Tag Archives: light

“Above It All”

“Above It All”

“High above, the raven skims the treetops, gliding silently on wings of dark silk”
– Ed Lehming

After some time in the woods of Secord Forest, a local conservation area, I emerged into the brightness of an overcast sky and watched two ravens circling above me. After awhile they both perched at the top of trees near the forest edge and began ‘talking’ to each other.

Those familiar with ravens will know the broad variety of sounds these interesting birds can make. That is to say, they were not simply ‘cawing’ but were involved in a complex exchange of sounds high above. It almost seemed they were having a conversation about what lay beneath them. I’m not sure if they saw me, as I stood at the forest edge, obscured by low branches.

I watched them and listened for some time, simply enjoying the experience and decided that the raven on the closest treetop would make an interesting photo. The light made the shot feel a bit lackluster, since it was so flat and dull but I proceeded to compose the image anyways.

The first few shots I made were “OK” but not quite what I had envisioned. This soon changed as the one raven took off and the other stirred as well, about to follow the first one. It took this opportunity to compose a shot, anticipating the take-off and managed to snap the shutter at just the right moment in flight to show it with wings fully extended.

This image may appear to be black and white, but it’s full colour, simply the result of the lighting conditions and the stark contrast between the black bird and the bright sky.

What made this even more challenging was the fact that I had gone to the forest to get some close ups of the spring flowers, so only had my 90mm macro lense with me to make this image and my camera was still set at a fairly high ISO for lower light. It all worked out alright, I think.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mm

1/2000 sec, f/10.0, ISO 400

For more images like this, please visit my website (images are available for purchase)
http://www.edlehming.com

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“Winter Window”

“Winter Window”

“It’s the unexpected beauty in the most commonplace that often surprises us”
– Ed Lehming

This has been the nature of winter in my region. The days warm and cool rapidly, causing condensation and wonderful frost patterns on windows.

The window here happens to be right next to my desk, so I see the patterns change on a regular basis. It’s especially nice in late afternoon, when the low sun shines between the pine trees behind my house. It’s been a nice bit of colour in the otherwise dull winter we have had lately.

iPhone 7 back camera @ 4.0mm
1/500 sec; f/1.8; ISO 20

For more images like this, please visit my website (images are available for purchase)
http://www.edlehming.com

“March Pines”

“March Pines”

“The snow began, as a faint mist, floating in the air, gradually softening the distant trees”
– Ed Lehming

So it was, that March morning, a day that started out dull, the forecast calling for light snow, which did not seem to materialize as I started my hike. Then slowly, a beautiful and unexpected brightness filled the forest, taking away some of the dull cast of ceaseless clouds that have dominated this winter.

It was at this moment, when I stood surrounded by tall pines, that I noticed the first traces of snowfall. The snow began, gently at first, and the colours of the trees seemed just a bit more intense, a brief flash of vibrancy before the coming squall turned them dark once more.

That cycle of light is quite amazing and once you really experience it, I find it makes you more attuned to the surroundings and that ever-present play of light is what makes photography so enjoyable. Even on a dull and snow filled day in early March.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD @ 70 mm
1/4 sec, f/20.0, ISO 400

For more images like this, please visit my website (images are available for purchase)
http://www.edlehming.com

Iceland Journal – “The Magical Light of Iceland” – Kleifarvatn, Iceland

“We went down into the silent garden. Dawn is the time when nothing breathes, the hour of silence. Everything is transfixed, only the light moves.” 
― Leonora Carrington

The light in Iceland is incomparable, it possesses a magical quality and softness that simply pervades everything. I think, in part, is was partially due to the time of year, late October, when we visited. The sun never gets up very high and wonderful shadows are created. This ‘low’ sun also makes the light softer and warmer.

Here, along the shores of Kleifarvatn, the sun catches the yellow grasses on the low hillsides and makes them glow with light. Despite the snowy conditions, the whole scene is warm looking. Trust me, it was not warm when I made the photo!

There are colours here that are unrivalled in my experience, an inner glow, that I fell in love with. I can fully understand how Iceland holds other photographers in its thrall. The light shifts, dims, brightens, and brings out details like a spotlight, then moves on to the next subject.

It’s really quite remarkable, upon arriving here, we entered a world that looked blasted, tortured, and lifeless, yet the land slowly reveals its wonder, moment by moment until you are fully emerged in a sublime beauty that is so unexpected and so ceaseless that it’s almost overwhelming. And it’s all driven by the light, the magical sub-arctic light, and those beautiful mosses and grasses, which stand in such incredible contrast to the black sand and jagged rock.

As this year winds down, I’ve been able to send a lot of time recalling this memorable trip, through photos and memory.

Nikon D800
Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G I AF-S VR Zoom @ 70 mm
1/320 sec, f/9.0 ISO 400

For more images like this, please visit my website (images are available for purchase)
http://www.edlehming.com

Iceland Journal – “Across the Fertile Valley” – Southwest Iceland

“I am reminded that the most fertile lands are often built by the fires of volcanoes.” 
― Ed Lehming

On the seventh day of our Iceland journey, my son and I travelled through the high mountain passes at the base of the West Fjords, southward along Highway 60 to rejoin the Ring Road, just north of the town of Bifrost.

We were greeted by this spectacular view of a broad valley, filled with meandering rivers and lush farmlands, stretching to the horizon, some 30 kilometers distant, which is bounded by the Skarðheiði mountain cluster and dominated by steep sloped Skessuhorn, poking from a persistent cloud bank, which did not break up all day and kept the rest of the mountains obscured. I could not keep my eyes off Skessuhorn as we drove along, and eventually into, the valley, which is bounded in this view by the Norðurá river. The Norðurá joins several other rivers to form a small delta, just north of the town of Borgarnes, our final destination on this day of travels. I have included a link to the high-resolution version of this image, should you care to have a closer look.

