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

 

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

 

Inspired

Yesterday I found a book in the store that I for once felt resonated with me. There are many books about photography, but I do not experience that to many of them focus on the kind of photography I do. This book does, it also added some cool ideas I will work with in the future.

The book is called “Moodscapes” and is written by Rebekka Gudleifsdottir.

IMG_5264

 

The book gives a history of her photography, suggestions what she thinks is important, a view into her methodology and art. I found it to be a great read and read all trough it the same evening.

Another inspiration has been the photo I called “Sunset III” and published on 500px Monday got for me an all time high 96.9 with almost 1300 views

Sunset III by Leif Egil Hegdal

When I was sitting at my daytime job today and looked outside the window to see the clear blue sky and the sun shining I knew I had to take an early day off. I would love to live off photography, but until that day, I earn most money doing IT Consulting work. Well I left 1,5 hours earlier then original planned.

I decided to go to the Naturism beach at Bygdøy, because it offers a bit different micro terrain then the place I was at Sunday. When I was in the Army some 20 years ago, I learned that the micro terrain was the small hills, stone and bushes that was in front of you, and that they could offer good coverage if I knew how to use them. As a photographer I am trying to use this as a foreground on my photos.

When I came the sun stood still high on the sky so I did some other / different shots.

First one with the sun in my back

17mm / 13s / f/11 / ISO 50

And then one more or less directly to the sun

16mm / 1/13s / f/18 / ISO 50

After a while the sun went down behind the horizon and the real nice light illuminated the landscape.

16mm / 30s / f/13 / ISO 50
16mm / 33s / f/16 / ISO 50

 

I am pleased with the two last photos. However I experienced that I raised the bar today and required more perfectionism from myself. It was hard finding a position that I was really happy with. However the fact that it is difficult and challenging continues to inspire me. If all photos you took where sublime, then anyone could do it and no one could make this a living.

 

 

Will it improve my photography

I have long discussed with myself what it would mean to my photography to have a lens with a wider angle then my Canon EF 24-70mm F2.8L lens. Not that my lens actually lets me zoom all the way. Something isn’t right with it, and I should of course have fixed it, but then I have to be without it… So I keep using it as my work-horse even if it doesn’t let me zoom to more them 27mm.

I looked all over the net and read a lot on forums and reviews to find what lens I wanted as my wide angle lens. Some that popped out was Canon’s 16-35mm in F4 and F2.8. Shooting landscapes I didn’t think it was any point to look at the prime lenses, as I dont need the fast apertures of these lenses. Quite different from when I do bird or animal photography I really love the 2.8 aperture of my 300mm or as it gets a 420mm F4 with a teleconverter.

Well I ended up with looking at the two 16-35mm from Canon. And I ended up purchasing the F4. All the tests I read told me it is sharper corner to corner then the F2.8 version. And since I shoot landscapes with aperture values from 9-16 I do not really need the 2.8 fastness I think.

I am looking forward to test it in the field.

IMG_5045

Fall is giving the season to winter

This weekend I was out in the forest by a lake called Nelaugsvannet. Here we had the experience of being totally alone in the forest. At breakfast a moose passed by the window. It was good to spend the weekend in the cabin.

My idea was to get some different landscapes, as I of lately mostly have been shooting around the fjord in the blue hour for my artistic project, as mentioned in an earlier post.

Equipment I brought with me:

  • Benro tripod
  • Canon EOS 1D Mark IV
  • Canon EF 24-70mm F2.8L USM
  • Canon EF 70-200mm F4L USM
  • Lee Filters; Big Stopper, Small Stopper, Gradient ND filters and Sunlight filters

If you are a frequent reader you see I still bring the 70-200mm with me. I do however still find it to be unpractical focal length, and I have after this weekend decided to put it out for sale, and then use the money to partly pay for something like 16-35mm F2.8L or 16-35mm F4L IS. I do not really know if I do need the 2.8 aperture as most of my photos are taken with an aperture of 11-16. But that is a thought for later. The 70-200mm is no bad lens, but the focal length is not something I use much. For landscape it is often a bit to long and for nature, birds, animals it is to short. There I have the 300mm F2.8L IS with both 1,4x and 2x teleconverters.

Well as we came to the cabin on Saturday it was almost dark. It gets dark really early now. Shot a photo on the walk towards the cabin.

Canon 1D Mark IV, EF 24-70mm F28L @ 25mm, 1/50s, f/9, ISO 250

I did some attempts on the moon during the night. It was really beautiful sight. With a golden circle around on the clouds. It must however have been rather windy up in the height, as the clouds moved “really fast”.

Canon 1D Mark IV, EF 24-70mm F2.8L @ 45mm, 1/10s, f2,8, ISO 6400

The next day it was sun, clear sky and the night temperature had been around 6 to 8 minus degrees, which had frozen the shore areas of the lake with a thin layer. At the current it didn’t hold a person, but in a few days it may.

From the early morning I got this shot as the sun came over the hills in the horizon and really took the landscape out of the frost.

Canon 1D Mark IV, EF 24-70mm F2.8L @ 27mm, 1/50s, f/10, ISO 50

I did also go for creating different looks, catching the mood of the moment, the totally stillness, that most humans never or at least very seldom experience.

28mm, 1/50s, f/13, ISO 50
25mm, 1/30s, f/13, ISO 50
27mm, 1/20s, f/13, ISO 50
27mm, 1/30s, f/16, ISO 50

And some more creative edit, or not really, but more B&W tones.

27mm, 1/80s, f/14, ISO 50

 

I also ended up with one landscape shot with the 70-200mm lens, this however I could have achieved with the 24-70mm as well.

75mm, 1/250s, f/5,6, ISO 50

 

It was  a nice weekend out in the forest. Something to be done more often. A fantastic feeling to be out there totally alone, with nature all around.

 

 

 

Autumn

This year we have a long and rather mild autumn. Still there has hardly been any days with minus degrees. So there is still ample opportunities to get the nature in autumn colours.

There are some small rivers in the near area that are accessible and that provides good hills with trees that are bright yellow and reddish in colour.

When it comes to water and freezing movement without blurring it, the key is to have just enough exposure time. Usually between 1/2 and 1 seconds.

IMG_3293

This is the camera on the tripod ready to take the photo. Here I also have a different challenge. The river is much brighter then the background hill.

This challenge I solve with a filter. I like the Lee filters. I have a gradient set of ND filters, and here I used the 0.9 ND Gradient Filter.

 

Here with a Big Stopper as well
Here with a Big Stopper as well

So then I did a photo with the filter on and tested with different exposure times. Ended up with an exposure of 1/8th second, probably because the water runs fast here.

End results: