Archivi categoria: landscapephotography

Black Dots: Exploring the British Isles with a Large Format Camera

As the winds charge through the mountain pass it takes every effort to forge onwards as your feet slip and your ankles twist. Rivulets soak the track ahead and the sodden-peat moulds itself around your boots. You trudge on under the watchful eyes of a Stag who appears un-phased by this sudden arrival of foul weather.

Descending from the exposed munros and into the shelter of a glen, you trace the burn: in spate and unfordable. In fading light you identify a small building; four stone walls, a metal roof and a single chimney stack on one end.

This is a bothy.

Far from civilization and mostly accessible only by foot, these secluded mountain shelters are scattered across the British Isles, tirelessly maintained by volunteers from the Mountain Bothies Association. Unlocked and free to use, they provide a refuge from the vast terrain that surrounds them and have rapidly become an iconic feature of the British Landscape over the past fifty years.

Bothies are synonymous with the outdoor experience here in the UK, and from day trippers to seasoned mountaineers the growing community of bothy users is hugely diverse.

These tiny stone-tents offer us the opportunity to delve deeper into our natural spaces, to break away from the norm and to immerse ourselves in the landscape in a truly extraordinary and unique way. Their primitive aesthetic and lack of facilities (no electricity, running water, or WiFi here!) might take some getting used to, but it’s not long before the whisky is being shared around, tales are being told and the fire is roaring… providing you carried in enough fuel, that is.

Born out of curiosity, ‘Black Dots’ is the result of two years spent exploring the British Isles in an attempt to better understand what these buildings are, where they’re located, and the culture that surrounds them.

Beginning in April 2015, in the fells of the English Lake District, my journey has taken me to some of the of the most remote and breath-taking landscapes that the UK has to offer: from the rugged coastal hideaways of Cape Wrath on the northern reaches of the mainland to the dark evergreen woods of Central Wales.

Deciding to photograph this project on large format 5×4, the process hasn’t been easy. Large Format probably isn’t the most practical choice of camera system given the terrain, distance, and conditions that you must endure in order to reach these locations.

Couple that with the fact that the camera, lenses, light meter, darkslides, loupe, tripod, and DSLR (I’d also carry a D810 with one lens to capture behind the scenes content) must somehow be accompanied in the pack by all of the necessary outdoor kit—additional layers, sleeping bag, sleeping mat, food & water, stove, firewood, and coal—and the sheer weight of the pack alone was sometimes enough to doubt the successful outcome of the work.

So why 5×4? Aside from the technical advantages I feel this camera offers me, and forgetting for a second the resolution and detail that can be achieved when scanning the negatives, it’s just good fun. That, for me, is the most important thing in photography. The fully manual and mechanical nature of these cameras also forces you to slow down and really consider every tiny detail.

In the case of Black Dots, the 5×4 camera encouraged me to give the landscapes and the people I met the time they truly deserved.


About the author: Nicholas White is a photographer based on the edge of Dartmoor National Park in the South West of England. You can find the rest of the Black Dots series and more by visiting his website or following him on Facebook and Instagram.

How to Tell a Story in Your Landscape Photos

Sometimes when I go to new locations, they can be so awe-inspiring that I feel photographically challenged. When this happens, I need to take a step back and think about the location’s special traits that fill me with such awe.

What is important about this area—is there some natural event occurring, or some irregular weather phenomenon? In short, what are the stories this new place is trying to tell me? Answering these questions often lends direction to my photography and helps me realize which stories about the area I want to share with others.

(Note: although I primarily photograph natural subjects, this technique works equally well with any location or subject).

I recently used this technique when I spent several days in the Namib Desert in Namibia last year. At first, being surrounded by these huge red sand dunes was overwhelming. What should I shoot first? As I explored the desert around me, I began to recognize several stories that this place had to tell.

