Another sunset walk in my local area. I'm always intrigued by the old farmhouse, which is just so typical Danish as it can possibly be. On this evening I managed to capture its reflection in the pond in front of it to great effect, in my own opinion.
Another walk in Gribskov at mostly well-known locations. However, I believe that at least the waterfall image is my best attempt at capturing that particular spot so far. The day also saw me experimenting with myself as the subject. I was wearing a knitted hat with a built-in headlight and positioned myself in an underpass while shooting a 15-second exposure. As hoped the result was quite interesting, although I did have to enhance it quite a bit to make the effect more noticeable.
Another day in the woods with gray skies and no light whatsoever. I struggled to find any compositions of interest, but then as I was walking home along the Strødam Lake, light finally appeared in the shape of an orange sunset below gloomy clouds. Combining this with a long exposure image of a creek below me ensured some kind of result that made it all worthwhile. I was also reasonably happy with the silhouette tree shot on a winter sky background.
Another quick walk in my local area that turned much longer than I had planned. Mostly because the light turned out half-decent as the winter sun set over the lake.
A return to the spot where I took the very first picture with a camera I could call my own. Way back in 1990 I took over my grandmother's old camera and took a picture in an old abandoned gravel pit that had turned into a lake. The picture was good enough that I still have it on my wall:
It wasn't possible to recreate the above image. Apart from the light being very different, the area has changed a lot since 1990. There is a lot more water in the lake and the growth around it is thicker. Instead, I focused on the surrounding forest, but also managed to get a hero picture of myself standing at the lake. All in all, a nice return, if mostly for the memories.
My last outing of 2019 was also one of the most succesful. Actually, for a long time it looked like I may not come home with anything as the light was harsh and my inspiration gone. But the whole time I put my faith in an image I actually had had in mind for months: a shot down one of the canals with the sun setting in the horizon between the buildings. So I had actually researched when the sun would set in the right place and timed my venture into Copenhagen in accordance to that. And boy, the result was exactly as I had envisioned. I love these images taken down the canal, and they ended my photography year on a high note.
After a lot of forest photography, I finally pulled myself together to do something different. And what a day I had at the beach! The winds were strong, and as a result the windchill became almost unbearable. But sporting a brand new Norwegian coat (they know how to make coats) and new waterproof boots, I pulled through and was rewarded with some of my favorite images of the year so far. And of course, while waiting for sunset I couldn't help wandering into the forest behind the beach to get a treescape or two.
Just another walk around the castle and the castle lake, but what a great result from a photography perspective. The light was spectacular throughout the afternoon, and at one point, the clouds aligned perfectly in a strange whirl behind and above the castle.
The other night I got on my bike and rode deep into the forest to do some shooting at an enclosure named Ulvedalen. Ulvedalen translates to Wolf Valley, which sounds dramatic, but there really are no wolves. I don't know if there ever were. In return, there are foxes... or rather, their gloves. Foxgloves. The most magical clearings full of purple and white foxgloves. This was absolutely delightful for a photographer. I unfolded my tripod and got to work, thinking these images would be stellar.
They were not.
This is what one of the better images looked like straight out of the camera:
Now, there's nothing unusual about a RAW image looking less than amazing without at least a few enhancements, but this? What a horrendous mess! Looks like someone sprayed youghurt on the camera lens.
I was not pleased and almost marked it "Rejected". This was nothing like I remembered the scene. Where was the magic that I had felt when I was standing there? The whole scene had been so spellbinding that even the risk of having to ride my bike home through a pitch dark, unknown forest hadn't been enough for me to quit shooting. And now it looked like it had all been for nothing. Not even my usual arsenal of post-processing tricks did anything to improve things. I needed to completely rethink my editing in order to save this disaster.
Well, the first thing the image needed was a good cropping. The center of the image actually hid a pretty good composition, with the curved leading line of foxgloves disappearing into the background. In return, all the dead branches that, on the scene, I'd thought constituted a wonderful foreground had to go. Not so with the tree stub on the right and the thick branches coming out of the ground like some creepy forest monster. Those work really well as a contrast to the pretty flowers.
