Tag Archives: 5d mk ii

Namib Desert. Desert is home.

Man was born in the desert. Desert is home. The words are Bruce Chatwin, I heartily agree with him. No landscape could be more alien to a Danish farm boy like yours truly and yet at the same time be so fascinating and possess a strange power. Desert is home.

I have just spent 4 days in the Namib desert. I am lost for words. To say it’s magical does not come close. I have never seen nor experienced anything like this. Even the vast outback of Australia seems a little smaller, a little less empty. The Namib desert is the oldest in the world with the largest sand dunes, up to 400 meters tall and it does truly boggle the mind to see these. But as spectacular as the dunes are, they are just one part of the whole Namib desert experience. 

Space. There is so much space. So much it does not really fit in my brain. The sky seems a million kilometres away. Horizon is always at infinity with perhaps the odd tree or mountain in the far far distance. So much space. Composing an image here, even on a 17mm wide angle, is like attempting to fit the universe in a shoebox. So much space. Not Into The Wild but Into The Nothing as seen here:

Namib Desert - Into The Nothing. Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

We drove from Swakopmund to the sand dunes of Sossusvlei for a 3 night bush camp. On the map it does not look like much. In reality it is a 8 hour 360 kilometre road trip on bone rattling corrugated roads through the most incredible ever changing desert country. Sometimes a moon landscape, sometimes ancient mountains, sometimes wide open desert plains with perhaps a herd of springbok. So much space. Namibia is a huge country with a population of only 2 million. So much space. You could easily loose the entire country of Denmark in the desert and never find it again. You could also easily loose yourself. So much space!

Our mode of transport was a Nissan 4WD work pickup truck, no fancy frills, all performance. Our trusty truck had no air con, with the windows open we could truly feel and taste the desert, the dust and the hot wind adding to the experience. If Namibia the country has a flavour it is the warm dry dust of the desert. We named the car Nissi and she runs like a tractor. Bit rough, but tough (‘we breed ‘em tough here, Africa is not for sissies’ – a popular saying) and she never let us down (she did blow a tire and ran hot but not her fault!)

I really am lost for words and also time, so for now I’ll just leave you with a few very quickly developed jpeg previews from Namib Naukluft National Park. Shooting here was a fantastic experience and difficult, will be the topic of many a forthcoming blog post. The Canon 5D Mk II performed perfectly and I seem to just attract good light and interesting clouds at the moment!

Namib Dunes. Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Sunrise at one of the thousands of dunes; we were lucky to get clouds

Namib Dunes and Oryx. Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

A lone oryx walks proudly in front of the dunes

Deadvlei. Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Dead tree at Deadvlei on a morning with extraordinary cloudscapes. I was so lucky this morning, nice soft light, beautiful clouds where as the norm is boiling hot harsh light from a blue sky.

FBJ at Work in Namibia

And lastly, me & my shadow at work in the dunes. No I am not scratching my head!

Randomness

  • Spare batteries for the Canon 5D Mk II are impossible to find, so it’s fortunate that the battery performance is brilliant. Managed over 1000 shots on a single charge!
  • In the desert we were stopped by a Namibian police officer. He was lost. An accident had been reported, 150 km out of Swakopmund towards Windhoek (which was not the road we were on). Had we seen the accident he asked (no you’re on the wrong road). Oh and did we have mobile reception because he didn’t (no of course we didn’t either and I can’t believe he doesn’t have a sat phone). And had we seen his mate in another police car because he had lost him as well by outrunning him (no to that as well). My friend had to show him a map and really spell out directions for him. He thanked us and we drove on, a few minutes later we met his mate, the other police car, coming towards us, and a few minutes after that, the ambulance. I hope the people in the car crash were ok or dead or they’d be suffering for a long time. My friend tells me that was an insight into how the government can work here. Oh btw the amount of idiots doing 120 km/h on the corrugated dirt road are staggering. No wonder there are accidents!
  • Forgot my torch. I own 2 expensive torches and forgot them both. A torch is the essential item for camping, can’t believe I forgot them. Bloody city boy I am turning out to be!
  • Namibian mozzies are stealthy bastards. Don’t hear them. Don’t feel them. Until you wake up with 10 new bites! Promptly installed a mozzie net over my sleeping bag on day 2 but still slept outside under a million stars, the only way to camp!
  • Hospitality and friendliness of my Namibian friends, the family Eckleben is overwhelming. I can only offer a million thanks. I am now installed in my own house in Swakopmund and have my own bicycle to get around (incidentally also runs and feels like a tractor!). I truly am Bicycle Repair Man – a select few will know what I mean.

