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

 

“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!

When you least expect it!

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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!

Dag Ole