Tag Archives: filter

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!

Developing a Hawk Dreaming

I am developing all the RAW files from Hawk Dreaming as no. 1 priority. I want to get all the landscape and aboriginal art shots to Dwane from the Djabulukgu Association Inc  as quickly as possible; to reassure him I am definitely a man of my words and honour my end of the agreement! You will hardly find any other photographers with photos from Hawk Dreaming and I am very happy and privileged to have been allowed to shoot there.

Hawk Dreaming has some large open floodplains so it is possible to shoot some very isolated subjects with a horizon far far away. This is shot with just a bit of dusk light left and I like doing these sort of arty simple compositions. Simple compositions are the hardest to achieve, isolating subjects in the natural chaos of nature takes a lot of searching.

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

Pandanus Palm Glow at Dusk
© Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

I previously blogged about watching dawn and sunrise from a rock shelter and the next shot is the sun just making it’s appearance on the hazy stage. I used a 2 stop (I need to get a 4 stop) ND grad filter, without it the foreground would be pitch black. It may look a bit dark at small size but the larger version is clearer. It was still very dark as the haze and mist softened the sun and I want the picture to reflect this.

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

Sunrise over Cannon Hill
© Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

This is just a taste of the upcoming hundreds shots that Hawk Dreaming provided me and yet I could easily go back and shoot many more in this awesome place.

It is a Hawk and Photographer Dreaming! It’s very easy to escape into the screen while developing these shots.

Crocs in the main street of Darwin! Sun drops into Timor Sea!

Food! At Mindil Beach MarketThe Mindil Beach Market is in every Darwin tourist brochure so you might think it’s overrated and over packed with tourists. But it really is good fun and in a way it’s what Darwin is all about in one little (not so little; about 190 stalls) market. It’s a big multi cultural melting pot of tourists and laid-back locals enjoying the atmosphere, checking out the many food and craft stalls, grooving to the bands, artists and well downright crazy performers performing – and everyone worshipping the sun drop straight into the Timor sea while eating $8 meals cooked by chefs like my mate on the right (yeah that’s right! I shot a photo of a non-landscape subject!). Everyone is friendly and determined to have a great time and the people are super entertaining. Tropical lifestyle at it’s best!

Mindil Beach Market I still felt tired and lazy and couldn’t be bothered walking the 4 kilometres to the beach in the tropical heat…so I hailed a taxi. Taxi driver was a character all right; sees my big camera backpack with tripod and asks “Off to shoot the sunset? You’re a photographer mate? Professional?”. “Yeah. Well semi-pro” I say. He asks “I got a digital camera too, how big is your memory card? I think mine can shoot like a thousand photos!”. “Hehehe, well mate” I say “I have about 40 gigs of CF cards, 320 gigs of external HDs, 1 laptop and blank DVDs. I don’t really plan on running out of memory!”. He shifts conversation to food and says “So much good food at the market, you like Indian food?”. “Yes I do” I say. “It’s SPIIIIICYYYYY” he then shouts like Jim Carrey in The Mask. Like I said, wildly entertaining people at the market and also driving you to the market!

Mindil Beach Market It’s hard to capture the atmosphere of the market in a photo. I’ve included a few quick and dirty edits from Lightroom with blown highlights, halos and everything! But they do sort of show you the blur of people walking back and forth between the stalls surrounded by palm trees and tropical sunset light. To see the sunset itself – read on.

Crocs on Main Street of Darwin!

Just had to throw in that headline. Since Crocosaurus Cove opened in the middle of Darwin a few months ago this headline has been featured everywhere! Crocosaurus Cove is a huge new croc zoo right on Mitchell Street. It is worth a visit, it’s really well made with some beautiful crocs in huge pools that feature super design. Like in some fish aquariums you can walk underneath the pools and see the crocs from all angles. Impressive, haven’t seen that before. Mitchell street is also backpacker hell with all the big backpacker hostels and therefore also all the big pubs. I reckon they should let the crocs out at night, cull the drunken backpacker population a bit!

