Tag Archives: ptgui

Where Sunrises Rule the World

People who used to work with me when I did IT full time will testify I am not a morning person. I don’t function well in an office before I’ve had countless coffees and an hour of sulking. The solution? Change your job to shooting sunrises!

I got up at 5am for about 3 weeks in Australia. Didn’t need an alarm clock as when you’re bush camping and dawn approaches, my internal “time to shoot” alarm simply goes off in sync with nature and I wake up. Well; you also wake up as it’s getting stinking hot and all the birds, mossies and flies wake you up as I was sleeping outside with no tent. It still feels so bloody early but as soon as I’m out there you realise it is the best time of the day. It’s the time for capturing spectacular scenes like this one:

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

Hawk Dreaming Sunrise Cloudscape Panorama
© Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Standing at the East Alligator River (with no alligators; just crocs) at 6am watching this light show is simply mindblowing. Imagine it is 6am, 25 degrees and Mother Nature rules the world. Every single sound (apart from my camera) is orchestrated by nature; every single light ray is controlled by nature. No people, no buildings, no power lines, nothing to distract. Just 100% pure humbling power of nature taking you back to When Dinosaurs Ruled The World. Sometimes scenes are so beautiful you just want to forget about the camera, sit down wishing you could live here and hoping the future never comes. 
(oh yes there was a million mosquitoes as well, all part of the nature experience)

This is a simple stitch; it is only two very wide horizontal images shot at 17mm stitched. It is a technique I use sometimes as I feel it better preserves the extreme 17mm wide angle look compared to shooting say 8 vertical shots but the stitch still gives me a wider view than 17mm. Nature did all the work as I did very little post processing of this. I set the white balance and added a vignette and a bit of shadow detail recovery and we’re done.

I recommend getting up for every single sunrise, especially in tropical Australia. Often in the tropical bush the heat and haze of the day mixed with smoke from bushfires can result in a muted sunset. Sunrise on the other hand gets the fresh clean morning air to work with. Here; the sunrises rule the world.

Good night Sun, Good evening Moon

Charles Baudelaire once wrote:

“This life is a hospital where every patient is possessed with the desire to change beds; one man would like to suffer in front of the stove, and another believes that he would recover his health beside the window.
It always seems to me that I should feel well in the place where I am not, and this question of removal is one which I discuss incessantly with my soul.”

Being eternally restless I have this ongoing conversation with my soul and it appears I need to change hospital beds with increasing rate. I am aching to go to on my next photo trip. Back to the heat, the outback, the dust and the untouched magical landscapes. I live for capturing those moments. Copenhagen is familiar and thus boring presently but can fortunately still surprise me. Friday night Nature the Artist treated me to this special sunset and moonrise, click to see large size:

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

Moonrise & Sunset at Lake Peblinge
Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

This Moonrise & Sunset was a bit of a lucky punch but then luck favours the prepared. Circling the lake half an hour before sunset listening to music with my head in the clouds; suddenly all the elements in the composition come together and my internal “photo!” critical event is trapped (perhaps I’ve worked in IT for too long). I setup shop and hope the clouds stay around, pick up colour and please do not block the moon. Nature was kind to me letting all the elements stay in place and gently lit the scene with delicate soft light and dusty colours. The composition is my classic style ‘I shoot landscapes even in a city; I ignore that they are buildings instead of rocks’.

Less is more and vertical stitching

This is one of those shoots where Nature did all the work. The RAW files are perfect, I only set the white balance I wanted and added some slight saturation. I developed the RAW files in Lightroom 2.0 and used my normal PTgui stitching workflow for this – see tutorial – with one difference. This photo is 4 horizontal shots stitched vertically so for projection you must choose ‘Transverse Cylindrical”. I lightened the shadows slightly in Photoshop and created a vignette.