The most obvious story was about the sheer size of the sand dunes found here. This is the oldest desert in the world—home to the world’s largest sand dunes. I had photographed sand dunes before, but never any of the massive size that I saw in this desert. The rust-orange massifs were more akin to sand mountains than something as temporary and fleeting as a dune. Some of the largest dunes stood over 1,000 feet (~304 meters) tall, dwarfing the sparse trees and flora that dared to grow at their feet. In the photo below you can faintly see a few trees, which give the enormity of the dunes a sense of scale.

The giant sand dunes of Namibia turn many shades of red and orange under shifting clouds, Namib-Naukluft National Park, Namibia.

Although this desert receives only 10mm of rain each year, amazingly there are large mammals that thrive here. This was story number two.

Here, a gemsbok oryx (one of Africa’s many species of antelope) roams among dry scrub and dying trees. With no ground water to drink, these animals rely on the occasional fog that rolls in from the Atlantic ocean. After the fog collects on plants and their fur, the oryx lick the scarce moisture from each others coats, sustaining themselves until the next foggy morning.

A gemsbok oryx stands in front of a massive dune, wet from a rare early morning thunder storm, Namib-Naukluft National Park, Namibia.

While I could take up-close portraits of oryx in other parts of Namibia, telling the story of these large antelope thriving in the desert necessitated using a shorter lens than I usually do for wildlife. A 400mm lens allowed me to include the massive red walls of sand that dominate this habitat.

Again, it was important for me to use unique elements of the scene to tell the story of that location.

Gemsbok oryx cross flat ground in front of a wall of sand – the lower slopes of a massive sand dune, Namib-Naukluft National Park, Namibia.

A third aspect of this desert that I wanted to show photographically was the rust orange color of the sand. This reddish orange comes from the high iron concentration in the sand and the gradual oxidation of that iron. The older the dune, the more orange it becomes.

In order to offset the beautiful orange and red tones of the sand, I needed blue skies, giving my photos nice complimentary colors. Counter to most of my landscape photos, I opted to shoot in late morning or early afternoon (instead of sunrise or sunset, when the sky itself would be much warmer and closer in tonality to the sand). Had I not been thinking of how to convey the story of these ancient orange dunes, I likely would have kept my camera in the bag at this time of the day.

A massive sand dune glows red orange in the setting sun, Namib-Naukluft National Park, Namibia.

A final story waiting to be told about this area was the play of light across the contours and textures of the dunes. The photo below was shot at sunrise, creating extreme side light and casting a sharp shadow line along the front crest of the dune.

This strong shadow added shape and contrast to the dune.

Rare storm clouds cast shadows across the massive dunes of the Namib Desert, Namib-Naukluft National Park, Namibia.

The shadows in the image below manifested very differently in that they are not created by the shape of the dune itself, but rather by clouds moving in front of the sun. Because these dune ridges are actually quite far apart, a large cloud shaded only a single ridge at a time, giving me endless shadow patterns to choose from over the course of about half an hour.

This was my favorite image of this type, as the closest and farthest ridges are in shadow, isolating the middle ridge in sunlight.

Rare storm clouds cast shadows across the massive dunes of the Namib Desert, Namib-Naukluft National Park, Namibia.

When I first arrived in this vast desert, I was challenged by where to start with my photography. But by focusing on those stories that made this place so special, I could use them to direct my photographic effort. It even helped me develop a shot list to try to fill during my brief stay.

Next time you find yourself in a challenging location, stop and listen—perhaps the area will open up and share its stories with you.


About the author: Hank Christensen is a freelance photographer specializing in bird, landscape, and adventure stock photography. His work has been published on the cover of Outdoor Photographer and Bay Nature, and you can see more of his photos on his website, blog, Instagram, and Facebook. This post was also published here.

This Infrared Timelapse Reveals the Invisible Landscapes of Oregon

Photographer Sam Forencich recently created something really special. It’s a timelapse of Oregon’s beautiful landscapes that stands out from the hundreds (if not thousands) of other Oregon nature timelapses out there, because he shot it entirely with infrared converted cameras.

