Monthly Archives: June 2008

8 meters of Sydney

A couple of months ago I sold an image file of my Sydney Opera House and Circular Quay Panorama to be used for an 8 meter wide display at the opening exhibition at the new Utzon Center in Aalborg, Denmark. The building is of course designed by the Danish Architect Jørn Utzon, famous for designing The Sydney Opera House. Last weekend I finally had a chance to visit the Utzon Center and see the print at the exhibition. It’s a very impressive building and wauv; the photographer who shot that 8 meter wide photo, he’s really something special, he’s a legend !!!

If you have a chance to visit the Utzon Center here’s what you will encounter:

Lucas and the Opera House

Well I doubt that my dear 2 year old nephew (who loves the camera!) will be there as he is in this shot, but get to the Utzon Center before 10th of September 2008 and the print will be there! Here’s a link to video of the photo (shot with my old crappy camera phone, sorry about the appalling quality).

They did a really impressive display, it’s mounted on a free standing custom built curved wall. The image pixel size was blown up 200% but when the print is viewed from two meters away the image appears sharp and the curved effect is like standing in the middle of Sydney (well, floating in mid air looking at Sydney actually). My original shot is here:

Click to see large size on my gallery! Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Sydney Opera House and Circular Quay Panorama
Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

I was actually going to ask them what they planned to do with the print after the exhibition but after seeing how it’s mounted it wouldn’t really fit in my flat!


Judgment Day

“There’s a storm coming” says the boy. “I know” says Sarah Connor at the end of one of my favourite movies – the sci-fi masterpiece The Terminator.

It wasn’t exactly followed by a nuclear launch and machines taking over the world, but the storm that hit Copenhagen on a Thursday night a few weeks ago still had a “end of the world” feel to it. A very dramatic cloudscape preceded the storm just at sunset and I picked a spot on the harbour with a wide open view of the sky and captured this:

Click to see large size on my gallery! Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Copenhagen Harbour Storm Panorama
Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Standing at the harbour shooting this and watching the storm coming with not a soul to be seen anywhere I felt like saying another favourite Terminator quote “There’s not much time left in the world”!

The shot is 6 vertical images stitched in PTgui. I used a neutral density filter to lengthen exposure but then forgot I had the iso at 200…bugger! I wish the 5D would display iso in the viewfinder! The original shot had a sky that was more bluish and purple but I didn’t really like this colour and felt it didn’t go well with the orange colour of the sunset. So I desaturated most of the blues and cyans and then added a bit of a dark brown gradient fill layer to the clouds just to warm the gray clouds slightly. I feel the orange and black go much better together here. As the finishing touch I used my Wacom tablet to paint some light onto the buildings and added a couple of vignettes in Photoshop.

The end result is a dramatic stormy cloudscape view of Copenhagen – Judgment Day style without the robots though!

With my head in the clouds

I tell ya it’s not easy getting any photography done with all these UEFA EURO 2008 footy matches on every night! Nothing can stop me though when the light looks to be special and after having sunshine, rain and hail storms visit us during Monday I knew it would not be dull.

I chose a spot at the end of Lake Peblinge and decided that tonight was all about the sky, forget the city. I wanted a cloudscape. Clouds are so common most people overlook their astounding beauty and their importance in a landscape shot. Like an umbrella in a studio Clouds reflect light and will light and colour your scene. Clouds are for dreamers. Enough nonsense, here’s the shot:

Click to see large size on my gallery! Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Tropical Cloudscape at Lake Peblinge
Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

I used my 17-40mm wide angle lens, but did end up using one of tighter shots at 40mm as the composition was better. I shot at f/22.0, iso50 and used a neutral density filter to cut light and be able to expose for 6 seconds maximizing colours and light. I am standing on top of the bridge (it’s more like a road that crosses the lake) “Fredensbro” and it was blowing a gale as the water demonstrates! When shooting a scene like this be very careful with the red channel, it is very easy to blow out if you just measure luminance. The Canon 5D displays an RGB histogram but if don’t have that then measure the light on the clouds and underexpose by a stop and bracket your exposure. The red channel will be at least a stop brighter than the other channels. The compressed 8bit jpeg above actually has a bit of blown red, but the original doesn’t. Blown reds are ugly, avoid them like the plague!

The clouds and colours on this evening were from another place. These are clouds on fire, tropical colours that really do not belong in cold Scandinavia and it was a mesmerizing light show. Clouds for dreamers. With my head in the clouds. Trying not to fall over.

