Isaac in the snow

When I was in the stable on Christmas Eve, the light was beautiful. Owning a pony means going to the stables (almost) every day, so when we went back on Boxing Day, the weather was totally different. First, we tried to get our own pony Rocket to run in the snow, but he didn’t want to. So when one of the other girls was going to ride her pony Isaac on the outside riding ground, I grabbed my camera.

Due to the heavy snow, the camera had real problems finding  focus on the rider, so I got a lot of blurry photos of snowflakes…

Blurry photo of snowflakes
Blurry photo of snowflakes

I think the photos have a quality of their own, though. That slightly abstract, surreal feeling where the rider is not in focus, enables the viewer to focus on the feel of the photo….

I tried different camera settings, and found that I had to use mostly manual focus…

Using manual focus
Using manual focus, I managed to capture the rider
It was really snowing...
It was really snowing…
A happy horse in the snow...
A happy horse in the snow…

Tomorrow is another day, with new photo opportunities. Camera is packed, batteries are charged…

That sweet, soft, beautiful winter light

One of the benefits of living where I live (in Trondheim, Norway) is that in the midst of winter, the sunset/sunrise is a 2 hour continuous orgy of sweet, soft, beautiful winter light.

On Christmas Eve I was in the stable where our pony lives, and met another horse owner on her way to release her Dutch Gelding Amorka to run free for a while. I grabbed my camera and tagged along…

Amorka runs free
Amorka runs free

It was so much fun watching him run, he really enjoyed it 🙂

Full spead ahead
Full speed ahead

He also spent some time looking out over the valley for his friends.

Where are my friends at??
Where are my friends at??

Today looks like another beautiful day. I’m headed over to the stables again, and bringing my camera…

Scouting
Scouting

Fun in the dark

As an (amateur) photographer I have to say that summer is one of my favorite times of the year for photography where I live. The long, white nights with soft light makes for beautiful photos, and since we are so far north the golden hour lasts forever as the sun just dips below the horizon…

In the winter however, there is no outdoor lights… The sun just sneaks over the horizon in the middle of the day, and it is mostly dark all the time. But even if there is no light, it is still possible to have a lot of fun…

Over the past year or so, I have built some skills in taking horse portraits with a black background. They are almost straight out of camera with some slight adjustments in LR to make them sparkle. I felt the time was ripe for taking it to another level, and enlisted the help of my kids horse instructor. The setup was fairly simple:

Behind the scenes
Behind the scenes

I used two radio triggered flashes (Canon 580 EX) for lighting, along with a couple of video lights for helping the autofocus.

The horse (Cordo) was of course quite sceptical in the beginning, so we started off with him walking through the lights a couple of times. Although unplanned, this gave us some really cool shots.

From the inital setting up of lights and such
From the initial setting up of lights and such

Then we could start working with the fence. It took quite a few jumps to get the timing right.

A bit too early
A bit too early

But in the end, we managed to make some pretty good predictions

Timing is everything
Timing is everything

All in all, it was a great session where I learned a lot. So now I am ready to take it to the next level…

Posted from Trondheim, Sor-Trondelag, Norway.

Water Usage Museum at Atnbrufossen

Last weekend I went on a trip with some friends to our mountain cabin. The purpose of the trip was photography, and especially night photography. We had brought various gear (star tracker, time-lapse rail and more) to toy with, and it was great fun.

While we were waiting for the evening, we visited the museum of water usage (Vannbruksmuseum) at Atnfossen. I had brought my 10x ND filter, and had great fun photographing the river flowing by.

I’m not sure if I like the color or the black and white version best…

The small waterfall in color
The small waterfall in color
The small waterfall in black and white
The small waterfall in black and white

Posted from Trondheim, Sor-Trondelag, Norway.

Panning – bringing dynamics into the photo

Yesterday I was at the Hestehoven (coltsfoot) show jumping event nearby. Having taken thousands of show jumping photos over the year, I felt it was time to learn something new.

A young rider turning into the next fence
A young rider turning into the next fence
Jumping over the fence
Jumping over the fence

Although I have always been satisfied with these kind of photos, and especially their clarity, I wanted to start taking other photos that conveyed the speed and intensity og show jumping. I had wanted to try panning for a while, and finally got the opportunity.

Panning, if done wrong, just gives a blurry picture. And I had a lot of those…

Blurry photo - just looks like a phot with too long shutter time.
Blurry photo – just looks like a photo with too long shutter time.

But if done right, some parts of the photo is clear (typically the main subject) and the rest is blurry. With cars or boats, getting the movement right is not that challenging… The challenge comes with getting the head of the rider or horse sharp while they are moving erratically across the field…

After a lot of practice, I started to get the hang of it:

Panning properly. The rider is sharp, but the rest of the photo is blurry to convey movement
Panning done properly. The rider is sharp, but the rest of the photo is blurry to convey movement

Of course, I had to train on panning over an obstacle as well. That proved even more difficult:

Another photo of a rider that is just blurry....
Another photo of a rider that is just blurry….

After some practice, I started to get the hang of it.

Panning done properly. The head of the rider is sharp, but the rest is blurry
Panning done properly. The head of the rider is sharp, but the rest is blurry

It was a fun day at the event, but I notice that my “hit ratio” (the rate of acceptable photos against total photos) dropped from 1 in 5 to 1 in 100. So I guess I need to train more…

The rest of the photos from Hestehoven are found on my Flickr page

Posted from Trondheim, Sor-Trondelag, Norway.