Thinking back on the scene, I remembered it as being much darker and with the foxgloves drawing all the attention like little, colorful lanterns. That's what I needed to recreate. The background behind the trees, in particular, needed to be all but eliminated with some serious darkening. In fact, everything in between the foxgloves needed to be darker and much more contrasty to the bright foxgloves. Plenty of Orton effect in Luminar and darkening brushes in Lightroom were among the tools I used to ensure that. The foxgloves themselves, which I remembered as being very purple and beautiful, and not the rather pale shade of the RAW image, also needed lots of work. I not only saturated them, but also brightened them - to make them seem almost glowing - with a tool I hadn't used much before: Color Efex Pro, which is part of the old Nik tools collection.
Finally, in order to make the image less messy, I had to remove several stray foxgloves here and there. Same thing with a few branches that were working against the general front-to-back direction of the image. This is the final result:
Phew... it's been a long time since I worked this hard on one image, but I really wanted a reminder of that beautiful evening. And I think I managed that quite well. It's quickly becoming one of my favorite shots of the month of June. For me it's a great example of the difference between what the camera sees and records and what your brain remembers.
The above image may not be how it actually looked and what was captured by the camera lens, but, by God, it is much closer to what I felt while standing there. And to me, that counts above everything else. So let this also be an illustration of 1) how I do not have any ethics when it comes to how much you are "allowed" to change an image in order to make it look the way you want it to - none.- and 2) apparently I do not have the photographic skills to make an image look right coming out of the camera. I rely a lot on my post-processing skills.
Do I have a problem with that? No. Does that make me less of an artist? Some would say yes. I choose to say no. (Not that I necessarily am one to begin with, but that's another discussion.)
I haven't been doing a lot of serious picture taking so far this summer. It's been a combination of bad weather and good weather. Good weather meaning clear blue sky, which equals uninteresting backgrounds in general and sunsets in particular.
But last Sunday evening the perfect conditions were suddenly present. Lots of clouds, but also lots of sun in between the clouds, promising a beautiful sunset. Additionally, there was absolutely no wind. This is important when shooting in low-light conditions when you need exposures of maybe up to 1/2 second and you don't want wavy grass or moving leaves turning into blurry spots.
So off I went, over to a location I've gone to many times before: the Strødam area. Despite its beautiful lake and green surroundings, it's not the easiest place to shoot. Most of it is fenced off. You have to stick to a path, and in most places, dense vegetation prevents you from accessing the lake shore. So most of my pictures in the past were kind of blah.
But on this evening I was determined to crack the nut called Strødam and get some quality sunset shots. I quickly realized, however, that that wasn't going to happen sticking to the official path. So I did what all serious photographers have to do once in a while: I trespassed. I jumped the fence, determined to chase the sunset, which I could tell would be on the other side of a ridge in the middle of the fenced area.
So into the fenced area I went. No one came out of the woods to yell at me, and I was not attacked by angry wildlife. Still, I felt brave as a Navy Seal.
Fortunately, my bravery was rewarded. Reaching the top of the ridge, a dream scenery manifested itself below me: a herd of cows peacefully grazing on a meadow, a calm lake, and all of it shrouded in a purple and orange sunset with the sun having almost disappeared behind a tree line.
Over the next 30 minutes I took dozens of pictures of varying exposures, ISO and f-values. I moved closer a few times to make sure I didn't miss anything. I was certain this scenery was a slam-dunk and that I was shooting the pictures of my life!
And, well, it's not that I'm unhappy with the result, but I'm just not completely happy either. A better foreground would have been nice for starters, but the main problem is that it's just not as sharp as I would have liked it to be. I don't know if it's my camera, my lens, or my skills that leave something to be desired, but those cows should have had a lot more details.
One of the best pictures was taken as I was leaving the area. A few cows had moved over to where I had been moments before, so I stopped and got a few shots off before I retreated, afraid the cows might start chasing me (so much for being a Navy Seal). Again, it should have been sharper, but the motif is kind of pretty.
In the end, my own favorite shots of the night were not of cows or lakes. I really like this one of the purple flowers under a purple sky. Sure, the purple has been enhanced, but it really was an absolutely gorgeous scene.
Finally, just before I left the area, it was time for a self-congratulating selfie. It might have been better without the chubby fellow awkwardly embodying the rule of thirds, but there he is.