Exposure blending

Christmas crescent

Christmas crescent

 

 

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.

Hope you like my image, have a splendid weekend!

Dag Ole

 

Setting sun, Reine

Summer sunset, Reine, Lofoten

 

 

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!

Dag Ole

 

 

“Winterscapes”

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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!

2015 – more forests and B&W!

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Beams. Yosemite Valley, june 2014.

Now, I’m not really a guy for making new-years resolutions. However, every now and then I scrutinize my own images and adjust my direction somewhat to have the right all-over balance in my work. I have decided that I will try to work a little bit more with forests and trees and more in black and white this year. Ok, now I’ve said it. Hope I can live up to that. I will start with preferring forest-destinations when I have no specific other plans, and also plan to submit a few more images to dedicated B&W competitions.

This image is from Yosemite Valley an early morning in june 2014. I was driving into the valley and saw some light mist covering El Capitan Meadow. I stopped my car there and walked into the forest of giant trees by the foot of El Capitan. A truly magical morning! Hope you like it, have a super weekend!

Dag Ole

Personal favorites of 2014. Post #4. Bavaria.

For the last of my 2014 favorites postings I have selected a few images from my autumn trip to Bavaria and the German Alps. I have shared all these images before here on my blog, so I won’t bother you with repeating the story behind them.

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Evening light, Riessersee

 

 

The trip to Germany exceeded all my expectations. I was really fortunate with the autumn colors and the weather. I hope to return to this region soon, maybe already next autumn.

Bavarian forest

Bavarian forest

 

 

This concludes my 2014 favorites postings, and it only remains to wish you all a happy and prosperous 2015! I will be back next year with more images, so stay tuned!

Dag Ole

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Enchanted forest

 

Personal favorites of 2014. Post #3. From The West.

Setting sun at Cape Royal

Setting sun at Cape Royal

 

The western parts of the USA is a landscape photographers dream. Period. From the roaring shores of Big Sur to the breathtaking views of Grand Canyon, this part of the world showcase some of the most beautiful, dramatic and picturesque locations on our planet. California, the Sierras, and Yosemite in particular, is by many considered to be the cradle of landscapephotography. Ansel Adams and other members of group f.64 brought the sheer beauty of this area to the rest of the world and in many ways sparked the environmental movements we see today.

I had the pleasure of visiting the Western USA for one month this summer on a trip that took me to iconic locations like Yosemite and the Sierras, the Pacific coastline, Death Valley, Antelope Canyon and Navajoland, Zion National Park, Joshua tree National Park and of course Grand Canyon. Although I have visited several of these locations before, this trip brought many new images and memories that will stay with me forever. And I will return. Hopefully soon.

The first of my favorites from this trip (top of page) is from the North Rim og Grand Canyon, specifically from Cape Royal. In contrast to the often crowded conditions on the south-rim, I was almost alone here this evening. I had planned this shot for a long time, and was very happy to see the skies clearing just as the sun set.

 

Magic morning, Yosemite

Magic morning, Yosemite

 

Yosemite Valley is known for its amazing beauty. And I must agree. Although I have visited before, I always lose my breath when I drive into the valley and see the 1000 meters tall cliffs with beautiful waterfalls, wonderful forests and the Merced river. This morning I was fortunate to find some morning fog around El Capitan meadow and I walked into the woods below El Capitan with an image like this in mind.

 

Setting Moon, Badwater

Setting moon, Badwater

 

The advantage of visiting Death Valley in summer is the solitude. Although never crowded, I found myself mostly in total solitude when I visited this June. The drawback is of course the temperatures, often reaching close to 50deg C. I have planned my visit to coincide with a full moon, with this particular image in mind. However, the day of the full moon, the light was flat and dull. So the day after, I repeated my 2-3 km walk out on the Badwater saltpans, and this morning the sunrise was beautiful.

 

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Light in Lower Antelope Canyon

 

The Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon just outside Page, Arizona,  has reached iconic status among photographers. From being mostly unknown as late as in the 1980-ies, a photography session there now is a very crowded experience. I found lower Antelope Canyon to be most rewarding photographically, as there are far fewer people here and the rock-formations are just as stunning.

