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Falcon

Satellite scouting

I have been having a hard time figuring out where to go the last couple of times I have wanted to go out and shoot. Like, I know about a lot of great looking places, but I have some ideas for those places that the weather conditions we have right now won’t work with. Of course I have some places I can go to no matter what and most likely end up with a photo, but I’m wanting to find some new locations at the moment and capture something “fresh”.

If you google “Hvaler” you will get a ton of pictures, but they are almost all from the same popular spots so not much help there neither. What I decided to do was and go to gulesider.no and just look at the satellite map of Hvaler, scrolling around until I found something that looked cool.

Screenshot of the satellite map

Screenshot of the satellite map

Sydengen Spjærøy

After I had been scrolling around for a while I saw this little pier and it caught my attention. The image quality of the satellite map isn’t the best but it looked to me like an old wooden pier, and now in the winter time the boats next to it would hopefully be gone. I decided that I wanted to check it out a little further, so this Saturday when I was out on a little trip with my family we drove by to check it out. Luckily all the boats where gone like I had thought and the place looked pretty cool. To my surprise this place is actually a historic place, the remnants of the old ship “Falcon” lies there, right next to the pier.

Taken with the iPhone 6S

Taken with the iPhone 6S

Its pretty easy to see the hull of the old sunken boat, but the only thing I have been able to find out about it so far is that it was built in 1861. What I do know though is that I thought the place looked cool and I wanted to go back and try and capture a sunrise there. As you can tell from the picture above the weather on Saturday wasn’t anything to brag about, it was the typical grey weather I have been complaining about so many times before.

Sunday morning

The sun rises about 08:00 here now, so I woke up at around 07:00 and drove out there. Its a 10 minute drive from my house, and from the parking lot down to the pier its a hefty 10 meter walk. Even though its close to home it was almost so I didn’t bother going out there this morning, the wind was crazy and when I looked out of my window the conditions didn’t look very promising. But I got dressed and thought that worst case scenario I could just turn around when I get there.

When I arrived at Sydengen I think the people living around there could hear me sigh, it looked absolutely dreadful and I didn’t feel very motivated to get out of my car and set up my equipment but I did it anyway.
I walked around and quickly decided how I wanted my composition to look. It was very windy so I was a little worried about camera shake for the long exposures, but the X-T2 was sturdy as a rock on my heavy Manfrotto tripod.

Taken with the iPhone 6S

Taken with the iPhone 6S

As you can see from the iPhone photo above, the conditions doesn’t scream “PHOTOGRAPH ME!”, but having already spent 30 minutes out there I figured I might as well wait until the sunrise was finished in about 20 more minutes. At this point I’m having my camera set in intervalometer mode, so it’s taking an exposure every 30 seconds, while i’m pacing around just begging for the sky to do anything except staying so awfully grey.

Colors out of nowhere

Then suddenly, like with the flip of a switch the sky turned beautifully orange and magenta. I couldn’t believe my luck that I had decided to go out this morning, and that I stayed out when it looked certain that nothing would happen. I stopped the intervalometer on my camera and put on my Lee 6-stop ND and a polarizer so I could smooth the water and saturate the colors of the sky even more. The water looked so cool, the left part was this cold blue color, while the right part reflected the color of the sky with these amazing warm tones. Just look at this iPhone shot bellow and compare it with the iPhone shot above to see the difference that about 10 minutes did to the conditions.

Taken with the iPhone 6S

Taken with the iPhone 6S

The colors lasted for about 10 minutes before everything turned a little grey again, but during those 10 minutes I got a picture I think was pretty decent actually. The image I captured out there is probably the easiest shot to get there considering its just a shot straight down the pier. But I will absolutely go out there again some time to see what other compositions I can find.

I will also continue to use the satellite map to do some scouting, I have already found another place on Spjærøy I want to check out, so stay tuned for the blog post about that trip. This was my third sunrise shoot in a row, and while I think sunrises looks amazing I still can’t wait for late sunsets again. But anyway, here is the picture I got from todays morning trip, hope you like it.

