Posts Tagged ‘Blue’

19 Cool Images of Blue Subjects

13 Aug

A while back we took a look at images with the primary color of summer, green. Now let’s have a peek at the color of the night time – blue.

Of course, there are many other things which are blue as well, as you can see below.

By StudioTempura

By Albert Vuvu Konde

By O. R.G.

By Joao Clerigo

By Maarten Takens

By Bill Dickinson

By Roy Cheung

By nathan_gamble

By Mirai Takahashi

By Stanley Zimny (Thank You for 24 Million views)

By Neil Tackaberry

By Javier Díaz Barrera

By Neal Fowler

By Stanley Zimny (Thank You for 24 Million views)

By Maria Eklind

By Tom Roeleveld

By Michiel van Nimwegen

By Ivan Rigamonti

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Weekly Photography Challenge – Blue

12 Aug

Color adds mood and feeling to an image. Cool colors like blue tend to have a calming feeling, like these 19 images with blue subjects.

By Christian Weidinger

Weekly Photography Challenge – Blue

This one should be pretty easy. Just go find something blue – OR even convert an image to black and white and add a blue tint to it!

Another option is to go out at dusk and photograph during the blue hour. Here are some tips to help you do that:

  • 5 Quick Tips for Better Blue Hour Photography
  • New Photographer’s Guide to Blue Hour
  • 5 Reasons Why You Should be Doing Night Photography
  • How to Get the Correct Exposure at Night with These Helpful Tips

By Jeff S. PhotoArt at

By ~lzee~by~the~Sea~

By Fiona Shaw

By Thomas Hawk

Share your images below:

Simply upload your shot into the comment field (look for the little camera icon in the Disqus comments section) and they’ll get embedded for us all to see or if you’d prefer, upload them to your favorite photo-sharing site and leave the link to them. Show me your best images in this week’s challenge. Sometimes it takes a while for an image to appear so be patient and try not to post the same image twice.

Share in the dPS Facebook Group

You can also share your images on the dPS Facebook group as the challenge is posted there each week as well.

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Turning the Black Sea blue: NASA’s image of the day shows phytoplankton bloom

13 Jun
NASA’s image of the day is a composite, taken by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on its Aqua satellite. It shows phytoplankton swirling in the currents of the Black Sea. Credit: NASA/Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE/EOSDIS Rapid Response

The Black Sea is one of the largest bodies of water on earth, measuring 168,500 square miles, and it turns out not to be black at all. NASA’s appropriately-named Aqua satellite captured this shot last month, showing the deep blues and turquoise colors of the Sea from an orbital altitude of 438 miles. This is actually a composite image, made up of multiple photographs taken during several passes over the region.

The light-colored swirls are billions of phytoplankton – floating microscopic organisms plated with calcium carbonate.


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Blue Earth Alliance: Collaboration is key for photography that makes a difference

14 Apr

Blue Earth Alliance: Collaboration is key for photography that makes a difference

Natalie Fobes on assignment in Russia for National Geographic. Fobes is an award-winning photographer who founded the nonprofit Blue Earth Alliance in order to work with photographers to share their stories.

“You don’t have to travel overseas to make a difference with your photography. Your world starts outside your front door,” says Natalie Fobes, a Seattle-based photographer with a resume many photographers dream of. Assignments for major magazines including National Geographic, dozens of awards as well as being a finalist for a Pulitzer, a photography instructor with courses on, and now a successful wedding and commercial photography business in Seattle, Washington where she lives with her family.

It all might sound a little intimidating, but spend just a few minutes in conversation with Fobes and you’ll come to understand not only her passion for the power of photography, but how much she wants to help other photographers succeed.

Almost 22 years ago Fobes formed the non-profit Blue Earth Alliance, along with fellow photographer Phil Borges and attorney Malcolm Edwards, who provided legal guidance. The philosophy behind Blue Earth Alliance is simple – photography and filmmaking can lead to positive change.

DPReview had the opportunity to talk with Fobes about Blue Earth Alliance, the impact of photography and the mission of Blue Earth Alliance.

