So…it’s spring again, and I’ll try to make time to be a little more active here on the blog. My apologies for lack of posting throughout the winter.
The magic place
I have previously written about my love for intimate landscapes. I love a grand vista as much as everyone, and more or less plan my trips around viewpoints and with a more or less grand landscape in mind. But as I previously have stated, throughout the years I have drifted more and more towards photographing more intimate scenes. Not only do that type of landscapes open up for an infinitely larger variation of scenes and are more forgiving wiht respect to light, but I also find it more challenging and rewarding to work around a specific composition. Trying to figure out a small scene is pretty much like solving a puzzle or crossword. I particularly like to work with forest-scenes and although it can be extremely challenging to come up with a composition that conveys the mood or pass on a message of some kind, it is also very rewarding when I feel I achieve that.
I have a few inspirational sources, or favourite photographers if you will, when it comes to this genre. Besides the obvious Eliot Porter who probably first came up with the term “intimate landscape” with respect to photography (major exhibiton at Metropolitan museum of art and printed publication titled “Intimate landscapes” in 1979 – google it!) there are also more contemporary masters of the craft. I could name numerous, but photographers like Serkan Gunes, Hans Strand, G Dan Mitchell and Christioher Burkett stand out, in my opinion.
Having worked dedicated on intimate landscapes for only a few years, I’m definitely a novice in the genre. But I will continue to focus on the small scenes as I find it extremely rewarding and great fun.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret here. With all the mountains, fjords, shores, waves, and not least aurora borealis going on up in Lofoten right now, it may be hard to understand, but we have trees in Norway too! Dozens of them 🙂 Actually large parts of Norway is covered with woods, many of them almost untouched. This is from such an area. I set out one very early morning to capture some fall-foliage in a remote location. On my way out, this scene captured my attention. The low, warm autumn-morning light lit up the trail in front of me and even though the scene per-se was somewhat ordinary (in lack of a better word) the light gave away the image. By the way, I didn’t find any fall-foliage to speak of that day, but I actually stumbled upon a dense rainforest-like pocket with the most intense green moss and ferns I have ever seen. But thats a different image and story. Hope you like this one, have a splendid tuesday!
I don’t know if you have ever been to North-Norway, or even are planning a trip there. But in case you are, you should know this: Visiting during the summer months involves a very high risk of being in constant war with the fierce creatures somewhat erroneously called mosquitoes. We are not talking about the small innocent kind that will give you an annoying bite and leave you with that. We are talking about wicked, jumbojet-sized, killing machines. And they come in billions. Armed with all kinds of weapons yet not fully understood by mankind, they will attack you constantly and will not leave you alone until you are all but a pulsating mass of hurt. This early morning in July, a photography buddy and I were driving around Vestvågøy in Lofoten when we saw this beautiful mountain reflecting in a small, mist-covered lake. Like the sirens in the Odyssey we could hear the marshland calling our names. Oh, we were so naïve. Little did we know of the evil that waited. We parked the car and wandered through the dense forest towards the lake. Half-way out on the marsh we understood the lure and the mistake. Armed with only a small innocent Hasselblad (!), a few lenses and a Gitzo series 5, I didn’t stand a chance. No hope for backup either. My buddy was already kicking and screaming in pain from the other side of the marsh. It got messy. For us, not the mosquitos. Miraculously, I managed to set up my tripod and capture a few frames before we fought our way back to the relative safety of our car. Days, even weeks, of pain followed. I haven’t had the courage to sit down and process the images before now, fearing it could wake up the evil again. PTSD I think they call it. When I finally manned myself up and started looking at them the other day, it looked like someone had combed their cat over my sensor. But there was no dust on my sensor. Only clouds of evil in the frame. I stared to use the clone-tool, but soon gave up and just exchanged the blurry mosquitocovered skies with the skies from another image captured later that morning. I think the result came out ok, but as you may understand, I have somewhat ambiguous feelings about it….
Sunset from Flakstadøy (Nappstraumen). Looking north, you can see the iconic profile of the mountains near Utakleiv and Haukland beach in the distance.
