While still living in Norway I wondered why there are so many nature & landscape photographers in the USA that incorporate roads in their shots.

After living here for 2+ years I have come to realize the big difference of the access to land in the US vs Norway. In Norway we have “Allemansretten” , while in the US the right of the landowner stands highest. Where I live you only risk getting prosecuted for trespassing.

So I have ended up taking shots with the road too…


Building a brand

I am sure there are thousands of articles on this topic online, and even many meters of books on this topic. Probably because it is an important one, but also a difficult one. It is especially difficult when it is yourself that is the brand – it is soul searching on a higher level.

Things that hit me are:

  • I want to use a name that is easy to remember
  • I want it to be obvious that it reflects to me
  • Is photographer, visual artist, artist, photography, landscape photographer etc titles I want to use ?

For me it started as I wanted to create a business card. When I am out shooting it would be a good thing to just hand a card – because as of now isn’t an URL that people remember until they get home.

I think however I will go with “Leif Hegdal – Photographer”

My name has to be the best brand name I can go with?


     So I have done it again. I have traveled. Well that happens all the time. I always have more or less the same gear in my camera bag when traveling and there has never ever been a problem with it.
I travel with camera gear: Canon 1D mark IV, Canon EF 16-35mmF4L IS, Canon 50mm F1.2L, a bunch of Lee filters like big and little stopper, remote shutter release, and other cables.
Else I had sun-glases, medications, bose headphones, a book, 15″ laptop and a sweather.
I have been to and from Europe and USA, within the US and within Europe several times, never any problem. Until last Sunday when I was flying from NYC to Graz in Austria. Checked my luggage and even upgraded my ticket I got the question about the weight of my carry on luggage, he wanted me to weigh it and it came on around 9 or 10kg, and he then wanted me to check it. There is nothing in that bag I want to check, I have it in my carry on because I don’t want it to be damaged in the suitcase or lost.  As some of you may have asked where I have my tripod, yes that is in the suitcase. I take a chance on that being there.
Before the situation got to him bringing the subject further I asked him, ” I can have a camera hanging around my neck when I enter the plane ” He said that is correct. Took my camera out with the 16-35mm lens attached and took out the sweater too. Added it back to the weight. Now less than 8kg and suddenly the whole problem was gone.
I am so amazed. How is this possible an issue, if I have it outside or if I have it in the bag?
When you are a traveling photographer be aware of how you can travel to make it easier for you.


Last week I was with my wife on our honeymoon in New Orleans. What a special and exciting place. Well first I didn’t think so, we went to the French Quarter and my first impression how dirty and hot it was there, and how small it was compared to what I thought it was. Well that was all to change, I now understand why people really love that place. I soon discovered there where many gems for the visual, the taste and cultural everywhere. It was quite the surprise.
Anyhow that isn’t what this blog post is about. It is about Inspirations. Being in New Orleans I got inspired, not by the insane sunsets I didn’t get to photograph because I just had basic equipment with me. My wife probably don’t think it was that, with a camera taking half our lunch tables. I didn’t bring tripod and I didn’t bring any filters… Well back to subject.
We stumbled upon the gallery of Photographer Frank Relle. I really recommend everyone to check out his art. He is doing great stuff. And if I not just had bought a house I wouldn’t mind buying some of his art. Especially shooting landscapes myself knowing some of the work he has put into these pieces. Although my equipment with a DSLR is way easier than his full format camera.
Wandering his gallery I loved one of his quotes. “Landscape photography is about access. Access means trespassing”. Where I am from in Norway i can go where ever I want to shoot beautiful landscapes. Here in New York state where I live now, everything I would love to access has signs of trespassers will be prosecuted. I have been very tempted to take some shots regardless. Maybe one day when autumn comes one very early morning. We will see. His words resonated with me about landscapes in the USA. Difficult to make being all lawful there.
But what really inspired me was that all his shots where from New Orleans and the surrounding area. They where all portraying what makes that area special. For someone who lives in the area it is all normal. For someone that isn’t living there it gives a deep insight in all the special aspects of the area. I spoke with the curator of the gallery and she said that some of the locals didn’t really understand the art in the shots, as it was their neighborhood. At the same time Frank Relle has won dozen of awards for his photography.
My lesson from his photography is to look for what is special in my surroundings and shoot that. It may be totally normal for me here, and nothing special. For someone living somewhere else it may really touch them.