Blue Earth Alliance: Collaboration is key for photography that makes a difference

The opportunity to share her photographs and the difficulty in finding funding lead Fobes to collaborate and begin Blue Earth Alliance. Photo by Natalie Fobes.

Blue Earth Alliance was formed almost 22 years ago to help photographers. Why did you feel it was needed?

I had just had a book published, had spent 10 years traveling the Pacific Rim and was doing well and I was approached to put together a traveling exhibit. It was expensive to put on the exhibit and hard to find sponsors. I was told if I had been a 501(c)(3) sponsors could help, and I learned other photographers were having similar problems. We saw the media landscape was changing and it was going to get harder to do long documentary projects.

I think the underlying philosophy of Blue Earth Alliance is we feel an individual can make a difference in this world. There are so many things that need attention:  the environment, disappearing cultures, social issues or a local situation. These are all things that matter in our lives, no matter if you live in a small town or in New York City or Seattle. By raising awareness of these issues, you can make a difference; you can make a change. It’s a very high level look, but I think that no matter who you are — whether you’re a professional photographer or advanced amateur — you recognize the power of photography.

Blue Earth Alliance: Collaboration is key for photography that makes a difference

Photojournalist Tom Reese spotlights the devastation of toxic waste in his project, “Choosing Hope: Reclaiming The Duwamish River.” Photo by Tom Reese.

Can you explain how Blue Earth Alliance works with photographers who become sponsored?

First, I need to be very clear:  Blue Earth does not provide direct funding or grants. That is a common misconception about Blue Earth. The biggest service Blue Earth provides is fiscal sponsorship. This is a huge asset to individual photographers and filmmakers since when we accept a project for sponsorship we extend our 501(c)(3) status to it. The photographer/filmmaker can then apply for grants from organizations and foundations that only donate to a 501(c)(3). After 21 years, we have a great reputation with funders for sponsoring worthwhile projects. Blue Earth provides a vetted seal of approval for donors.

Sometimes photographers and filmmakers just need encouragement for their projects. More than one photographer has mentioned that when Blue Earth selected their project for sponsorship, it encouraged and inspired them to continue their work.

Blue Earth Alliance: Collaboration is key for photography that makes a difference

Daniel Beltra’s project has documented conservation around the planet. He has shot on all seven continents, many of his photographs are shot from the air. Photo by Daniel Beltra.

Blue Earth Alliance has sponsored more than 134 photography and filmmaking projects over the last two decades. Can you reflect on a few that have had an impact?

We have had had many, but a couple that stand out. These projects can start the conversation, even raise the visibility of some of these issues. One was a really long term project by the late Gary Braasch. He came on board in the late 90’s, early 2000 and was talking about global warming before it became popular. It was important work in that it elevated the conversation because of his photography and his dedication.

Another is Subhankar Banerjee and his story about the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and how important it was to keep that area pristine. He had worked at Boeing and had no professional photography experience. He came to us and wanted to do this project and applied for sponsorship.

He spent a couple of years in the Arctic and showed how beautiful it was even when some senators were calling it a frozen wasteland. The Preserve is one of the last pristine areas of that particular environment and there was a lot of discussion about oil, a lot of senators wanted to open it out to oil exploration. He also contracted with a number of museums including the Smithsonian to exhibit his work from this project. In one of the Senate debates about drilling in the refuge Senator Boxer held up his book.

Blue Earth Alliance: Collaboration is key for photography that makes a difference

Katherine Jack’s project with Blue Earth Alliance is documenting life in the Palawan Sea, in the Philippines and how changes to our marine ecosystem is affecting the life of the Palawan residents.

What are the steps a photographer would need to take to get support from Blue Earth Alliance? What are the criteria that makes a project worthwhile?

Blue Earth accepts project proposals twice a year: January 20 and July 20. The submission requirements can be found on our website. In a proposal we look for a clear description of the project, a unique viewpoint or topic and clarity around how the project fits within the Blue Earth mission. Having a project with a 501c3 status does not mean that money magically appears. Finding funding can be difficult, and it takes time to thoughtfully research funders and write grants.