Wannabe Bruce Chatwin with a Moleskine

I need to invent a fancy theme for posts like these, something like Off-Topic Wednesdays (it is Wednesday today isn’t it? Me and time have a weird relationship) but for now this’ll do:

It’s off-topic day, not about my photography for a change!

Bruce Chatwin from the cover of the biography by Nicholas ShakespeareI live, eat and breathe photography but also love writing and I write a lot when I travel. As I get ready to embark on another photo trip to Australia the travel bug gets me. I long for travel, long for doing photography all the time every day in new locations every day in an alien yet familiar outback landscape on the other side of the world. Eternal Restlessness.

The closer I get to travelling the more travel novels I read. I am somewhat strangely obsessed with everything Bruce Chatwin at the moment after having re-read his novel Songlines twice in one week. I forgot what a masterpiece of literature that book is and how good a writer he was. Also quite a fascinating character! I am presently reading the biography and a few of his other novels.

I love writing while travelling. I do write at other times but nowhere near as much. The first few times I travelled abroad I wrote in classic diary style, “I did this, I went there, I saw that” etc. Mind-numbingly boring to read now! But the last many notebooks are written travel story style with a mix of thoughts, reflections, observations, history, humour and anecdotes. Trying to put the reader inside my head (scary place!) Still boring probably but at least somewhat different! I now write in the gorgeous Moleskine notebooks of course, the sure sign of someone desperately trying to be creative. I’m no Bruce Chatwin but hey, I use the same notebooks he did!

Flemming Bo Jensen notebooks On the right is a photo of the travel notebooks I have written so far. After I began blogging not only do the notebooks have to suffer my words but so do the internet as my Travelog page demonstrates! Who knows, some of my old stories buried in the notebooks on the right might make it online someday. Or someday when my photography makes me rich and famous I can publish these! Maybe not, I reckon I should stick to photography!

Moleskine. It’s pronounced Mol-e-skin-a if you feel like attempting some Italian (the company is Italian).

Summer Storm in Copenhagen

The month of May brought us some incredibly good Spring weather, 347 hours of sunshine (a new record) and temperatures up to 29,5c degrees. I know, a chilly day in the Australian outback but it’s all relative as someone once said.

The month of May brought very few photos though, sunshine from a clear blue sky lends itself well to trips to the beach but not to my style of photography – dramatic and special light! I love Summer but also need some drama light to keep my photography fix going (I’m an addict). Like always, I want everything! My new favourite saying: I want patience and I want it now!

A dramatic change means beach trips are now out and photo trips are in again with everything from rain and hail storms to sunshine thrown into the weather mix presently! Thursday night in Copenhagen some amazing alien looking light and cloudscapes chose to visit us and fortunately I was ready. I shot a series of shots at two locations and this is the first of them, my permanent spot at lake Peblinge on my way home. It’s 10.23pm (sun sets at around 10pm) and a 20 second exposure captures this – click for large size:

Click to see large size on my gallery! Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Summer Storm in Copenhagen Panorama
Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

It’s the sort of shot that gets better the bigger it is but I hope you still get a sense of how awe-inspiring the light was. It’s also somewhat otherworldly and I feel like doing a version with a UFO in there and Scully and Mulder in a boat on the lake – the truth is out there! I have more photos to come from this X-Files cloudscape night so maybe the next one will feature an Unidentified Flying Object!

Lightroom 2.0

This shot was developed in the beta version of Adobe Lightroom 2.0. I have recently started to use this as my RAW development tool and I must say I like it a lot and I like it a lot more than Lightroom 1.0. They fixed a lot of the things that annoyed me in 1.0 and added some incredible new features. Adobe purchased the Danish company Pixmantec and their product Rawshooter a short time before 1.0 was released but had no time to incorporate features etc. into Lightroom 1.0. With 2.0 I think the Pixmantec boys have had a lot more inputs and Lightroom 2.0 really feels like a lot more like a mix of the best of Rawshooter and Lightroom to me. I really like it and reckon Lightroom 2.0 will be my new RAW developer of choice. I did almost everything in Lightroom including the vignette effect, I only used Photoshop for sharpening and very little healing and painting with light. I still wish it was faster and more responsive, Rawshooter runs rings around Lightroom in terms of speed!

Country of Upside-Downers

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water…or back in the outback at least…I am back!

