Monthly Archives: March 2009

The Dark Hole in the Universe Filter

I recently purchased a Heliopan 10 stop ND filter. This particular filter is almost akin to a dark hole in the universe although it does not consume you or open a worm hole if you look into it (I did, nothing happened. Disappointing). It lets in a mere 0,10 % of available light! This allows for very long exposures in full daylight, so you can blur moving elements like clouds, water, traffic. I bought the filter as I felt it is an interesting way to add otherworldly effects to daylight shooting. Also; I hear there’s a huge market for long exposure waterfall images so this filter should be a money maker!

Sunday provided some amazing storm clouds and some sunshine no less so I took the filter out for a test. Looking through the viewfinder is the dark hole; you are blind. So how do you focus and compose? Well, you either do it before attaching the filter – or if you own a camera with LiveView you simply use this incredible feature! The Canon 5D Mk II liveview just rocks, it is truly a spectacular thing and can see in the dark. 1/1000th of available light? No match for liveview! Even though the viewfinder is pitch black, liveview perfectly simulates a 30 second exposure and shows you the result on the 3” lcd complete with live histogram and no worries. Too easy! It is astounding that 0,1 % of light is enough for the liveview sensor. Ansel Adams would have loved liveview, he worked with huge manual view cameras at small apertures, composed using ground glass, and tilted the focus plane to get everything in focus. Takes a lot of experience to get this right. Except for focus plane shifting, by pressing a button we now have this live simulated with live histogram on a 3” lcd screen. I can even zoom in on the liveview image to check focus. Too easy almost!

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

30 Seconds of Storm Cloudscape
© Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

This shot from Copenhagen Harbour was composed and exposed using liveview. With the 10 stop ND filter attached, this is a 30 second exposure at f/16.0 – in the middle of the day. Viewfinder is useless but using liveview the image on the lcd was clear as day. Colours were not interesting in bland midday light, a much more dramatic result to be had from a black and white conversion in Lightroom. Here the bright light actually helps, lending contrast to the image. I added a strong vignette and duotoned the shadows a dark brown. Notice the water and the clouds shows the effect of 30 seconds exposure with the 10 stop ND filter.

PS. Would the persons owning the two boats to the left and right of the above view please move their vessels? I wanted to stitch a panorama wider that this but the bloody boats are in the way!

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The Unchosen Ones

On a busy day at a world class location like Hawk Dreaming or Purnululu National Park I may end up with hundreds of different compositions and several hundreds RAW files. I then spend many hours in Adobe Lightroom in preview mode, marking my ‘picks’ simply by pressing P. I repeat this until I feel I have found and developed all my Chosen Ones.

After a bit of time it can be a great eye opening exercise to filter out the picks and look at the rest with fresh eyes. Often there are subtle gems and future favourites hidden in these rejects; pictures that were left behind when all the obvious choices screamed “pick me! pick me!”. These are the stories of 3 photos that were picked late in the game but ended up outshining others:

Having climbed up into a rock art cave in darkness; I witness first light looking out over the Hawk Dreaming landscape. This shot is not wide angle for a change, but a 100mm zoom view of Cannon Hill in the misty morning light:

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

Misty Morning at Cannon Hill
© Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Trekking in the Bungle Bungle Ranges is an otherworldly experience. This image of blue sky, white gum trees and orange rock is perhaps only for outback fanatics like myself; but I like it very much:

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

Bungle Bungle Ranges landscape
© Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Purnululu National Park has very quickly become one of my favourite spots in Australia. Watching the sun fire up the colours of the orange Bungle Bungle Ranges is a visual wonder:

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

Bungle Bungle range in the setting sun
© Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

The Unchosen Ones. Often ending up being some of my very favourite images!

Canon 5D Mk II captures Copenhagen

A few months back I wrote my first impressions having just upgraded from Canon 5D Mk I to Mk II. Winter and non-stop grey overcast weather (and mood) has meant I have only shot a few hundred images since then but I still feel I have enough clicks to write my second impressions of this fantastic camera.

