The Watchman and the Virgin river. Zion Natinal Park, Utah, June 2014.
…thats the question!
The American Southwest is a landscapephotographer’s paradise. Beautiful dramatic land with high mountain peaks, deep valleys and narrow canyons. The wonderful red-orange hue of the sandstone and a beautiful light just adds to the perfection. And it is very accessible! As a photographer, could you ask for more? Yes – that you are the first person to capture this! The only problem as I see it, is that the Southwest has been thoroughly photographed, to say the least. Of course, some places more that others…
Zion National Park in Utah is truly beautiful – and very popular among photographers. The landscape on my image above is arguably the most photographed scene in Zion. Therefore, as I planned my trip to Utah, I was determined NOT to photograph this exact scene, as it has been done so many times before by excellent photographers that it has unfortunately turned into more of a cliché. Every day I spent in Zion, I passed this location several times, and I could not help but to study it and be mesmerised by the beauty of the scene. On my last day there, I finally gave in and had to stop and make this capture. Ok, so thousands of other images very like this one exist, but so what? This one too shows the beauty of this wonderful place, and what the image lacks in originality it compensates for in scenic beauty – or? The question is, should I use it in my portfolio of fine-art prints as it is not very original? Hmm- still thinking about it.
Feel free to comment and let me know what you think!
Before I go on a photography-tour, I always have a few photographs in my mind. Before my recent trip to Bavaria I had planned to capture some images from German forests, in addition to the obvious mountainscapes. I had a weak conception of straight, tall trees over a colorful autumn forest floor and I was hoping for some fog. This day I drove down from my base camp in Garmisch-Partenkirchen to the lower areas to the north. These areas are mostly agricultural, but when I followed the smaller roads, I now and then passed a dense forest. The skies were grey and dull, which is perfect for forest-photography, and after a while, a rain shower hit the lowlands. Moisture gives the foliage extra saturation, so the conditions were ideal. I stopped numerous times to photograph, and the initial impression was that I probably had a few OK images. On my way back to Garmisch later the same afternoon, I found a larger forested area close to Ammersee. I parked my car and wandered around in the woods for a couple of hours, struggling somewhat with finding a good composition. On my way back to the car, this beautiful yellow tree with the winding path next to it caught my attention and I worked here for a few minutes. As I sat down with the post-processing later the same evening, this image slowly emerged. Of numerous captures from the German forests, this is probably the one that came closest to what I hoped for. Hope you like it too. Have a splendid weekend!
This is a new release in my gallery: nordhaugphotography.com
Bad weather is very often good photography-weather. My favorite time is the transitions, when good weather turns bad or the other way around. At such times, light can be really awesome with dramatic, dark clouds and divine sunbeams. This particular day started out grey and dull, and after a while the rain was pouring down from a low, heavy steal-grey sky. I drove to Ammersee in hope to catch the lake in this moody weather. After a while by the lake, the skies started to clear and I hoped for a dramatic transition. The wind was reduced to a slight breeze and the lake was colored in a beautiful emerald hue by the emerging sun. However, before the sun really managed to break through, a new system of clouds rolled in from the west and brought winds and new precipitation. I found this pier just in time before the storm approached. There were no dramatic transitions that day, but I noticed the contrasts between the tranquil sun-lit waters and the incoming clouds and tried to capture that. I always try to pre-visualize the finished product when I am in the field. This is one of techniques I use to help my vision to speak to me (hm, that came out much more new-age than I meant it to, but you get my point…) And then I try to use different techniques to make my image according to how I want the finished product to be. E.g. I used a 2 step ND grad to bring out the contrasts in the clouds, and have further accentuated this in postprocessing. Also, a low shooting-angle and wide-angle lens (18mm) underlined the length of the pier so that it seemingly stretched for the clouds. I used a small aperture of f. 20 to assure that the image was pin-sharp from near to far. I hope the image conveys the feeling of an incoming storm by a moody lake. Hope you like it too!
