The first time I visited the south rim of Grand Canyon, weather was grey and wet. As I checked into a nearby hotel, a summer-storm approached with thunder and lightning. After a quick meal I drove to Mather Point and was totally awestruck by the vastness of this magnificent place. It is true as they say, absolutely nothing can prepare you for Grand Canyon! I walked back and forth between Mather and Yavapai points, searching for a good composition. A light rain in the air blurred out some of the canyon as the storm over north rim faded away. I got a few ok shots, but the conditions were difficult. However, as sunset closed in, a crack in the skies allowed for some direct sunlight in the canyon and a rainbow appeared for a few minutes in the tail-end of the storm. My position wasn’t ideal but I kept running back and forth and photographed frantically. When I came back to the hotel I had over 100 shots, which is very much for me in a little over an hour. When I later started to process them I was somewhat disappointed as most of them were grey and dull, and they have been hidden on one of my hard-drives until now. I sat down and started to process a few of them the other day, and managed to bring forward some of the magic I felt that late june afternoon last year. The image on the top is a composite of several shots, to compensate for the difficult light-conditions and bring forwards the details in my experience.To capture the lightning I used a ND-filter to allow a thirty seconds exposure and increase the chances of getting at least one lightning. However, in this long exposure, the rainbow totally disappeared, so I had to blend 3 images together to make room for the complete experience; One for the sky with the rainbow, one for the canyon and one for the sky with the lightning.
This next image is a single exposure from a slightly different position, allowing a little more foreground. To convey the vastness of Grand Canyon, I included a few people. I don’t know if you can see them, but they are tiny, dots on the mid-portion of the nearby left hand rim. Far below, around 1000m down, you can barely spot a small section of the Colorado River in the lower right corner.
Rainbow, Mather Point.
The last image was captured at Yavapai Point the next morning. I arrived there in pitch darkness an hour before sunrise. I enjoyed the solitude and silence and captured a few images of the starlit canyon. As sunrise closed in, busloads of people arrived, and in a few minutes, thousands of people roamed the brim to see the sunrise. Ten minutes later, I was all by myself again. The world is a strange place.
Hope you like my work, feel free to send me a note, visit my online-gallery or follow me on instagram, G+, Facebook or 500px. I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year!
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
Bad weather is very often good photography-weather. My favorite time is the transitions, when good weather turns bad or the other way around. At such times, light can be really awesome with dramatic, dark clouds and divine sunbeams. This particular day started out grey and dull, and after a while the rain was pouring down from a low, heavy steal-grey sky. I drove to Ammersee in hope to catch the lake in this moody weather. After a while by the lake, the skies started to clear and I hoped for a dramatic transition. The wind was reduced to a slight breeze and the lake was colored in a beautiful emerald hue by the emerging sun. However, before the sun really managed to break through, a new system of clouds rolled in from the west and brought winds and new precipitation. I found this pier just in time before the storm approached. There were no dramatic transitions that day, but I noticed the contrasts between the tranquil sun-lit waters and the incoming clouds and tried to capture that. I always try to pre-visualize the finished product when I am in the field. This is one of techniques I use to help my vision to speak to me (hm, that came out much more new-age than I meant it to, but you get my point…) And then I try to use different techniques to make my image according to how I want the finished product to be. E.g. I used a 2 step ND grad to bring out the contrasts in the clouds, and have further accentuated this in postprocessing. Also, a low shooting-angle and wide-angle lens (18mm) underlined the length of the pier so that it seemingly stretched for the clouds. I used a small aperture of f. 20 to assure that the image was pin-sharp from near to far. I hope the image conveys the feeling of an incoming storm by a moody lake. Hope you like it too!