I haven’t been able to post as much here as I hoped or planned for this month. My apologies. I have been out travelling (and still am, kind of..) for 4 of the last 5 weeks. And as always, travelling makes some logistics more difficult, e.g. access to image archives (which are locked down in my safe when I’m not home) internet access, editing images on laptop screens etc. Well, enough excuses. Here is my first christmas-posting this year.
I’m currently in the northern parts of Norway, visiting friends and family. Where I am right now, the sun is below the horizon these days, but will be seen again in early january. Furthermore, the skies have been clear and the moon mostly invisible. This means that nights are long and very, very dark. Couple that with a latitude that often sports aurora borealis, and it is given what I have been up to every night this so far this christmas.
Shooting the aurora is not very challenging, technically. I basically use the same settings as I do for starry-sky photography, maybe a little lower iso, as the aurora lights up the land somewhat. Iso 1600-3200, f 2.8-4 and an exposure-time of 10-20 sec mostly give nice results. I prefer to use a very wide-angle lens to capture as much as possible of the skies. The challenging part is to find an interesting foreground and wait for the aurora to appear and match the foreground. Although I am born and raised in this area and more or less know it like my own pocket, it is still extremely challenging when it is so very, very dark. Also, handling the cold may be a problem. Using live-view for hours when temperatures are below -10 deg c may be a problem. And good, warm shoes and clothes are a must!
Anyway, I got a few images, both of aurora and deep starry skies. This particular image was captured at around 5 am in Valnesfjord, Norway, dec 22nd. I used one of my d800 bodies and the nikkor 14-24 @ 14 mm. Exposure setting were iso 2500, f 4.5 and 10 sec. Hope you like it, more will come!
I wish you all a wonderful Christmas and hope for peace and prosperity for all of you!
Morning blues, Lake Jonsvatnet, Trondheim, Norway. Nov 23. 2014.
This autumn has been long and warm here in Norway. Until this weekend there has been no snow or ice in the Trondheim-area where I live. However, the last days have sported sub-zero temperatures, at least at night. The days are now very short with sunrise at around 9 and sunset around 15 PM. Due to the very low angle of the sun, the blue “hour” last for at least two hours in the morning and ditto in the afternoon. Furthermore, daylight is “golden hour” quality all day long! So… life is good for a landscape-photographer!
At this time of year, the aurora borealis is also at its most intense, even though we don’t have very much of it as far south as in Trondheim. Early yesterday morning I drove to the Swedish border, a couple of hours away, to capture some night-time mountainscapes, starry skies and maybe even some aurora. When I reached my destination at around 6 am, conditions were nice. Frost in the trees, clear skies and intense stars. I worked there through the morning and well into the day before I returned home. I got a couple of nice images, and was fairly happy. Due to a long trip yesterday I decided to work locally today. Skies were grey and dull, no stars and the temperature was rapidly increasing and removing all traces of rime in grass and trees. I was a little disappointed and decided to head back home to catch breakfast with my family. I drove pass a lake on my way back and noticed some ice on the shore. I stopped my car and climbed down to the water only to realize that the skies cleared a little to the south-east, making room for a colorful sunrise. I started to work along the shore at around 8:20 am with exposure times of 30 sec at an iso of 1600 and f 5.6. Pretty dark in other words. But the little light that was there had a wonderful blue-pinkish hue and the long exposures managed to capture the colors in the skies even better than my eyes. I worked there for an hour and by then daylight was there and the magic was gone. I have processed a few of todays images and I’m pretty happy with the one above. Maybe the surprise of getting this light on an initially dull day and finding ice at the lake added to my satisfaction? After all, this was not what I expected at all…. Hope you like it, have a super week!
This image was captured the same morning as the image in a previous posting, “perspectives”. I specifically composed this image for wallpaper-use on my new iPhone 6. The wallpaper-version is cropped slightly different from the image above, and optimized for the iPhone 6 screen-resolution, but is otherwise basically identical. In my humble opinion, it worked out quite well on the phone. So now I’m considering making a gallery on my homepage with this one and a few other images that I think could work well as wallpapers. For a limited time, I’m planning to give them away as free downloads. What do you think? Is this a good idea, would you consider downloading this? I’ll give it a thought for a few days, then we’ll see. In the meantime, I hope you like my image, have a splendid weekend! I will soon be back with more posts, so stay tuned!
Receding storm and sunrise. Trondheim, november 2014.
To many, landscape-photography is synonymous with a wide-angle, low perspective, a dominant dramatic foreground and an interesting backdrop. If you look at photography-sites like 1x.com, 500px and photo-forums on google+ you will probably find that a huge share of landscape-photos are made after this recipe. And in many cases the result is astonishing! But not always. Unfortunately, I believe that the concept to some extent has been subject to inflation. My own portfolios are no longer dominated by such images. It may be my 40 years old knees talking, but I find that as the years has gone by, I shoot more and more from normal, upright eye-level. And my mostly used focal lengths are in the range of 35-70mm. I even use my 70-200 a lot for landscape-work! This yields more “formal” or “straight” landscape-images, and I tend to like that more and more. If you look at the wonderful portfolios of amazing photographers like Charles Cramer, Guy Tal and G. Dan Mitchell, you will see what I mean. So – what am I trying to say? Well, I believe that the image should first and foremost be about the subject matter and how it affects the artist, not about the photographers position or choice of focal length. If I don’t get any connection or emotional response from the landscape, the image seldom gets any better if I lie down on my belly. In my opinion, choice of lens and perspective are merely integral parts of the composition and should not alone be the dominant feature of the image. The perspective alone doesn’t make a bad image good. However, if the foreground is an important part of what I am trying to convey, I have no problem with mounting my 14-24 and lie down on my belly. Like this morning, when the image above was captured. According to the forecast, sunrise was to coincide with a receding storm and a high tide. Wonderful, energetic waves, crashing against the rocky beach dominated the scene when I arrived this morning, and of course I had to enhance that! Hope you like it! Did I get wet? You bet…! And my knees still hurt…
You may consider this post about perspective, focal lengths and “formal eye-level shooting” as an introduction to my next post. I will discuss this a little more and as part of that discussion I will give some details about one of my new lenses, the Sigma 50mm f.1.4 Art. Thanks for reading and stay tuned!
PS: this image will soon be released in my gallery at nordhaugphotography.com