Tag Archives: cloud

Cloudcatcher & Stargazer

Cloudcatcher. Stargazer. Occasional summoner of Weather. Dreamer – struggling mightily with reality.

Clouds are nearby friends in the sky, the stars are faraway beacons of hope. Surreal and otherworldly, ingredients of dreams but real. This may get a mite esoteric and peculiar, bear with me on this mind trip. During the day there is nothing quite like clouds that will catch my eye. At night it is the stars calling me leaving me gazing deep into the universe, back in time and lost in dreams. Cloudcatcher. Stargazer. Dreamer.

Clouds are a key subject in my photos, I could shoot nothing but clouds all day. I am convinced they are alive. Clouds catch my eye and I run around looking for a foreground subject. Occasionally I feel I have magic powers and can summon the clouds and the weather. Certainly, in USA I had so much good luck with the light and the clouds it surely cannot be a coincidence. Example, I really only shot at Grand Canyon for 3 hours but managed to first summon a huge snow storm for dramatic storm shots, then move the storm out of the way just in time for a sunset. I summoned a sand storm in White Sands. Last year I was able to summon rain in the Namibia desert, extremely rare. All in a days work. Here is an example of clouds I summoned in Arches, Utah, a great dramatic snow storm:

Clouds - Arches - blog

The stars always bring me hope. Hope of space travel and life on other planets. Hope for the future of our self destructive race. A pitch black night allows me to leave the Earth and fly away to other galaxies. The Saint Agustin plains and Very Large Array in New Mexico offered the perfect launch platform and a billion stars to capture:

Stars - VLA - blog

Finally, my home city of Copenhagen in Denmark has more bland and less dramatic weather but is occasionally still home to fantastic clouds. I present an oldie from 2006, a sunset in late autumn. I remember this day well, stressed out from my then fulltime IT job I sat fatigued and zombie-like at Lake Peblinge observing a forthcoming sunset seemingly holding few promises. It was bone-rattling cold, and I felt like going home. Slowly this ‘spine’ of clouds formed and lit up like in a dream. The sky was a burning lava magenta for about 20 minutes and I have never again witnessed anything like it here. On this day, Copenhagen was a tropical town and I promise this is what it looked like:

Fiery sunset Lake Peblinge -blog

Cloudcatcher. Stargazer. Dreamer. Reality?

PS. Two awesome cloud videos for you fellow cloudcatchers: Joe Taylor and Edvard Brun.

Days on the road

It is 1.30 am and I find myself in Moab, Utah. And it is probably a bad time for blogging but sleep escapes me tonight. I went to bed at 00.15am and then proceeded to have a strange dream and woke up instantly. So here I am; Wide Awake in America. I am a little tired of sleeping in strange motel beds, but the landscapes here are stunningly magical. Every day as I drive through the Southwest I am continually surprised by how beautiful the land here is.

Earlier today I had a bit of a blissful being in the wild moment. Going by directions received by fellow photographers I found the trailhead to Mule Canyon in Utah, the trail leading to House on Fire anasazi ruins. A location I really wanted to visit. I hiked the mile and a half along the wash in brilliant sunshine and arrived at the ruins with plenty of time to shoot them while they are still in the shade. I was somewhat ecstatic that I have found them. They must be in the shade for the ‘fire’ effect caused by reflected sunlight onto the rock above the ruins. The effect is quite simply surreal and really spectacular when photographed at just the right angle to catch the reflections. I shot every conceivable angle and then sat on a rock worshipping the sun for an hour. Just me and not a soul around me and not a sound. Being there. In the moment. In nature. Truly content not wanting to move.

Later I arrived in Moab, Utah and checked into my hotel room. I drove to Arches National Park to shoot the sunset. There is a sand storm blowing but it is still nicely warm. Just as the light show is about to happen Mother Nature drops a large cloud in front of the sun, but the clouds are still great. 17mm wideangle pointed almost straight up with just some gorgeous red rocks in the foreground and I have my shot. I steer my black spaceship back to base.

It has been one of those days. Days on the road. From magical moments in America’s nature to waking up in a motel bed, an inner as much as an outer journey. That sums up the present life of this travelling photographer.  An image that sums it up? Well, since I am saving the hero shots for my new website, here is what I really love about this US road trip. Simply driving down a back road in gorgeous Navajo Country, Arizona and shooting a dramatic cloudscape at sunset with a storm approaching over the red soil. A bit of magic for just a few minutes, what this is all about. (There is a stitched version of this that will be the final version, this is is a quick preview).

navajo storm - blog

Karijini Rainbow Sunrise; magic on a cold morning

Scene: Camp ground at Karijini National Park, Western Australia. Time: Very early on a very cold morning in June. Rodney wakes me up. It is still pitch black. “Beautiful cloud cover, wanna go shoot?” Rod’s frozen voice asks me. Karijini in Winter is a bit on the cold side when the sun isn’t out so my warm sleeping bag is tempting, having to put on the same clothes I have been wearing all week and step outside is not. However; I cannot miss a potential wide open Karijini landscape bathed in light from a rising sun under the watchful eye of big clouds. So grab clothes and gear and out of bed it is. “We’re taking the troopie” Rod says in the direction of Casey’s tent. It is actually my small $30 Coles tent but Casey chose this tent for better insulation from snorers. “Fine, go” says Casey, not feeling like joining us in tasting the cold morning air.

