As I mentioned in the last post, I went on an excursion with the camera club to Klövsjö. It was actually quite nice and we got 50/50 weather – pouring rain in the morning and warm sunshine in the afternoon. The first visit was up to Fättjeåfallet and the trail there was possibly even more rocky than I remembered it. In those rainy conditions, I started having awake nightmares about slipping on a wet rock and splitting my skull. But there were no accidents and I actually got some pictures as well. While everyone else was concentrating on getting full blown closeups of the waterfall, I took in all the new greens and used them for a foreground. In those wet conditions, the greens were incredibly intense. It’s not often I think about pulling back saturation, instead of adding it!
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Back at work, we had some scheduling issues with our vacations and I decided that I might as well have my vacation earlier than originally planned. After the long weekend at the cabin, it was clear to me that summer was proceeding way faster than it did last year, so starting my vacation from the midsummer would work fine, the mountains are almost clear of snow so I can do the hikes I want to do. I also rescheduled my obligatory visit-Finland-once-every-two-years to September instead of Christmas. I will have two weeks off in September, first week at the cabin and second in Finland.
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In Föne, I’m trying to visit all the river spots that I’ve scouted earlier. The water has risen a little bit so I have less of the rocky shoreline to shoot, but I did find one spot that even gets evening light, which is not at all the case along the whole river as it passes Föne.
I also visited one lake that I’ve often passed by and thought it looks nice. This time I walked around it, and saw that it was much better than I ever thought when looking at it from the road. It shot to #1 on my list of places to visit on a calm and sunny evening!
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So now I’m just waiting for my vacation. The weather is not looking to be very good so I’m not expecting to get much landscape work done and will put my efforts in scouting instead. And conquering mountains!Comments welcome in English / på svenska / suomeksi
This is actually my last day at the cabin. I’m leaving indecently early tomorrow morning to meet up with some camera club members in Klövsjö for a day of shooting. I have no expectations about the photography, but it will be nice to have some company after four days in the cabin alone.
Today’s activity was all about reconnaissance. There is a road that follows the Grundsjön lake from the south, the road finishes less than 1.5 from the bridge over Mittån, straight line. So it’s tantalisingly close and the map tells me that there is a trail from Mittån to the road, so I wanted to know if I could drag my bike along that trail and thus get access to all the sights along Grundsjön. If you were to get to the end of that road from Messlingen by car, it would be a whopping 100 km so you understand why I was so interested in this shortcut. As I was only checking if that route was possible, I left the bike at home and that was just as well. Because almost as soon as I had taken the Grundsjön trail, it was very evident that I could just forget about ever taking the bike through here. The trail is not even a proper trail, it’s just a faint path that crosses over some mires and small brooks, and the further I got the harder it was the follow the path at all. It just simply disappeared, sometimes because forest machines had messed up the land (yes, they do logging in the slow growth sub-alpine forest) but most of the time for the lack of use, quite simply. When I had lost the path three times, I had enough of it. At the rate it was going, I was risking to get lost on the way back and I didn’t dare to trust my telephone to keep track because Runkeeper could crash, and even if it didn’t, it does drain the battery quite fast. Do I really want to be lost in the wilderness with a dead phone? I decided not. I had achieved my main objective in any case, which was to establish if it would be possible to take the bike to Grundsjön.
When I got back to the Messlingen lake, I saw that the wind had picked up. It was blowing from the west, which means that it has the whole length of the lake to whip up the waves, so they were quite impressive when they were hitting the eastern shore. So today’s only picture is a snapshot of the waves. Or rather, it’s the only picture I kept out of the 70 I took… put the camera on serial and hold the trigger until buffer was full, so I could catch the right moment of the wave breaking!Comments welcome in English / på svenska / suomeksi
The weather hasn’t been too bad so far, but it’s patchy and good light is hard to get. There are moments when there is more blue sky than clouds, but that doesn’t last for long and then you’re standing there waiting again with camera in hand. But I’m used to these conditions and I don’t bother to be disappointed. There’s always the next time. I don’t get good light everywhere I go, but sometimes I get good light when I go somewhere. Today was one of those days, I drove to Kappruet in the morning and it was sunny. As I was climbing up, I kept wondering why I put myself through this trouble. God I hate those climbs. Then I got on top and the climb was but a distant memory and I just enjoyed myself. When you get to the alpine tundra, it’s such a freedom. It may sound weird, but it just feels like there’s more air up there. And maybe there is… especially in those cases when it’s warm and you have to hike through a mosquito infested forest. The slight breeze on the mountain is such a relief! Anyway, not so many mosquitoes this early in the season, sure I got a few bites but it was nothing, considering that I wasn’t protecting myself against them.