And sorry for lack of responses! I am online very little, so no emails etc. at the moment and few updates. Actually it’s nice to be offline for a while, kick the internet drug for a bit. Concentrate on photos and experiences. See ya!

I rode through the desert and it started to rain!

The title is of course a play on the lyrics of the band America’s classic song “I rode through the desert on a horse with no name”! It refers to our perfect day in the desert. A very special perfect day. Otherworldly world class light. Green Grass in the normally arid desert. Extraordinary cloud systems in all directions. Magenta Sun Setting. Blood Red Moon Rising. Rain. Yes. Rain in the desert! It rained for two minutes and we all got out of the truck and celebrated this perfect day! More later, first a recap of my first 3 adventure filled days in Namibia:

Arriving at Windhoek

At Windhoek airport you step out of the plane straight onto the runway. Dry warm desert air caress my body, strong harsh sun light re-energises my soul. I immediately fall in love and I do a movie-like 360 degree spin looking at the sky and taking it all in. An American woman laughs and says “You must be happy to be home!” “Well, feels like home” I tell her! Customs only take two minutes, I pick up my bag and meet my good friend Gudrun and her cousin Kyra. We drive to Kyra’s house and I meet the rest of the family, the husband Etienne and kids Andre and Maxine. Their hospitality and friendliness knows no end. I switch to shorts, shirts and thongs. I sit in the garden literally inhaling the lovely weather and sunshine. Certainly feels like home! Cricket games in the garden, great barbecue (called braai in Afrikaans) for dinner, mozzie bites after 10 minutes. Certainly feels like home!

Windhoek

Capital of Namibia with an estimated 300,000 inhabitants. City centre is very small, the suburbs are spread out over the hilly landscape. I only did a few hours sightseeing but found a nice laidback country atmosphere, outback and relaxed as I like it. A quick snapshot from Independence Avenue:

Windhoek. Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Veld Wedding

My friend’s family and a pair of their friends are attending a wedding held in the bush – bush is called veld here and pronounced ‘felt’. Since it is the Easter holiday they are making a bush camping trip out of it. So off we go on Good Friday, to the farm where the wedding is held which is in the bush about 30 k’s out of Windhoek! The setting for the wedding is gorgeous and the bush camp is lots of fun as I struggle to keep up with a thousand campfire jokes told in Afrikaans.

Perfect day in the desert

Saturday, Gudrun, Gudrun’s mother and stepdad and I drive from Windhoek to their home, the coastal town of Swakopmund. We take the scenic dirt road route straight through the desert. We end up taking more than 8 hours as we keep stopping on this magical one out of a million day. A perfect day. Out of this world light. Huge rays of “god beams” showing the way. Green Grass on the desert plains. Magenta Sun setting. Blood Moon Rising. Two minutes of rain. Gudrun’s mother having lived here her whole life says this is unbelievably spectacular. Too good for words. Will never ever be repeated. This drive deserves a long blog post of it’s own some day when I get the RAW files developed. Developing 5D Mk II files on my old laptop is like watching paint dry, so for now I’ll just leave you with this small jpeg preview of desert travelling on a perfect day:

Namib Desert. Flemming Bo Jensen

Swakopmund, between the ocean and the dunes

I am now in Swakopmund on the coast. Our front yard is the ocean, back yard is huge sand dunes – literally down the end of the street! My eyes must be lying I tell myself but witness this snapshot from inside the car, driving along the coast:

Swakopmund. Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

More to come about Swakopmund and the surrounding area. The world’s largest sand dunes in the world’s oldest desert are on the menu from Tuesday! See ya!

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!

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!

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?

Canon 5D Mk II; First Impressions

I pre-ordered my new travelmate, my 5D Mk II, in early October and on the 23rd of December Photografica called me; my copy was now in store! I just had time to pick it up before flying to see family for Xmas. I had very few opportunities to go out and shoot with my new tool due to Xmas celebrations and a never ending supply of boring grey overcast days. Fortunately one afternoon offered some great surreal light!

As the sun was setting a very heavy and thick mist shrouded the landscape and provided brilliant light for some otherworldly landscape images. I chose to warm the light a bit to enhance the misty magic and mood of the setting sun. These are two of my very first 5D Mk II exposures:

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

Winter Mist landscape 
© Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

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

Tree in the Winter Mist 
© Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

These are single image shots at iso100; and apart from the 14-bit 21 mega pixel raw files the 5D Mk I would have produced similar results I reckon. This is not a review; nor a test of noise or black spots etc. It is simply my first impressions as a photographer (not a gear head / pixel peeper) using the 5D Mk II. Cameras don’t take pictures, photographers do.

