Summer storm, Grand Canyon

Mather Point summer storm.

Mather Point summer storm.

 

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.

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.

Sunrise at Yavapai point

 

 

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!

Mosquitoland

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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….

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!

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

How it was made…

Dawn, Frosta

Dawn, Frosta. Norway, november 2014.

 

 

Ok, so this may seem a little basic to some of you, but I’ll take my chances and post it anyway. I just wanted to share this image and how it was made.

Images of coastal landscapes are very popular. Just have a look at 500px, google+ or any other photography-site and you are likely to find hundreds of captivating, wonderful seascapes. Furthermore, it is something about the moon that adds an element of mystery or tranquility to a scene and I think the combination of long exposure seascapes with the moon often work out very well.  If you are planning to create such an image, be sure to find a good location well in time before the capture. In my opinion, important elements are a low horizon or a horizon with an interesting focal point (e.g. a mountain peak). The foreground is equally important. Be sure to include som nice rocks, a beach with sand-patterns or anything with lines leading the eye towards the sea. When you have found an interesting location, use “the photographer’s ephemeris” (iPhone app) or other programs that describe the moon’s location and phase at different dates. Find the ideal date when the moon is in the right phase and at the right place. This image features an almost full moon, which in my opinion, is not ideal. I think that either a 100% full moon or a thin crescent works best. Also, notice when sunrise or sunset is. As in any landscape-capture, the most important element of the image is the light. You want to be working at dusk or dawn when the sun is just under the horizon. At that time, the exposure differential between the landscape and the moon is not very big, and you avoid getting a pitch black landscape and a burnt out moon. At the same time the skies are still somewhat dark so that the moon stands out. These times also open the possibility for longer exposures without filters, so you can work with different exposure times to capture the movement in the water. When you have found a nice location and the ideal date and time of day to photograph, you want check the weather-forecast. If skies are totally overcast, plan for a different shot. For an image like this, ideal skies are partly cloudy, so that the emerging sun has something to enlighten. Strong winds are also ideal as it produces wonderful waves that adds to the foreground.

Ok, so you have found your location, the exact date and time of day to capture the scene, and forecasts are promising. Lucky you! Be sure to arrive at the location at least half an hour before ideal conditions and plan the details of your shot. Scrutinize the foreground elements and find the best possible composition. A wide-angle lens is ideal to emphasize the foreground, but this is a trade-off as the moon gets very small at the widest angles. Use a focal length that balances this. I have found that 24-50 mm (on full format) often work well. You definitely need a sturdy tripod and a cable release. Many use the self-timer set to 2 sec delay instead, but for capturing waves at the exact right time, that technique is not ideal. Set you tripod fairly low close to the surf to underline the foreground and the waves and use a small aperture  such as f16 or f22 to get enough depth of field. Focus on the hyperfocal point or about 1/3 into the depth of the image. Play around with different ISO’s to vary the shutter-speed as this captures different moods in the waves. This image was taken at a shutter speed of 5 sec because I wanted to blur the waves totally to add to the tranquil feeling of the scene. A shorter shutter-speed would have frozen the movement of the waves to a larger degree, and would have given a more energetic feeling to the image. If you use shutter-speeds longer than ca. 10 seconds, be aware that the moon moves and may become blurred. To get a five second exposure in this image, I used a 2 step neutral density filter. In addition, I used a 2 step graded neutral density filter to minimize exposure differential between the foreground and the sky and moon.

If you are totally unfamiliar with these techniques, be sure to practice before the ideal date and time!

Also, there are numerous digital techniques to help you in creating images like this. Most obvious is of course adding a moon to a nice landscape in Photoshop by merging two files. Many (including me) find that such images may look very unnatural, so be aware. I have used this technique from time to time, but always pasted a moon from another image taken at the same time and location on top of the moon that was there in the original file! This may be to minimize exposure differential or to enlarge the moon slightly. But as mentioned, be aware that this may look very un-natural and awkward if not done very carefully and subtle. Also, techniques of focus-stacking to get infinite depth-of-field or HDR techniques to minimize exposure differential may be employed. However, if you choose to use digital techniques like this, remember that this does not compensate for bad originals. I think it is always best to get the original as good as possible even though this may involve some compromises e.g. size of the moon etc. This image is made from one single raw-file and only minimally adjusted. I hope you like it, and feel free to comment and follow me if you like my work. Have a super weekend!

