Some of you may recognize Travis Leggett (@_cantus_) from his recent stint as a featured artist over at the @mexturescollective. But we have long recognized him for his keen ability to capture nature from every angle and in every light. His sunset captures are legendary and his landscapes are always crisp and lovely. We’ve always admired his skill for using Mextures to colorize and enhance his pictures and we truly enjoy his formulas. Which is precisely why we spent some time with him to learn more! Read along!
My name is Travis and I am originally from Knoxville, TN. I have lived quite a few places but now reside in Fort Collins, CO. I am a huge fan of anything outdoors. Nothing beats waking up at the crack of dawn, grabbing my camera, and heading out into the wilderness. I have a genuine love of photography and can't wait to see where that love leads me. I still believe that the world is magic and am thankful to be able to capture some of that magic.
How did you first become interested in photography?
I think there were a few factors. My father always had a camera around his neck when I was growing up. I can remember from a very young age times where he would pull off to the side of the road to take pictures. I was always interested from that point on in some small way. I really started to get into photography when I moved out west to Colorado though. My love of nature and the incredible scenery out here made it impossible not to want to capture some of the images I was lucky enough to witness. Now I can't imagine my life without pictures.
What precisely does photography mean to you?
Photography to me is all of the obvious things like having a creative outlet, conveying emotion, sharing the beautiful places I've seen, and hopefully inspiring others to get out and into nature and truly appreciate it. A huge part of photography for me though is motivation. Motivation to wake before dawn and drive deep into the mountains so I can be there for the magic of first light. Working a long day and still jumping in the car to drive 40 minutes to my favorite sunset spot on the chance it will be a beauty. Mostly though I feel like it motivates me to look deeper at things and truly search for the beauty in everything around me. It has opened my eyes in a very real sense as well as in an almost spiritual way.
So how did Instagram become an interest for you?
Truthfully speaking I'm not sure I knew what Instagram was all about when I first downloaded it. I sort of stumbled across it. For some time I mostly used it to view other people's photos and occasionally add one of my own. I had no idea what it would become. Now it's a source of inspiration and community like I would have never expected. It's so much more to me than just an app for sharing photos. The friends I've met, places I've been introduced to, and the constant flow of support and inspiration are nothing short of incredible.
What does your editing process generally look like?
My editing process has definitely changed a lot in the last couple of years. I began with more heavily edited pictures. I remember some Mextures formulas with 15 to 20 layers. I also used quite a few other apps back then like Alien Sky, Union, Fragment, etc. I still enjoy doing that from time to time but as my appreciation of photography grows I find that my editing process is growing with it. I generally do all of my editing now in Mextures and I try to enhance the photo rather than alter it if that makes sense. I used to really crank on the saturation for instance and now I have found a real appreciation for more subtle and natural colors. My general process these days is 4 or 5 layers usually including something from the X-Film, Landscape Enhance, Emulsion, and Atmospheric packs. My new favorite trick is using the Natural Density layer from Landscape Enhance blended in Color Dodge. Basically, it keeps the black side transparent and adds light to anything under the grey side. By rotating it you can add very natural looking light into any half of the picture you'd like. The versatility of mextures is just amazing. I know there is a huge group of people who frown upon edited photos. To me photography is art and editing only enhances that art.
Would you care to share some formulas with the Mextures crowd?
Sure! Just a heads up, when I save my formulas I reset all the controls back to default. I find that every shot needs to be tweaked differently when it comes to saturation, fade, exposure, etc. So make sure you adjust those to your liking.
Glow V1 - ENYKEYY - This is a simple 3 layer formula. I use this one for sunrise or sunset shots that I want to have just a little more of that purple glow I'm so fond of.
Sweet Dreams - DYRIZXC - Another 3 layer formula for sunrises and sunsets especially with a reflection. I set the Navy layer from the X-Film pack to Color Dodge which makes the blues in the shot radiate more light. The other 2 layers just add some of the other colors back into the clouds that you lose due to the color dodge layer. I guess the idea is to make the blue sky pop a little more behind the clouds without losing any of the vibrant sunset colors.
Touched - HGHYERM - This one has the Vignette layer set to Color Dodge. Same idea as the Natural Density filter when it's on Color Dodge in that the black areas stay transparent and light is added to the grey parts. Using the Vignette layer instead adds light to the center of the shot and leaves the outside edges untouched. The other 3 layers in this formula are, as usual, there to add a little color.
Wonder - PLMJLNR - As with most of my formulas this one adds a little light and color. It also has a layer of Yololomo from the Grit and Grain pack to give the colors a softer feel and add a bit of texture.
Do you feel like Mextures offers anything unique to your editing process?
Mextures is so customizable. The option is there to use prebuilt formulas like many other editing apps but where Mextures really shines for me is the ability to create your own. With all of the layers and so many ways to tweak each layer the creative possibilities are basically endless.
What has been your favorite photograph to take so far and why?
This is my favorite picture I've taken so far. It's of my beautiful wife taking in the sunset. I like it the most because of the mood and peaceful feeling it captures for me.
What is it that keeps you taking pictures?
I love photography. I am constantly inspired by so many things I can't imagine ever not taking pictures. One day it will be such an incredible journey going through all the old pictures too. Being able to capture so many of those moments will be priceless I'm guessing.
So who are the people who have most inspired you and how have they inspired you?
I think originally my father. As I mentioned before he always had a camera when I was growing up. Both of my parents had a love for nature as well so I think I've just been brought up to appreciate both. These days I'd have to say I'm most inspired by all of the amazing people I follow on Instagram. Not just by the photography but I'm always amazed by the support and kindness in the community.
There are so many I couldn't possibly list them all but a few are:
My wife Sarah (@sarahleggett714) - Not just with her beautiful pictures and edits but also her presence in general. She makes me better in every way.
My buddy J (@ja_s0n) - His work always inspires me. From sunset shots to in depth editing I am constantly amazed by his pictures.
Tim is also exceptional (@tim_hf) - I always use his edits as a measuring stick when I'm going for something moody. He is spectacular at that.
Wayne as well (@potatounit) - His pictures are incredible. Pictures like his are something I strive to take some day.
Go check out more of Travis’ incredible work here!