When we review our project proposals one of the first things I look at their budget to see if they know what they are doing financially.

We have a responsibility to make sure funds are used as they should be. One of the first things I look for is are the photographers paying themselves, through a stipend. We are too important not to pay ourselves.

Blue Earth wants our project photographer/filmmakers to succeed, and we scrutinize all proposals in order in ensure that likelihood.

Blue Earth Alliance: Collaboration is key for photography that makes a difference

Greg Constantine’s decade-long project, Nowhere People, focuses on the plight of people forced from their homes, without citizenship and looks at the challenges of their daily lives and their future. Photo by Greg Constantine.

What advice do you have to photographers who are looking for a way to use their photography to make a difference?

Photographers and filmmakers should try to form coalitions with other like-minded people and organizations. I believe in the strength of an individual. But I believe in the power that comes when individuals come together for a common goal.

Photographers and filmmakers also need to realize that one grant will seldom fund their entire project. They should apply for many: large, small and in-between. For my first long-term project I used my savings, a grant and assignments to fund it.

It’s imperative to create a coalition of funders. Funders like to see support from other organizations when considering an application. They see it as a third-party endorsement of the photographer/filmmaker and the project. It’s true that success leads to success.

Photographers and filmmakers often forget, or are afraid of, including friends and family in their fundraising efforts. People are often more likely to give a donation to someone they know. Crowd-sourcing websites make fundraising campaigns much easier than in the past.

If a photographer doesn’t believe they can make a difference then they won’t.

Blue Earth Alliance: Collaboration is key for photography that makes a difference

Natalie Fobe’s captured the extensive damage of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Prince William Sound while on a three month assignment for National Geographic. Photo by Natalie Fobes.

Your photography has included extensive work around the Pacific Salmon, wildlife and landscapes. What are you most proud of?

I think probably the work that may have had the most impact on society was the Exxon Valdez oil spill in. That was also the hardest story I photographed because of the difficulty of the working conditions and getting access. And the chaos, the chaos of the spill and the emotional impact of the destruction of the environment. The horrible pain that the animals and birds suffered and the people too.

This happened in a beautiful pristine area that was home and sustenance for the native Alaskans but also the commercial fishermen and townspeople who lived there.

Blue Earth Alliance: Collaboration is key for photography that makes a difference

Annie Musselman’s first project with Blue Earth Alliance focused on the delicate balance of human impact on wild animals. Her project Wolf Haven documents animals in sanctuaries. Photo by Annie Musselman.

What does the future hold for Blue Earth Alliance?

We are an organization with a passionate and dedicated board that donates thousands of hours each year to our mission.

We hold an annual conference “Collaborations for Cause.” This will be held in May 5-6, 2017, in Seattle. The goal of Collaborations for Cause is to put non-profits, educators, communications professionals and visual storytellers in the same room for education, inspiration and networking. Presentations and interviews of our past speakers can be viewed at

Our conference supports our mission to form a coalition of non-profits and visual storytellers. We hope that our photographers’ projects educate the public about important issues. Simply: we want our projects to change the world for the better.

Blue Earth Alliance: Collaboration is key for photography that makes a difference

Photographer Tim Matsui’s project focused on human trafficking and lead to the film, ‘Leaving the Life’ as well as working with King County Government in Washington State to create policy around human trafficking. Photo by Tim Matsui.

DPReview also spoke with Tim Matsui, a photographer who has worked on two projects in conjunction with Blue Earth Alliance. He explains how the organization helped him to make a difference with his photography.

I first went to Blue Earth because I was ‘just a photographer’ and unable to apply to many foundation grants or other funding opportunities. I was doing grassroots fundraisers, silent auctions, even burger-beer events with local businesses willing to support my work with their proceeds. Old school.

Leaving the Life is my second project with Blue Earth. My first one, over a decade ago, used documentary multimedia—when slide projectors and dissolve units were still a thing—to create dialog about the lasting effects of sexual violence on individuals and communities.

Being accepted at that time was not only validating of the social justice work I felt compelled to do, but it opened the door to foundation grants and private donations; something I knew very little about.