Forencich says the final timelapse, titled Invisible Oregon, is at least in part an exploration of the nature of reality. “It’s no secret that many creatures exceed our abilities to interpret the world around us,” he writes in the video’s description. “The idea that we have to process the sensory data coming into our brains makes it seem like we are already a step removed from the real world.”

Invisible Oregon seeks to close that gap, at least in part, by revealing “the subleties of new growth” and the “dramatic intersection of sky and Earth” that only the infrared spectrum can truly capture.

Through the use of both timelapse and infrared photography, Forencich is expanding our sensory abilities to traverse time at an incredible rate and view parts of the electromagnetic spectrum that humans aren’t usually privy to. Using an infrared converted Nikon D750 and Canon 5D Mark II, he reveals Oregon’s landscapes in a way we’ve never seen them before.

Click play up top and enjoy.


Image credits: Video stills provided by Sam Forencich and used with permission.

This Photographer Travelled Across New Zealand with a Gandalf Costume

What better way to explore the far reaches of New Zealand … uhh, I mean Middle Earth… than with Tolkien’s Gandalf as your guide? That’s what photographer Akhil Suhas was thinking when, while planning his 6-month trip across the country after university, he packed a Gandalf costume… just for fun.

“I wanted a recurring subject in my photos and with so many photographers visiting the country, I figured that I needed to do something to set me apart!” Akhil tells PetaPixel. “I was watching the LOTR for the 5th time when I figured New Zealand is famous for 2 things: its landscapes and the LOTR + Hobbit Trilogies. So why not combine the two by having Gandalf in the landscapes?”

It took him 2 months to hunt down an appropriately accurate costume, but before long, he was on his way—15,000km with both camera and a Gandalf costume at the ready.

At first, the idea was to create self-portraits, but it didn’t take long for Akhil to realize that this was a lot harder than it sounded.

“I tried the camera on a tripod with a timer shot, didn’t work for me,” he said over email. “So, I started asking the people I met along the way if they wanted to put on the outfit.”

Surprisingly, man “gladly said yes” because, in Akhil’s words, “who doesn’t want to dress up as Gandalf!?” That’s how a “silly” idea turned into a beautiful small-person-big-landscape tour of New Zealand… Darn It! I mean Middle Earth.

Have a look for yourself:

If you enjoy the series and want to see more, check out Akhil’s Instagram account or Facebook Page. And the next time you’re planning a trip across some beautiful landscape… don’t forget the wizard robes.


Image credits: All photographs by Akhil Suhas and used with permission.

Gorgeous 8K Timelapse Captures All Four Seasons in Norway

One year of planning, one year of shooting, and four months of post-production is a lot of time to spend on a single timelapse, but photographer Morten Rustad‘s creation SEASONS of NORWAY makes a good case for the old saying: good things come to those who wait.

Well, maybe “wait” isn’t quite right: more like “hike.” Good things come to those who hike. To capture his 8K masterpiece, Rustand travelled a total of 20,000 Km (not all on foot, but still…) and filled up 20TB worth of hard drive space with 200,000 photos from his Sony A7r II, Sony A7s, Panasonic GH4, and Canon 5D Mark III.

It was, in short, a mammoth undertaking that set Rustand in front of some of the most beautiful landscapes on Earth—all of them, as it happens, in Norway.

“With its imposing mountains, endless plateaus and echoing valleys, Norway is a country where nature takes the lead,” writes Rustad in the video’s description. “Using time-lapse, this film attempts to capture the ebb and flow of the seasons.”

The result is one of the most beautiful nature timelapses we’ve seen, and a great way to spend 6 minutes and 51 seconds this Friday evening. Watch the 8K timelapse for yourself up top (assuming your monitor and graphics card can even handle that kind of resolution) and then check out more of Rustad’s work on his website, Facebook, and Instagram.


Image credits: All photos by Morten Rustad and used with permission.