Tag Archives: duotone

Full Moon Rising at Joshua Tree National Park

As I wrote earlier I am now touring the American South West. I escaped Los Angeles and headed for the desert, first stop Palm Springs of Douglas Coupland’s Generation X fame in search for Andy, Dag and Claire. I did not find them, perhaps because they are fictional, perhaps because they have escaped this present day Palm Springs that has become a holiday resort. But a daily 40 miles drive offered some great landscapes at Joshua Tree National Park. Joshua is an otherworldly desert with the peculiar Joshua Trees and many big rocks placed all over the landscapes like someone was throwing large dices.

I spent 3 days in this park and really enjoyed it, my kinda place. It should really be called Joshua Trees National Park though as there are quite a lot of them so it took me a long time and a lot of walking to find a tree that I can isolate in a nice simple composition. I shot a lot of images and as I will be on the road for the next many weeks it will be a while before I get through the RAW files, get the panoramas stitched etc. So here is just a quickie, I was fortunate enough to be at Joshua during a full moon and found this composition:

joshua tree full moon duotone - blog

This is a work in progress, I might re-process this. Duotone I find works so well with these images from Joshua, lending them an even more surreal otherworldly quality. The moon you ask. It is of course a double exposure, no other way to capture it. 17mm wide angle for the landscape, 400mm zoom for the moon, Photoshop for the blending. Moon might be a tad too large here actually, but I am only using this technique to replicate what I saw. The moon was exactly there at sunset and roughly this size using the roughly 50mm lens built into our eyes. I could drop this moon into any shot from Joshua and no one would know – but I would know. I would find it cheating a bit.

If you wish to see the color version, here it is:

Joshua Tree full moon - blog

I am presently in Yuma, Arizona and heading for the Organ Pipe Cactus National Park. After that, New Mexico and then back into Northern Arizona later this month. I cannot stand cold weather (and by now that basically means anything non-tropical), heck even down here near Mexico it isn’t very warm compared to Malaysia, so I am staying South in the desert so far until the North heats up!

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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!

Two Toned World Strikes Back

Kimberley Gum Tree, Flemming Bo Jensen Photography Previously I have blogged about A Two Toned World and Return of the Toned World so I messed up the sequence a bit, but this is the 3rd of my tutorials on black and white and can now only be called: Two Toned World Strikes Back!

Following in the footsteps of all the classic and contemporary black and white landscape photographers; I show you how to and create stunning black and whites from your digital images – click ‘Keep reading’ link.

Continue reading

Capturing Manning Gorge

The Kimberley is home to many great gorges and one of the best known is Manning Gorge. It is very easy to access from the Gibb River Road, has a huge camp ground with a toilet and shower block (powered by a rather noisy generator that is turned off around sunset) so it’s quite popular and you certainly won’t be camping alone here. Slightly too busy for my taste Manning Gorge is still a gorgeous (gee that joke is getting old) place. This is a duotoned view of sitting on the banks of the billabong in the middle of the day. It’s a boiling 40+ degrees but the rock wall provides a nice shady spot:

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

Manning Gorge and Gum tree in duotone
© Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Manning Gorge is split into Upper and Lower Manning and the camp ground is at Lower Manning. To get to the Upper gorge it’s a great 3 km bush walk; but first you have to swim across the river floating your clothes, camera etc. in a foam box pushing it in front of you as you swim. Water is not all that appealing to me or my camera so I chose to explore only the Lower gorge this time!

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

Manning Gorge in Moonlight
© Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Photographing gorges

It takes a lot of practice and work getting good at shooting gorges. They’re big and beautiful but really hard to fit into a composition that shows them as big and beautiful. I always wish I could levitate (walking on water hasn’t worked for me) in the middle of the river shooting down the gorge with the gorge walls on both sides. But often you’re stuck shooting from the banks of a river or billabong and also you’re fighting the Kimberley light as one side of the gorge is bound to be in deep dark shadows and the other in extremely bright sunshine. You really have to work to find good compositions.

The answer as always: get up for dawn and stay for dusk (and bring mossie repellant!) My Finding a Tree post was from around Manning gorge at dawn and this is a Lower Manning Gorge panorama in very late dusk light:

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

Manning Gorge at Dusk Panorama
© Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

This little spot proved to work very well and I was fortunately the only one there. If you’re at Manning then walk down to the river at sunset, turn left and keep going until you find yourself standing underneath a rock wall and almost in the water. Wait for that glorious warm and red dusk light to warm the sky and you have your shot!

I am working on my Kimberley gallery at the moment so come along as I develop and upload; there are many more gorgeous Kimberley gorge shots to come!

PS. There are some beautiful old and very large Boab trees at the camp ground. Beautiful old trees some bloody idiot campers have carved their names into! People carving their names into trees surely should be fed to the crocs!

Return of the Two Toned World

I recently wrote about black and white conversions in the Two Toned World post and I have since continued my test of different techniques. Selling five 70x100cm prints in black and white recently for a client taught me a thing or two about black and white conversions and printing them!