Taken with the X-T2 and the 18-55mm

Taken with the X-T2 and the 18-55mm

So until next time, have a good one!

A local treasure

Viker

Even though I think all of Hvaler is extremely beautiful, and if you want to experience the awesome Norwegian coast and nature you can go almost anywhere around the islands and be amazed, there are some places I have a sweet spot for. One of those places is Viker, and if you have read or read my blog you'll know that its a place I have visited quite often.

Usually I go to Viker in the spring, summer and autumn because thats when I think its at its most beautiful. But another reason is that during the winter the rocks out there gets extremely slippery because of the sea-spray that freezes. I was out there about a month ago and no matter where I tried to put my feet down I just could not get any traction.

A morning view of Viker, taken with the iPhone 6S

A morning view of Viker, taken with the iPhone 6S

500 shades of grey

The entirety of last week was another typical Norwegian winter weather week. Grey textureless boring clouds, cold winds and just generally awful conditions. The only glimmer of hope according to the forecast was Sunday, so I decided that I would get up early again and try to capture another sunrise. With the amount of snow we have had the last week, I wasn't sure where I should go and had actually planed to go to a place called Utgårdskilen before I decided against it Sunday morning and drove out to Viker instead.

Getting out there I knew that I really didn't want to go out on the rocks considering how slippery they where the last time I was there, so I decided to just go about 50 meters away from my car and out on a jetty made of rocks and concrete and see if I could capture something from there. It's weird really, I have been at Viker probably 50+ times but I have never really considered going out on the jetty and try to shot from it. Whenever I go to Viker I go out to the coastline on the rocks, its a nice little walk and the views out there are spectacular.

At Viker you're pretty much exposed to the elements, so when its cold outside its even colder out there. Luckily I have been smart enough to invest in some proper gear, so staying warm isn't that much of an issue and I can use my energy to scout and look for compositions instead.

The X-T2 is ready to go! Taken with the iPhone 6S

The X-T2 is ready to go! Taken with the iPhone 6S

The jetty out there is shaped like an upside down L, so I walked all the way out to where the turn is and set up my camera. I think the composition is okay, and I'm not sure if there really is a lot of other ways to shot from there. Sure, you can move your camera from side to side and change the parallax, but other than that I don't think there is a lot of options.

Since it had been grey the entire week and was forecasted to clear up in the morning I was hoping for a spectacular sunrise. Well, that didn't happen. The sky got some color in it and the clouds looked interesting, so even though it didn't have a lot of beautiful color it was still worth capturing.

Taken with the X-T2 and the 18-55mm

Taken with the X-T2 and the 18-55mm

What I do like about the shot above is the snow in the foreground. I think it gives a good contrast to the rocks and the water, and I'm not sure if I would like this shot at all if it didn't have the snow in it. I will try and go out there again during the fast approaching springtime and see how it looks, but I'm pretty certain this shot in particular works best with the snow.

This week it's supposed to be a little warmer but still grey and boring. I hope that the snow will melt a little so I can go back to Kuvauen again during the weekend if the weather clears up a little. I really want to continue to explore the new place I wrote about in a previous blog, and see what other compositions I can find there.


So until next time, have a good one!

Maybe next time

Early morning

Shooting sunrise is something that can be quite spectacular – this time was not one of those times. 
When my alarm rang 0620 I first thought it was time to go to work, and I spent a good couple of minutes before I remembered that it was in fact Saturday and I had planed to go out in the morning to do some photography. I had already packed my bag the night before, so I just had to brush my teeth, get dressed and fill up my water bottle before I could head out.

The weather this weekend has been so and so, and Saturday morning was nothing special.
I had decided to go to a place called Rødshue on Kirkøy here at Hvaler. Its a park with a lot of different sculptures, and generally a pretty cool place. I have only been there two times before, but never to try to do some proper photography.

