Tag: rolling

An absolutely stunning photograph of the rolling hills of Marburg surrounded by fog and amazing sunlight beaming through as views from upon high near Ipswich Queensland Australia by Award Winning Australian Landscape and Weather Storm Photographer Murray Fox

Fun in the Fog

Its been quite a while since I’ve had a real run and gun photography morning.

My inital plan went completely out the window when I woke up at 4:30am and realised two things. First was the radar was showing lots of cloud off the coast that would block any early light from the sunrise and second, I couldn’t see across the road because of the fog that had developed through the night! Rain the day before and a perfect temperature night mean that huge areas were covered in low lying fog.

I had to formulate a new plan. I now wasn’t worried about getting to a location an hour before sunrise. I was worried the sun would have to get too far into the sky to make it over the clouds at sea before the fog started to lift. My photo from my last blog post had me inspired to try an new perspective on the landscape, from a high vantage point, and I knew just the location. My only concern  was, I’d never been there before! It was near a couple of other spots I did know about so I figured if plan A failed, I had alternatives.

A 30 minute run from home found me making my way along the most incredible ridge line. There is enough room for maybe a house each side of the dirt road, before the land falls away completely down to the valley floor below. What an amazing spot and I’m kicking myself for never being here before. The fog was pooling between the hills in the valleys, absolutely perfectly what I wanted. I tried a few different shots before the sun came up, I really liked this one for the crepuscular rays that were beaming over those annoying high clouds at the coast. Not sure what had gone on with the grass here, kinda wondering if some cows might have been taken by aliens given the “crop circle” in front of me.

Beautiful Crepuscular Rays over the rolling hills of Marburg in Ipswich Queensland as the fog nestles in the valleys, viewed from an amazing height in Queensland Australia by Award Winning Australian Landscape Photographer Murray Fox
Olympus OMD Em5 Mark II, 12-40mm, 1/320 Sec, F/7.1, ISO 200, 2 Stop ND Grad Filter

Want I really wanted however was that sun to break through the clouds and throw some light on the landscape below. I figured if I could keep the sun just out side of the frame I could get a nice angled back lit situation with amazing contrast. Well I didn’t have to wait too long before the sun did finally break through. The unfortunate part was that the beautiful colour wasn’t showing up the way I wanted. So hatching a plan, I decided to really zoom in on the landscape below, isolating the hills and the fog, almost removing the sky, and putting my camera into black and white mode, I can also add a tint. I tried a red/orange tint for warm light but it just didn’t work, going the other way I went with a cool tone (touch of blue) and really liked the results. These settings make no difference to the final photograph as I shoot in Raw and can develop the photograph any way I like. However it really does help you visualise in the field in that moment, what you are shooting for and lets you get your settings just right. This photo took all of 2 minutes to edit, really just convert to black and white, adjust the highlights and shadows to where I wanted them, and then add just a small amount of blue to the shadows in split toning. Done, and this is now one of my most favourite fog photographs ever! Running a print of this today and it’s going straight on the wall. Let me know in the comments below what you think.

An absolutely stunning photograph of the rolling hills of Marburg surrounded by fog and amazing sunlight beaming through as views from upon high near Ipswich Queensland Australia by Award Winning Australian Landscape and Weather Storm Photographer Murray Fox
1/400 sec, ISO 200, F/8 @ 40mm

Finally finishing up on the ridge line, I knew my morning wasn’t quite over yet. It was time to run and gun. This is really simple. Drive around in amazing light and fog conditions until something grabs your eye, and STOP! If something gets your attention, no matter how small, how trivial, my rule is I have to get out and take a photograph. Well, in the next 40 minutes I stopped 8 times, and got 2 photographs I really liked. That is pure bonus for me as I knew I already had shots in the bag from the morning.

The first one I really liked has a detail that is really hard to see see unless you see the photograph up large, and I like that. It means only a few people will ever see that in person, those that see a print of mine, or who purchase a print. It’s not a dramatic photograph, it’s very simplistic. A tree, in a field, with the sun glowing through the fog behind. The detail I love, all that grass in front, is absolutely littered with circular shaped spider webs glistening with dew! I don’t know what type of spider, I’ll have to look into it because I’ve seen this a few times, but it looks amazing when you realise what it is.

A lone tree sits surrounded by glowing orange sunlight in the early morning fog at Marburg Ipswich Queensland Australia as the foreground is littered with dozens of spider webs glistening with dew by Award winning Australian landscape and weather storm photographer Murray Fox
1/2500 sec, ISO 200, F/8

This next photograph shows why I have that rule of you absolutely positively must stop and take a photograph. I only caught the very briefest of glimpses of this scene as I drove past. In fact I’d driven past it twice already that morning and not noticed it because it was set back quite a distance from the road. Jumping out of the car and grabbing my camera I knew I would need to zoom right in as far as I could for this one, as there didn’t appear to be any way to get closer (tip: I leave my camera mounted to my tripod on the back seat, I don’t have any concerns of it falling off as Olympus gear is just so light, this means I can be out and shooting in 5 seconds, also very handy when chasing storms). The benefit of this zooming in is all the elements of the scene get compressed together. The trees in front get closer to the Tower (as I’m calling it) and the hills behind get closer as well. I think this gives a nice intimate layering for this photograph. The sun was behind me and the colour, light and fog were just amazing.

Stunning beautiful early morning light bathes this rural barn and tower near Marburg Ipswich Queensland Australia as fog surrounds the scene. Captured by award winning Australian Landscape and Weather Storm photographer Murray Fox
1/200 sec, ISO 200, F/8.0

Finally it was time to pack up, what an amazing morning. Autumn is my favourite time of year for photography as there is just so much going on, from late season weather, to fog, to crystal clear nights for Astro, I suggest you get out now and get out often.