The learning curve was steep, but I was no longer ‘just a photographer.’ I was in the company of others who were much more accomplished than myself. I had access to their knowledge and this helped me understand how I could increase the impact and reach of my work.

Years later, when I realized Leaving the Life and The Long Night could create impact, I reapplied to Blue Earth. This allowed me to receive a grant from The Fledgling Fund. That grant lead to the policy work I’ve done with King County government.

In fact, it was a screening of The Long Night at Collaborations for Cause where I met a King County employee who became instrumental in my work with King County. Without her, I doubt that two-year journey would have come to fruition.

Blue Earth continues to support my work as I’m now looking for investors for a follow up film to The Long Night— these are people who see their return on investment not as financial renumeration, but policy change. And through Blue Earth I’ve had the opportunity to share what I’ve learned about using film to support social and policy change. Blue Earth is grassroots, created and run by photojournalists, and helping stories have impact is woven into the fabric of the organization. That matters to me.

Blue Earth Alliance’s Collaborations for Cause takes place May 5th and 6th in Seattle. You can find the speaker schedule and registration information online at

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Night Riding: Glowing Blue Bike Trail in Poland Powered by Solar Energy

14 Oct

[ By WebUrbanist in Architecture & Cities & Urbanism. ]


Charged during the day and lighting up at night, this beautiful bicycle trail outside the town of Lidzbark Warmiski is designed to improve safety for riders out after dark.


Luminescent phosphor can hold emit light of various colors, but blue was selected to match the surrounding landscape and conjure associations with the sky (the source of the path’s power). Once deployed, the passive system recharges itself, obviating the need for connectivity or continual maintenance.


Though the technologies behind the effects differ, the path in Poland was inspired in part by the Starry Night bike path created in the Netherlands by Studio Roosegaarde. Both are proofs of concept, tests meant in part to demonstrate the potential and durability of this trail-blazing lighting strategy.


Other illumination options were considered, but this glow-in-the-dark approach was deemed both appealing and cost-effective by the Board of Regional Roads. Adjacent pedestrian paths are also bracketed by glowing blue lines and denoted for persons on foot with likewise-illuminated path signage underfoot.

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[ By WebUrbanist in Architecture & Cities & Urbanism. ]

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Weekly Photography Challenge – Blue

01 Oct

Color is an important element of composition in photography. Cool colors have a very different feeling then do warm colors. See how the color blue appears in some images here.

Tim Green

By Tim Green

Weekly Photography Challenge – Blue

This week we challenge you to find and photography some subjects which are blue. Then photograph it in a compelling way. Remember to consider lighting, composition, and center of interest to create a unique image.

Neil Tackaberry

By Neil Tackaberry


By Di_Chap


By Alvaro

Darlene Hildebrandt

By Darlene Hildebrandt

Share your images below:

Simply upload your shot into the comment field (look for the little camera icon in the Disqus comments section) and they’ll get embedded for us all to see or if you’d prefer, upload them to your favorite photo-sharing site and leave the link to them. Show me your best images in this week’s challenge. Sometimes it takes a while for an image to appear so be patient and try not to post the same image twice.

Share in the dPS Facebook Group

You can also share your images on the dPS Facebook group as the challenge is posted there each week as well.

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18 Tranquil Images of Blue to Cool Your Thoughts

30 Sep

Different colors evoke different emotions and have a different feeling to them. Warm colors like red, orange and yellow feel alive and vibrant. Cool colors like purple, green and blue feel calming and relaxing.

Here is an image collection of various different photographers use of the color blue. View each and see how they make you feel. Do these blue images have a calming effect on you? I feel more relaxed just looking them.

I’ll start off with three of my images from the “blue” city of Chefchaouen in Morocco.





By Andy

Nick Klein

By Nick Klein

Matt Bradley

By Matt Bradley


By Xavier

Pablo Fernández

By Pablo Fernández

Maarten Takens

By Maarten Takens

Alain Tremblay

By alain tremblay

Julian E...