You can read more about the park here:
https://www.visitnorway.com/listings/coastal-path-on-kirkøy-(hvaler)/10051/?lang=usa

Taken with the iPhone 6S

Taken with the iPhone 6S

When I left my house it was about -5C degrees, but out there by the coast with a lot of wind the temperature felt like -10C degrees at least. It was so cold that when I wanted to take a zip of water after having walked around for about 30 minutes, the water in my bottle already had little chunks of ice in it. But despite the cold and that it was pitch black outside I ventured on and tried my best to find a decent composition.

The camera set up and ready to go. Taken with the iPhone 6S

The camera set up and ready to go. Taken with the iPhone 6S

The struggle.

You would think that in a sculpture park, with the Norwegian coast right next to it that compositions would just jump out at you. For some people that might be the case, but it most definetly was not for me. I walked around out there for a good hour at least before I found something to try to shot. I went to Rødshue because I wanted to capture some of the sculptures in the sunrise, but I think it's much better to go out there in the evening for some sunset photography instead because the sculptures all points in the wrong direction for the sunrise.

Rødshue Skulptur kunstpark hvaler kirkøy fredrikstad foto

The sunrise in itself was okay I think, not the best I have seen but far from the worst. As you see from the picture I think the left side is okay, but the right side with the really ugly cloud ruins it for me. I'm not a fan of the composition neither, and I'm kinda annoyed with myself for not being able to find something better to photograph out there. I will probably go back there some other time during the sunset instead and see if its easier to find something to photograph then. There are a lot of cool sculptures out there and a lot of rocks and paths that absolutely should make for some interesting shots, I just have to have a second look I think and keep practicing my composition skills.

My February plans

I hope that I will be able to go on a camping trip during February, I just need/want the weather to be a little better first. Next weekend I'm hoping that I will be able to go out again for another sunrise or sunset trip, I don't know where just yet but it will most likely be somewhere here at Hvaler again. Also, the days are getting noticeably longer now, so it won't be long before I can do some shooting in the evening after work also which I'm really looking forward too.

So until next time, have a good one!

December & January

A little overdue!

What a nice December and January I’ve had. I have been on a camping trip, I have celebrated Christmas with my family and I have been able to go out and shot a couple of times - what more can I ask for? 

At the start of December a friend and I decided to go camping at a place called Børtevann. Its a big lake with some nice forrest around it, and its a place we have camped before. The last time we were there was in late August and the weather was amazing, and I even got some cool shots of the morning mist on the lake that time.

Taken with the X-T2 and the 55-200 lens

Taken with the X-T2 and the 55-200 lens

This time though the weather was awful with completely flat textureless grey skies, no light and just generally boring conditions. And it was absolutely freezing, I think at the end of the night I was wearing three pairs of wools socks, two pairs of wool underwear beneath by pants, three wool shirts, a fleece sweater and a down jacket. But even though the weather didn’t play ball, and the photography part of the camping trip didn’t go as planed for my part, the camping trip itself was pretty cool. We actually managed to order pizza and have it delivered in the woods to eat around the fire, and let me tell you, it tasted awesome. I’m absolutely going to go back to Børtevann during the spring, I’m certain that there are a lot of nice shots to be had there with the right conditions.

Pizza and a bonfire, perfect!

Pizza and a bonfire, perfect!

Going back to Kuvauen

In December I had 12 vacation days around Christmas, so I got to spend some quality time with my family and I got to go out and do some shooting. All in all a perfect way to end 2018!

Those of you who read my blog know that I mostly shot around where I live here in Hvaler, and this time was no different. My first trip out during my vacation went to Kuvauen, its one of my absolute favourite places to go and I almost always have the entire spot to myself. Its a place thats great for photography, but its also a place I can highly recommend if you just want to spend some time outdoors and experience the beautiful Norwegian coastal nature. Having been going to Kuvauen so often I sometimes struggle with finding new compositions, and I dont’t bother with shooting the same composition twice unless the conditions are a lot better. Luckily there was a lot of sea that day that made for some dynamic pictures with a lot of motion, so in the end I think I got a couple of photos worth keeping.