Attempting to attract the eyes of people & potential customers on the web using small images on a web page means most of us are sometimes guilty of over saturating shots. Colours are the easiest way to attract eyes to a small thumbnail so we sometimes go to 11 with the colour volume. In this case I wanted to preserve the very delicate soft subtle light and colours so I kept the volume down so to speak. It may appear understated on screen but in a large print this is a gorgeous look. Super saturated sRGB colours do not always transfer well or look natural in CMYK so it’s a good idea to keep the volume down a bit. Sometimes more is more but often less is more!

…17 days to take off…

Nature the Artist

Studying clouds and attempting to predict the weather is a full time job for any outdoor photographer. It is how we try and increase our changes of getting that special shot. It is also incredibly fascinating. Clouds are for dreamers and I never tire of observing or shooting nature’s big canvas known as the sky.

On a warm Summer night you will often get some high level cirrus clouds that looks like Nature the Artist did a few lazy and casual soft brush strokes here and there. Usually these clouds disappear before sunset but occasionally they stick around and when they do the colours are quite spectacular. Wednesday night was a good example of cirrus clouds here in Copenhagen and I was in place to capture this panorama:

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

Copenhagen Harbour Summer Panorama
Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

This is a 170 degree view of Copenhagen shot directly into the sunset across the harbour. It is a good spot for getting as much sky as possible and the same spot as this Harbour Storm panorama. It was in the middle of a warm Summer week here in Copenhagen with temperatures above 30 degrees creating cirrus clouds. Everything is relative someone once said and what we call heat wave is a cold day in the Northern Territory! Nevertheless a super lovely day and sunset.

Tech specs and oh the horizon, the horizon

This panorama is 7 vertical images stitched in PTgui (PTgui really had to save me this time, more about that later). Shot with 17-40mm L  lens at 20mm, f/22.0 using 1.3 second exposure with a Cokin neutral density filter attached. RAW files were developed in Lightroom 2.0 and the final stitch received very little post production in Photoshop. Nature the Artist did all the work here, I just painted a bit more light into the shadows to show more of the buildings and added a vignette. The horizon is straight in this final version. It may appear slightly curved due to the wide 170 degree view but it’s straight. It wasn’t always so…

FBJ-crooked-horizon I have an uncanny ability to spot anything crooked, any horizon not straight even if it’s off by just half a degree. I use this super hero power to “help” other photographers straighten their horizon by politely pointing it out on their blogs; normally with some level of sarcasm. Well the photography gods are not without humour! When shooting the above panorama my head was in the clouds. I levelled the tripod and then moved it forward to the edge of the pier resting the front leg on a raised edge. Guess what. It’s not level anymore!

My tripod should carry a sign saying “I’m with Stupid!”

With my head in the clouds and also slightly trying to look cool because there are several interested people next to me on the pier I shoot away – and don’t even look into the viewfinder because hey! I have super powers. Thank the maker that PTgui is so good at stitching because on the right is the leftmost shot of the original files. Super powers indeed Human Spirit Level Man. Oh the horizon!

Perfecting your stitched panoramas

Earlier this year I wrote a blog post about stitched panoramas that focused mostly on all the little tricks you need to remember when you are shooting the soon to be stitched photos in the field. The shooting part is still essential. Get everything right in the field and you’ll be laughing come stitching time!

This post focuses on stitching the shots and is a tutorial showing you how I get from these 4 developed RAW files:

Sydney Panorama 4 tiff files

to this final photo as seen in my previous post:

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

Sydney Skyline at Sunset Panorama
Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

It’s a long tutorial, so I split this post in two; click the “Keep reading” link to, well, keep reading!

Continue reading

Field of Dreams

I grew up on a farm so I have a strong nostalgic affection for any farm related landscape photos. I do miss country living and if my family still owned our farm I would shoot an awful lot of “Harvest in Sunset Light” panoramas every year in August. It is certain that my love of wide open remote desolate fields and landscapes grew out of living on a farm and then found heaven in the Australian outback where the sense of space is never ending.