First Impressions

  • It is a strange feeling to use a brand new camera! My old 5D is battle worn with scratches and dust; the Mk II is impeccable (for now; hehe). 
  • As a 5D Mk I user, the Mk II is super easy to get going and use. It’s an upgrade; not a new camera; so it’s still my good old mate the 5D !
  • The house feels stronger and better built. Surface seems less prone to scratches and a lot more dust proof. Time will tell if this holds true 🙂
  • The 14-bit 21 mega pixel RAW files are about 25-26 MB in size and a whopping 5616 x 3744 of drop dead gorgeous pixels! I sell most of my prints at sizes from 70cm wide up to 2 meters (8 meters being the current record) so I need all the pixels I can get! Yes, stitching is amazing but not always possible, and the 21 megapixels is going to make a huge difference for my work.
  • ISO display in the viewfinder! Finally. Might prevent me from shooting those sunrises at iso 800 having used iso 800 the previous night and forgetting to reset. My head is in the clouds and my feet aren’t touching the ground much either when I shoot so I need all the help I can get!
  • Brilliant 3” lcd screen is a huge upgrade from the old 5D Mk I and is beautiful to behold.
  • Not really anything to do with the 5D Mk II but bloody f#”£€#&!!! Image Stabilizer on the 24-105mm lens. I forgot to turn it off and when shooting from a tripod the IS ruins half the shots. Only remembered to turn it off half way through the shoot (my brain was frozen).
  • Menu is a lot easier to navigate and the customizable My Menu is a neat idea. Makes it easier to access options like Mirror Lock Up especially as we still do not have a dedicated Mirror Lock Up button.
  • I still miss having a histogram display mode with just a huge RGB histogram on the 3” lcd screen. In strong outback sunlight it’s next to impossible to see the small RGB histogram although I suspect the brilliant 3” lcd screen on the 5D Mk II will help slightly. Still; can I please have a histogram mode with an RGB histogram and nothing else.
  • Live view mode is surprisingly good and useful! HD Video is looking very nice indeed (although I am useless at shooting and editing video)!
  • Automatic sensor dust cleaning is a brilliant feature – if it works. Time will tell. The old 5D sensor was a dust magnet so it couldn’t get any worse!

As I get a lot more exposures with my new mate I will post much more in depth experiences here. Especially Live view and Video are totally new to me. For now; these are just my very first impressions. Can’t wait to bring the 5D Mk II to Africa and Australia and really road test it!

– and happy new year everyone!

Canon 5D Mk II – my new travelmate

On Wednesday September 17th I and my Canon 5D roamed the Australian outback covered in red dust oblivious to the fact that Canon chose this day to announce the long awaited Canon 5D Mk II.

Canon 5D Mk II. Photo copyright Canon.

The Canon 5D needs little introduction being one of the best digital SLRs ever produced and my camera of choice for more than 2½ years. I looked at the 1Ds Mk III and it’s 21 megapixel but I feel it is far too big and heavy to be a perfect landscape camera for me. I don’t need the vertical grip and want something that can fit in a backpack while exploring the outback. So I waited patiently (not an easy task) and the Canon 5D Mk II is the perfect camera for me. Some of the features I really look forward to:

  • 21.1 Megapixel Full-frame CMOS DIGIC 4 sensor with 14-bit A/D conversion (16,384 colors/each of 3 primary color).
    If this was the only new feature I would still upgrade! 21 megapixel will be brilliant for landscapes especially in those situation where I can’t stitch shots.
  • Live view. I used to question this feature but it will actually be very handy in spots where I can’t see the viewfinder: shooting from the Sydney Harbour Bridge, shooting aboriginal art on the ceiling of caves at Hawk Dreaming with the camera almost on the ground shooting straight up.
  • Sensor cleaning system. I hope this works really well, the outback is not kind to the 5D sensor and the amount of dust that gets on it is incredible. I constantly have to use my Arctic Butterfly.
  • Full HD Video capture at 1920 x 1080. I am not into shooting video at all but this will still be fun to play with.

I pre-ordered and paid deposit yesterday at Photografica in Copenhagen to ensure my new travelmate gets here asap. Full review to come!