When I reached the top, the clouds started moving in. If it only was some fluffy clouds, it might have worked out, but it was that annoying thin high cloud which doesn’t quite obscure the sun but it makes the sky as un-photogenic as it gets. The views towards the Anådalen valley were wonderful, but the way the light was changing, it was a hopeless task. I took one picture, and deleted it. I had better luck with this mountain birch, I shot it on the way in while there still was blue sky (you can see the cloud bank in the horizon), and then shot it from another angle on the way out. By now my only option was a monochrome conversion. You can see the sky is white, but the birch still casts a shadow. Nevermind, the good thing with mountain birches is that they always work in black and white!1 comment
What a surprise. After exhausting my energy yesterday, I felt downright lethargic today. I spent most of the day sitting on the sofa, wondering occasionally if I should try to do something useful. But what the heck, it’s my day off. If I want to sit down and do nothing, then should just do it and not feel guilty. But all good things come to end, and so in the afternoon I packed my bag and got out. My original plan was to go to Kappruet, but there was quite a lot of wind and clouds so I didn’t think that it would work out. Thankfully, I always have a reserve plan – Fiskhålsgraven. I was very determined not to get up to the ravine this weekend, because it seems like I end up there every time I’m at the cabin. But when my first plan fails, Fiskhålsgraven is very accessible and it always gives me something.
Technically, I didn’t actually go to the ravine… I was maybe about 50m from it at closest. It’s the area around it that is just as interesting as the ravine itself. At first I was getting some dejá vu feelings when every birch I pointed my camera at somehow seemed familiar. Then suddenly I found this little twisted fellow I had never seen before. And walking back, I was looking at a row of birches that I am absolutely sure that I have been to before, but they just didn’t invoke the dejá vu feeling. Then I realised it was the light… the sun had briefly come out and as it was shining on these birches, making the place brand new in my eyes. That is literally a case of seeing things in new light and it renewed my faith in Fiskhålsgraven. There’s always something up there, because the light will never be exactly the same it was before.
Not such a bad place, for a reserve plan!3 comments
It’s the national day in Sweden today, which pretty much only means that it’s a day off. I have been working some late nights in the recent weeks and felt that I could use more time off than just one day, so I took out Wednesday and Friday as well and now I’m enjoying a very long weekend in the cabin. The idea was that I could paint the one remaining wall of the cabin so I could finally have it done with, but as it turns out… it won’t get done. I had not counted on my neighbours not being at home, which is a problem in that I need to borrow the spray canister so I can spray the iron sulphate. It is also possible to use a conventional brush for it, but since I’ve done the other three walls by spraying, I’m not sure how different it will be from spraying. And with this last wall being the front wall, I don’t really want to experiment. I’m so sick of this… I’ve invested way too much money on the cabin already, but I absolutely loathe the idea of waiting until July and my summer vacation so I can finish the job which I don’t like doing in the first place. So I’m more than willing to pay someone for doing this for me! Anyone?
Anyway, with this paint job out the window, my mini-vacation is just that. Vacation. I took my mountain bike and rode to Kappruskaftet, which is one of my favourite places in Messlingen. There are some old tracks going across the plateau so I knew that it would be easy to bike up there, so I took the trouble of dragging the bike up the badly eroded serpentine dirt road that leads to the plateau. It was really hard work, and so was cycling through the patches of wet land that the trail went through. Difficult to wear the right clothes… sweating buckets when the sun was out and the going was tough, and then ice cold when the sun went behind a cloud and I was standing still with the camera. The air as such was a little bit on the cool side (9 degrees when I came back).
There was one picture in particular that I wanted to take, and it’s a picture like the one I took last September except now with bright greens. I walked around for a while but couldn’t find exactly the same spot, and just when I found something else that worked, the sun disappeared. There was a small cloud, followed by a big cloud, with a small gap in between so I figured that I should be able to get my picture during that gap. Unless of course the clouds would morph and merge, in which case I might as well give up. And it was the worst case scenario… the clouds were merging together, and there was a break of only a few seconds when the sun peeked out. It wasn’t as good as full light, but better than nothing. After that, I pedalled back home, I figured that I wouldn’t get any more light anyway. And I was right, actually.
