For me there is no better way to relax than to go for an evening photography excursion alone in my home commune Ås. Here is why.
After divorcing three years back I decided I needed to pick up a hobby. Photography was the obvious choice. I had always been taking lots of photos – and I grew up in my father´s dark room. Now was the chance to make more of my old “hobby”.
- Some of my photos at 500px
- Photography workshops in Krakow
- Read about my ebook “Smertens smil – en reise i Kambodsja”
I bought a good full-format camera (Canon 5D Mark II) and additional equipment and started off with great enthusiasm.
And I loved it!
Photography was a hobby I could do on my own! And it was a great activity to do together with other fellow amateur photographers. 🙂
I have mostly decided to do it alone.
Why? Am I an anti-social guy who do not want to spend time with others?
But I love the peace and relaxation going out on my own with my camera gives me!
A photo evening in Ås
Let´s talk about a recent Saturday night, for instance! I was extremely tired after an intense week. The whole Saturday had been spent fixing different practical stuff….and my two teenage sons expected full culinary service in the evening.
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So….as sunset approached…I went out to the beautiful fields in Ås, my home commune in Akershus county in Norway, just 30 kilometers south of the capital city Oslo.
It took just one hour or so. A short date with my camera 🙂
But it gave me so much energy.
I went to an area in Ås where I had many times passed jogging, but never stopped.
Now I had time to calm down, breath slowly and just experience the beautiful evening landscape nature.
It was so beautiful!
I just stood there and took the magnificent view in!
Spending time to reflect
And it is this powerful moment of being alone in a beautiful landscape which inspires me as a photographer. Taking great photos is never just a question of identifying a magnificent landscape. As a photographer you also need to work with the landscape.
It is about seeing the light and anticipating when it is the right moment. But also about finding the right composition. A good landscape photo should have both foreground and background – and also lines leading into the landscape.
So I find myself walking back and forth, sitting down on ground, standing up, stepping to the side, walking forward and many other variations to find the right composition.
For a stranger my behavior must look weird!
For me it is so relaxing!
And very hard to do with an impatient friend around, however nice she or he might be.
So I prefer to do it alone.
Depressed man in black and white
This evening I was in mood to try something different. I looked at the landscape and thought it lacked something. A human being!
There was only one human being around: Myself! Using 10 second self-timer I became my own model, playing a depressed man in the middle of the field. It took a few attempts before I was satisfied.
Afterward I converted the photograph to black and white and added contrast and made some other adjustments. Here is the result:
Long exposures and HDR
I am satisfied if I end up with two or three good photos after an evening excursion like this. Sometimes I don´t have any photos at all – other nights just one. And every now and then I have an excursion with lots of photos I am happy with.
There are two reasons for this:
- I cannot control what light nature decides to serve me that night. It is all about being out there and wait for what comes.
- I frequently use long exposures and the HDR technique, which is time consuming.
HDR means High Dynamic Range. It is technique ensuring that all parts of an image is correctly exposed. It is especially useful if the motive has great contrast, for instance a sunset. With HDR you take a number of different exposures which later are put together using a special software.
I usually take 5 exposures. One is the values the camera tells me is correct exposure. In addition I add two that are overexposed – usually one and two steps – and two that are underexposed. To put the exposures together I use a software called HDR Efex Pro 2, which is part of Google Nik Collection.
I always use tripod. And I like to keep the ISO low. That means I often use very long exposures, sometimes up to several minutes. It takes patience.
Coming home refreshed
I always come home refreshed after these evening excursions, even when I don´t bring any great photos. My mind has rested and I have had time to focus on something I love doing.
And it helps me see the world around me with new eyes. Many times I have been surprised when discovering the beauty of places I have passed lots of times.
You see an example below – from the lake Årungen in Ås.
There will be more photo excursions, for sure!