On 27th of August I once again depart to rendez-vous with my soul in my second home, the country of Upside-Downers – Australia. I will spend about a month in “godsown” this time concentrating my shooting in the Kimberleys area in Western Australia where I’ll roam the outback for a bit more than two weeks. I will also revisit Hawk Dreaming in Kakadu National and then end up with a few days of visiting mates in Sydney. I may end up going to Broken Hill as well, presently contemplating this idea.

I cannot wait to re-visit the glorious outback in the Kimberleys. I have explored the area once back in 1998 (in the wet season no less but with no rain, just 52c degree sunny days!). This was before I was really into photography and only armed with an old Canon EOS 1000 SLR with one lens and some Fujichrome (and Aerogard for the mossies!). This time I will be armed to the teeth with a tonnes of Digital SLR gear! I have always wanted to go back and shoot here again because it is such a special place.

Here is my 1998 version of the famous Gibb River Road in the Kimberleys, a scan of an old worn down slide.


Gibb River Road in the Kimberleys.
Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

See ya soon all you upside-downers down under!

A subtle discovered moment of Hawk Dreaming

I received a lot of feedback on my Hawk Dreaming post and I’m grateful you liked the story and my writing. I do like writing although I’m a terribly ordinary writer (actually that’s an insult to ordinary writers) but hey, words are cheap on a free blog! Click my Travelog link if you’re bored out of your mind and can’t think of anything better to read!

As a follow up to my Hawk Dreaming story from a few weeks ago, here’s a photo file that I recently dug out of the archives and processed. It is the very last rays of sunlight at Hawk Dreaming lighting up parts of Cannon Rock and I used my Wacom tablet and painting with light in photoshop to subtly enhance the light. I made the rocks glow a little bit extra and I darkened the grass slightly. I particularly like the long narrow cloud above the rocks, a perfect painterly composition.

If you ever wanted to know what a perfectly tranquil sunset at Hawk Dreaming in Kakadu National park feels like then this is better than a thousand of my words:

Click to see large size on my gallery! Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Hawk Dreaming Glowing Rock at Sunset Panorama
Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Imagine sitting here at the end of a very warm day in tropical Kakadu National Park. It’s just you and Nature. No civilisation visible anywhere (ehm, apart from all your camera gear and the 4WD). Time does not exist. The sun sets very quickly and the light changes from hard, glaring and bald to soft, warm and subtle. The wind settles down in time with the sun and there is suddenly not a single sound in the world and Time seems frozen for a brief moment as the sun sets. A new world awakens as the sun disappears and the sound of nocturnal creatures come alive. The last remaining evidence of daylight in the sky are captured on camera until total darkness signals the end of today’s awe-inspiring show by Nature. You realise you haven’t said a word for 30 minutes and can’t recall breathing. You wish this would last forever. This is why I shoot landscapes.

Well, I told you the photo is better than my words. Oh and one of the nocturnal creatures coming alive – mosquitoes! So do remember some strong repellant like Bushman or you will be eaten alive and become a permanent part of Nature!

Fresh eyes on old photos

One of the disadvantages of going through unprocessed RAW files is that it’s possible to miss some excellent but not so obvious shots. Just like in the traditional darkroom days you have to visualize the end result (Ansel Adams talked a lot about this) because an unprocessed RAW file can look rather dull. So sometimes I end up picking the obvious shots and miss the subtle but better shots like the one above. That is one reason why I never delete a single RAW file from my travel photography. They’re a bit harder to re-shoot than say a photo from my home city of Copenhagen.

Like good music it’s the albums which are less obvious that’s usually the classics in the long run. Obvious becomes tiring quickly because it’s … obvious. So I love going through old RAW files because with fresh eyes I’m sure to spot some yet to be discovered subtle gems!

Portfolio scrapbook online

portfolio-blog I recently created a Portfolio & Testimonials page on my gallery. It is a portfolio, a scrapbook if you will, showing you a selected few examples of how my photos have been used by customers. A big thank you to the kind customers who chose to send in photos and testimonials. Click the thumbnail on the right to go to the page.

An interesting recent sale was a 8 x 2.4 meter wide print of Sydney Opera House to the newly opened Utzon Center in Aalborg, Denmark. If you’re in the Aalborg area, my print is shown in the opening exhibition running from now to 10th of September 2008 so make sure you stop by the Utzon Center and check out my mega print!