Sun drops into Timor Sea! – and Australia and GND filters

Sunset at Mindil Beach in DarwinI don’t really use a lot of filters. I sometimes use a neutral density filter in Copenhagen to cut light for longer exposures. The ND filter you can just stick on and forget so it’s easy to use. Doesn’t get in my way. I rarely use a graduated neutral density (GND) filter in Copenhagen as the soft pastel light means I can manage without it and I find GND filters annoying to use. I’m not really that keen on tripods either. Or cameras for that matter. That’s why I loved the 617 viewfinder so much. I want as transparent a creative process as possible concentrating on composition and shooting many angles and hate anything that gets in the way. I would love to just swap one eye for a 50 megapixel 14-bit sensor with 2:1 aspect ratio and shoot by blinking!

In Australia the light and colours can be so intense even after sunset that a GND filter really is needed. A GND filter has a gradual cutoff meaning half the filter cuts exposure by for instance 2 stops while the rest of it is transparent. Means you can even out the light between the sky and the beach or sea for example. I still find GND filters a right bloody pain in the behind to use. Can’t see what’s going on, have to keep adjusting every time I change composition. But it means you can capture Mindil Beach dusk shots like the one above and this one (again, just quick exports from Lightroom) 

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Aboriginal art

I am very fascinated by aboriginal culture and have by now seen a lot of rock art and paintings all over Australia. Darwin has what I consider the best artists and the best art galleries. The traditional old x-ray style of Arnhem Land in Kakadu National Park here in the Northern Territory, the Oenpelli region, is my favourite style; the style most people know are probably the new dot-painting style. There are several large and gorgeous aboriginal art galleries in Darwin, the Aboriginal Fine Arts Gallery is outstanding and features some of the best Arnhem Land artists. Djawida Nadjongorle is one of the famous Arnhem artist and his outstanding work can be seen here. If I had $6500 to spare the huge Mimi Spirits Hunting painting was coming home with me!

I’ve gone bush!

Finally; now the real work can begin; the real photography! I am fully normalised, sleep fine again and Wednesday sees me on a 14 day outback trip through the magnificient Kimberleys. I have very high expectations; hope to get some fantastic outback landscapes to add to my portfolio. I won’t be online for a while so see ya on the other side! I’ve gone bush!

Sunnies for your lenses

‘Sunnies’ is of course short for sunglasses but who can be bothered to pronounce such a long word? Certainly no Aussies I know!

A polarizer filter is the equivalent of sunnies for your lens and I still believe it is very much an essential tool in a photographers bag of tricks. You can certainly saturate the colours till your eyes bleed in Photoshop no problem there. But you simply can’t replicate the effect of a polarizer filter on maximum effect – especially if there’s water or foliage in your composition. The polarizer filter can remove glare from water and foliage and greatly enhance colours and detail. It can also remove reflections allowing you to shoot straight through the water or shoot through a window in a plane or helicopter with no reflections.

A recently developed RAW file of mine is a very simple (perhaps too simple, what do you think?) shot of the extremely gorgeous beaches found on the West Coast of Australia. It’s somewhere around Yanchep north of Perth and the pearly white sand and bluer than blue sky of WA is in itself mind blowing. Add to that a polarizer filter and your inner colour space is certainly in need of expansion:

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

Colours of Indian Ocean Panorama
Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

I am not entirely convinced this image really works, it’s a very simple sky/ocean/beach composition but the colours are magnificent and it serves as a good example here. It does also look very lifelike and impressive at large size. The polarizer filter removes all glare and reflection so the colours are very pure and saturated. The ocean is a greenish tone because all reflection of the sky into the ocean are removed by the polarizer and you’re seeing through the water.

You need a high quality polarizer and they can be slightly expensive but it’s no use putting low quality filters on an expensive lens. It takes a bit of practice to use this filter, you rotate it to achieve desired effect and it can be hard to see in the view finder. Polarized light is strongest at a 90 degree angle to the sun and the filter is best used in the middle of the day (and is actually also a big help for black and white images!). With a wide angle lens you do run the risk of getting a wildly uneven sky so practice and make sure you shoot different versions. As much as a polarizer can help it can also ruin your sky like nothing else and you certainly don’t want to use a polarizer in stitched panoramas – your sky will never blend! Watch your exposure as well, a polarizer can eat at least a stop of light. Experience is the teacher here.

The final example is a much better photo, this time from 75 Mile Beach on Fraser Island in Australia:

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

75 Mile Beach
Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Notice how dark the sky has become, how much more defined the clouds are and how there is no glare and no reflections in the sand and water greatly enhancing colour purity and saturation. It’s all from the magic of ‘sunnies’ on the lens!