Hope you like my images, I will be back in one of the next day with one last 2014-favorites post.

 

Dag Ole

Personal favorites of 2014, post #2. From Venezia.

Rialto gondolas

Rialto gondolas

 

 

Venezia, or Venice, in Italy is a photographers dream. I have visited this beautiful city several times, and every time I’m equally stunned by the timeless beauty and mood of this place. What makes it so rewarding to photograph is that it is so full of unique character. From the canals and gondolas to many of the wonderful building and small squares, so many characteristics are unique for Venice and the viewer instantly know where the image is captured. A visit during peak season, summer, can be a very hot and crowded experience, to say the least. I recommend a visit during late autumn, winter or early spring, when the locals mostly have the city to themself, the pace is slower and more relaxed and the often present morning fog adds to the mood of the city. When I visited last, in march 2014, I spent every night walking the narrow streets in dense fog. The image above was captured such a night by Canal Grande. I find that monochrome works very well in timeless cities like Paris and Rome, but maybe most of all in Venezia. I was fortunate enough to receive honorable mention for my monochrome portfolio from Venezia (where this image was one of several) in this years International Photography Awards, IPA. The picture below is captured a different morning, minutes before the sun emerged as a red fireball over St. Marks square.

Before sunrise, Venezia

Before sunrise, Venezia

 

 

The last of my images in this post is actually not from Venezia, but from a different island in the Venezian lagoon. About one hours ride with a “bus-boat” from Venezia, you will find the small island of Burano. Known for its characteristic small canals and houses painted in vibrant colors, it is definitely worth the detour for a photographer interested in travel and architecture! This image is also part of a portfolio that received honorable mention in IPA.

Burano study 7

Burano study 7

 

Personal favorites of 2014 #1

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“Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop”     Ansel Adams

As this year is coming to an end, it is time to recapitulate and summarize 2014. We are all getting older, but as a friend of mine often says, it is better than the alternative. A few more wrinkles but many experiences richer. For me, this has been a great year with so much joy, happiness and love. I am a very fortunate guy!

Photographically, 2014 has also been pretty good. I have had the fortune of visiting amazing locations such as Venice, California, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, Bavaria and the German and Austrian Alps, Thailand and numerous places in Norway and the other Nordic countries. Furthermore, I have been pretty lucky in a few photographic competitions with gold medal in Trierenberg Supercircuit special themes, a gold and a silver medal in PX3, bronze medals in Epson Pano Awards, several honorable mentions in International Photography Awards, a 3rd place in B&W Spider awards etc. It is not easy to rank these, but at least what surprised me the most was the silver medal in the professional press/travel section of Prix de la Photographie Paris for my Tuscany-portfolio. However, the most important thing is that I have made a few images that I am happy with this year, and my plan is to present them one after one in single postings in the next days with a little story around how it was captured. As any photographer knows, picking personal favorites is a difficult task. My choices are very personal, and of course influenced by my connection to the subject matter, what happened before and after the capture and tons of other personal stuff. But hey, that’s the way it is! 🙂 BTW, these images come in random order. Picking some images are difficult enough and ranking them… well that’s impossible for me.

Enough talk. The first of my personal favorites from 2014 is this one:

 

The first summer night

 

 

In the end of august 2013 I made an image I titled “the last summer night”. When the summer of 2014 emerged I planned to make a similar image titled “the first summer night”. I used the last days of may to scout locations and plan this shot. When june 1st approached, the weather was perfect, the subject matter was just as I had imagined and the moon was in the right place. I got exactly what I hoped for, and thus, this is one of my favorites from 2014. Hope you like it too, stay tuned for more!

 

Dag Ole

River aurora

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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!

Dag Ole

Andaman dawn

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I am currently out travelling and photographing south-east Asia again. This is an image from the west-coast of Thailand, capturing the green waters of the Andaman sea at dawn the other day. Hope you like it, stay tuned for more!

Dag Ole

Ps this has only been edited on my laptop and not on one of my calibrated large-format screens. Thus, it is definitely not ready for publishing in my gallery or for sale yet, but it will be edited properly as soon as I get back home!