Étude – making photos at the rocky shore

There’s nice autumn weather with blue sky and there’s today, a windy day with a clouded sky, but at least no rain. I took a tour to the rocky shore at Långhällan, one of my favourite places nearby. My plan was to practise. The musical pieces that provide you with practising material are called étude. That’s why I’ll call it “étude” when I practise photography.

Todays topic: Long time exposure which filters at daylight to blur the waves. I’ll show you the unedited snapshots of two motifs at the coast. That’s how it looks like, if you just do “click”.

Ok, that’s the motifs. They show some kind of chaos, because the windy weather created quite big waves (at least for the bottenviken – the most northern part of the Baltic Sea) and it’s hard to distinguish between the waves and the rocks. There’re several way to improve the photos. One: Wait for better weather. Two: Work with filters.

In the following images I used the Big Stopper, a filter that takes away 99.9% of the incoming light and forces you to exposure 1000 times longer than usual. Instead of 1/20 of a second for example you would expose 50 seconds, long enough to blur all the moving objects as the waves, but to keep the sharpness of the stable objects as the rocks. Additionally I used a graduated filter to avoid overexposure of the sky. And that’s the first motif with the filters, edited in Lightroom.

The long exposure transforms the waves in some kind of a foggy layer, making the photo look like flying over cloudy mountains. I’m not so happy with the shot. Waves are too high blurring bigger parts of the rocks and the sky is quite dull making the photo almost looking like black-white.

By way of comparison a photo of the same motif I made last year which I prefer instead of the todays shot:

The next photo I like much better. The rocks are looking rougher and the tuft of grass is a nice eye catcher giving the photo both a focus and a story. It will be the first image of my series “one”.

What do you need beside of the filters to make these photos: First of all a stable tripod, it’s a must. A remote release is quite handy to avoid shaky images. And last not least, warm and water proof clothes. I had chest waders to get to the big rock through knee deep water and to kneel without getting wet.

Some vocabularies for my German readers:

exposure – Belichtung
expose – belichten
blur – weichzeichnen, verwackeln, verwischen
tripod – Stativ
remote release – Fernauslöser
chest waders – Wathose

Last not least, just another photo from today, perhaps my favourite:

Faint polar lights

I wake up at 1:50 and stood up to drink a little bit and directly continue sleeping, but I made a mistake. I looked out of the window! Quite clear and colourful polar lights glowed on the northern sky.

Aurora photographers question number one: Shall I go out? Or continue sleeping?

Guess which ten minutes were the best of all? Right, those ten minutes in the beginning, where I put on winter clothes for a cold October night, got camera bag, flashlight and tripod, spend valuable minutes with scraping the ice from my windscreen and drove to the nearby beach. At the tiny beach of Storgrundet, same place where I took pictures of the first sea ice last morning I sat more than an hour on the frozen sand and looked at the faint and pale polar lights, that increased for some hopeful seconds just to fade again.

Aurora photographers question number two: Shall I go in again? Or continue waiting?

What did I do, while waiting for the polar light to become stronger? I took photos. It’s always a small challenge with night shots, but I think it’s fun, even if I’m tired and both motifs and results are mediocre. When it comes to polar light I normally try to catch as much scenery as possible by using a wide angle lens. This time I used a telephoto lens to go more into details. A new trick I learned tonight when polar lights where pail and formless.

I got frost (- 7°C), ice and Northern Lights. Now I’m looking forward to the first snow. It could come on Sunday or be long in coming. Stay tuned for the first photos of snowy landscapes.

Abisko: White snow, white sky

Day 18

Another ski tour today, not up the hills but down to the lake Torneträsk, which ist the seventh biggest lake in Sweden and 168 metres deep. But on the lake there’s a layer of at least 50 cm ice and a bit snow. This snow was so low in contrast that you could see just a uniform white without any structure at all. When I came to the first small island I could hardly see where the slope began. White snow, white sky.

I went half around the first nameless island and half across. Then it was only some hundred metres to the island Ábeskosuolu which is bigger and higher. I didn’t dare to climb the top with my skis but went around here and there. After taking a rest I continued to Abisko Turiststation, the big tourist station in Abisko. I went over the ice straight ahead.

Even on land I tried to continue quite directly, which was both quite stupid and quite funny, because the labyrinth of steep small hills was full with a thicket of birches. A snow hare looked at me from a safe distance. I guess he thought, I’m mad and perhaps the hare is right. I continued plunging through the deep snow taking many detours to come uphills until I reached the station. Arrival 13:45 – just in time to get a late lunch. I enjoyed especially the salad bar. After a rest and eating a bit too fast and too much I went back to the village Abisko, but this time on the direct way near the road and the railway line. That’s only two kilometres and I was soon home again.

Meanwhile home: A snow storm has covered Skellefteå and around with huge amounts of snow. Some people wrote on Facebook, they’d been snowed in. I looked at the photos and – yes – I, as a snow fan would love to could have shared this experience. But on the other side we had much snow in Skelleftehamn the last years, especially because the nearness to the coast. For example:

Here in Abisko wind starts to increase and snow shall come tonight, but just some centimetres.