By Julian E…

Martin Fisch

By Martin Fisch

Geir Tønnessen

By geir tønnessen

Modes Rodríguez

By Modes Rodríguez

Mirai Takahashi

By Mirai Takahashi

Genji Arakaki

By Genji Arakaki

Hansel And Regrettal

By Hansel and Regrettal

Davide D'Amico

By Davide D’Amico

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Photokina 2016: Hands-on with Phase One 45mm F3.5 and 150mm F2.8 ‘Blue Ring’ lenses

20 Sep

Hands-on with Phase One 45mm F3.5 and 150mm F2.8

Phase One is showing off two new ‘Blue Ring’ lenses at this year’s Photokina tradeshow in Cologne, Germany. We visited the Phase One booth earlier and got our hands on them.

First up is the new 150mm LS F2.8 IF, which offers a focal length equivalent to 64mm on full-frame, making it a useful portrait prime. At first glance this is an enormous lens, but a lot of its apparent size is actually the detachable hood.

Hands-on with Phase One 45mm F3.5 and 150mm F2.8

F2.8 is fast for a medium-format lens, which should ensure nice shallow depth of field when used wide-open for portraits. Here’s a view straight down the front of the lens. See what we mean about that big hood?

Hands-on with Phase One 45mm F3.5 and 150mm F2.8

With the hood removed, the 150mm becomes a good deal smaller. The new lens can synchronize with flash at shutter speeds of up to 1/1000sec and can focus as close as 100cm/3.2ft. It uses 8 elements in 7 groups and accepts 105mm screw-in filters. It could be yours for only $ 6990/€5990.

Hands-on with Phase One 45mm F3.5 and 150mm F2.8

Next up is the 45mm LS F3.5, which Phase One tells us will offer extremely good edge-to-edge sharpness, even wide-open. Aimed at landscape photographers, the 45mm (and indeed the 150mm) offers a simple auto/manual focus clutch switch. Shifting to manual focus is as easy as pulling the focus ring towards the camera.

Hands-on with Phase One 45mm F3.5 and 150mm F2.8

Like the 150mm, the 45mm features a leaf shutter inside the lens itself, and it can synchronize with flash at shutter speeds of up to 1/1600sec. Construction comprises 10 elements in 7 groups.

Hands-on with Phase One 45mm F3.5 and 150mm F2.8

Equivalent to a 28mm field of view on full-frame, the new 45mm F3.5 has a closest focusing distance of 55cm/1.8ft. It is available now for $ 5990/€5290.

Hands-on with Phase One 45mm F3.5 and 150mm F2.8

This is Lau Norgaard, VP of R&D at Phase One. He’s pretty pleased with his new lenses – what do you think? Let us know in the comments.

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Phase One introduces first Schneider Kreuznach ‘Blue Ring’ zooms

19 Jul

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Phase One has announced two Schneider Kreuznach ‘Blue Ring’ lenses designed with the XF system in mind, the first zooms in the series. The Schneider Kreuznach 40-80mm LS F4.0-5.6 and the Schneider Kreuznach 75-150mm LS F4.0-5.6 are optimized for the company’s full frame (53.7 x 40.4mm) medium-format system.

The new Blue Ring lenses join the recently announced Schneider Kreuznach 110mm LS F2.8 and 240mm LS F4.5. Both feature the ability to sync flash at shutter speeds up to 1/1600sec and built-in electronics that allow autofocus to be individually calibrated. Phase One claims this series of lenses is built to its highest quality assurance standards

Phase One Announces First Schneider Kreuznach Blue Ring Zoom Lenses

Prime Lens Quality Featuring Full Frame Sensor Coverage, Improved Precision, and Advanced Electronics

COPENHAGEN, July 18, 2016 – Phase One, creator of the world’s finest open-platform high-end camera systems and professional imaging software, today added two new Schneider Kreuznach lenses to its comprehensive family of lenses. These two Blue Ring zoom lenses feature impressive front glass elements, with front lens diameters of 63mm and 65mm respectively, delivering edge-to-edge coverage of full frame 645 format. Used on a Phase One XF 100MP system, the lenses are able to take full advantage of the sensor’s resolution; a 100MP capture renders a 100MP image with breathtaking fidelity.

