Jan 122017

The drive to this spot, just outside of Cassis, was pretty difficult. The roads were really tight and I was adjusting to driving a manual transmission again for the first time in a few years. At one point, I was driving up a steep hill and a car came round the corner causing me to stall the car. The problem was I also rolled back about 2 yards. I have no idea how I avoided hitting the car behind me.

This is a calanque. It is a narrow-steep walled inlet carved into the limestone rock. When we got there, I had no idea it was going to be full of sailboats like this!

calanque full of silaboats near to cassis provence france

May 042013

This odd rock was actually the middle of a giant print of a horseshoe. I don’t remember the exact story, but the belief is that one of the gods was riding his giant horse and it stepped here, leaving a giant hoof-print. When I took this picture I had tall cliffs behind me, to my left and to my right. Then, this rock in the middle.

We looked around for ages for this giant hoof-print. It was only when we were leaving that we realised we were actually inside the hoof-print.

Giant rock in front of sunset-kissed sky in Iceland in area called Magic Horseshoe

Oct 232012

Every time I work on a photo of Iceland I look forward to going back. Today’s shot was taken well after midnight, as the sun dipped just below the horizon. I’d hopped out of the car to take the picture featured here Fjords and Flowers. When I packed up and started making my way back to the car, I noticed the golden light hitting portions of the mountain above me.

Golden cliffs with majestic sky with green field dotted with sheep in Westfjords, Iceland

Sep 202012

Today’s Photo: The Dark Lighthouse

This photo makes me want to get back to Iceland as soon as possible. The plan for my next trip is to turn up there for a longer period of time with a tent and not much of a plan. I want to wander, go to where the good light is and wait for the good light in places that deserve it. There seems to be campsites everywhere in Iceland so finding somewhere to crash should be easy as plugging campsite into the satnav.

This shot is from my first night in Iceland. After arriving at midnight, I discovered that this beach was just a short walk from the guesthouse I stayed in. It was handily scouted by my travel buddy who had arrived a day earlier. The lighthouse is actually no longer used so it seems fitting to leave it in the dark. A newer one is located just off to the right. You’ll get to see photos of it one day as well.

The Technical Bits

Camera: Canon 5d Mk II
Lens: EF24-70mm f/2.8L USM
ISO: 100
Exposure: 1.6, 6, and 25 at f/18

Taking the Photo: I wandered the beach searching for a good foreground for this shot. The rocks looked promising and when I stumbled across this patch of larger, moss drenched stones I set up my tripod. The camera was placed at about half my height to get close to the rocks and capture the detail in the moss. You’ll have to click the image and view it larger to see the details. I actually shot bracketed shots from -4 to +4 because the sunset was so intense behind the lighthouse. As you can see above, I only went with -2 to +2, which I’ll explain next.

Processing: This is one of those photos that I’ve tried to process numerous times but failed. I have a similar shot, here, that I was never quite happy with. The sky and the lighthouse just never looked quite right. I felt like I was sacrificing colors and detail in the sky to bring out details in the lighthouse, which just blended into the sky. This time, I took a different approach and decided to let the lighthouse remain as a silhouette. The rocks in the foreground are much more interesting than the details of the lighthouse anyway. Now, I’m very happy with this shot.

I probably could have achieved this affect with an off camera flash, which I don’t yet own. One of the useful parts of HDR is that you can adjust your lighting once you’ve gotten home. Of course, this has limitations so I’m planning on buying a couple of off camera flashes and figuring out how to use them. That way, in a situation like this I could take my usual bracketed photos, but also use a bit of flash. Then, I can just use whichever method worked out better and maybe save me a bit of head-scratching once I get home.

Software: Photomatix, Photoshop, Topaz Adjust, Noiseware Pro

Shoreline with rocks covered in green moss with calm water and lighthouse in the distance with pink light showing under the cloudy sky in Gardur, Iceland

Aug 132012

Sheep in Iceland

On our first night in Iceland we stayed in a little guesthouse near the airport. The next morning, the owner gave us a lift back to the airport to pick up our Jeep. He had one piece of advice for us. In summer, the sheep are allowed to roam free in Iceland and would be all over the roads. Further, if we saw a mommy sheep and a lamb on opposite sides of the road we should be very careful because when the lambs get scared they’ll run straight to their mother no matter what. This piece of advice came in handy on a fair few occasions. It was really remarkable just how many sheep there were about, just roaming free. We spent a lot of time wondering how they round them back up. We asked a few people, and got all different answers, none of which really seemed particularly convincing.

Today’s Photo: Sheep on the Mountain

These guys didn’t cause us a problem, they were a safe distance from the road. This photo was taken on our first full night in Iceland, in the Westfjords. I only shot 3 exposures on this one as the dynamic range in the scene did not require the 7 exposures I used to default to. I’ve gotten much better at reading a scene and being able to tell if I can get away with 3 exposures or if I need more. I still recommend that if you’re new to HDR or a little unsure about the scene you should shoot as many bracketed images as you can. If you get home and realize you’ve got more than you need you don’t have to use all of them. If you don’t have enough range in your images chances are you won’t be able to produce the results you want.

Sheep on the mountainside with green grass below and dramatic sky with clouds and orange sun in Iceland.

Jul 082012

If you have a 3 hour drive to make in Iceland it’s probably a good idea to assume that you’ll take 7-8 hours to get where you’re going. Not because of traffic or the roads. There’s very little traffic, and although the roads do get a bit rough from time to time you can generally keep your pace up. The problem is that Iceland is incredible. You’re guaranteed to find lots of places to stop that you had no idea existed. This is what happened in the case of today’s photo. We had already pushed our check-in to the apartment we had in Reykjavik back by 3 hours and were just going to make it on time. Then we entered a field of flowers. We drove through them arguing over whether the big rock rising out of them was an island just off shore or on land. It was on land (I was right :-)).  I knew that we were pressed for time but I couldn’t resist pulling down the dirt road to catch some photos of this giant field of flowers. Following taking a few photos, and shooting a time lapse we climbed up on top of the jeep and just sat there for a while. Then we called the owner of the apartment and told him we were going to be even later. We didn’t drive all the way down the dirt road. I like to imagine there’s a campground at the end because when I go back next June I want to spend a couple of nights here.

Field of purple flowers, lupines, with a large moss covered rock behind in Iceland.