Denmark is a densely populated country so finding landscape views not ruined by bitumen roads or power lines is a struggle. Me and my mate Markus managed to do so on a bit of a road trip into the Danish “outback” last week. The result is this Field of Dreams:

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

Wheat Field of Dreams Panorama
Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

With an incoming rain storm the clouds looked spectacular and the light had that super soft “just before the storm” extra charged quality that looks so good in photos. This is shot digitally and stitched in PTgui from 5 vertical images. I also shot a few rolls with the Fuji G617 so it’ll be interesting to compare the two once I get the slides scanned. This shot received a fair bit of post production, the wheat field was much greener but I like it golden so I warmed the colour and changed the hue. The clouds were a blue tone that didn’t go too well with the gold so what do you do, you warm the clouds as well! I love the digital darkroom and I am sure Ansel Adams would have too. A relatively strong vignette put the finishing touch on my Field of Dreams.

Me at work in the field as captured by Master Photographer Markus Hornum-Stenz This road trip and Field of Dreams (one too many movie references you think?) reminded me that it’s possible to shoot some alright landscapes here in Denmark and I thoroughly enjoyed working in the wheat field. Doesn’t always have to be me standing in the most secluded secret sacred spot in Australia having battled snakes and crocs to get there, this shot may lead the way for more landscapes from home. Still love the snakes and crocs though!

Judgment Day

“There’s a storm coming” says the boy. “I know” says Sarah Connor at the end of one of my favourite movies – the sci-fi masterpiece The Terminator.

It wasn’t exactly followed by a nuclear launch and machines taking over the world, but the storm that hit Copenhagen on a Thursday night a few weeks ago still had a “end of the world” feel to it. A very dramatic cloudscape preceded the storm just at sunset and I picked a spot on the harbour with a wide open view of the sky and captured this:

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

Copenhagen Harbour Storm Panorama
Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Standing at the harbour shooting this and watching the storm coming with not a soul to be seen anywhere I felt like saying another favourite Terminator quote “There’s not much time left in the world”!

The shot is 6 vertical images stitched in PTgui. I used a neutral density filter to lengthen exposure but then forgot I had the iso at 200…bugger! I wish the 5D would display iso in the viewfinder! The original shot had a sky that was more bluish and purple but I didn’t really like this colour and felt it didn’t go well with the orange colour of the sunset. So I desaturated most of the blues and cyans and then added a bit of a dark brown gradient fill layer to the clouds just to warm the gray clouds slightly. I feel the orange and black go much better together here. As the finishing touch I used my Wacom tablet to paint some light onto the buildings and added a couple of vignettes in Photoshop.

The end result is a dramatic stormy cloudscape view of Copenhagen – Judgment Day style without the robots though!

Frederiksholm Canal in Copenhagen Panorama

Wednesday we had one of those weird Spring days where the weather goes from sunshine to rain to hail storms back to sunshine. The sky cleared about an hour before sunset but still had a layer of humidity and you get this fantastic soft warm light that you will not see on any other day.  There were only a few clouds about so I scouted for the best composition to include the warm red and orange sky and this strange otherworldly soft light.

I found my shot at Frederiksholm Canal in the inner city and here’s the result and the latest panorama release in my Copenhagen collection (click to see large):

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

Frederiksholm Canal Panorama
Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

As you can see the sun is just behind the buildings to the right and it’s not normally a good time to shoot this location with almost all of the buildings in deep shadows. But due to the soft warm colours of the light on this particular evening the exposure could be controlled, keeping most of the highlights and shadows in a single exposure and some fill light in RAWshooter brought back shadow detail. This is a stitched panorama of 6 vertical shots at 23mm using the 17-40mm f/4.0 L lens and PTgui did a perfect job stitching it. The finishing touch was the use of LAB colour space in Photoshop to get exactly the glow and look I wanted by soft light blending in a lab colour layer. As you know I am not interested in reality at all, I am interested in creating an expression of what I felt and saw when I shot the scene and I am also trying to create my own unique style.

I am very pleased with the result, what d’ya reckon?