Sensory memory

I have mentioned in one of my previous posts that I find my inspiration in paintings. One of the masters whose works inspire me is Shishkin. His landscapes have almost photographic accuracy. Interestingly enough many of his landscapes are depicting nature at noon – some of the hardest light for photography – and yet it looks so beautiful in his paintings. His paintings are utterly simple depicting seemingly mundane landscapes, but the way he does it make them look magical, filled with warmth, hard to take my eyes off, perfect in every respect.

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I live in Oslo temporarily. I run regularly and use running as a way to discover Oslo for myself. I also have my smartphone with me and use it to capture things that catch my eye. The smartphone has become my sketching tool. That is how I discovered Bygdøy Peninsula. Oslofolks call it an island and I can see why. It is covered with forest, farms and countryside cottages. It is an oasis of nature in the middle of a city where anyone can escape from noise and rush of the city life.

When I saw the forest of on Bygdøy peninsular, it reminded me of Shishkin’s paintings. I made some sketches with the smartphone and then I came back at noon (just like Shishkin’s paintings) with a camera to spend more time working on images.

Walking thru this oasis of nature, making photos was very relaxing experience. The sun was shining, breeze was touching my skin, birds were singing, trees were whispering.

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Later that day at night I was processing photos. I was eager to jump onto the task because I wanted to see what I had gotten and how much I can translate my experience into images. As I was working with the images I realized that I felt warmth of the sun and coolness of the breeze, heard birds singing and trees whispering. All my senses were tied to these images.

 

Fascination with Lofoten

I’ve spent 3 amazing days in Lofoten and I fell in love with it. It is a chain of islands in Norway above arctic circle connected by bridges and tunnels.

I had such a misconception from my childhood about life above arctic circle. I imagined Lofoten to be ice and snow, and rock not covered by ice and snow, devoid of life.

It turned to be something completely different. Lofoten was vibrant and lively with green grass, blue sky, sunshine, white sand beaches, emerald ocean and mild temperatures. It was not even nearly as cold as I imagined it. I found it hard to believe I was above arctic circle.

I wanted to stop and touch every tree, touch the grass, the sand and water. It was so far from what I expected that it felt surreal, science fiction. I had to touch it all to check that it was real and not a figment of my imagination.

Sitting in the car watching ripples of water run up and down while sandy beach made me feel like I’m in Hawaii. It was a bit colder than Hawaii when I was getting out of the car. 🙂

You know what was even more surreal? Having no night. It was a beginning of arctic summer, when the sun shines round the clock. It was surreal to hike at midnight and have daylight.

Driving thru the small towns at “night” felt eerie. It was bright as day but there were no people, no movement. It was like in science fiction or horror movies when you wake up one day and all the humanity is gone.

There is so much to photograph there: snow capped mountains, waterfalls, ocean, sandy beaches, rocky beaches, mountain rivers, green meadow, lakes, tiny islands. And best of all I could hike pretty much everywhere. There is very little private land. I spotted a waterfall up the mountain while driving, I just stopped where I could and went up. This was such an enjoyment to roam the land, to wonder around.

There was a payback for all that “night” travel as I was red eyed from lack of sleep but it was totally worth it. If you’ve never been above arctic circle in summer, make sure it is on your “bucket list”.

Beauty is in Details

I’m still experimenting with this technique of multiple exposures over long period of time combined in one image and I like  results better and better. I think I’m onto something. Look at this image. Pretty trivial and  obvious composition. The first thing to note is that clouds look like they are painted.

Then I looked closely at different elements in the image and liked this technique even more. Here is a fragment of a field on the right:

And here is the tree enlarged:

Both elements look like painted. The road is the only element that remains looking as a photograph. This combination of photographic look and painting look creates quite an interesting effect. I’m eager to start printing this to see how it looks in full detail print.

Depth of Field Matters

One of the things photographer needs to think about is a depth of field. When photographing grand landscape, I typically set aperture to middle point between widest and most closed to get most sharpness in the image. For a landscape overall sharpness of an image is typically more important than depth of field.

The story is completely different when photographing close-ups. Depth of field becomes extremely important. It can make or break the image. And getting everything sharp is not necessarily a good thing. And I just happened to have two images to demonstrate the difference.

First, an “everything sharp” image. The aperture was closed to the sharpest setting for the lens that I used (f/8). To me the image ended up too flat. There is no separation between the lupine and shed boards, the lupine seems to be carved in the wall.

Lupine by a Shed

The second image, which I like, is with the lens wide opened (f/2.8). The lens is well focused on the lupine. It is tack sharp. The wall is slightly out of focus. This creates a three dimensional feel in the photograph, there is a space between the flower and the wall.

Lupine by a Shed
Lupine by a Shed

Another interesting thing to note is that I experiment with different depth of field, light, composition while photographing. I took 38 photos of this lupine over two days. Later I reviewed and pick just one of them that I felt worked the best.