A scene from the life of a stormchaser / photographer…
“Did you catch anything today? by the way why are you soaking wet?”
“I caught myself a storm, about thiiiiiiiiis big! And…caught a bit of snow as well”
Stormchasing is something I could get seriously addicted to, it’s quite an adrenaline thrill! I reckon someday I’ll have to try a tour with Storm Chasing Tours! But this week I didn’t have to go far to chase a storm. Tuesday afternoon just as the sun was setting; Copenhagen was hit by a huge violent and short-lived snow storm. I noticed the very dark clouds building up on the horizon and jumped on my bicycle and pedaled like a Tour de France rider towards the lakes in central Copenhagen (only about 4 Kilometers away from my home so I beat the storm). The Lake Peblinge and Sortedam are my favourite places in Copenhagen and also the best spot for shooting storms or any cloudscape. I have a 360 degree open view of the sky and can quickly find the best composition when a storm is approaching.
The snow storm arrived quickly and it was over just as fast, I reckon I had the good light for 10 minutes or maybe less. The light you get with a combined storm and setting sun is so alien, so otherworldly and so special. In this case the setting sun lit up the storm clouds from underneath and the storm clouds themselves were very dramatic. This created an incredible contrast in colours and light between the dark and brooding clouds and the yellow orange tint of the setting sun.
A word of advice, when shooting this sort of scene do underexpose by about 2/3 to 1 stop even if you spot measure using the bright clouds – the bright parts of the clouds are indeed very bright and you don’t want to burn out the highlights. Also underexposing increases the contrast and colour of the clouds and I wasn’t looking for details in the buildings anyway, the storm is the subject here. A final tip: carry a camera bag that’s water proof or very water resistant. You need to keep shooting until the storm arrives so you and your gear are likely to get a good shower! (all part of the stormchaser experience)
Here are my shots from this particular storm. click to see them fullsize:
This old article about Peter Lik and his great landscape photography has been deleted. Writing a positive article about Peter Lik attracts too many spam comments, so I chose to erase it.
/30 June 09 – Flemming Bo Jensen
I am a landscape (and cityscape) photographer so naturally I love movies where the landscape itself is an integral part of the story, a character in itself. In some movies the landscape is almost the main character and through cinematography and music the landscape takes on a personality. I greatly admire the cinematographers of these movies for their work, being able to bring a personality to the landscape and make you feel as you’re actually there, suffering in the intense heat of the outback for example and not just sitting in a comfy seat at the cinema (wanting to kill everyone who eats popcorn and candy loudly but that’s another story).
Almost any Western has the landscape as an important part of the story, and lately at the cinema there has been some great examples of various Western themed movies: 3:10 to Yuma, There Will Be Blood and No Country for Old Men – all of them great movies with outstanding cinematography with the landscape itself as an important character. I recently re-watched The Proposition on DVD and this fantastic Australian western (highly recommended!) is one of the best examples ever of making the landscape a character in the movie. In Nicolas Roeg’s classic Walkabout set in the Australian outback the landscape is almost the main character. The movie is “Nic Roeg 70s weird” to the point of not making sense a lot of the time but it is still so spellbinding and so well shot and directed that it lingers in the visual cortex forever.
In still photography; Ansel Adams is one of my heroes and he created masterpieces of landscape photography. His photos, his darkroom work and his totally perfect black and white fine art printing techniques created huge prints that actually created an emotional response in the viewer. That’s hard with a landscape, easier with human portraits. I have a long way to go but I strive for the same, to someday have a landscape print that will not only make the viewer go “that’s gorgeous” but will floor them speechless (well it’s good to have ambitions!). Ansel managed to make the landscape a character.
Walkabout poster. Notice the burned highlights and high contrast
Conveying the landscape as a character and giving the landscape a personality is done through many different ways. Over and underexposure and different filters are often used just as we do in still photography. Overexposure is used a lot when you want the viewer to feel the intense and unforgiving heat, brightness and hostility of a desert or the outback. De-saturating the colours and upping the contrast is also a useful tool to make the image more striking, monochromatic and again make you almost feel the sun. The Proposition is shot this way, completely blown out skies and mostly brownish de-saturated colours. I really admire how you can do this and still make it look striking and beautiful. I do love the supersaturated tropical look, but it is also an easier and sometimes too easy look, to shoot a polarized and Velvia like saturated colour scene in places like Australia where the colours are already so intense. This look also fares much better on the web than the “Western” look because you need to catch the viewers eyes with a small thumbnail image and colours do this very well.
I want to experiment some more with the de-saturated, dusty, high-contrast and over-exposed Western look. This is quite possibly a look that works a lot better on print, not on the web so it will be a challenge to try and create striking images in this category.I’ll end this with a few recent examples, where I’ve experimented with a lot of different Photoshop techniques to try and find my “Western” look. Here’s the examples, click to see fullsize on my gallery:
A new day at Hawk Dreaming
Lancelin Sand Dunes in Ansel Adams style
Gate to the Outback
If you have some tips for how to create this look, I’d love to hear them!
Posted in Australia, Outback, Photography
Tagged 3:10 to Yuma, cinematography, movie, Photo, photoshop, the proposition, there will be blood, walkabout, western
Just a quick update on the exciting Sigma DP1 (see my previous posts here and here). It is now very real, quite a few people have already purchased it and the Sigma forum at DPreview.com is a gold mine of reviews and sample images!
Günter Borgemeister is a longtime Sigma SLR user and has some fantastic stitched panos on his Pbase website. He now also owns the DP1 and he has posted some full size stitched panoramas in this gallery:
All shot with the Sigma DP1. To view them full-size scroll down and click ‘original’ at the links with ‘other sizes:’
Have a look at the full-size “Überlingen Münster” shot from inside a church and notice how SLR like the image is. Very clean, no noise, sharp, clean colours etc. It looks very very impressive and I can’t wait to try the DP1 myself!
Sorry for neglecting my blog and not uploading any new photos to my website, this flu virus has really taken it’s toll.
I did get around to stitching a few panoramas and that brings me to a problem with display very wide (more than 4:1) panoramas online. My “standard” aspect ratio photos I upload at 800 pixels wide/tall whereas wide stitched panoramas I upload at 1000 pixels wide. I want to show enough detail to customers on my website but I don’t want to upload at such a large resolution that my file can just be grabbed and used directly from my website (and I’m not a fan of big intrusive watermarks in the photo).
But even a 1000 pixels wide image is really just a thumbnail for these super wide panoramas, most of them are up to 10 images stitched and more than 10,000 pixels wide so at 1/10th the size you loose the magic. I wish I could show you the incredible clarity and detail of these original files! I am also looking for a printer where I can do a 3 meter wide print of these files without sending the file to an expensive lab.
Here’s a few examples of super wide panoramas, please click the image to see the 1000 pixels wide version on my website.
Cannon Hill at Hawk Dreaming in Kakadu National Park, Australia
Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House at sunset
Ubirr Rock in Kakadu National Park, Australia
I really hope the future has some exhibition in store for me where I get to display these as 3 meter wide prints so I can show you these photos as they’re meant to be seen! Until then you have to settle for viewing my 1000 pixels wide versions and trust me when I say that the originals I sell are fine art quality files so detailed you feel you can walk straight into the scene through the screen!