I had planned an autumn-trip to Bavaria and the German Alps since early summer. Besides the magnificent mountains in the area, I also wanted to capture some archetypical countryside and cultural landscapes. I could probably just as well have gone to Austria, Switzerland or the Italian Alps, but Munich turned out to be easiest to access for me by air. As I always do before I embark on a photographic adventure, I carefully studied maps and guides for the area. Garmisch-Partenkirchen, only about one hour drive from Munich, stood out as a perfect starting-point. Near Garmisch is Germany’s highest peak, Zugsptize, numerous beautiful lakes, small picturesque towns and lots of typical alpine countryside. A car is essential and was rented at the airport in Munich. I stayed in Garmisch the whole week, and can highly recommend Hotel Obermuhle! (no affiliation!).
Geroldsee is one of the photographic hotspots in the area. Only about 15 minutes drive from Garmisch, I had the opportunity to visit several times during my stay. After my first three visits, I was somewhat disappointed. The place was nice enough, a beautiful small lake, a wonderful field with numerous old barns and the spectacular Karwendel-Alps as a backdrop. However, the light and the weather did not cooperate and I did not feel that my images did justice to the place. I decided to give it one more chance on my last day. My plane didn’t leave Munich before 17:30, so I basically had the whole day for shooting. I got up at 5 a.m. to catch the best light. The receptionist at the hotel gave me the usual “are you raving mad” eye when I left in pitch dark at this early hour. When I parked by the road near Geroldsee minutes later, a weak red glow was barely visible in the eastern sky, behind the Karwendel Alps. This was promising! And from what I had seen on the way up from Garmisch, I had hopes that there could be some fog over the lake too! After a short walk from the parking I arrived at Geroldsee to find the place still dark and shrouded in a dense fog. As daylight slowly emerged, I walked up the fields to get above the fog and have the barns in the foreground. The morning glow of the emerging sun slowly appeared behind the Karwendel mountains. After having studied the landscape and considered the composition, I rigged up my gear and did the usual metering. Because of exposure differential I decided to use a ND grad to avoid that the skies were blown out or the valley was pitch black. The image below is one of my favourites from this morning and was captured at 06:57, only minutes before the sun appeared over the mountains. I returned to my hotel for breakfast a few minutes later, happy with finally having gotten what I wanted from Geroldsee. Hope you like it too!
Tech stuff: Nikon d800E, nikkor 24-70, f 13, 1 sec exposure. 2 step ND grad. Processed in Lightroom only.
Half Dome glow, Yosemite Valley, minutes before sunset, June 2014.
Yesterday I embarked upon one of the more strenuous photography trips of this year. I started out at 4am and drove for a few hours to catch the sunrise in the mountains of Trollheimen. After having parked and walked for about an hour in steep and difficult terrain, I reached the location I had planned for. Unfortunately the light did not play along. The sunrise was ok and the landscape there is fabulous, but you know how it is…. sometimes there are small things that preclude the composition. The skies were not top-notch, the contrasts were a little bit too harsh, the autumn colors were faded… and so on. Anyway, when I got back home 16 hours later I was pretty much exhausted after little sleep, little food, too much coffee and trekking and “climbing” in the mountains. Today, I have reviewed the images and processed a few of them. As always, I think they need to mature for a few weeks on my hard drive before I can conclude, but I was a little bit disappointed with the results. So therefore, I sat down and processed a few older images, e.g. from Yosemite. It feels good to release a good image (in my humble opinion) after having struggled with the elements yesterday. Hope you like it too!
This image pretty much concludes my California-portfolio for now. I have a couple of more images ready for publishing, but I am saving them for another rainy day. Visit my online gallery nordhaugphotography.com to see the rest of my California collection.
Schloss Neuschwanstein, Oct 2014.
Although “only” about 150 years old, this castle was built in a medieval style by Ludwig II. The fairytale-like impression it emanates is underlined both by the several beautiful towers and the spectacular location on top of a cliff overlooking the Bavarian lowlands. Rumors has it that this castle served as inspiration for Disney’s Sleeping Beauty-castle. This image is captured early in the morning as the first rays of the sun lit up the eastern face of the building and the fog still laid densely below.