I was dead tired when I came back. I have never hated the big hill leading up to the cabin area as much as I hated it last night, it took a lot of sisu to make it up. The trip was about 22 km, containing a total climb of at least 250m, and some soft terrain for heavy biking. I must’ve burned… dunno, up to 1000 calories? My energy intake during the trip was… hmm, how much calories in an apple? No wonder I was so spent afterwards. I always make this same mistake, I totally underestimate how hard these trips are so even if I eat before leaving, it’s nowhere near enough to keep me going for hours. And then I don’t have enough food or even energy bars to refill my muscles. Why is it such a difficult concept for me?!Comments welcome in English / på svenska / suomeksi
Surprise, I have a new lens in the bag! I’ve been wondering about this problem of mine when going on hikes and trying to carry light, that I most often have to sacrifice the heavy 150mm macro. Which then leaves me only with the “macro” function on the 24-105mm lens, and let’s be honest… it doesn’t deserve to be called macro. It has a magnification of 1:4.3 which is nowhere near close enough, especially when the lens is not exactly pin sharp when shooting wide open at 105mm, in order to get some kind of control of the background.
But a few weeks ago it came to me – I should get a 50mm macro! The Sigma 50mm f2.8 lens is very light, about half a kilo lighter than the 150mm lens. And despite the short focal length, this baby can do 1:1 magnification, which shouldn’t be taken for granted – for example, the Canon f2.5 macro can only manage 1:2. It’s a bit funny when shooting at 1:1 though, because this lens has an extending barrel. The closest focusing distance is 19cm, but with the lens extension considered, the front element is just a couple of centimeters from the subject. So you have to be really careful with it, or you’ll bump the lens into things… just as well that Sigma seems to have taken this into consideration, because the front glass is very deep in the barrel, kind of providing a permanent lens hood. And speaking of the lens hood, I came to the conclusion that it’s useless. Because of this massive lens extension, it’s impossible to use a lens hood which attaches to the barrel. The only option is to make a screw-in lens hood, so you use the filter thread for this. Which means that you then can’t put on the lens cap. But like I said, it’s hardly needed anyway so I will leave the hood in the box, it’s just more trouble than it’s worth.
When I got the 150mm macro, it was because it suits my style the best, it gives me very good background control and also makes it possible to use diffused foregrounds. So I know that I can’t expect to shoot in the same way using a 50mm macro with its wider angle of view and bigger DOF, but it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. The biggest difference is that I have to learn to work with the background, I will have to try to make the background a part of the picture. The pictures will tell a different story – instead of highlighting a flower against a unicoloured background, I will now have to put the flower in context. But having said that, I don’t expect to start using the short macro as my main lens, I really only got it for the purpose of being able to carry a macro lens on the long hikes. I’m already thinking about a combination of 16-28mm wideangle and 50mm macro… so completely skip the longer Canon zoom. I have step-up rings so I can easily use filters with the macro. Only sacrifice I have to make is on the long end. Working with 50mm as the longest available focal length sounds scary, but I feel up to the challenge!
Oh, maybe a word about the quality of the lens. For one thing, it’s sharp. I mean, how can anyone do a not-sharp 50mm lens? I don’t even bother to test it, I do what I always do – take the pictures I want to take, and if I like the result then the lens is sure good enough for me. Also the construction of the lens is very solid, I have absolutely no complaints or concerns. Compared to all my other lenses, this new one is quite a baby. When the lens is attached to the camera, it feels a bit strange to hold it… I’m not used to having lenses which are lighter than the camera!2 comments
It feels like it’s forever since I did any proper landscape shooting. But today, things sure turned around. Everything is green by now so all the spots that I have been thinking about are good to go. Or not. Not everything turns out quite like you expected… so I found today that some spots that I had scouted earlier in the spring are not quite as easy to shoot as I thought. But it doesn’t matter, if one place doesn’t work then the next one will.
Yesterday evening I drove to the spot which I found last Sunday. The embankment isn’t any easier to go down when wearing a heavy backpack but I made it, all the while wishing that I had brought some rope with me. If you think that I’m exaggerating, feel free to try it. Go down without holding any tree trunks for support and I promise I’ll be ready to dial 112 after you’ve dived down to the rocks below. Anyway, light is always problematic by the river because you almost never get it from any optimal direction. If you want soft light, you have very small window of opportunity in the early evening, just when the light is turning nice but before the sun has gone behind the trees, which will shade the shore you’re on (when you’re on the Föne side of the river). The 500m stretch that I walked, almost half of it was shaded by 7pm. So shooting the river is a bit of a challenge, all these nice places that I find but I really don’t know how to make them work out photographically. But, it’s nice to have some challenges, right?