Dag Ole

Wallpaper, anyone?

Morning shores

 

This image was captured the same morning as the image in a previous posting, “perspectives”. I specifically composed this image for wallpaper-use on my new iPhone 6. The wallpaper-version is cropped slightly different from the image above, and optimized for the iPhone 6 screen-resolution, but is otherwise basically identical. In my humble opinion, it worked out quite well on the phone. So now I’m considering making a gallery on my homepage with this one and a few other images that I think could work well as wallpapers. For a limited time, I’m planning to give them away as free downloads. What do you think? Is this a good idea, would you consider downloading this? I’ll give it a thought for a few days, then we’ll see. In the meantime, I hope you like my image, have a splendid weekend! I will soon be back with more posts, so stay tuned!

 

Dag Ole

Perspectives….

Receding storm and sunrise

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

Dag Ole

Behind the scenes – Bavaria

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I had planned an autumn-trip to Bavaria and the German Alps since early summer. Besides the magnificent mountains in the area, I also wanted to capture some archetypical countryside and cultural landscapes. I could probably just as well have gone to Austria, Switzerland or the Italian Alps, but Munich turned out to be easiest to access for me by air. As I always do before I embark on a photographic adventure, I carefully studied maps and guides for the area. Garmisch-Partenkirchen, only about one hour drive from Munich, stood out as a perfect starting-point. Near Garmisch is Germany’s highest peak, Zugsptize, numerous beautiful lakes, small picturesque towns and lots of typical alpine countryside. A car is essential and was rented at the airport in Munich. I stayed in Garmisch the whole week, and can highly recommend Hotel Obermuhle! (no affiliation!).

Geroldsee is one of the photographic hotspots in the area. Only about 15 minutes drive from Garmisch, I had the opportunity to visit several times during my stay. After my first three visits, I was somewhat disappointed. The place was nice enough, a beautiful small lake, a wonderful field with numerous old barns and the spectacular Karwendel-Alps as a backdrop. However, the light and the weather did not cooperate and I did not feel that my images did justice to the place. I decided to give it one more chance on my last day. My plane didn’t leave Munich before 17:30, so I basically had the whole day for shooting. I got up at 5 a.m. to catch the best light. The receptionist at the hotel gave me the usual “are you raving mad” eye when I left in pitch dark at this early hour. When I parked by the road near Geroldsee minutes later, a weak red glow was barely visible in the eastern sky, behind the Karwendel Alps. This was promising! And from what I had seen on the way up from Garmisch, I had hopes that there could be some fog over the lake too! After a short walk from the parking I arrived at Geroldsee to find the place still dark and shrouded in a dense fog. As daylight slowly emerged, I walked up the fields to get above the fog and have the barns in the foreground. The morning glow of the emerging sun slowly appeared behind the Karwendel mountains. After having studied the landscape and considered the composition, I rigged up my gear and did the usual metering. Because of exposure differential I decided to use a ND grad to avoid that the skies were blown out or the valley was pitch black. The image below is one of my favourites from this morning and was captured at 06:57, only minutes before the sun appeared over the mountains. I returned to my hotel for breakfast a few minutes later, happy with finally having gotten what I wanted from Geroldsee. Hope you like it too!

Tech stuff: Nikon d800E, nikkor 24-70, f 13, 1 sec exposure. 2 step ND grad. Processed in Lightroom only.

Bavarian dawn

Fairytale in Bavaria

Schloss Neuschwanstein, Oct 2014.
Although “only” about 150 years old, this castle was built in a medieval style by Ludwig II. The fairytale-like impression it emanates is underlined both by the several beautiful towers and the spectacular location on top of a cliff overlooking the  Bavarian lowlands. Rumors has it that this castle served as inspiration for Disney’s Sleeping Beauty-castle. This image is captured early in the morning as the first rays of the sun lit up the eastern face of the building and the fog still laid densely below.
One of the things I regularly reflect upon during my photography-travels is how the culture mathces the landscape. Everything from architecture through food, beer (!) and music. Ludwig II who built this castle was a big admirer of Wagner. In a way the castle, the landscape and Wagner’s music just fit perfectly!
Hope you like my image, have a super weekend!
This is a new release in my gallery: Nordhaugphotography.com
Dag Ole
Fairytale in Bavaria