Inspirations

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.

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.

Hvaler – The perfect surroundings for art

Yesterday I was in Hvaler in South Norway. Hvaler is a group of islands that are placed in the Oslo-fjord towards the open sea to Denmark. So it offers surroundings that are quite unique, at least to where I usually am.  Whenever I am at places like that I wish I could quit my day-job and move into a cabin and spend the days creating art in the vastness of the nature.

Although it is only 2 hours with the car each direction I am here way to seldom, something I most definitive have to change. It is also a fantastic place to fish, but that is a different story.

I brought my main camera the 1D Mark IV, the EF 16-35mm F4L IS. I ended up using the Lee Filter Little Stopper and a 0.6 Grad ND Filter. I of course used my Benro tripod to get good stability on exposures that last several seconds, and I used the remote. One reason to use the  Little Stopper over the Big Stopper is that on my camera the light measurer still works with the Little Stopper. I have also gotten myself the “Lee Stopper” app for my phone that helps me exposure the light. However I have experienced that many of the photos come out to dark when I use that app.

I shot a few locations and I shot some of the photos in a HDR style. Or i used different exposures of the same subject and then used Lightroom’s HDR function to knit them together in a good exposure photo.

 

The edge of Stilness

into the eternity

 

Gazing out of the vast horizon line the viewer is drawn into the simplicity yet complex nature of how the rocks beneath the waters edge are captivated as Still-life.

This questions the viewer to consider what is more important to take into perspective, the expansiveness of the ocean or the details of the rocks below. Thus introspecting upon the state of nature we are constantly faced with as human beings we can only take so much in within an instance with the human eye. Reaffirming that photography can do for humanity what nature cannot. Meaning that photos can be revisited and details once missed through living the memory can be experienced.

 

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.

 

 

Ballet audition

I had the pleasure of being able to test something outside my comfort zone as a photographer in the beginning of January. My fiancé is Director & Choreographer of Libertina Dance Company and she invited me to view the audition for new ballet/contemporary dancers for a coming performance of the company.

It was almost as shooting birds. Very easy to shoot shots of sitting or stretching dancers, rather difficult to get good shots of dancing. Since this then again was inside it requires either fast shutter-speed or high ISO, or creativity like paning, etc.

Here are some of the shots I think went okay and are not among the once where everyone is standing still.

 

Libertina Dance audition
Libertina Dance audition
Libertina Dance audition
Libertina Dance audition
Libertina Dance audition
Libertina Dance audition
Libertina Dance audition
Libertina Dance audition
Libertina Dance audition
Libertina Dance audition
Libertina Dance audition
Libertina Dance audition