What a wonderful weekend it has been! The calendar says it’s still spring, but it sure feels summer. On yesterday’s excursion when I ended up in a wet mire wearing non-Goretex shoes, I wouldn’t have known I stood in water if I didn’t look down and saw the water covering my feet. That’s how warm it was. The reason for me getting my feet wet was the lovely small lake behind the Akinvallen summer farm. I haven’t visited Akinvallen in about 10 years, and this was the first time I got down to the lake. Turned out to be a good move because I didn’t get any pictures of the farm itself… and now I’m wondering if I should’ve taken some pictures without the IR filter. The light was quite harsh though and it was quite windy so the lake was broken up, so I figured there’s no much I can do without the IR. Not saying that this effort is any good, I’m still searching for the best subjects for the filter. I do suspect however that I will not be able to get the results that inspired me to get the filter in the first place. The 6D is too advanced for this.
Today’s cycling trip took me to a stretch of Ljusnan where I hadn’t been before. The embankment down to the water was ridiculously steep. Last year I think I joked about needing a parachute to handle these embankments… today I wondered if I should’ve taken a rope instead. Honestly, it was so difficult I had serious doubts if was going to get down at all. Just a few degrees short of vertical with pine needles and cones and loose sand under your feet… interesting! But once I got down to the river, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the shore was covered in pebbles so it was actually possible to follow the waterline (as long as the water level is this low). Most of the time the shore is inaccessible or impossible to follow so these opportunities need to be used. I will go back with the big camera at some point to explore!
I think I mentioned last year that I might convert my old 40D to infrared when I bought my new camera. But then somebody wanted to buy the 40D and I had to decide between making money on it, or spend money on it. Kind of a no-brainer! But I was still interested in infrared, so I got myself an IR filter instead. It has been a long wait for spring and foliage so I could use the filter, because what I am mostly interested in is the way you can use the filter to turn the greens into white to create this spooky atmosphere in the picture.
It turned out that using the filter is a lot harder than I anticipated, and what I mean by that is the post-processing. Taking the picture is not so dramatically different, all you need to do is to compose and focus the picture without the filter, and then add it and use a very long exposure to take the picture. It’s like shooting through the lens cap, you can completely forget looking through the viewfinder, it’s pitch black there. Live preview works, but the picture is completely red and lacks contrast so I’ve gave up with it pretty quickly.
As with the live preview, the resulting picture is red. I mean, completely red – there’s absolutely no other colour it in, just hues of red. Cue a lot of post-processing. After a lot of googling and experimenting, I finally got something that is at least in the ballpark of my expectations. All the IR pictures I’ve seen on the net are way cooler… and no matter which tutorial I looked at, nothing gave me similar results. Experiment is the word. The easy way of processing IR pictures is to make them monochrome, but if I want monochrome pictures then I can just convert my normal colour pictures. Ergo, experiment some more. For every landscape picture I take, I will take one version with the IR filter and see what I get out of it. So far I’ve learned that sunlight makes all the difference, in fact, I can finally make use of the harsh noon light!4 comments
The photographic slump continues, waiting for the greens. It’s actually starting to happen now, with ever so slight green tint on the birches. Some birches actually very nearly sport mouse ears by now, so give it another week and the landscape will be transformed. Exciting times… this is the spring equivalent of first snow!
I have been keeping an eye on Mon, to see when the ice would melt. Those blocks of ice left on dry land after the flood waters disappeared are huge – a couple of weeks ago they were at least half a meter thick, on average! So even with the warm weather, it takes time before they melt, and then it takes a bit more time before anything grows there.
I’ve done a lot of cycling lately, exploring all the small roads in the forest. Last year the roads were unpassable because of the fallen trees, but now they have cleared out the wreckage. Mountain bike is a must – as I found today, some of the roads don’t actually lead anywhere, they just get gradually smaller until they disappear completely. In the middle of the forest. I haven’t discovered anything new to shoot but it doesn’t really matter, it’s a lot of fun just to ride the bike through the forest. But still, I’m really itching to get into photography again!2 comments