Skilled people have more luck?

One big advantage with doing something regularly is that you in time get better because you know the techniques, because you are better prepared and because you know the surrounding landscape better. I have heard this expressed as that “skilled people have more luck” once.

This evening I was again out, it was a good day, a mix of rain and sun, which means clouds, possible good lights, possible more. This evening it turned out to be a light rain close to where the sun went down.

I wanted to capture cloud movements, colours, reflections, shadows, calmness. The quiet most never experience. I read an article written by a landscape photographer out of NYC, where he said that the beaches usually where empty of people in the early morning and evenings. It hits me where I live that it is like that, most people miss the most spectacular time by the sea.

I mounted my camera on the tripod, added the Lee Filter Little Stopper, and a 0.6 gradient ND filter (as the sky is more light then the ground/sea. Since I knew it was raining I brought an umbrella. Not for me, but to hold over the camera to avoid getting good shots ruined of the raindrops on the lens. I have also found out the Little Stopper is very nice because it enables me still to focus trough it, something which is impossible with Big Stopper.

umbrella tripod

I usually try to place the tripod out into the water to be able to have the photo start of right away with interesting foreground. Well the shot to the right tells I do not always do that.

I was quite happy with the outcome of today.

Horizon on fire
Horizon on fire – 16mm, 10s, f/11, ISO 50

 

horizon on fire II
16mm. 20s. f/11, ISO 50
16mm, 49s, f/11, ISO 50

 

Focus on process

In this blog I have tried to focus on the process behind creating my visual expressions. I want to offer a bit deeper insight in to how I work.

I see myself as an artist using photography as a medium to express what I want to express. In this lies the concept that taking the photos isn’t where the art starts.

Art starts with inspiration and ideas.

An idea gives me the ability to create a concept. With this in mind I plan the elements I want to include in the expression or expressions of the concept.

As I work with nature, I cannot always decide to the specific how I want it to be, I can decide what I want to show.  Be it motions in water, be it distorted water, be it wind, be it stillness, reflections etc.

When working with the concept or sketch as we could call it i decide the elements I want to have added in. Rocks, waves, piers, sea planes, what kind of light, what kind of absence of light, all the elements.

Based on the inspirations I then go to my surroundings or the area I want to use for visualizing this  sketch. I choose the lens, the camera, the filters, etc I have pre-decided upon that I need for the look I want to create.

When working with transferring from sketch to visiualisation or image, I work dedicated and focused. I work on finding the elements I need and use them active.

The result that you can study in a frame on your wall is the result of a process where the idea was created and transformed. The process, the thought behind and the execution of it are part of the art, not just the end result. Audience that appreciates the artistic process will be able to get a deeper experience from art.

As i work with nature I may have several projects running, as I am not the master of my surroundings. So I can switch between projects. If not I will force myself to think outside the box, how can I without the “perfect” conditions still create what I imagined.

When I work to shoot the photo, it is important to me to be able to create as close to perfect exposure with the camera. Not that  modern editing tools do not offer great features. But my experience tell me that if the shot is not optimal it is often hard to make it optimal. I have higher requirements for myself and therefor I do not settle for OK. I think the photos are like music, louder the better or larger the better, and then it falls trough if the quality isn’t there.

So after shooting I import the shots into my computer, I am first importing them as files and then I am adding the files to a secondary location. I use external hard drives as well as cloud storage. After this I import one of the external drives into Adobe Lightroom on my computer, I add tags to the shots and import it into the program. I go trough to look after the ones I like the most. I edit them first with a “Spot removal tone curve”. I remove the spots left there by my camera. Then i adjust horizons, cut out the shot I want, then change contrasts, use predefined presets to achieve different enhancements I want. Use graduated filters and other things.

I present photos on the net, mostly on either https://500px.com/lhegdal , Facebook https://www.facebook.com/hegdal.net/ or my website http://hegdal.net

When it comes to printing them, a whole new area of knowledge gets in. I can cover some of my knowledge around that area another time.

 

 

Panorama

Last evening I was down at the beach at a place I like to go to. A peninsula  called Bygdøy. On the south end you have some distanse to the horizon and can often view the sun going down. This day was rather dark. However as it is with clouded days there are always, or close to, cracks in the cloud layer where sun gets trough and with long exposure this spots or cracks get more visible.

All photos here are shot with Canon EOS-1D Mark IV and Canon EF 16-35mm F4L IS USM, and Lee Filters Little Stopper (6 Stop ND filter) and Lee Filters 0.9 ND grad filter. The Grad filter is adjusted different from photo to photo. The 6 Stop ND filter is used to give me long exposures where I am then able to blur water and clouds and let nature paint patterns and structure based on the movements present.

Often when I shoot the landscapes at sunset or right after as I like to do I think they get a bit to dark blue, so I often add a layer that is a bit coloured to adjust the effect to how I do enjoy it more.

First I was shooting exposures and made some nice ones.

At dusk
16mm / ƒ/11/ 30s / ISO 50
16mm / ƒ/11 / 55s / ISO 50
16mm / ƒ/11 / 55s / ISO 50

I decided as the sky was interesting and there wasn’t to much movement in it that it could be interesting to attempt a panorama. So I shut 4 frames at 34/35s exposure where I moved the camera sidewise with the tripod head so that all other settings where the same. As 35s requires bulb mode it requires some awareness. Then I used the create panorama feature in Adobe Lightroom and the four exposures where aligned next to each other. I then cut the photo so that all edges are straight.