This is a truly remarkable area for Iceland, in that it a very large expanse of farmland, though it is still a very active geothermal area, interspersed with hot springs throughout the valley. An aerial view of this region shows it to have been formed by glaciers, carving and eroding the volcanic bedrock and creating ideal conditions for rivers to flow and deposit their rich, mineral laden silt within the valleys carved by the glaciers.

It was this area that we intended to explore that day and it led us through the farmland, past steaming vents, cold glacial streams of turquoise, and up into the highlands and lava fields of the Hallmundarhraun and the peaks of Ok and Eiriksjökull. It was, in the typical fashion of Iceland, an incredible change in environments, within a fairly short distance of some 30 kilometers. The trip also included a stop at the magnificent Hraunfosser waterfalls, which I have already discussed in a previous post.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD @ 116mm
1/320 sec, f/9.0 ISO 200

For more images like this, please visit my website (images are available for purchase)
http://www.edlehming.com

“Hnúksgirðingar” – Snæfellsnes Peninsula, West Iceland

“Faeries, come take me out of this dull world,
For I would ride with you upon the wind,
Run on the top of the dishevelled tide,
And dance upon the mountains like a flame.” 
― William Butler Yeats

I can’t say enough about how stunningly raw the landscape in Iceland is. Even on dull, slightly overcast days, there are these short breaks in the cloud where the world is alight with colours, and these colours stand in sharp contrast to the black, volcanic mountains and plains.

Above is a prime example. This mountain stands along the shores of Kolgrafjörður, one of the many fjords found along the rugged and beautiful Snæfellsnes Peninsula of western Iceland.

On the sixth day of our Iceland excursion, my son and I were on our way to Kirkufellfoss. That’s the waterfall with the odd-shaped mountain in the background that is on virtually every Iceland brochure. It’s located about three-quarters of the way out to the tip of the peninsula itself, along some pretty rough roads. Though Kirkufell was our destination, the journey there was simply breathtaking and varied. The landscapes included vast fjords, filled with hundreds of small islands, winding mountain roads, dormant volcanoes and high glaciated mountains.

As with other regions in Iceland, the scenery changes quickly and unexpectedly, each turn in the road presenting some new wonder. I recall this particular mountain well because of the way the yellow grasses glowed in the brief and diffused sunlight and how the bright green mosses stood out against the dark talus slopes of the mountain. I found, as I reviewed the photo, that there are so  many details that my eyes did not pick up on, even as I composed the image. For that reason, I’m posting a link to the high-resolution image here and encourage you to spend some time, zooming in and looking for the sheep, the waterfowl, and exploring the mountainside details that are lost in the image above.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD @ 70mm
1/40 sec, f/3.2 ISO 200

For more images like this, please visit my website (images are available for purchase)
http://www.edlehming.com

Iceland Journal – “The Golden Valley” – Northern Iceland

“The Golden Valley” - Northern Iceland

“When you don’t cover up the world with words and labels, a sense of the miraculous returns to your life that was lost a long time ago when humanity, instead of using thought, became possessed by thought.” 
― Eckhart Tolle

As I continue to review my photos from Iceland, inevitably I come across a collection of photos I have dubbed “The Golden Valley”. I posted one of them a few weeks ago. That particular image was a closer view of the mountain in the distance, Heiðarfall, and as I said then, we thought we had seen the highlight of our day at Goðafoss, earlier in the day. This image is a bit of a wider shot, showing more of the valley that contained the wonder that had us transfixed for a few brief moments on day five of our ten-day Iceland trip.

We continued on our journey, stopping for lunch in Akureyri, Iceland’s second largest city and headed westward through a long valley, not expecting to see much more, other than the high mountains which dominate the region surrounding Akureyri. This valley follows a moderate river known as Heiðará, which can be seen at the centre of my photo.

This drive was more beautiful than expected and we travelled deeper into the highlands, following the river valley between steep hillsides and mountains. Along the way, we stopped and made some photos of the various mountains, but our attention was fixed on this single peak in the distance, framed by the surrounding slopes, the sun hanging just to the left of it, casting soft shadows and lighting up the snow blowing from its peak.

As we got closer, I was hoping that the road would continue to take us nearer and not turn off to some adjacent valley. We were not disappointed and as we approached, we noticed the slight shifting slightly to a warm glow, which made the valley seem to glow in soft sunlight. We stopped the car along the road and watched this effect take hold, making several images each of this stunning spectacle of light. The whole valley seemed to shine in tones of gold, patches of sunlight catching the grasses and seeming to shimmer through the fine mist caused by blowing snow. The whole world around us was alight in a surreal brilliance. It was like a scene you imaging in a fantasy novel, we were just missing dragons and unicorns. And then just as it had begun, it ended, still lovely but lacking the stunning effect we had just witnessed, for a few glorious moments.

Every photographer’s dream is to capture a moment like this, accurately, so that others can experience it as well. I’m happy that my many years, out on the trails, making photos, and many times failing, had prepared me for this moment and enabled me to create an image that fully and accurately communicates what I witnessed. As I sat at my computer, reviewing and editing this photo, I found myself filled with the same raw emotion I felt when I made the photo. I hope that you, my reader, enjoy it too.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD @ 70mm
1/250 sec, f/9.0 ISO 200

For more images like this, please visit my website (images are available for purchase)
http://www.edlehming.com