Wednesday the weather in Copenhagen cooperated and produced some fantastic light and clouds. As the sun was setting I created this image of the lovely clouds:

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

Copenhagen Finger Clouds at Sunset
© Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Now; with the sun gone and human vision starting to struggle this is where the 5DMk2 shines! It can see in the dark! Well, so can all cameras, it’s a matter of exposure, but the 5D does it so well at such high quality that it really is a view into another universe! This is a 15 second exposure with just a bit of dusk light remaining. I could hardly see this but the 5D can, switch to live view on the gorgeous 3” screen and you have night vision! Here’s Copenhagen After Dark:

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

Copenhagen After Dark Cloudscape
© Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Second impressions

  • Upgrade from old 5D was definitely worth it! The old 5D was top but this is even more top! (for all you ‘The Castle’ fans out there!)
  • Camera still behaving very nicely, not a single problem. Upcoming trips to Africa and Australia will test it, Luminous Landscape article (25% 5DMk2 failures in Antarctica) has me slightly worried so the old 5D is joining me!
  • The 14-bit 21 megapixel RAW files continue to amaze. They are truly gorgeous and I love having single shots at this size, more more, I want more pixels (at the same quality of course)!
  • Live view and live histogram is proving incredibly useful, much more than I would have thought. I didn’t think I would use it much but it as a great way of previewing your shot, exposure, aperture, white balance before shooting. It is great for shooting stitched panoramas and it is very helpful with exposure and focus at night. It eats battery power though; I won’t be using it in a desert where I can’t recharge.
  • I am still used to the top button layout of the 5D Mk I, keep pressing the wrong buttons!
  • One thing I would want to change. With the old 5D you could use the wheel on the back of the camera to change aperture in A mode. Here; you have to use the thumb wheel exclusively. I keep changing exposure compensation when I really wish to change the aperture.
  • Battery life is improved greatly over the old 5D and is impressive. Which is a very good thing since a 5D Mk extra battery is simply impossible to find anywhere presently. Sold out worldwide! So I am going to Africa with 1 battery and definitely bringing the old 5D as backup.
  • Thanks Canon for making the cover for the remote cable release plug easier to remove. May seem a small thing but I had a continuing battle with this rubber cover on the old 5D 😀
  • The HD video results is mindboggling, can’t get over how good the files look (even if my video skills are beyond crap). Can’t get over how big the files get! My PC can’t even play the 1920×1080 files without skipping here and there. To see some outstanding 5DMk2 videos, check out Michael Fletcher and his latest videos.
  • Automatic sensor cleaning. Well…I am cloning out dust spots! It may still work to a certain degree of course; I may have had many more dust spots without it. We shall see how it deals with the sand of Africa and Australia!
  • And…5D Mk II can actually see in the dark! Quite a feat!

Many more images and impressions to come as I take the 5D Mk II on the road!

Kenya

 

Kenya banner. Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Jambo, habari? Mzuri sana! Sawa sawa

A long time ago in another life, in a galaxy far far away, I visited Kenya. A long time ago but I still remember all the Swahili my Kenyan guide John taught me. I remember the fantastic landscapes and wildlife, large wide open savannah plains alive with elephants, giraffes, wildebeest, lions, cheetahs etc. I remember standing up in the open 4WD, wind and sun in my face, bumping along on a dirt road through wide open savannah thinking “I never ever want to leave!” – a common trait of every one of my outback trips. Got to get out of this city crap!

It was my first longer trip abroad and my first trip with any sort of photography involved. I borrowed a Canon 35mm point&shoot from a friend and loved it. Most of the shots are absolute crap! I knew nothing of composition, exposure, aperture, DOF etc. I just loved light, landscapes and wildlife. My love for wide open spaces and landscapes comes from childhood, my love for photography was kindled here in amazing Kenya.

I always thought that among the crap bulls-eye composition shots there were a few keepers here and there worth restoring for sentimental value, and I would like to some day find the negatives and scan these and run them through the magic digital darkroom in Lightroom. When I recently stumbled upon a box of dusty scratchy old negatives, the old film scanner was called into service!

What I found was interesting. I certainly recognize myself: wide angle, love of the sky, wide open savannah landscape view, dramatic light. Most of the shots are typical bulls-eye, point and shoot from exactly where I was standing. All shots have far too much space top and bottom, so cropped to a panorama they suddenly work much better. I have always seen in panoramic format, just didn’t have a camera to capture it! In the next post I will go into details of how I restored these. I deliberately left in some of the film grain, just took out big scratches, dust spots etc. I like the grain! In this post I will concentrate on the photos, much more in my new Kenya gallery.