Some of you may know that I was born and raised in the northern parts of Norway. Although I have relocated and currently live a little bit to the south, in Trondheim, I often visit “home” up north.
Every time I visit, I plan for some landscape photography. North-Norway has a very dramatic landscape, fabulous light and very unpredictable weather. All essential elements of a good landscape-image.
I spent one week in North-Norway this summer, and planned a road-trip to the Lofoten island well ahead. An old friend of mine and I were to take the ferry from the mainland (Skutvik) and over to the biggest city in Lofoten, Svolvær. Weather has been extremely wet and grey this summer, but as we sat in out car on the way to the ferry, skies started to clear. We had planned 2 days and nights of intensive shooting, mostly without sleep. We arrived in Svolvær late in the afternoon. The most photographed areas in Lofoten lies in the southern parts, where the mountains are most spectacular. This time we decided to head north from Svolvær and cover the island of Austvågøy the first night. Although the landscape is a little less dramatic here, It is still spectacular by most standards. And it is less covered by other photographers! We were mostly alone on the road this first night. We drove all around Austvåg and had a great time with a beautiful misty sunset and sunrise just a couple of hours later. After less that two hours sleep and a huuuuge breakfast we drove south to Vestvågøy, Flakstadøy and Moskenesøy. We had clear skies and the bright sunlight didn’t give us anything photographically, so we spent the day scouting for locations, eating and relaxing. When the loooong golden hour set in at around 7-8 in the evening we had found some great places and spent a few hours there. Coffee and redbull kept us going. Some skies emerged and promised for a beautiful sunset. We photographed the most iconic locations (Unstadvik, Utakleiv, Flakstad, Reine etc.) and a few lesser know all through the night. As morning arrived we were pretty much exhausted. As we waited for the mornings first ferry from Moskenes to Bodø, skies were all overcast and the magic was gone. Luckily enough we seemed to have hit the two only days in July with nice weather. Here are a few of the results from the trip. Visit my gallery on nordhaugphotography.com for more Lofoten images.
The sun was setting, close to midnight, when we arrived in this location just north of Flakstad.
A couple of hours later, the sun emerged from the ocean again and colored the landscape and the mist in a wonderful, warm hue.
Although we have recently had a few cold days here in Norway, and even some snow last weekend, spring is definitely on its way! Sunrise is starting to be uncomfortable early, making me get up before 5am to catch the good light. This image was captured a week ago. Skies were initially totally clear, but minutes before sunrise, some clouds appeared and, in my opinion, made this image.
Tech details: Hasselblad H5D-50, HC 28mm, lee little stopper + 2 step ND grad, 5 sec exposure, f.16.
Evolution and improvement always originate in altered given conditions or challenges. As creative beings we need inspiration, but we also need to get out of our comfort-zones (cliché alarm!!) and try new things from time to time to avoid stagnation. I find great inspiration in studying other photographers and I have a fair share of people whose work I follow regularly, both on-line, in photography-competitions and on exhibitions. Many of these photographers have a style totally apart from my regular modus operandi, but I find it extremely stimulating to analyze their work, maybe just because it is so different from my regular style (A series about my favourite photographers is on its way here!)
I continuously scrutinize my own work and try to challenge myself to improve. I embark on different projects and set myself clear goals. Most often, I decide to try new things which involve a different approach to the subject matter, the photographic process and the postprocessing I have become accustomed to. This way, I force myself to see the world with new eyes. Although the results may be so-and-so, I always learn something about technical details, composition and my vision.
By the end of last year I decided to commit myself (for a period, at least) to work more with intimate landscapes, monochrome, forests and trees. This was partly due to inspiration from other photographers but mostly because I wanted to expand my vision, improve my compositional skills and learn to apply new methods in capturing and postprocessing. More about this process later, but for now I just wanted to share some of the results so far. Hope you like them. Have a splendid week!
