Archive for the ‘long exposure’ Category
Scouting, driving around the area, stopping the car, getting out of the car, getting into the car, driving, stopping the car, getting out of the car, getting into the car, driving… It’s the thing you typically do only with your fellow photographers. You do that with your spouse and inevitably you’ll get to see a lot of rolling eyes and the “*sighs* NOT AGAIN??”-looks
And even then there were beautiful scenes we missed, because of possible life-threatening situations we might’ve faced had we stopped (or leaned too far over the edge).
Seeing the Northern Lights isn’t a given. With the unpredictability of the weather up there there’s as much chance of seeing the Lights as there isn’t.
And considering the fact that the Lights are only visible in the evenings and/or at night, it leaves about 12 hours of daylight time to shoot other things. And besides being insanely expensive, Norway is also an insanely beautiful country. At least up in the north where we were.
Sunsets and sunrises, a part of every photographer’s portfolio wherever he/she goes (I’m privileged that I got to see the Lights in the first place, but it would be sooooo cool to catch the them at sunset…)
I’ve decided to stick in the cold for a bit.
Last year we went to Norway to shoot the Northern Lights. It almost turned out in one big expensive disappointing trip.
This year we went again, and it turned out in one big great expensive trip (3 Peppe Pizzas for 108,00€: chaCHING!!!!). But the photos we got were absolutely breath-taking. And no need to Photoshop anything into another picture. All these are genuine and -save for some color adjustments here and there (foreground mostly, not the Lights)- unedited.
I’ll not bore you with any superfluous words. Judge for yourself.
Prints are available from here:
My Norway Gallery on Photoshelter (link opens in a new window).
Clearly I wasn’t the only one who’d been trespassing in the times gone by. The place was riddled with old clothes, one or two helmets, and other remains of people who’d stayed there after the fire had done its work. Of course destruction of this type is often followed by additional “vandalism”, since the place is going to be taken down / renovated anyway, it apparently doesn’t matter if you don’t respect other people’s property. Graffiti and other forms of “art” were found throughout the place.
One thing that caught my eye was something I could use for one of my little projects:
Last year I bought from B&H Photo Video a Singh-Ray VariND filter.
I’m the kind of guy that wants to have all the good stuff, but I don’t want to have to haul around so much stuff. And since one ND filter rarely does the job, I wanted something that WOULD do the job, but would also give me the flexibility to “change” the filter if necessary.
I had my eye on a VariND filter for awhile already, but I couldn’t really justify the costs (they come in at $340, which is quite a steep price I think). But I was extremely happy when I got it, and I’ve been using it a lot. It’s absolutely worth the investment, especially considering the fact you get ND1-ND8 in one filter and if you’d have to purchase these filters individually you’d be out of a lot more cash.
But… Recently I started experiencing some weird stuff going on. I noticed it for the first time a couple of months ago when I was shooting some images for my “Commuting” series. A weird red “blob” appeared right through the center of the image. At first I thought it might be some funky polarizing going on, but that’s not it. It now appears -only at the darkest setting- indoors, outdoors, in natural light, in bright sunlight, in tungsten light… Everywhere.
It didn’t used to be there. The images I shot and posted in this post were shot also with the VariND and at the darkest setting. They don’t have it.
This is how it looks:
I have no idea what could be the cause of this. I cleaned the filter several times, there’s no other filters on top of the VariND that could cause this. I didn’t drop it… I’m in the dark…
I sent Singh-Ray a mail about it yesterday, let’s see what they come up with (if they reply).
Of course I can fix it, that’s not the problem (there are few things that I can’t fix in Photoshop), but it’s a pain in the ass, because it’s local and not global, so you really have to be precise with the masks and everything. I wouldn’t want to do this to a series of 100 pictures…
We came home late(r) from town last night and I couldn’t really catch sleep. Luckily, because -out of the blue?- a thunderstorm rolled over part of town. Lightning like crazy (of course exactly in a corner where I just couldn’t reach with the camera. I set up anyway, plugged in the remote shutter, set the camera on C(h) and locked the shutter with a 6 second exposure, figuring that the storm must every now and again, if not totally, move a bit out of the that wretched corner into the viewfinder. In the mean time an incredible amount of rain came down in a very short period of time, temporarily flooding the streets out front. Did some other things in the mean time and ended up with some 250 images (yay for D800 raw files, that’s about 10 gig right there ), mostly without any lightning, some with some lighted up sky, and one or two with a really nice strike. The best one is below:
I bet I could’ve got much better pictures, but I would’ve had to go out in weather a dog wouldn’t even go out. And it was 1:30, barely dressed and not in the mood. Anyway…
I figured I could have a go with a timelapse sequence with the rest of the images and that didn’t come out too bad, either.