I am very happy with the results of this.

16mm / ƒ/11 / 34s / ISO 50
16mm / ƒ/11 / 34s / ISO 50

 

Serenity

Once again I find myself together with my camera out to get the shots I want when the day is going towards an end.

There is something very special with the time when the darkness falls upon us. I like how everything falls to rest and how the light is more crisp. Where I live in Norway the autumn and later the winter brings the darkness rather early in the day. It is a perfect place for photographers loving that time of the day. In the summer it doesn’t get really dark and such photos require you to be up really late, and still it isn’t the same.

With me I had my primary camera, Canon EOS 1D Mark IV, with my most used lens, Canon EF 24-70mm F2.8L. As well as my tripod, from Benro, and the Lee filter Big Stopper.

When I work I first find the motive I want to shoot. I shoot at ISO 100 or 50, and get the lighting correct for the shot.

Shot1

This is shot with  1/60s f/14 at 24mm

It gives an idea of how the photo should be. I then wanted to freeze the water, or even out the motions of it. So I placed the camera on the tripod. Focused correctly, measured the lighting again, placed my lens on manual focus. When I place the Big Stopper filter on the camera will not be able to focus and autofocus is no use. I also block out the back of the camera to avoid getting lighting trough there.

I use a remote to take the photo, it is important to reduce all the options for unnecessary motions.

IMG_2878

As you can see on this photo my tripod has no legs extended. The reason for this is that I want a low angle of approach into the photo. This requires me to sit on the ground when the photo is taken.

Using my cheat sheet I have found here makes it easier to calculate the shutter times.

I calculated this shot to be 8 seconds shutter, but after seeing it and looking at the histogram, I decided to increase the shutter time. I ended at 13 seconds before I was happy. What is also important to remember is that at this time of the day, it gets darker rapidly, which means that shots taken later on will require more light.

I am happy with the turnout of the shot. I experience I captured the essence of the moment and retold it as i wanted to do.

Seeing this photo few will be able to understand that it is taken in an metropolitan area with around 1,5 million people.

Iceland – the Saga Island

Today I am going on a travel for an organisation I am the Chairman of to Iceland.  There is a official program where some guiding is part of it. I will of course not pass on this opportunity and will bring some of my camera equipment to be able to take some landscape photos there.

Both on the guiding. Hope the others won’t hate me when I set up my rig and used 15-20 minutes each place I want to get a good shot. I am also hoping that there will be a hill or open area close to Reykjavik where I will be able to get some night shots of Northern Lights. I saw some really nice Northern Lights when I was in the army 18 years ago, but then I didn’t have camera with me.

Thinking of bringing

Benro Tripod with Ball-head
Canon EOS 1D Mark IV
Canon EF 24-70mm F2.8L
Big Stopper by Leefilters
Gradually ND filters by Leefilters

Considering also brining the lens I always pack but seldom use, Canon EF 70-200mm F4L.

After rain comes calmness and clouds

The last two days it has been raining here. rather heavy after almost two weeks with sun. Sun is nice, but sun often entail no clouds. Clouds give pictures more life.

As the rain stopped I wanted to capture some of the beauty and drama that was out there.  I put my camera on the tripod and took the shot. The photo under was shot at 24mm @ 4s, f18, ISO 50

This is a great landscape with amazing contrasts and colors. I wanted to take it further. So I put on a Lee Big Stopper to see if I was able to really draw movement direction of the water and clouds together. I first tried to do it with the same aperture, this however required an exposure time of around 20-30 minutes, closer to 30, if the light had been constant. However as it got fast darker it would have to be something for another time. I readjusted the aperture to 3,5 and shot a photo at on 125 seconds instead. This would also ensure that the moon that was up wouldn’t drift to much in the frame. I am pleased with the end results.

“Blue hour” – Long exposure time

I wanted to go to the shore and take some nice exposures of the light that is during the so called «blue hour», which is the time right before it gets dark after sunset.

I chose to go to the peninsula Bygdøy that is in the south of Oslo. Here I had good sight towards the light industrialised area Fornebu, with the headquarter of among Telenor.

It was clear weather and almost not wind. There were just a few waves on the fjord. If it had been more waves the water would have ended up being more diffuse. I placed the camera on a tripod in the shore of the water, as I wanted the rocks there in the foreground. I used the widest angle of my Canon EF 24-70mm F2.8L lens, 24mm, and set the aperture for f22. This ensured that I required a lot of light to make the exposure work. As the manual exposure settings on my Canon 1D Mark IV does not support more than 30 seconds shutter, I needed to use the bulb menu. I already had to use a remote. I now also have to time the shutter speed. I needed a shutter speed of about 60-80 seconds. The camera has a timer on its upper display, but it has no light (for that long) and I do not want to light the camera with a flashlight adding unnatural light to the shot. Therefor I use my cell phone.

I took a few different shots in different angles and soon discovered that taking photos in the opposite direction of the sun required far longer exposure times, obvious. I did some experiment with 4+ minutes and lighted the foreground with a flashlight. A project for another time.

I am happy with how the photos came out. After a little touchup in Adobe Lightroom they were ready to go. I always shoot in RAW, so some editing is always needed.

At higher angle
A lower angle