— The Schneider Kreuznach 40-80mm LS f/4.0-5.6 Zoom lens renders ultra sharp resolution on all zoom distances from wide to normal focal length;

— The Schneider Kreuznach 75-150mm LS f/4.0-5.6 Zoom lens delivers great versatility. It’s preferred for on-location fashion shoots, with a range from normal to telephoto.

Together, these two lenses comprise an effective zoom range from 40mm to 150mm. Each lens is equipped with a zoom lock function on its barrel and is designed to maintain focus position while zooming. They each support flash synchronization up to 1/1600s. The new built-in electronics permit individual focus calibration when used with the Phase One XF Camera System.

“Creating optics this large with such tight tolerances is quite an achievement, “said Espen Beck, Phase One Senior Product Manager. “A Phase One full frame 100MP medium format sensor is 1.5 times larger than the cropped size 50MP medium format and 2.5 times larger than sensors found in high-end 35mm DSLRs. Capturing the full resolution of a square sensor this size with a round lens and avoiding crop means that the entire lens must be larger, which requires larger movements of individual lens elements while meeting the requisite standards for speed and precision.

“Schneider Kreuznach lenses are designed to deliver the ultimate analogue input to be shaped and refined with the Phase One XF 100MP Camera System and Capture One software. This design also benefits the Phase One XF 50MP system, which can exploit the ‘sweet spot’ of the lens, producing impeccable results.”

Designed by Schneider Kreuznach and produced by Phase One Japan, Schneider Kreuznach “Blue Ring” zoom lenses are refined with robust, aerial-grade mechanics and manufactured to meet Phase One’s highest quality assurance standards. Their enhanced precision, mechanical build, and look and feel complement the Phase One XF Camera System design.

For more information, including specifications for the two new “Blue Ring” lenses, please go to:

There will be a hands-on Webinar demonstration of the lenses on Tuesday, July 19.

For more information, times and to register, please go to:

Availability and Pricing

The two new Blue Ring Zoom lenses are available to order now. They are compatible with the Phase One XF, Phase One 645DF+ and Mamiya 645DF+ or DF camera systems.

The Schneider Kreuznach 75-150mm LS f/4.0–5.6 Zoom is shipping now. Manufacturer suggested retail price: 5.490 EUR / 5,990 USD

The Schneider Kreuznach 40-80mmLS f/4.0–5.6 Zoom is expected to ship by August 1, 2016. Manufacturer suggested retail price: 7.990 EUR / 8,990 USD

Phase One Camera Systems and all accessories are available through Phase One photography partners worldwide:

For a demo of a Phase One Camera System, please sign up here:

About Phase One

Phase One A/S is the world-leading provider of medium format digital photography systems and imaging solutions for professional photographers and industrial applications. Established in the early 1990s, Phase One is a true digital photography pioneer with a passionate commitment to image quality excellence and creative freedom. Phase One’s engineering and design expertise has produced imaging breakthroughs from high- resolution camera systems to advanced software for better photographic workflows and raw file editing. Phase One’s understanding and ability to optimize hardware and software integration underscores their award winning Capture One Pro software – widely preferred by professional photographers.

Phase One’s industrial division focuses on imaging accuracy for industrial applications ranging from aerial image acquisition to cultural heritage preservation – from mapping the globe, to protecting priceless works of art and documents.

Today, with control over all aspects of the medium format camera system supply chain, Phase One is uniquely positioned to help photographers and imaging experts everywhere stand out above the competition and realize their creative visions without compromise.

Based in Copenhagen Denmark and embracing the high demand of Scandinavian design excellence, Phase One is dedicated to delivering the best image quality and user experience. With offices in New York, London, Tokyo, Cologne, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Tel Aviv, and with its expert teams of global partners, Phase One is committed to serving and supporting its customers worldwide.

Phase One and Capture One are registered trademarks of Phase One A/S. All other brand or product names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective holders.

