Tag Archives: sunset

Mother Nature the artist at Wyadup Rocks

Looking back at a few shots from Australia in February I remembered I never got around to posting the sunset from Wyadup Rocks. Now; this really was an extraordinary afternoon and sunset at the best location I reckon on the Southwest coast of Western Australia. Waves like we had never experienced before and some pretty clouds came out to play as well and to top it off, Mother Nature lit up the sky.

It was such an incredible experience and so beautiful that all my images are sorely lacking. There’s just no way to capture this as we experienced it. The waves, the light, the sun, the sound, the smell, the feeling, the smiles. Cannot capture it. Not for lack of trying; I shot plenty but there just isn’t one image which is just right. Only the memory of the experience is just right. There is about 3-4 contenders from the sunset, shot in between the rocks and I can’t get any of them to look quite right and the composition is not quite right either. Good processing ideas much appreciated as I’ll have another whack at developing these in a few months or so when my new website (bet ya never get tired off hearing about it) goes online.

Here’s one of 3-4 final contenders, pretty much straight from Lightroom:

Wyadup Rocks - blog

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

Saguaros of Arizona

The Southern part of Arizona is home to the Sonoran desert and the famous Saguaro cactus. These huge grandfathers of the desert are quite impressive, some of them standing more than 10 meters tall age more than 100 years. For me these are a symbol of the southwest USA, something burned into my memory as a child watching countless Western movies. In Arizona the Saguaros are protected by state law, it is actually illegal to harm them in any way.

The real trick for me as with the Joshua Trees is finding a few that I can isolate in a composition with a nice background. Nature is messy. Takes a lot of walking, fortunately I enjoy hiking. Just be very careful not to walk into these things, them needles are sharp! I walked into a low one as I was looking at clouds. Aw! And it is a cliché shot to shoot them silhouetted against the sunset, but it looks good! Here’s one from a sunset in the Saguaro National Park in Tucson, Arizona. This impressive cactus is at least 8 meters tall.

saguaro arizona - blog 

There is not much to shooting an image like this. Took hours to find the composition though. Then I sat down with a book and enjoyed the tranquility waiting for Mother Nature to turn on the light show. That she did! Your only worry is blowing out the red channel, be careful and underexpose about 2 stops. And don’t walk into these things!

I am presently in New Mexico, state of the Wide Open Spaces and on my way to White Sands desert. More to come.

Wyadup Rocks at dusk

This afternoon was magical and probably the highlight of our whole trip. The problem is the experience was so great and the light so awesome that not one of my images come close to capturing the real thing. Actually my friend Signe shot the best sunset shot of the day on her compact camera, just a perfect composition with brilliant timing. And here’s me with equipment worth 50 times as much getting my ass kicked. It’s never the camera, it’s the photographer! I still have a few sunsets shot that I am working on and will post sometime soon if I ever get those raw files the way I want them (I wish you could change composition in Lightroom, how cool would that be! A slider to move left and right!).  For now here is one of my very last shots at dusk. Not entirely happy with the composition but it will have to do because I can’t very well re-shoot this now. It is a single 17mm shot cropped, let me know if you think this works:

wyadup rocks at dusk - blog

Coming to Australia

As I wrote in my previous post we are leaving Thailand setting forth on new adventures. Australia, as always, calls me. Me and a dear friend of mine will touch down in Perth Sunday 31st of January. Plan is to be in Perth for a little bit, meet some of the Perth photogs, and then we will head South on a big South WA road trip hitting all those great spots down the coast and round the Southern part all the way to Esperance. Mission is: beach and coast everyday! Really in need of some coastline after Chiang Mai and landscapes to shoot!

Now I ask all my dear Australian friends for a bit of help:

  1. Great locations and beaches to visit going south from Perth all the way down and round the coastline. Recommendations?
  2. Accommodation along the way. Recommendations and help much appreciated.

Feel free to comment or email me at mail(a)flemmingbojensen.com – thanks so much peeps, very much appreciated!

Look forward to catching up with some of you and exploring the South WA. Later we shall hit Sydney as well, Sydneysiders be warned!

Flemming Bo

Since this is still a photo blog, here’s a Cable Beach, Broome, Australia cloudscape from last year, ahhhhh Australia Australia we love ya:

cable beach cloud - blog

Layers of gold

I learned many things during our Laos trip and one of them was to really appreciate gorgeous mountains. As every reader knows by now I tend to go on (and on) about wide open dimensionless desolate flat spaces. But driving around the incredible gorgeous mountains of East Laos blew my mind. Everywhere, absolutely everywhere my eyes darted, majestic mountainscapes were present. Another added bonus of mountains and the air in these altitudes were the incredibly blue sky and simply stunning cloudscapes masterly painted onto the big big sky.