Taken with the X-T2 and the 18-55mm lens.

Taken with the X-T2 and the 18-55mm lens.

There were some serious waves that day and I was pretty close to the edge of the rocks, but I luckily avoided being soaked by the sea spray, and my camera stayed dry. The picture above was the first picture of the day, and after I had taken that I ventured further down along the coast to see if I could find another picture to take. The light that day was pretty nice, so even though it was only around 14:00 o’clock, the low winter sun made it almost look like sunset. After walking around for about 15 - 20 minutes I stumbled upon a composition that I hadn’t seen before, and with the light being great and the ocean full of motion it made for a cool shot.

Taken with the X-T2 and the 18-55mm lens

Taken with the X-T2 and the 18-55mm lens

After I had grabbed this shot I looked at my watch (aka iPhone) and decided that I was going to run back to my car (about 30 minutes) and head out to a place called Brattestø to shoot the sunset.

Same day, different conditions

I made it out to Brattestø with about 15 minutes left until sunset, so I had to act quickly to find my composition. Brattestø is most famous for its, lets be honest, ugly lighthouse called “Pikesten fyr”, so setting up a shot there isn’t the hardest task in the world, seing that its the lighthouse you want to capture there.

As you have seen from the shots above, the light that day was very golden yellow/orange, so I was pretty surprised when I got to Brattestø and saw that the conditions were completely different. The sky was covered in some great looking clouds, and at the horizon the sun was setting casting a thin line of pink across the bottom of the sky. The light quickly died out after I had gotten a couple of shots, but I’m glad that I made the run back to my car and drove the 15 minutes from Kuvauen to Brattestø. I feel like I was rewarded with a nice picture in the end for my little impromptu jog.

Taken with the X-T2 and the 18-55mm Lens

Taken with the X-T2 and the 18-55mm Lens

January 2019

So far I haven’t been out photographing that much in January. There was a weekend when we were supposed to be able to see the aurora, and I went out and got a couple of star shots before the clouds completely covered the sky, hiding any signs of an aurora anyway.

I have of course been back at Kuvauen though, and this time I went in a different direction than I normally do when I go out there. I have always walked all the way down to the shore and then followed the coastline in a northern direction. This time though I decided I should try and see what I could find walking south instead, and I am glad that I did. I don’t know why I haven’t checked out the other direction before, it has just been a habit to walk the same path every time I guess. Anyway, after having balanced over a stretch about 50 meters with round slippery rocks, climbed a little hill and then walked some more I found what I think was a good composition.

I was outside pretty early that day, I left from home at around 13:00, and was set up at the place I wanted to shoot at around 14:00. The sun was scheduled to set at 16:06 so I just had to wait patiently. Around 15:20 the light started to be pretty good, and the sky looked pretty awesome in my opinion, so I set my camera in interval timer shooting and let it shoot through the entire sunset.

Taken with the X-T2 and 18-55mm lens

Taken with the X-T2 and 18-55mm lens

As you can see there was a lot of drama in the sky, and I think the composition is pretty decent. I’m definetly going to check out more of the southern direction of Kuvauen, it feels like a completely different place so far which is awesome.

I even took a selfie while I was out there, something I normally dont do, and standing still for 1 minute is pretty hard if i’m going to be honest.

Taken with the X-T2 and the 18-55mm lens

Taken with the X-T2 and the 18-55mm lens

Im gonna end this blogpost here, but so far I think 2019 has gotten off to a great start and I’m hoping it will stay that way. I have a list of places I want to go this year both locally and a little further away, so hopefully its going to be my best year photography wise.

So until next time, have a good one!

Viker, again!

After what has felt like a year with miserable weather, the grey textureless cloud blanket disappeared right in time for easter and the five days I have off from work. 

Now that the winter is supposed to be gone (its still freezing outside) the sun doesn't set before around 20:00, which means that I again have time to go out and shot in the afternoon before its pitch black and be able to look around and find some compositions, something that I have really missed the last five months. 