First up are some beautiful giraffes contra-jour the sunset:

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

Giraffes in the sunset
© Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Driving through the landscape on gorgeous red dirt, on a moody lit day:

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

Red Dirt Road Panorama
© Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Contra-jour catches my eye, here we have elephants and wildebeest:

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

Elephant and Wildebeest on the Savannah
© Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

The beautiful magnificent wide open Kenya savannah:

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

Golden Hour on the Savannah
© Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

To see the rest of the collection, go to my new Kenya gallery.

Asante sana, hakuna matata ya kwaheri!

Kimberley Photography Tour 2009 with All Terrain 4WD Safaris

Are you looking for a one of a kind photography tour designed by photographers for photographers, and a true outback experience, sleeping under the stars, driving on the Gibb River Road through the famous Kimberley region of Western Australia? Then jump on the Kimberley Photography Tour 2009 departing on 29th of April 2009 with All Terrain 4WD Safaris:

allterrain1

I know the managing director (he’s also a photographer) of All Terrain 4wd Safaris. We’re hoping this will be the first of many photography tours. I have travelled with All Terrain, and I very much recommend them and so feature this little ad and recommendation on my blog today. All Terrain offer true outback adventures, and visit places like the Mitchell Plateau, Tanami Desert and Wolfe Creek where no one else goes.

I had a hand in creating the itinerary for this photo tour and as you will see on the tour page, a few of my Kimberley photos are featured. Your official photography hosts on the tour will be the very experienced and great local photographers Peta North and Nigel Gaunt – but with a bit of luck and a spare seat (or roof space!) you may also have the pleasure (?!) of having yours truly on board! See ya’ on the Gibb River Road with All Terrain 4WD Safaris!

Perfect Moment

Once in a blue moon I experience a perfect moment and I wish I could freeze time. A moment where it all clicks; all the elements come together and create a touch of magic. The real challenge is capturing this and creating an image that brings a viewer into this moment. It’s part of why I love landscape photography so much; I want to show people how magical and truly stunning nature can be. I want to capture these moments and have you experience them!

This particular moment lasted at least an hour; from pre-dawn to full daylight at Hawk Dreaming in Kakadu National Park. I’ve blogged about this sunrise before, it was the most magical of mornings producing many wonderful images. I recently dug another shot out of the archives and processed it. It is an image with a bit of a painterly style; with the many layers from clouds to mist and the many soft tones of the morning light. As you view it, know that you as the viewer are all alone in the world, standing at sacred Hawk Dreaming looking out over the huge floodplains. It’s just you and nature at it’s finest and most magical, no civilisation, no people, no distractions. Just pure Dreaming!

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

Layers of Sunrise at Hawk Dreaming
© Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

This is an old-school single shot composition, something I enjoy shooting very much. Stitched images are a great way to increase the pixel count and I try to shoot as many panos as possible to maximise the amount of pixels. You never know when a customer might like a particular image printed at 2 meters wide and then it’s nice to know there’s enough pixels for great detail. Still; there’s a difference between a detailed shot and a great shot and I love single shots, I love composing right in the viewfinder and I try not to worry too much about pixel peeping and pixel counting. I have enough to worry about trying to capture a great photo!

To get the most out of these perfect moments I try and ‘sketch’ the scene using different compositions, different focal lengths, different positions and shoot horizontal and vertical. I don’t machine gun the camera, I take my time to make each composition count (going through 500 very similar images in Lightroom is very boring) but I do want to try and freeze the moment and the magic by capturing many different shots. I can then only hope that one of them works and takes you there and lets you experience the perfect moment.

Do you bring a backup camera?

My 5D Mk II, 5D Mk I and 20D cameras I am preparing for the next 3 month photo odyssey, take off 7th of April for Namibia. I am having a debate with my schizophrenic self whether to bring a second DSLR body. Last year in Australia I brought my Canon 20D as backup camera for my 5D. Not too bad weight wise as I only needed the extra body, the 20D and 5D share batteries and chargers.

Now I am using the 5D mk II so I could bring my old 5D as backup. But 5D Mk II has a new battery system so bringing the old 5D now means extra batteries and an extra charger. I am probably also bringing a Panasonic LX3 for snapshots, street photography etc. And I actually really want to try and cut down on the amount of gear compared to the last few trips – but this will add quite a bit. On the other hand I don’t want to be in the Namib desert with a broken down 5D MkII and no camera (although I would have the Panasonic LX3). Would die of disappointment if I couldn’t shoot, that’s what it’s all about.

Fellow photographers, do you bring a backup camera body on photo trips, if so is it a compact or extra SLR body, or perhaps a film camera?