The mountains pose a challenge though, finding somewhere to shoot! Driving on a small path in a 4WD, most of the time there are bushes, trees and all sorts of stuff in front. To get a clear shot requires testing gravity or towing a really tall ladder! Or just the patience to wait for a spot to pull over where the view is unimpeded. One afternoon as the sun was low and setting we were treated to some ethereal rays of lights shining through the clouds and I created this image:

Laos mountainscape golden hour blog

This is just a single image slightly cropped. There was not always time to setup tripod and shoot stitched panos etc. The important lesson here is take what you can get. I have warmed the colours some, in the original it has a more cold cast to it but I feel perfectly fine about altering the look of a scene like this. I am attempting to create art, this is not a documentary nor photojournalism. I was able to capture the dynamic range in one raw file and then worked the image in Lightroom and Photoshop to bring out the deep in shade foreground slight and warm the colours. What do you think of the result?

Field of Dreams in Laos

Clichéd title. Probably even used it before. No matter! My writing will not make me rich and famous anyway, might as well recycle my own clichés! Anyway to become a cliché it has to be extremely good. Or popular. Wish I could become a cliché!

This particular Field of Dreams is a rice field in the mountains of East Laos, driving towards the village of Nonghat close to the Vietnam border. After one day in the capital Vientiane – awful touristy place, more on that later, whoever rebuilt this city ruined it – we flew to the remote town of Phonsavan and met our car, driver and guide. We drive up the mountains on curvy small roads snaking their way through gorgeous landscapes and charming villages with nothing but wooden huts, smiling villagers and simple country living. I never want to leave. As the sun starts setting and golden hour is upon us we start scouting for a nice location. Being me I want a big wide open space, not easy to find in mountains. But suddenly this beautiful flat dry brown rice field appears as if someone heard my request. Perfect timing, perfect location. Perfect colours as the dry orange rice crops really pick up the colour of the setting sun. Perfect moment that I captured this way:

Laos Field of Dreams. Flemming Bo Jensen

You are not really supposed to walk off road or off path. Laos is still home to so many unexploded bombs dropped by USA during the Vietnam war. US Airforce used Laos as a garbage bin, you don’t want to land with bombs on your plane so if the pilots had any leftovers returning from raids in Vietnam, it was dumped unexploded on Laos before returning to base. Thanks USA! So any step off track could be your last. Here, it is a rice field though so plenty of footsteps before me and I was careful to only walk on the paths.

This is a stitched panorama of 7 or 8 images, developed in Lightroom and stitched in PTgui. Images like these are easy. Nature is the artist. I merely composed, shot stitched, colour balanced and also painted a bit with light to enhance the hut. But Mother Nature is the artist here, love her to bits!

Field of Dreams in Laos was truly beautiful. Stay tuned for the sequels, Solitary Tree in Laos and Outback Road in Laos. I warned you I am a cliché!

Sun or No Sun?

In actual life there is no question, like a solar panel I need the rays of the sun to energize me everyday. In my images it is a different story. Having the sun in the frame will burn out the red channel on a digital sensor and leave an ugly yellow brownish/greenish halo around the sun. To my eyes this looks even worse on print than on screen. Film or transparencies have a much nicer gentler curve so they cope much better with the sun in the frame, but digital is unforgiving.

This does mean I delete images that otherwise are quite nice, but have a small burned out area from the sun. As I just started developing RAW files from Namibia, I ran into two of these images. So now I am asking you dear reader, what do you think of having the sun in the frame? Do you like it? Does it distract you? Do you dislike it? And photographers; what do you do to make images like these work – or do you delete them as I do?

As examples I present two sunset images from driving 6 hours through the Namibian desert, from the capital of Windhoek to Swakopmund on the coast. A most special day with beautiful cloud cover (very rare) and 30 seconds of rain in the afternoon (very rare!).

Namib desert into the sun 2. Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Namib desert into the sun 1. Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

My Namibian friends tell me it was a day that happens once in 10 years. I am amazed by the big reflection of the sun in the grass. But, both images also have burned out sun, so please let me know if you think they work as I am not so sure.

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.

090411-IMG_0335 copy

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!

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!