Learn more here:

Phase One at:

Twitter at: http://www.twitter/PhaseOnePhoto

Facebook at:

Google+ at:

LinkedIn at:

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Behind the shot: Praia da Adraga at blue hour

16 Jul

If you recognize Nicolas Alexander Otto’s name, it may be because we featured some of his work a while ago. The Germany-based landscape shooter has graciously agreed to share the story behind one of his images, titled ‘The Living Infinite’, a shot he captured on a trip to Portugal’s Praia da Adraga beach. He walks us through everything that went into making the image – from planning the trip to his post-processing technique. 

By Nicolas Alexander Otto

To explain my process, I should start with a little bit of background information. When I have a timeframe set and know that I will be on the road during that period I dive into the planning phase first, trying to make the most of the time I have available. I then try to organize my shooting itinerary accordingly, checking for all the different options available for good light: sunrise and sundown times, same goes for the moon, the tidal schedule and the position of the milky way.

In this particular case I knew I was going to be at the ocean and the moon would set in the western skies during blue hour for three successive days. Hence, I knew I had to be at the Portuguese coastline by then, originally starting from Germany and driving all the way through France and Spain to get there.

My main focus on the trip was a beach called Praia da Adraga, located near Sintra. I planned to get my shot in the early morning hours, knowing the blue hour would provide me with the gentle light necessary and the moon would add that little something to the sky, keeping it from falling flat, although much would depend on cloud coverage.

Knowing my goal I looked up the tidal schedule next and noticed that the waves should be splashing around the famous sea stacks on the beach right around the time the moon would enter my frame. It’s important to note that I had been at that location two times prior to planning this, but tools like Google Earth and the Photographer’s Ephemeris make pre-visualizing shots fairly manageable without prior visits – I highly recommend using them. I checked the weather upon arrival and had to sit out a night of drizzle, already fearing I might not get the shot I had imagined. Luckily, it stopped once I woke up and grabbed my gear.

On Location

The evening before I had already scouted the location and taken some test shots looking for the right composition so I knew I didn’t need much time, just a short break in between showers to reel in my desired shots.

During my third trip to the beach I noticed huge differences compared to my previous visit. A fellow photographer whom I met while walking towards the sea stacks told me that severe winter storms had altered the appearance of the beach, washing away quite a bit of sand rendering the sea stacks much higher than I remembered them, and revealing more rocks in the foreground as well. However, when I looked at where the moon would enter the frame on Photographers Ephemeris I saw that almost none of them would be in my composition.

I knew I had to battle against the rising tide and might face issues with camera shake, especially with my 36MP Nikon D800, so I utilized my heaviest tripod: a 3.4kg Slik 780 DX Pro. If burrowed in the sand a little, it’s almost completely resistant against the incoming surge as long as it’s not much more than knee high.

Composition-wise I went for a classic, dynamic two thirds setup with the waves’ receding flow drawing the viewer’s gaze into the image, right past the sea stacks out onto the ocean and the moon looming overhead in the left third of the frame. I tried to leave at least a little bit of separation between the rocks as their dark surfaces can be heavy and distracting if clumped up, drawing too much of the viewer’s attention to a single area.

It took me some time to get an incoming wave to create those leading lines I had imagined. Sadly, the image ended up being a bit too dark, so I would need to brighten the exposure a little in post processing and work on the contrast. To blame was the fact that dawn had already kicked in and I had to readjust my camera settings each minute, and at that moment I tried adding a ND filter. When an especially promising wave came in, rather than adjusting my settings, I pressed the remote shutter and got exactly the wave patterns I was imagining. No other subsequent exposure came even close to it, unfortunately, thus I had to choose this one despite its technical shortcomings.

It can be quite difficult to capture waves because the shutter speed has to match the their force to shape beautiful streaks of spume, without them stopping or clumping up at a rock, breaking the rhythm of the lines. Oftentimes a shorter exposure doesn’t create any dynamic addition to the image and a longer one would render most of the wave motion invisible.