Last night I ended up at Viker again, its one of my favourite places here at Hvaler but its starting to get kinda hard to find anything to shot out there that I haven't already shot. 

 

Doing some scouting with the iPhone 6S.

Doing some scouting with the iPhone 6S.

The walk from the parking lot and out to the shore is a short 10 minutes. Its not very difficult to get there, but once you're there it feels like you're far away from society, something I enjoy when I'm out in nature. 

Yesterday when I got there I first walked to the rocks you see in the upper left corner of the scouting picture, but I had no chance at finding anything there to photograph that I hadn't already done. I mean, I have no issues with taking the same picture twice, but then the second picture has to be an improvement on the first one and yesterday that would not have been the case. 

So after walking around for about an hour on that distant rock, I gave up and headed back to where the scouting picture is taken from. And lo and behold, I found something that I hadn't noticed before, a nice rock in the water, not connected to the main land at all. It caught my eye, and I decided that tonight, trying to capture that rock in the sunset would be my goal. 

The X-T2 set up and ready to go for sunset. (Taken with the iPhone 6S)

The X-T2 set up and ready to go for sunset. (Taken with the iPhone 6S)

When I got to my final location I still had about 40 minutes before sunset, so I could really take my time to set up, focus properly and do small adjustments to my composition until I was satisfied. About 10 minutes before the sun went down I put my camera to intervalometer mode and just let it take three bracketed exposures every minute. When the sun had gone down completely, I put on my Lee Big Stopper (10stop ND) and took a 125second exposure to smooth out the water. Lately I haven't been that fond of really long exposures, specially on water- but on this occasion I thought I worked out well. 

Fuji X-T2, 18-55f2.8-4 at 30mm with a 125second exposure. 

Fuji X-T2, 18-55f2.8-4 at 30mm with a 125second exposure. 

When I had taken the images I needed and wanted I did what I normally do, packed my camera gear and just sat on the rocks and enjoyed the rest of the sunset. 

So even though it was very cold and a little windy, I ended up with a shot and I got to experience yet another beautiful sunset at one of my favourite locations. And now that summer is getting closer, the sun will stay up longer and longer giving me the opportunity to go out and shot even more. I also have a lot of plans for some wild camping this year, so hopefully I will be able to get some good shots out of those trips as well. 

So until next time, have a good one!

Hvaler by night

As most people know the winter in Norway means short, short days. The sun sets very early so excluding weekends the chance to go out and shoot sunsets or just scenes filled with light in general are rare. I consider myself more of a photographer who enjoys sunrise and sunset photos than night/astrophotography, and I have never really bothered to try it before neither.  But this winter I decided to try and go out when there was clear skies, and no moon (it doesn't happen very often) to capture the stars above the islands of Hvaler. 

 

Taken with the Fuji X-T2 and the 18-55f2.8-4

Taken with the Fuji X-T2 and the 18-55f2.8-4

The first trip out was late October, and to my big surprise you can actually see the milkyway pretty clear here at Hvaler. Its the first time I have managed to capture it, so that was very exciting as well, and even though the technical aspect of the photo definitely show that this isn't the type of photography I normally do it was fun to make it. 

This photo was taken at Viker, one of my favourite places to go here at Hvaler. I know it like the back of my hand and if I ever want to go out and do some shooting but I dont have a specific location in mind, I always end up at Viker. Its a beautiful place and I very rarely meet other people there when I walk out on the rocks towards the ocean. 

 

Fuji X-T2 with the 18-55f2.8-4

Fuji X-T2 with the 18-55f2.8-4

November came and went, and the weather never got good enough that I would be able to capture some stars. But in December I got some nice nights, and on one of them I went to Brattestø. Its a "beach" filled with big rocks and a rather ugly lighthouse to be honest, but its still one of the most photographed places in Hvaler. As you can clearly see, the milkyway is almost invisible come December, at least here in Hvaler, as far as I  know the best months to photograph it is October through November up here - but please correct me if I'm wrong.  

