D800 – Love at first sight pt. 2

This blog post will be a continuation on the post from last week about my first few days with the d800. I took it out for a few photo walks and ended up having so much fun that I chose to split the photos into two different batches.

This batch has partly got a bit of marine theme to it, as strolling through Södermalm in Stockholm led me to a pier with a multitude of various ships docked to it. They all have different details and shapes that I find to be quite photogenic.

There was a beautiful calmness to the ships and the blank open waters of the Stockholmian landscape the hour before sunset: love struck couples, reflections of golden sunlight that bounce off of the water and onto various surfaces and the smell of early spring to the air.

All in all, I’ve been having an absolute blast with my new camera. Spring is storming in with a few breaks of winter every now and then here in Sweden and it feels like I will have a great spring and summer for photography this year.


Sunset photography ambivalence

Last weekend, actually just the day after I took those shots presented in the post right before this, I took a bus to a place I’ve been seeing on my way to work for a good while now. I’ve been meaning to shoot it, only I’ve never quite gotten to the point of actually going there on a day off. I decided to try to match the sunset by going there approximately one hour due time.

The shadows were long and the colours were there. Well, maybe not if you turn it black and white in the post processing…

Back to the colours: yeah, they were indeed there.

The birches were looking magnificient, but I was having problems catching their colours with my camera and also while colour correcting in ACR. I still enjoyed the details of the branches and the symmetrical yet living sense they gave me and felt that turning them black and white was just the right thing to do.

Here’s going for a 9:16 aspect ratio in an attempt to further enhance the majestic feeling the birches impressed me with.

And back to the good old 2:3 again, only this time with slightly more washed out blacks.

But let’s hold on for a minute and get back to the initial intention with this post; that which was alluded in the title. Sunsets are both dear and… well not so dear to me. I appreciate the concept of getting the maximum out of a scene by shooting it at sunset in order to get those mindblowing colours. While I aknowledge that looking for that glorious light is a key part of photography in general, I still think it is also about being able to unexpected things with any given lighting situation. See, when it comes to sunset photography (or sunrise for that matter) there is that intense feeling of stress that comes with it. Partly this is because I am now very rusty, coming from the winter season where sunlight is scarse and sunsets even more so. When that golden light starts hitting the scene it brings my pulse up and my brain just doesn’t seem to function the way it’s supposed to.

Do I use my tripod? Will I shoot handheld? Am I to bracket in order to be able to blend exposures or even focusing to maximise that depth of field? I ended up walking straight into a deep mudhole and had to spend the next two hours all wet and freezing from it.

One of the biggest factors in photography that I enjoy is being able to control a situation, analyse it and bring the best of it in my shots. This requires time, and often lots of it. I do not enjoy shooting with a tripod, period. It’s just not how I work my way around a camera. It leaves me feeling handicapped. I like taking lots of pictures trying out hundreds of different compositions rather than sticking to one shot and waiting out the light.

I know of photographers that will watch the same scene and shoot repeated shots through the different variations of light. See, in a sunset the light will change virtually every minute. The quality of light differs depending on how many particles it will have to cross and in what angle it will hit the earth. Is it going through clouds or trees? Almost parallel to the grund or straight onto it from the sky? Just look at how the colours and the deepness of the shadows and the punchiness of the highlights differ in the shots in this post, all taken within pretty much an hour.

I think I lost my train of thought somewhere within all of this rambling. Point is, still, that I am most torn when it comes to sunset photography. Yes, it brings amazing qualities to the light and it can make virtually any scene magical and a great scene perfect. Still, it brings me that stress, that awkwardness with working with a tripod and that bitter-sweet feeling to it.

All in all, I will keep shooting sunsets and hunting that light. But I don’t want to be bound by it, to have to shoot scenes bathing in that golden light. That’s not all there is to photography and definitely not all there is to landscape photography, contrary to what alot of people seem to think (on the internet especially).

The funny thing here is that, even though I came here to take a few particular shots, I never really did get to take those. I had intended on moving even further ino the fields to a specific place with some interesting fences and firs. This means I still have an area to cover, and shoot, for another trip. I guess that’s what’s up for me sometime in the future. I like that idea of seeing a (hopefully) neverending horizon of potential shots rather than a finite number. Once there for a second time I hope to discover something new, sparkle a new interest and add new to-dos to my list.