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A beautiful sunrise at Redbank near Ipswich, Queensland, Australia. The sun is just peaking through the trees, illuminating the grass on the rolling hills and lighting up the clouds and sky with amazing colour.

Redbank Sunrise – Importance of practice

With the weather calming down from the recent spate of storms, its time to get back into shooting some landscape photography. I’ve been reading up on a few techniques including focus stacking and exposure blending, so this morning, armed with a brain full of ideas and a nice local location, I set off to see if I could put those techniques into use.

The visualised photo in my head I wanted to shoot, was direct into the sun, have the light directly onto elements of the landscape, be pinpoint sharp from front to back, front elements extremely close to camera (around 20cm) and have detail in shadows and the majority of the highlights. I wanted colour where the sun is, but not necessarily detail, a nice glow would be perfect. Finally, I was going to shoot in portrait orientation as this allows me to really put the foreground very close to the lens and still show the sky, trickier in landscape orientation without an ultra wide lens.

I used my Olympus OMD Em5 Mark II camera, the Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 pro lens, I had a manfrotto circular polarising filter on, not to bring out colours (impossible when facing towards the sun), but to help knock a little reflection off the greenery, and finally a 3 stop soft graduated filter, just to help keep the sky/highlights under control.

I arrived about 30 minutes before sunrise, this spot is very close to home and I as I was wanting the sun up in the sky there was no real point getting there earlier, even tho the early pre dawn sky colour can be the best, that wasn’t the goal here. I found a nice composition, where the hills act as layers going into the scene, and I had the tops of some nice grasses as my foreground.

For my first tests, I put the camera in aperture priority mode, ISO 200 (base ISO), f5.6 (sharpest point of lens), and camera decides the shutter speed. As I’m on a tripod I wasn’t worried about shutter speed at all. I then enabled the in camera focus bracketing. All I had to do was pick a focus point closest to the bottom of screen, then the camera would take a series of photos, shifting focus until it figured it had everything. At these settings it was taking around 17 photographs. Now storage is easy but that seemed like too many photographs for me, and a review on the back of camera showed a lot of the final ones had been taken well past infinity and were blurry again.

So I decided on a different route, and this turned out to work extremely well and easy. I set the shutter activation in the camera to 2 second delay, and turned on the select and shoot function of the rear LCD screen. I also stopped down the lens to f7.6 so each photo had a little more in focus. Then it was simply a matter of touching the bottom of the screen, waiting 2 seconds, camera took a shot, then touching a little above that, repeat. All in all I could take photos from front of scene to back in 5 shots, then for the final photo I stopped right down to f22 (aiming for sunstars), dropped the exposure by 2 stops and took a final shot clicking on the horizon to capture detail in the brightest parts of the photograph.

Here is the series of photos I ended up with, the first photo is the completed image. Then there are 5 photos used for focus stacking, and the final f22 exposure that was used to bring some sky detail back (the exposure is adjusted here, it was captured 2 stops darker)  :

Display of the selection of photographs used for focus stacking with my olympus omd em5 mark ii as well as for exposure blending.

To post process all of this I started in Adobe Camera Raw. Working on the first image of the focus stack, I made my initial adjustments and then synchronised those settings to the other 4 in the focus stack. For the photo where I was only going to use the sky, I made some specific adjustments relating to that, as well as adjusting the overall exposure so it was very close to the other photographs, I find this helps with blending.

Next I brought everything into Photoshop. I put all the images for stacking into layers of one photograph, auto align, then auto blend > stacking. This gave me a base photo with everything tack sharp front to back, first success!. I then created some bright luminosity masks, selected one that would allow me to merge in the highlights with detail from the f22 photo, and did the blending. I now had a perfect starting photograph, all of my testing this morning had given me the results I wanted to achieve.

From there I went through my normal post processing, which is to use some curves for local contrast adjustments, then take the image into Nik Filters for some final polishing.

Here is the final photograph in detail, I think you’ll agree the results are great, the realism is still there, I’ve been able to get everything tack sharp which is always a challenge, and I have detail in both shadows and highlights where I want them, a success for me!

A beautiful sunrise at Redbank near Ipswich, Queensland, Australia. The sun is just peaking through the trees, illuminating the grass on the rolling hills and lighting up the clouds and sky with amazing colour.

Now it’s possible to get this all in one photograph, and in fact I did. But I’ve found the highlights aren’t quite as detailed, the over all image required a lot more sharpening and noise reduction, hurting the details somewhat. However, I like to enter photographic competitions, and a lot of them don’t allow the techniques used here, so I always endeavour to capture a single image photo as well and keep that just for those times where I wish to use it in a competition. This one, using stacking and blending, is perfect for printing, in fact I’ll be doing that today and adding this to my personal photo wall.

I’m now confident that next landscape photo I take, I can replicate the process with ease and get the results I want. It pays to practice!

I hope this post has given you some ideas, it’s important to experiment, have those practice sessions where there is no pressure, see what works, see what doesn’t (I won’t bother with f22 next time, the nice stars that were over the ground lost so much detail from diffraction I couldn’t use it).

If you want to learn more regarding exposure blending, I highly recommend watching Jimmy McIntyre’s free videos over at http://www.shutterevolve.com/ and if you use Olympus, your manual has very good information on focus bracketing and the Em1 series can focus stack in camera (I do prefer to do it after the fact in Photoshop, more control). Feel free to ask any questions you have and I’ll endeavour to see how I can help.

Be sure to visit regularly, follow me on Facebook or Twitter where I’ll post links to each new blog post as it happens, also follow me on Instagram where I post up my photographs, and My Story will have lots of behind the scenes photos and videos.



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