with Dynamic Blending as an additional layer of treatment. I just love having a base image which contains all of the information I saw in the scene. I don't like the compromises presented by my camera's sensor which is blind to most of the light my own eyes can see. Sometimes I decide to reduce the dynamic range with various color effects and 'looks', but the base of my work is almost exclusively HDR."




Beno's favorite PhotoEngine features

What do you like most in PhotoEngine?


"Speed. PhotoEngine's interactive GUI runs in near real-time. This is so important during the fine tuning phase of your images. I simply don't have the time or patience to wait for the software to 'digest' my input. The faster the software, the more liberating is the whole experience for the artist. As a result, my photographs look better.


Second thing I like about it is the quality of its output - PhotoEngine-rendered HDR images don't look like HDR images and to me, that's a winning card.


Batch operation is also great as I often deal with sequences of photographs which require exactly the same tone-mapping parameters. This function saved me many times in the past."




Using PhotoEngine with other tools

Do you use PhotoEngine in connection with other applications or accessories?


"My exposure bracketing tool of choice is the Promote Control, a remote control from Promote Systems. It's a small and very powerful device. Basically, it's a Swiss-knife, do-it-all, secret weapon in my camera bag.


I often need to capture the range of exposure which goes far beyond the capabilities of the Canon's built-in exposure bracketing function. The Promote Control allows me to capture 9-stop brackets without any hassle and will even lock the mirror between the shots which eliminates the vibrations at long exposures."


We recently published a tutorial on how to use PhotoEngine and the Promote Control remote control.



A few tips and tricks from Beno

Can you share one or two 'tips and tricks' on PhotoEngine?


"Avoid using the 'Auto Align' function if your camera was on a tripod when you shot your bracketed exposures. PhotoEngine will be calculating for nothing and your image won't benefit from it.


Save your settings if you have more than one HDR image captured inside a specific interior or exterior where light isn't changing. You can simply re-apply the settings and quickly move onto another shot. PhotoEngine allows you to be highly productive so use its features to its full potential."




An anecdote

Is there a shot that you like to remember because it was particularly tricky, hazardous or enjoyable?


"Yes, fire! I was commissioned to shoot a steel factory. It was a grueling, 5-day shoot inside the belly of the beast, as I call it. It was July and outside temperature was from 48 to 52 C. Inside the factory, temperature was never below 55C. I don't know how I survived this shoot to be honest.


One of the subjects was a giant, circular steel saw - it's nearly 3 meters in diameter and once in action, deafening loud and completely terrifying. I waited for a steel beam to come under the saw and when it started cutting it, one of the red hot sparks flew about 30 meters, directly into my camera bag! I didn't notice that it started a small fire because I was too focused on the work. Luckily, safety guys at the steel factory put the fire out quickly but my gear sustained quite a bit of damage. Every shoot has a story to tell and this was not a pleasant one."