Here are the settings used for my shot:

Camera: Nikon D800
Lens: Nikkor AF-S 18-35mm F3.5-4.5 G ED
Focal length: 18mm Shutter speed: 3,5 sec
Aperture: F5.0
ISO: 100
Filter: Haida ND64


Exposure adjustments made to brighten the image.

I knew I needed to brighten the image overall, however I did not not want to alter the colors in any way to preserve the natural hues that the magical blur hour light supplied. Also, I knew I had to make local adjustments to the micro contrast, which is why I did not use clarity just yet because I wanted to keep the clouds nice and smooth.

At this point some adjustments to sharpening are made, along with correction for vignetting but none for distortion.

I rarely ever sharpen my whole image which is why I used a mid-range mask here to cover only the stronger contrasted edges of the rocks and sky. Even though I do use lens corrections I almost always dial down the distortion; on the one hand because the Nikon 18-35mm G ED has almost no distortion to begin with and on the other because a little distortion, in my opinion, adds to the dynamism of the image, especially in landscape photography. And for the most part I keep the standard noise reductions settings as is.

Next I imported the image into Photoshop and here you already can see all the different adjustments I made to the image on the right (first switched off so you can see the difference). Before I start working on anything else, I usually get rid of dust spots – thus the base layer is renamed to “clean”, indicating I’ve already cleaned up the image.

As a second step I used Nik Color Efex Pro 4 here for some more global adjustments, and afterwards I used luminosity masks to target specific tonalities of the image, adding more contrast selectively to the sand and sky. Due to the very even overall exposure (not taking into account the rocks), most of the masks are not altered after the tonality selection.

In Color Efex Pro 4 I first used the Pro Contrast and Detail Extractor with these settings:

At this point I wanted to add a bit more contrast to the sky and the foreground without darkening the rocks to prevent having to brighten them up again later in the processing, since that is never a good idea to begin with. The rest of the image benefited from a little more punch overall, though. I also balanced out a little bit of the cyan toning with the ‘Correct Color Cast’ setting, because at this stage I felt like it might be deviating a bit too much from what the scene looked like in my recollection.

The detail extractor is an incredibly powerful filter, which is why I seldom use it at more than 5%. I would also recommend painting the effect in rather than using control points for masking in more complex situations. But in this case, the selections that the program generated suited my needs and I went with it. I tried to prevent the detail extractor from brightening the waves and sky, as it tends to brighten darker parts of the image recovering information in the dark tones. Furthermore, longer exposed skies and waves looking too crisp, for me at least, often kind of defeat the purpose of taking long exposures in the first place. However, the dark rocks were already brightened up a little bit which was a desirable result in this case.

After these adjustments the image already had more punch, but still lacked some differentiation in the narrow tonalities of the sand and the incoming surf – something common with blue hour shots. Additionally, I wanted the sky to be just a bit more dramatic. For this I added different curves layers with various luminosity masks generated with Tony Kuypers famous TK Panel.

First, with a ‘Lights 3’ and a ‘Lights 1’ mask, I emphasized the waves in between the rocks, both grouped together and masked with a gradient in order not to affect the sky (you can see the gradient masks in the first screenshot).

The same procedure was then used to get more detail out of the immediate foreground waves by using a ‘Midtones 3’, and again for the rocks, and foreground using a ‘Darks 2’ mask (this was actually applied later in the workflow and is called ‘contr5’ in the image above).

Next I wanted to introduce a bit more drama to the sky, so I used a ‘Midtones 3’ mask in order to select a wide tonal range in the sky, and darkened them only a small amount to make the undersides of the clouds stand out more.

In the end I darkened the rocks a little – just a tiny amount because I love images with prevalent darker tones – using a ‘Darks 3’ mask (this would’ve also simply been achieved by painting out the detail extractor added earlier).

As a last step I added a minor dodge and burn alteration to call attention to the small water splashes on the right sea stack: a very subtle, almost unnoticeable effect.

My final actions, as per usual, included resizing and converting into RGB color space. Usually I choose 900px for the web, but in this case I chose 1200px for this DPR article, so you can see more of the details.

I hope you enjoyed this behind-the-scenes look at my process!

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