Road

Road

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…

 

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.

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.

 

 

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

 

Blue hour – an artistic expression

During this autumn I have had and will continue to have a reoccurring theme in my photos.

“Blue Hour”

The Blue hour explained at wikipedia.com

The blue hour is the period of twilight each morning and evening when the sun is a significant distance below the horizon and the residual, indirect sunlight takes on a predominantly blue hue. This effect is caused by the relative diffusibility of short blue wavelengths of light versus the longer red wavelengths.

To me the time in the evening is especially appealing as the light faints and the blue gets stronger, from a faint colour until a dominant one. It is also represents a shift in nature, the birds act different, the fish often goes closer to land, the wind often looses some of it’s strength.

Some nights are full of motions,

other nights are calm and cold.

Shades get longer, there is little representation of sunlight, except in the beginning a faint line in the horizon.

Another fascination of me is that I am often close to being totally alone at these times. From a nature view it is an amazing sight that happens outside our homes. Another more modern representation of the shift in nature. People leave and nature itself takes over and shapes the landscapes without the interaction with humans for hours each night.

It is however not just by the sea that the blue hour impacts the landscape.

 

My style of showing the uniqueness of this time is trough photography and the strong usage of long exposures. Typically landscapes with low ISO, low aperture, and thereby longer shutter speed.

I am hoping to touch people to see and want to explore this time of the day more then what is done today. As well as to show my experience of natures beauty.