It’s been a couple of weeks since I returned from the Lofoten island where I spent 4-5 days (and nights) photographing. I have been busy going through the 2000+ files, sorting and editing. The weather was very unpredictable (as usual) in Lofoten, and I had everything from freezing low temperatures to snow, rain showers and epic sunsets. The dramatic mountains coming straight out of the sea give amazing possibilities for some good landscape shots, If your lucky with the light… Hope you like these two, more will follow in the weeks to come. I will also disclose a little bit about my favourite locations in the Lofoten islands, so stay tuned!
Both these images are now released and available as prints in my gallery nordhaugphotography.com.
This image was captured on last christmas eve while visiting friends and family in North Norway. Long story short: On our way to christmas dinner, the light was wonderful, the moon emerged and the icy cold temperatures froze the shores and gave a dense fog over the sea. I couldn’t help myself. I changed outfit and ran down to the shore and worked there all the way into pitch darkness and well into christmas dinner. My very kind and understanding wife actually approved this stunt, but I got a suspicion that not everybody else was very happy… But at least I got a few nice images! 🙂
When I started to photograph, it was rather dark but the disappearing aurora of the sun lit up the scene in a wonderful red-pinkish hue. As it got darker and darker, the aurora weakened and stars started to appear. At the same time, the foreground was becoming very very dark (I could hardly see my hands..), and the moon very bright compared to the landscape. I knew that even the very high dynamic range sensor in my d800 would not be able to capture both landscape, moon, stars and the color of the disappearing sun in one single exposure. So, I composed this image with the camera on my tripod and took numerous exposures at different iso’s and exposure times to capture all the elements in the scene as I saw it. The next day, I sat down and inspected all the different files. The aurora and the moon matched perfectly in some of the exposures, and to my surprise, earthshine lit up the shadowed part of the moon perfectly. The foreground however, was too dark on these exposures and the sky too bright to show any stars. My original plan was to follow my regular HDR workflow and blend the exposures in HDR efex pro but the result was far from satisfying. It lacked the contrast and crispness I wanted. I tried to increase clarity and contrast but by then things started to look really weird. Since I had three exposures from three different regions of the scene I decided to blend them manually. I used the image where the moon and the sunglow was perfect as my base. I then took one exposure of the starry sky and blended it into the top of the first image using the masking bug in the layers module of the wonderful OnOne Perfect Photo Suite 9. In exactly the same manner, I blended a lighter foreground exposure into the lower part of the image. The resulting image was then imported back into Lightroom and after slight adjustment of temperature, color, clarity and sharpness, the image came out very close to how I experienced the scene. The masking bug has a gradient which give soft and natural transitions and I found it amazing how naturally the different exposures blended with a broad gradient.
I have visited the Lofoten islands in North Norway on several occasions, both summer and winter, for photography. Being born and raised, and lived a substantial part of my life in North Norway, I am fairly familiar with the landscape and pretty much know what to expect. However, in this part of the world, the weather is extremely unpredictable, so basically you don’t know what you get until after you have been there. Forecasts are nothing but weak guidelines at best. On my last winter-visit a couple of years ago I had snowstorm, rain, freezing could, and bright sunshine, all in one day! So, I pretty much don’t know what to expect from my next trip in february, but I hope for the best. I would of course hope for some clear skies to catch some nightscapes with stars and some aurora-shots, but you’ll never know. Anyway, the landscape itself is so amazing with wonderful mountains raising more or less straight from the sea, so I feel pretty confident that I will be back with at least a few keepers. In the meantime I’m posting this classic scene from the small fishing village of Reine in Lofoten, captured only a couple of hours before midnight in june 2013. Hope you like it!
As much as I love a day on the beach, I must admit that few things can compare to a photo-session in a freezing cold, snow-clad landscape. I’m fortunate enough to live in Norway so winter is all around me this time of year. Days are short, but when the skies are clear, the light is beautiful. This image was captured in late december near Mayavatn in central Norway. I was driving home from a visit to friends and family up north as I passed this scene. I stopped the car, parked and ran out in the snowy fields, having snow up to my waist. The thermometer showed -24 deg celsius and I was dressed for driving in a warm comfortable car, not fieldwork. Suffice to say, I got cold and wet, but I think it was worth it. Hope you like my image, have a super Wednesday!