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

 

Wide angle shots at the beach

Today I was out to take some shots at the beach, was looking for stones that would obstruct the waves and create exciting movements. Today was the first day in about a week where there wasn’t a cloudy sky.

The water was much higher today then usual. Perhaps due to the close to full moon we have now ?

I used my main body, the 1D Mark IV, with the EF 16-35mm F4L IS lens. I used tripod of course, and I used the Lee Little Stopper and 0.9ND grad filter.

The most used setup today was wide apart legs to get a low angle, and at the same time a much more stable tripod. In my opinion a low angle for the camera towards the subject is very important. And since I often emphasise on the foreground in the shot, the angle towards it is important.

 

tripod_low
Lower tripod angle

To me it is also important to get close to what I am shooting. In other words if the foreground is supposed to be some rocks I need to move my camera close to them and the sea so I do not have unnecessary beach to cut away.

Camera on tripod with filters attached in front of lens.
Camera on tripod with filters attached in front of lens.

I try to capture the colors, the mood and atmosphere. I believe it is important to freeze the “chaos” that we see, where everything moves all the time and to move it into a setting where we experience the movements and how they as a greater collective of things move along. The best way I think to achieve this is to use long exposures.

 

16mm / ƒ/9 / 20s / ISO 125
16mm / ƒ/8 / 8s / ISO 100
16mm / ƒ/9 / 20s / ISO 125

I am very happy with the results I had this day. I have been able to increase my portfolio with some superb landscape shots – and that doesn’t happen everyday. And I have been better friends with my new lens.

 

At the stream

I was out testing the new lens. Sadly there was no sun outside, it was a clouded day with, where things where rather grey when it comes to light. Most of the lakes and the shores in the fjord are frozen with ice and snow on the top. So it was a rather white day so to say. I was trying to find a place where some open water would brake up the monoton colors. I drove to a lake called Semsvannet, which is in Asker. I lived here as a kid and know the area quite well. I know there is a little stream running out of the lake and creating what is called “Askerelva” or the Asker river.

Shot of myself on a bench facing the water

Here the stream was open and I was able to get some shots off.

The open stream

There where fences on both sides of the stream, but luck struck as it was possible to go down on the left side. I was able to get down to the shore of the stream with ease as I had high shoes on my feet.

It is often said that you need a sturdy tripod for landscape or nature photography, and even though you have lenses with IS (Image Stabilisation) you need the tripod when you want to slow nature down. I love to use ND filters to ensure I can put the camera on low ISO, and choose low aperture to have high level of sharpness and detail, and at the same time ensure that water is smoothed and fast pacing things, like humans on the bridge phased out.

Camera on tripod with low angle for sturdiness and low camera angle

I did take two shots (or call it subjects, did more then one shot of each). I decided to use the Big Stopper from Lee Filters, which is a 10 stop filter. I could have used the Little Stopper which is 6 stops as well. But the choice went on this.

Shot towards the bridge. 333s, f/11, ISO 100 @ 16mm

I am happy with how the photo turned out. If the sky had been blue and there had been some sun, it would have been even more stunning. Now it is  a good shot of the waterfall at the bridge. Choosing such a long exposure time removed me having to worry about the factor that there where a lot of people passing on the bridge, whom I didn’t want in my shot.

I turned the tripod and took a shot down the stream as well.

Camera with Big Stopper and 0.9 Grad ND filter
Downwards the stream – 287s, f/11, ISO 100 @ 16mm

I was happy with the turnout of this too. My comments is the same as with the first. A different sky would have made this more exciting.

 

I am so far very happy with the lens. It is much easier to work with then the 24-70mm I have mostly used before. As it both let me attach the filters on the lens that stays still vs where the other one where it is an outward zooming lens. Which means when attaching filters it is very easy to shift the focus. I am also very happy with the difference of angle and details I get in the difference of 16 vs 24mm. The sharpness and detail this lens gives is also very good. I am looking forward to use this lens much more.

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.

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:

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.