Social Experiment

So I have started an experiment. It is said that the way you get followers in the social media world is by being consistent and only showing your best work. I have had a 500px account for some years. I have used it to showcase all kinds of projects I work with. So it turns out to be a little like my Instagram profile. I have some shots that I have a lot, for me, attention on. And I have a lot of shots there is hardly any attention on. in my very humble (maybe not so) opinion a lot of the photographers that get way more attention for their shots are not necessary producing images that is so much better than mine.
So I have started the project – Called Scratch. I deleted my 500px account. I have then created a new one, the goal is to only present my best landscape photos there. And only that genre of images. Everything else I shoot; wilde-life, portraits, street, architecture etc will have to be shown off somewhere else.
If this works as I hope I will be doing the same thing with Instagram. Dividing up in categories. One for landscapes, one for wilde-life, one for portraits, etc….
That way I can at least experience that I get max feedback on my work, and that it falls into the categories that generate followers. In the long run we will have to see if this impacts my ability to sell more prints.

Importance of clouds

When it comes to taking landscape photographs clouds play a very important role. Often a large part of the photo will be the sky and for this part of the photo to offer something that will be of any interest to the viewer it is important that something happens there.

It is said that a clear blue sky is the most boring that a photographer can get. Therefor it is often, not just because of the softness of the light to shoot photos in morning and evening. Different tones of light combined with clouds bring interesting experiences.

My favourite setting is probably heavy clouded sky with some cracks where the sun beams come trough.


Here are some shots I took this weekend. The first one was a day with a lot of clouds, but also sun and wind. This gives interesting movement in the clouds.

Yesterday it was layers on layers with grey clouds. A lot of rain in the air and still some wind. As the clouds now are more dense less light shines trough and the expression is totally different.



Challenges – the path to new achievements

I am so fortunate to have a fiancé who is an accomplished artist and that gives me good feedbacks on my artistic attempts. It is important to have someone who can give you honest opinions and help to push you onward.
When i years ago, now 9 years ago really started taking my photography up a notch when I went from analoge to digital and also invested in a 300mm F2.8 from Sigma I was in an environment that would give me harsh and good feedback on my bird photography, which was what i was doing then. I learned a lot from the challenges of hearing that this photograph isn’t a good one, it is unsharp, it is to harsh light etc.. I also learned to shoot my shots on manual to have full control over how I wanted the light to be in the shots.
Since then I have been seeking out other arenas to push myself and shoot things and situations outside my normal comfort zone. One of the things I have challenged me on is people. I have used any chance i have had to shoot for the Norwegian Guide and Scout Association, at different camps and championships. Here we have been shooting pictures for website, suvenirs and media. Anything from documentary, more photojournalism and totally posed photos. Here as well I have learned a lot – to approach people and to demand the situation as a photographer to be able to capture the scene as I want it has maybe been the most challenging and at the same time most rewarding for me. Prior working mostly with birds, mammals and landscapes I have no control over.
Now I am working mostly with landscapes. I consider myself to be really good at capturing colours and to get the mood of the situation in the frame. However I am not particular skilled with the composition, it has a tendency to be much of the same. So now with honest and direct feedback from my fiancé I am working on improving myself in that area as well.
When you have learned a technique and a skill you have the opportunity to make use of it, or you do not have to. But your choices and repertory has increased and that is vital. Many of the great painters where apprentices to other masters of the art to really learn the skill and techniques. I think it is important to challenge yourself and learn the skills, learn the techniques and improve your works. Challenge yourself to become better. In todays world we are fortunate enough to have this thing called internet where we on websites can share works and get feedbacks. The challenges today is to find environments where your work is not only priced but also really critiqued. There are to many places where people say “Nice Photo” without telling you what is great about it, or tell us that they really hate it and why. Art is ment to be provocative, and therefore it important if you are to become better at expressions that someone challenges your views.
Seek out an environment where you get honest feedback that can make your artistry grow.