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.
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