Tag Archives: Weather

Week of Wonders

It has been a wonderful week of photography and I have been especially lucky with the light and weather. I was at Grand Canyon just as a snow storm hit. As the 3 hour storm moved on, the sun returned and the light was most special, the otherworldly storm sunlight that I love. Two days later I captured sunlight beams in the famous ‘slot canyons’ of Antelope Canyon and I caught a nice sunset at Horseshoe Bend. I spent several days at one of my dream locations, Monument Valley and the sunrise especially was fantastic but also the storm clouds the next day was something to see. On the way to Moab, Utah I experienced the great pueblo ruins ‘House on Fire’ in Mule Canyon. Then on to Arches and Canyonlands National Park, I knew little of them but they really delivered. Canyonlands is more impressive than Grand Canyon I reckon and on both days I had fantastic clouds due to snow storms. A week of wonders and the landscape here in the southwest US is simply stunning.

The weather changes so rapidly up here in Northern Arizona and in Utah. I sunbaked one day lying on some very hot rocks and two days later I chased snowstorms in Arches National Park! Today’s image is that snowstorm, the clouds were massive and gorgeous and sandstone works so well in this sort of light. Here’s a little teaser, larger stitched panorama to come:

arches snowstorm - blog

My perfect weather would be a hot tropical climate with Australian outback clouds (you know them when you see them) for sunrise. Followed by a clear sky for sun worshipping all day long! Then, energized by the sun, I should like a storm front to move in with some otherworldly light and dramatic clouds. Keep the sun exposed though so it can light up the clouds at sunset. Then, post dusk, clear the sky again for some star trail shots and keep the temperature warm all night for nighttime shooting under a full moon. Too much to ask?

Having chased snow storms for two days in Arches and Canyonlands I had my shots and could take the cold no longer. There was frost on my car this morning, now that does not work for me! So I have moved south again, to Lake Powell in Page, Arizona, where it is warmer. Bryce Canyon, Death Valley, Yosemite etc. coming up! I look forward to Death Valley, my kind of place and my kind of temperature.

In the big smoke. Miss my country.

I am quoting Bill Neidjie again; writing about his country and why he loves the bush in his book ‘Story about Feeling’ he says:

“We like white man alright. We like im city.
But city make you sick of it. Better this…”

I am now hanging out with friends in the big smoke; in Sydney. It is a culture and climate shock indeed coming here from Darwin; Kimberleys and Hawk Dreaming. Sydney is gorgeous but I don’t really like it anymore. Too big, too busy, too narrow streets, too claustrophobic, too many cars, too much traffic, too many people. No aboriginal presence like in Darwin, no history, no art etc. It is not Australia to me. The real Australia is the outback. I think I am going more and more back to my roots. Have no need or use for cities anymore. Just want to go back to “my country” – the outback. City make you sick of it.

It is also bleedin’ feckin’ cold here! Only about 20 during the day and 10 at night; I am close to being in suspended animation. I am used to 35-40 during the day, 25-30 at night. I can deal with the high temperatures; I actually love it. I can’t deal with the cold. Used to walk around in shirt, shorts and thongs (flip-flops). Now I wear 4 layers of clothes. For the people back home that know me: Yes you read right. I wear thongs (known as flip-flops in rest of the world). I have the photos to prove it. I love ’em! I certainly still hate sandals with a passion! And Crocs shoes! Hate ’em even more! But thongs good!

I am here for a few days to hang out with new and old friends. I am actually staying in a super nice house with friends who are not here. I’m housesitting while they’re in Europe. Ironic! I will shoot a bit here; but already have lots of Sydney images so trying to capture something different this time like this one:

Sydney Duotone Panorama. Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

I shot a stitched version of this, this is just a single shot so I’d have something to post. I find myself more and more seeking some sort of art angle on my shots and becoming less and less interested in reality. It’s reality but not as we know it. I capture the data and already have the final image in mind when I shoot the photo; I visualize the end product before shooting; an end product usually quite different from the actual scene. I capture data; but the end product is created in the digital darkroom – in this case quickly thrown together in Lightroom 2.1. The original data is still the most important though. Garbage in means garbage out!

I spent a lot of time sitting in the sun in the back garden of the unit I live in. It’s very relaxing and quiet, you wouldn’t know central Sydney is a 10 minutes walk from here. There are small lizards in the garden I play with. Until I get cold. I still wake with the sun, meaning 5.45am here in Sydney. Miss my country.

Clouds I could touch

Foggy conditions are magic for landscape photographers; hard to predict but when you’re lucky enough to catch it in just the right place and with just the right place you know you have struck gold. Fog adds an otherworldly sense of mystery and beauty to an otherwise mundane everyday setting. It is like being inside a dream; with a cloud that you can touch.

Visiting family in the countryside this weekend I woke up at 5.45am and peered out the window. Not only was the fog as thick as pea soup and shrouding most of the landscape, there was also a full moon glowing brightly just before the sunrise. I donned shoes and camera; this was too good to miss. With little time left before sunrise I quickly captured these great exercises in simplicity:

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

Trees in the Fog
Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

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

Full Moon in Fog
Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

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

Solitary Tree in Fog
Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Shooting in fog is fairly straight forward but watch your exposure. The fog can trick the light meter and cause underexposure. On the other hand you definitely do not want to burn out any of the delicate highlights so watch your histogram closely, don’t overexpose any of the channels. You also need to work fast as this sort of fog will very quickly be burned away by the rising sun. This shooting session lasted only 15 minutes.