One of the things I regularly reflect upon during my photography-travels is how the culture mathces the landscape. Everything from architecture through food, beer (!) and music. Ludwig II who built this castle was a big admirer of Wagner. In a way the castle, the landscape and Wagner’s music just fit perfectly!
Hope you like my image, have a super weekend!
This is a new release in my gallery: Nordhaugphotography.com
As I stated in a previous posting, photography is not primarily about gear. At least not to me. Cameras, lenses and other equipment are mere tools to create images. And tools can of course be somewhat important. My equipment must fulfill three criteria:
1. The equipment must stand the conditions where it is used. I need a weatherproof camera as I often work in more or less extreme condition. Sometimes in extreme heat, other times in pouring rain or in a snowstorm with gloves on. Only a few days ago I was shooting by a river in pouring rain. And I mean pouring. The water was not dripping from my camera, it was literally running! Bad weather is good photography-weather, and the equipment must take the conditions and have controls that are possible to use under the conditions I photograph.
2. The equipment must have an intuitive layout and be easy to use. It is no fun to be fumbling with difficult menus and touch screens when there is a golden opportunity in front of the camera for only a fem seconds. I have used Nikons since I was 12 years old. I am familiar with their menus and have the controls in my fingers.
3.The equipment must give good enough image quality. In my opinion this is not a major problem with modern cameras. Every camera in trade today have the potential to create technically very good photos under most light-conditions. A good photographer do not need a big, expensive camera to make good images! When it comes to sharpness and resolution, lenses are probably more important than the camera. Other equipment must not hamper image quality either. It doesn’t make sense to buy a good camera and lens if I degrade the image with a low-quality filter in front of the lens, or have unsharp pictures because of a bad tripod. I regularly print very large (sometimes bigger than 1,50 m) and in such circumstances, larger format sensors with a high megapixel count may have a slight advantage when it comes to resolution, sharpness and noise. And I am fairly obsessed with technical quality. However if my primary goal was to share images on social media or print smaller, a smaller format sensor (e.g. APS-C or smaller) with a lower resolution could definitely do the job!
When I invest in equipment I have these thoughts in mind, although compromises often need to be done. To me, the professional Nikon D800 seemed close to perfect when it was launched. I currently own one D800 and one D800e, and I must say that I am very happy with them. Due to all the aforementioned reasons. When it comes to lenses, I am mostly a “normal-range” guy. I have worked with many primes, but as I hike a lot I have invested in a few zooms. The Nikkor 24-70 f.2.8 is definitely my mostly used lens. It’s built like a tanks, stands most conditions and is very sharp. For wide-angle work I have chosen the Nikkor 14-24 f.2.8 due to its superb sharpness and similar sturdiness. For tele-work, I use the Nikkor 70-200 f.2.8. Sometimes, on long hikes, I regret not buying the 70-200 f.4 instead, as it probably is equally sharp but more compact and much lighter. But other times, I want to work with shallow depth-of-field and I’m happy with the f 2.8…. I have also got a few other lenses for special purposes, and I will come back to them in a later posting. The new Sigma 50mm f 1.4 Art definitely deserves its own post! I will also be back with articles on my other equipment such as filters, tripods and bags. And I won’t forget software, papers and printers either. Feel free to comment and ask questions and I will try to answer as quickly and good as I can. Stay tuned!
BTW, I have absolutely no affiliation or financial interest in any brands or products mentioned.
Ok, I promised that my next post was going to be about equipment. However, I just returned from my trip to the German alps and have started to process images, so I wanted to share this new release in my gallery first. Bavaria has so much to offer the landscapephotograper, and I was really lucky with both weather and the autumn colors which seemed to peak last week. More images from the Alps in the weeks to come!
This is a new release in my gallery: Nordhaugphotography.com