Again I had the place all to myself, and I spent a couple of hours there, just enjoying being outside in the cold gazing up at the stars. Even though I have never before been a big fan of doing night/astrophotography I have always thought that the night sky is one of the most beautiful things we can look at, specially on cold nights when the air is crystal clear. 

 

Taken with the iPhone6S

Taken with the iPhone6S

A thermos with hot coffee is a must when you're spending several hours outside at night in freezing temperatures. And a batteribank for the phone, lets just say the iPhone isn't a fan of the cold and without the batteribank my phone dies the second I take it out of my pocket. 

With the milkyway being almost invisible now on the night skies here in Hvaler I wanted to try something that I have always thought looked cool - making star trails. So last night, I had my first trip out to do some shooting in 2018 and went to a place called Ørekroken, which is located on the island Kirkøy. From the place I went you can see Viker (the place on the first photo) beneath the trails and I was happy enough with how it turned out. One thing I learned though is that I need a second camera. Doing star trails and letting the camera be static for 1 hour gets kinda boring. Don't get me wrong, I love just sitting and watching the sky and enjoying the peace and quiet, but I also want to be able to do something else if I feel like it, or I see another composition. 

Taken with the Fuji X-T2 and the 18-55f2.8-4

Taken with the Fuji X-T2 and the 18-55f2.8-4

What I learned from making my first star trail photo is also that I need a lot more than 80 pictures. I learned that even though the interval timer in the X-T2 is awesome, I need a remote to avoid the 1sec delay between the pictures, because there are a lot of small gaps. And I learned that I need a new mac, because holy macaroni! Editing and stacking all those files was a pain. All in all I'm happy with how it turned out, and want to try to make some more star trail photos. 

This winter has been fun for me, I have gone out of my comfort zone and tried something new that I haven't done before. Doing photography at night is absolutely something I will continue with, and instead of dreading the next winter I actually look forward to it. The winter will last at least a couple of more months here, until late February early March, so if the weather comes good again, the moon stays away so the sky is super dark I will absolutely bring my thermos and the camera equipment of for another long cold night to do some photography. 

So until next time, have a good one!

Summer - Better late than never

So finally the summer decided to come to Norway, it only waited until May 19th - but better late than never. 

The last few weeks have been a total mess, its been raining almost none stop, with heavy winds and boring grey skies. But as I drove home from work yesterday the weather suddenly cleared up and I knew that I had to go out for a walk with my camera that evening after I had put my kid to sleep. 

I went to a place called "Guttormsvauen" here in Hvaler where I live, from the parking lot its about a 15 minute walk before you're out by the water and the rocks. Having been there several times before I didn't have any high hopes of capturing anything new - and to be honest I struggle to find decent or good compositions out there, but none the less, its a nice walk and I wanted to be outside for a couple of hours. 

 

 

The view from "Guttormsvauen" looking over the water to the "Sister Islands." (Taken with the iPhone 6S)   

The view from "Guttormsvauen" looking over the water to the "Sister Islands." (Taken with the iPhone 6S)

 

After having walked around for a bit, not finding anything particular that I felt I wanted to photograph I put my gear down and just walked around the mountain looking, thats when I came over a spot that I haven't seen before, even though I have been there hundreds of times.

The light was quickly fading, so I had to run back and get my gear, but I was to late, most of the natural light had already disappeared and I was thinking about packing up my gear. But then I remembered that I had my headlamp, so I tried to illuminate the near foreground with it, and having never used artificial light in nature before - I think it came out pretty cool. 

 

Sunset at "Guttormsvauen" - Taken with the Sony a6000

Sunset at "Guttormsvauen" - Taken with the Sony a6000

When I had captured this I packed up and almost ran back to my car, because I remembered another scene that I wanted to capture as well, but as I got to my car it was no longer any light left - so that will be for another day. 

So until next time, have a good one!