My first 617 panorama exposures are online

I finally got the first two rolls from my first experience with the Fuji G617 panorama camera developed and scanned. The first two rolls were basically just tests to see how my exposures were and if I remembered to remove the lens cap etc! Basically test shots to learn how this beast of a camera exposes and if I’m using it correctly.

So let’s get to it, what do they look like? Here’s 3 scans for you, click to see them large:

300508-01 - Søerne edit 1000pix copy 2

300508-02 - amager strand 1 1000 pix - warm

300508-03 Amager strand 2 edit 1000pix warm copy

They’re just test shots and very ordinary photos but considering they’re my very first shots with a 617 panorama camera I’m strangely excited about these photos! The learning process is great fun – never mind the totally shitty results 😀 There’s just something special about holding a 6×17 cm transparency – and then seeing it come to life on the monitor as the scanner works it’s way through the image. It’s also an extremely slow work process from exposure to file on screen and I wish the 617 camera just had a memory card slot!

The first shot is from the end of Lake Peblinge in Copenhagen looking towards Søtorvet. If you know this place you get a good feeling of how incredibly wide a view a 617 camera at 105mm (35mm equivalent is about 24mm) gives you! In this case I would have liked to zoom in a lot more. I do like how this wide view and a second and a half of exposure makes Lake Peblinge look like an ocean. The other two shots are from the beach at Amager Strandpark and the very first shots I ever took with the 617.

Both shots are shot on Fujichrome RVP Velvia 50 Professional color slide film and scanned on a Imacon Flextight 848 scanner at 8000 dpi. I didn’t save the scans at full resolution but still brought home tiff files that are 23,000 pixels wide!

You may wonder about the purple and magenta colour cast but that comes from using a daylight film (about 5400 Kelvin) at a sunset at 9PM here (where the colour temperature is much much warmer, almost twice as warm). This could of course be “corrected” (it’s an artistic choice) in Photoshop or by shooting with filters but I wanted to present the scans as they are. The files above have received no post production at all except for levels and sharpening and conversion from AdobeRGB to sRGB colour space.

Random notes about the first few 617 exposures and the scans

  • Using my Canon 5D as a light meter works fine, but I can see the slides are a bit underexposed. With the way I meter light I need to add almost a full stop to the exposure on the 617.
  • These were shot at around f/22.0. I can see I really need to stop down a lot more to gain more depth of field. The middle shot is composed with the camera close to the sand and the foreground is very soft (more noticeable in the 23,000 pixel version!)
  • I just lurrve the colours and saturation of the Velvia film!
  • The built in level works very nicely, I ended up with some fairly straight horizons!
  • I rented time on the Imacon scanner at Fotografisk Center in Copenhagen and what a nice Digital workshop they have and it’s cheap to rent time as well. Great place, recommended.
  • The Imacon is a world class scanner and the results are very nice indeed and the scanner was a joy to work with (the Flexscan software could be better though). I scanned a few 35mm shots as well just to test it and got some nice 13,000 pixel wide scans!
  • amager-strand-100-percentCompared to a super clean iso100 digital raw file from my Canon 5D the scans are of course grainy and soft. We forgot how much grain is in film, even a 50 asa super fine grained film. Of course I’m looking at a 8000dpi scan at 100% but still – a pro level digital raw file is soooo much cleaner. Click the photo to the right to see a small crop of a 100% view that shows you the grain (and also how large the scan is, this is a small boat on the horizon in the original shot)
  • Dust…at 8000dpi every single tiny dust spot shows very easily on the scan no matter how much I thought I cleaned it, a 100% view reveals some nasty dust.  Takes a LOT of healing in Photoshop to clean up the scans (fortunately I own Noise Ninja software but still you need to a LOT of cleaning).
  • I should have shot some digital shots on that first evening as well so I could really compare the exposures. Me and my mate Markus were just too busy with the 617 camera so it slipped my mind and the light was disappearing rapidly anyway.

So – first test process completed! I managed to actually expose something on the transparencies and my 617 panorama adventure can continue. Now I just need to figure out a way to carry all of this gear on my bike without being too much of a danger to myself and the rest of Copenhagen. If you see me out there on the bike paths keep your distance please!

EDIT: It’s actually also nice to know that I haven’t become 100% dependant on digital technologies. I can shoot a photo on a 100% manual camera as well and still have it come out alright.