As the sun was rising I ended with a panorama showing the whole scene. I like it for the light and atmosphere but the composition I find a bit lacking. I would normally never ever include power lines in a shot as I hate anything man made in my landscape shots, but here they’re below the horizon and they sort of walk across the scene disappearing into the fog and horizon nicely so I left them in.

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

Remember to type image title!
Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

“It’s a fake” – the digital art version

Finally; after processing these I wondered what I would get if I took the Solitary Tree in Fog photo and “borrowed” the moon from the Full Moon shot. The result is this rather nice composite photo.

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

The Moon & The Tree – digital art
Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

I usually don’t add or remove major content from my photos; this image is digital art and not a photo and an exception to my general rule. In this case I had to see the composite result and I must admit I find it slightly magical. It was 15 minutes of magic. 15 minutes inside a dream!

PS. I slept another hour after this shoot and had a nightmare that I was in Perth and my memory card was erased due to the camera getting wet. It was vivid enough to make me check the camera as I woke up. I reckon it’s safe to say you’re passionate about photography when nightmares involves hero shots getting deleted!

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!

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.

Summer Storm in Copenhagen

The month of May brought us some incredibly good Spring weather, 347 hours of sunshine (a new record) and temperatures up to 29,5c degrees. I know, a chilly day in the Australian outback but it’s all relative as someone once said.

The month of May brought very few photos though, sunshine from a clear blue sky lends itself well to trips to the beach but not to my style of photography – dramatic and special light! I love Summer but also need some drama light to keep my photography fix going (I’m an addict). Like always, I want everything! My new favourite saying: I want patience and I want it now!

A dramatic change means beach trips are now out and photo trips are in again with everything from rain and hail storms to sunshine thrown into the weather mix presently! Thursday night in Copenhagen some amazing alien looking light and cloudscapes chose to visit us and fortunately I was ready. I shot a series of shots at two locations and this is the first of them, my permanent spot at lake Peblinge on my way home. It’s 10.23pm (sun sets at around 10pm) and a 20 second exposure captures this – click for large size:

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

Summer Storm in Copenhagen Panorama
Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

It’s the sort of shot that gets better the bigger it is but I hope you still get a sense of how awe-inspiring the light was. It’s also somewhat otherworldly and I feel like doing a version with a UFO in there and Scully and Mulder in a boat on the lake – the truth is out there! I have more photos to come from this X-Files cloudscape night so maybe the next one will feature an Unidentified Flying Object!

Lightroom 2.0

This shot was developed in the beta version of Adobe Lightroom 2.0. I have recently started to use this as my RAW development tool and I must say I like it a lot and I like it a lot more than Lightroom 1.0. They fixed a lot of the things that annoyed me in 1.0 and added some incredible new features. Adobe purchased the Danish company Pixmantec and their product Rawshooter a short time before 1.0 was released but had no time to incorporate features etc. into Lightroom 1.0. With 2.0 I think the Pixmantec boys have had a lot more inputs and Lightroom 2.0 really feels like a lot more like a mix of the best of Rawshooter and Lightroom to me. I really like it and reckon Lightroom 2.0 will be my new RAW developer of choice. I did almost everything in Lightroom including the vignette effect, I only used Photoshop for sharpening and very little healing and painting with light. I still wish it was faster and more responsive, Rawshooter runs rings around Lightroom in terms of speed!

Painting the early Summer in Copenhagen

It’s been juuuuuust above 25 degrees for the past few days. In Denmark we call that “Summer days” and wear next to no clothes – In Australia we call that “bit cold today mate” and dress for Winter! Nevertheless, this past week we’ve had a “hot” spell and it’s fantastic having the internal batteries recharged by some sunshine and some heat.

As incredibly nice as the heat is it’s bleeding boring for photography. Cloudless skies and very harsh strong sunlight provides no dramatic light at all for landscape photographers and nothing happens in the sky at dusk. Well, the sun sets at around 9pm and the last hour or so before and after sunset can provide some ok light as long as the sky isn’t a big feature in the composition. I shot these two during the past week:

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

Tycho Brahe Planetarium Panorama
Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

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

Nyhavn Canal Spring Sunset
Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

The first shot is a 10 second exposure of Lake “St. Jørgen” and the Tycho Brahe Planetarium about 30 minutes after sunset. The second shot is the Nyhavn canal (I get a bit sick of shooting Nyhavn ‘cos it’s such a cliché shot but they sell well!) about 30 minutes before sunset. Both nights with very little to no wind creating some nice reflections. Both shots have ok light but look a bit flat and lifeless in the originals so I painted some drama using painting with light (I am loving my new Wacom tablet!). In the Nyhavn shot I went for the look of something between a painting and a photo.

I shoot my cityscapes just as I would landscapes. For me it’s the same. It’s landscapes that just happens to have some buildings in them (which is what I have at hand living in Copenhagen, not a lot of outback landscape here!). So like any landscape photographer, I love the warm sunny days but just want a few clouds and some dramatic light at dusk as well – not too much to ask hey 🙂 Well that’s life for landscape and cityscape photographers depending on natural light. We wait and wait for that special fleeting moment in the sky and hope to be ready, camera on lens cap off, when it happens!