Another advantage of black and white photos – besides being able to shoot in the middle of the day – is when it’s raining cats and dogs you can escape into Photoshop and go through old shots and try them in black and white. This Saturday it rained non-stop so I spent the day gathering and checking all my gear before takeoff this Wednesday to Australia – and toying with black and white conversions in Photoshop. With no colours in the world on a gray rainy Saturday I thought it only appropriate to work in glorious black and white:

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

Nambung National Park in Western Australia
Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

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

Copenhagen’s Lake Peblinge in duotone
Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

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

Duotone Tree in Fog
Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

The first two shots were converted using Alien Skin Exposure2 plugin which I have found to be by far the best way to convert to black and white. The level of control is incredible and the results are perfect. No posterisation or any problems at all in the converted files; they’re gorgeous and will print big with no visible pixel problems. The last shot of the Tree in Fog was converted directly in Lightroom 2.0; also a good way to convert. All 3 of them are in duotone where the shadows are pure black, but highlights have a slightly warm sepia tone. This lends the photo a bit of warmth while steel keeping it in stark mono.

Here’s a few tips on the conversion and printing process:

  • Viewing reflected light off a print compared to direct light from a monitor (calibrated of course!) are two different beasts. With no colours, a black and white print may appear somewhat darker than the image on screen so experiment to find just the right conversion. You may need to do an image that onscreen appears slightly too bright to achieve the print you want.
  • You want a full range of tones from black through all shades of gray to white. Don’t leave big areas of pure black or white though; they look less satisfying in print. Make sure you have shadow detail, don’t burn any highlights. Use shadows and highlight tool in Photoshop for this. White on paper in a black and white print just means no ink is used; so you’re just seeing the paper colour.
  • Create contrast and more contrast than you would in a colour photo – or the print looks a bit dull. Remember though; no burned highlights and no big black areas, always have some detail. Create different layers for shadows and highlights adjustments and blend them manually using masks to ensure contrast but also have detail.
  • Black and white prints can hold a lot more sharpening than colour prints but still you must watch out for unsharp mask halos. They are very visible in big prints.
  • It’s very easy to overdo the conversion and create posterized areas; usually the sky is the first to suffer. This may look alright on screen but is to avoided like the plague once you’ve seen it on a print! You may be tempted to do something like +140% red channel, -50% in the blue channel but it will severely posterize your sky and ruin your print.

After a lot of work I feel I have finally learned how to do satisfying black and white (well duotoned) digital files, something which I have previously found almost impossible and one area where I used to think film was so much better. With some clever techniques; a digital Ansel Adams style print is possible (now if only I had his eye for compositions).

Two Toned World

I love black and white photos and Ansel Adams is one of my heroes. I don’t convert a lot of my own stuff to black and white though, my own photographic eye is very much triggered by light quality and colour so I don’t actually shoot that much material that does well in black and white. Colours are a big part of my composition and style. But this week allowed me to seriously sink my teeth into black and white conversions and come up with photos like this one:

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

Kakadu Pandanus Palm in duotone
Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

I am working on a project for a company, where I am to deliver 5 photos, 100cm wide, framed and in black and white. The client asked me to put together a cityscape and landscape portfolio in black and white so they have a small selection of the best to choose from. This meant going through my whole photo library and picking out 24 shots in all, 12 for each portfolio, that would do well at 100cm wide converted to black and white. The above is not actually part of the portfolio, just something I toyed with a few days ago. Will be interesting to see the finished project and I’ll post when we get there.

To work as a black and white photo you need a strong composition with strong leading lines and full tones going from shadow to highlights and some nice contrasts in the photo. A typical golden hour or dusk photo relies heavily on colours for all of this, so they often become dull in black and white.  Ansel Adams actually shot many of his photos in the middle of the day. The photo above is from Kakadu National Park in Australia and was shot around noon, the worst possible time for colour photography but check out how much better it fares when converted to black and white!

There are as many ways to convert a colour file to black and white as there are Photoshop experts. Photoshop CS3 now has a very good black and white adjustment layers that gives you a lot of control. I have tried a lot of conversions the past week and I found that I prefer the results I get from using the Alien Skin Exposure2 Film Simulator plugin. It comes with a truckload of colour and black and white film preset settings (like Kodak T-Max P3200 pushed 2 stops) and you can then change settings to achieve your desired effect. It’s a bit expensive but the results are so good I think I will end up purchasing it for this project.

070831-IMG_3068-01 colourThe black and white converted photo above is actually duotoned, or split-toned not just black and white. This is a great effect where you keep the highlights in a  slight sepia tone and shadows are kept in pure black and white. It also helps a lot when printing! On the left is the original colour version of the photo, shot with a polarizer filter in very ordinary noon light but this light actually works well in black and white. This means if you like black and white you can shoot colour early and late in the day and then black and white in the middle of the day. No time for siesta anymore you can shoot all day long!