Horse portraits

Recently, I started to learn more about flash photography. Especially the use of off-camera flash. I decided I wanted to try this with the horses at the local stable, where the girls readily volunteered their horses as models.

Technically, this is not the most challenging shots. I created a 4×4 meter grid and positioned a flash in each corner. After a few experiments, the settings were OK and we were ready to start shooting.

Wembley
Wembley

But if the technical stuff was easy, it was another thing completely to get the horses to cooperate. They did not want to stand still in their little square, and tried to run off all the time. We got some real exercise chasing them in the riding hall…

_5M39303

But after some adjustments we became quite efficient (or is it effective…), where we would have multiple horses waiting and one horse “in the box”

Zorro
Zorro

All in all, it was a great few hours where we had a lot of fun…

Odina
Odina

The rest of the portraits can be found on my Flickr page

 

Posted from Trondheim, Sor-Trondelag, Norway.

The outdoor season is starting up again

I love to photograph of show jumping, and must have taken thousands of photos over the past few years. Apparently, the riders appreciate my efforts as well, as I am approaching 300.000 photo views on my Flickr page. There is a lot of preparation and especially post processing involved, so for each hour on the course I spend one hour in post processing.

The main reason for taking all these photos is to practice my photography hobby. I also have two daughters that ride, and as they are starting to compete, I want to take great photos of them and their horses.

This winter has been a strange one in Trondheim where I live. We have had almost no snow (and we usually get a lot) and spring came early. So last weekend the outdoor competition season kicked off with the show jumping competition at Øysand. I packed my trusty old 7D and my almost brand new Sigma 300 f/2.8, hitched the horse trailer to my car and headed off.

The weather was perfect for action photography, sunny but with a slight veil resulting in sharp without excessive contrast.

In a later post (to be written soon) I will try to describe how I work when I photograph show jumping (outdoors). In the meantime, you can enjoy a few photos below. The rest of the photos are found on my Flickr set from the event.

 

Planning the next obstacle
Planning the next obstacle
Going over
Going over
Perfect weather
Perfect weather

 

Let's go

Let’s go

 

 

Posted from Sor-Trondelag, Norway.

The importance of backup…

I have always been taking backup seriously. I regularly backup my photos, both to several external hard-drives (I am a big fan of the 2TB Western Digital Passport series), RAID-enabled network disks and cloud storage. Still, given that I haven’t experienced a drive failure in more than 10 years, I have not been as diligent as I should. And just after Christmas I experienced the nightmare when my primary disk suffered a complete mechanical failure.

Trying to restore my photos, I discovered several things (that in hindsight are obvious):

  • You need to backup the Lightroom catalogs just as diligently as your photos.
  • Saving metadata (pressing ctrl+S) in Lightroom to generate .xmp sidecar files should be second nature
  • Take an old disk and try to restore photos once in a while. Being able to restore your photos is perhaps the most important feature of your backup regime!

So, have you backed up your photos and all the associated metadata this week? No? Go and do it! Today!!

Posted from Trondheim, Sor-Trondelag, Norway.

Scott Kelby World Wide Photo Walk 2013

Today I attended the 6th annual Scott Kelby World Wide Photo Walk in Trondheim. Like last year, we spent about two hours walking around in the city, and like last year I spent too much time on the first part of walk, and could not fully explore the final parts. I guess some things never change 🙂

Since I knew a bit more about what I got into, I had mentally prepared better this time, and was able to focus more on grabbing shots with potential while walking, knowing that I could sort and choose when I got back to my laptop.

The first two photos are taken at Bakklandet, the old part of Trondheim. Known for its picturesque houses and lots of details, it is a photographic heaven of opportunities. However, I had already been there and done that so I had to look outside my “norm”.

Can you escape?
Can you escape?

I had brought the “big stopper” to take some photos of the river and the docks along the side. Note how the leaves floating in the river creates small stripes in the water.

Fall over Nidelven
Fall over Nidelven

As usual, there were also a lot of little details to be found in shop windows and the like

_5M37661As we passed over the river and back into the city centre, we could hear shouting. and went to investigate. It was two groups of demonstrators shouting at each other:

Having an opinion
Having an opinion

After watching the demonstration for some time, and seeing that it would not lead to a full-blown riot (how disappointing… 🙂 ), we headed over to Solsiden to meet the other photo walk participants. There I spent some time exploring the old crane and machinery before heading in for pizza.

Cable Drum
Cable Drum
Gears
Gears

 

 

 

 

Posted from Trondheim, Sor-Trondelag, Norway.

Lego day at work (again)

This weekend we had a lego day at work. Just as with last year’s event, the company brought in tons of lego for kids to play and build with.

Help me, I'm drowning
Help me, I’m drowning

In addition to the large amounts of regular lego, we also got to play around with Mindstorm robots. One of the competitions was to see how close you could get to a lego man without toppling him.

Who can get closest
Who can get the closest

Another challenge involved a lot of programming to get the robot to complete a series of tasks.

Programming Mindstorm robots
Programming Mindstorm robots

As usual, the creativity displayed by the kids was mind-blowing.

Checking the plane before flight
Checking the plane before flight
Aiming
Aiming
Growing city
Growing city
Lots of action
Lots of action

 

 

 

Posted from Trondheim, Sor-Trondelag, Norway.