One of my buddies from the local camera club set up a little 7-day photo challenge for a select group of interested people. It’s always interesting, and challenging (hence the name, I guess), because you get a theme and have stick to it. It may or may not be something you would’ve come up with yourself, and if it wasn’t it may (or may not) be something that’ll pull you out of your comfort zone.
And indeed, he had some of those (bless / curse him!). I’ll spare you the self-portrait, that was downright scary. And I’ll spare you a few other ones, too, since in my eyes they didn’t come out as nice as I would’ve liked, but I’ll share my favorites here.
On the theme movement / motion I finally got to do something I had been planning to do already for quite some time, but never came around doing. I’ll go out and shoot some more of these, while I still can, before the terrorism-paranoia comes over here, too, and they won’t allow you to shoot anymore in these locations.
It’s a panorama stitched together from two pictures.
Our trip to Norway to shoot the Northern Lights was quickly on its way to turn into a big, expensive disaster. We had one more chance, one more night.
And it was a clear night. A beautiful night. A cold night. So nothing could go wrong, right?
Or so we thought…
We arrived at our destination, Ersfjordbotn, well in time. Just before sunset. We set up, and I shot some pictures of the setting sun.
And then the waiting started… In the end you of course never know. 80% is a good chance, but there’s still 20% chance to nothing. Slowly, with frustration, cold and a tickling bladder (not yet tRickling) creeping up on us it looked like we hit the jackpot with 20% of zilch. The arm and leg we paid for the trip to this country where everything seems to costs nothing short of fluid gold, was going to fly by with nothing to show for. At least not that what we set out for…
We shot a few pictures in the hours that passed (and hours they were, and stubborn WE were).
We got company from a few other photographers and it didn’t help our mood when one of them told us that the previous night had been spectacular over Tromsø. We had been sitting out in the cold for about seven hours waiting for the Lights to come, because it was supposed to have been overcast over Tromsø and clear where we are, and we went home empty-handed only to find out that we should’ve best stayed in Tromsø and we would’ve had a great show. But no…
In the end it doesn’t matter how stubborn you are, how eager you are, how patient you are… After sitting in the cold for another six or so hours we accepted our losses and packed up our gear and headed back home. Our newly acquired photographer-friend hitched a ride with us back towards town. And I’ll be damned… we were just over the hills when he shouts “Look there! It’s starting! Pull over!”
Sure as I’m sitting here writing this… the sky turned all green on us and it was dancing like there was no tomorrow.
Sure, you see it on pictures. And it’s beautiful on pictures. But when you see it for real, when you see it with your own eyes… It’s nothing short of breath-taking. Here’s a piece of nature phenomena which struck me silent on the spot. The first five-ten minutes we just stood there gaping at with mouths open. If it would’ve lasted for only that time, we still wouldn’t have had any pictures of it. But we at least saw it in its full beauty. I’m sure you’ve seen pictures. And I have pictures coming up. But I couldn’t possibly explain how it is to look at this in real life.
The only thing… Pictures are brighter. It doesn’t happen often that the pictures are more beautiful in terms of color, saturation and vibrance (unless of course you bump the sliders in post-processing), but the actual Northern Lights aren’t all that bright. They are very clear, and very visible, that’s not it, but the colors in the pictures, even in the unedited raw files, are so much deeper and saturated than what I saw with my own eyes…
Not that it takes away any of the awe that it gave me…
I’m planning another trip. I realize we pushed it in terms of time left before the climate changed too much for the chances to see the Northern Lights. Next year it’ll be early/mid February instead of end March.
(So yeah, the last one’s photoshopped, but that was because I was so frustrated and I so badly wanted to have a picture with the Northern Lights coming into that point where the mountains meet… I’ll get a real one of those next year )