Off we drive towards Knox Gorge, one of the better places near the campground where you can find a view with a bit of wide open space (my kinda setting, gorges are too confining for me). With the air con on max heating the Troopie is heaven. Having shot the sunrise a few days earlier as well I know one spot on the way to Knox Gorge where the landscapes opens up a bit. It really is still pitch black so we miss it and drive back and forth a few times until we find it. I then have to use the bush toilet. Why this always happen when I shoot is beyond me. In the meantime Rod unloads my gear and takes off. Looking back, slightly surprised I see Rod pointing Troopie’s headlight at something in the spinnifix grass and I hear him shouting “your bag is there, I am off to the gorge lookout". So I find my composition, point in the direction of the upcoming sun and run around a bit to keep warm. Many nice sunrise shots later I almost miss the real hero shot from this morning!  Look behind you numnuts and you shall see this!

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

Karijini Rainbow Sunrise
© Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

I was shooting into the sun and forgot to attach rear view mirrors so were oblivious to the lightshow behind me. Suddenly I notice, there’s a massive 180 degree visible rainbow behind me. Numnuts here is too slow in moving and setting up composition to catch all of it as it disappears in seconds. The rainbow lasted for about one minute and I almost missed all of it. Only caught the tail end of it. I got in one shot before it was completely gone. One exposure capturing mostly the reminder of a once-was rainbow. Still, the scene I ended up with retains the truly remarkable Karijini magic from this morning!

Please comment on what you think of this slice of magic and story from a cold but beautiful Karijini morning?

 

PS. Rod took forever at the gorge so I shot heaps more photos, yet to be posted. What took so long? Bloody keys dropped out of the ignition! Troopie keeps running so you don’t notice. Until you need the keys that is and can’t find them!

All in a day’s work for Mother Nature

Nature never ceases to amaze me. No matter how many days, nights, sunrises and sunsets I experience, Mother Nature always comes up with something new. It is one of the reasons I love landscape photography so much. Trying to capture these short moments of magic that most people never see, never experience, never even notice. I can think of no greater thing to point my camera at than Nature itself. We pale in comparison.

I previously mentioned that the laws of physics seemed warped in Namibia. The clear desert air removed all filters, we had pure 100% Nature. That horizon seemed to always be at infinity. That sky was twice as tall as anything else. After shooting in the desert we would be driving home through the gravel desert. Driving West towards the coast and Swakopmund we were going straight into the most striking fiery red and orange post-dusk light in a banner on the horizon. Not dusk really, but post-dusk, a good 30-40 minutes after sunset. In every other direction no light existed, except for a million stars like diamonds in the sky. To the right perhaps the moon. And always to the left, our trusty night sky companion – The Southern Cross. One time we just had to stop, kill the engine, get out and stare into the universe. Stare back into time. No words can describe it, no camera can capture it. You have to be there.

I have attempted to capture some of Nature’s work. They are not necessarily art, but are simply attempts to document Nature warping the laws of physics!

5D Mark II-090429-IMG_1370 copy

Glowing night clouds in Namibia. This is not dusk light. The sunset lit up the clouds, then they went dark. Then dusk light lit up the clouds, then they went dark. But then…they lit up again! On fire. It was pitch black except for these night clouds on fire. I stared in disbelief, finally had to get out and try and document this. It was pitch black, couldn’t see the camera. It was also blowing a gale. It is a 10 second exposure, iso400, f/6.3 – tells you how little light there was. Live view on my camera gave up, was just blackness. Couldn’t see much in viewfinder so I just pointed. And got this. Night clouds on fire. White part in top right corner is the moon, shame I didn’t get that. The ‘frozen wave’ on the horizon is the infamous mist/fog coming in to swallow the coast and Swakopmund!

5D Mark II-090424-IMG_1122 copy

Dusk lighting up the atmosphere in the Namib gravel Desert, opposite direction of the setting sun. The blue line is actually the earth’s shadow, it is blocking the dusk light from hitting air particles in the lower part of the sky – hence the pink/blue banners. I have seen this many times before but never so clear, so colourful as in the desert! Desert makes everything clearer.

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Rain cloud in the Namib Desert, you can see where it touches the ground. Most rain in the desert never hits the ground, it evaporates long time before that. This is a rain cloud that gave us a few hundred drops of water in the middle of the desert for about two minutes. Just enough to register some drops on the windscreen. We experienced rain in the desert! When locals tell you “we had 15 centimeters of rain” that means that they measured the distance between the rain drops and they were 15cm apart!

5D Mark II-090513-IMG_1802 copy

And lastly, a sunset from Cable Beach in Australia where Mother Nature really turned on all the party lights and just lit up every cloud! She also kindly arranged a low tide so I could get mega reflections. I have a stitched 180 degree pano of this coming up, actually for a full 360 degrees the sky was on fire. A 5 minute demonstration of power, of Mother Nature having a party!

The camera’s we use nowadays are incredibly advanced hi-tech tools. Yet I always feel I am holding the equivalent of a stone age tool when Nature flexes it’s muscles. Nothing can capture that. Will not ever keep me from trying though! Won’t keep me from having my head in the clouds, walking into things!
I am a Nature Junkie!

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.

Chasing and photographing a Snow Storm

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:

Click to see large size on my gallery!

Click to see large size on my gallery!

Click to see large size on my gallery!