Getting the Shot - Last Light l

Nature and especially landscape photography is something that I truly love. To be one with the nature and capture one true single fleeting moment in time, to witness the beauty and power of mother nature. That is what keeps me going and moving forward to new and unexplored amazing locations.

 

Location

The location where this photograph was taken is Kajaani, Finland, located quite exactly in the middle of Finland. This location is quite literally in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of a beautiful and thick Finnish forest. Once you reach the top of the small hill, there is a wonderful view, with a picture perfect fire pit made of rocks. Simple, yet truly stunning.

 

Gear Used

For this capture I used a Canon EOS 6D full frame body with a Canon EF 24-105mm F4L lens. Other gear included was a Benro Travel Angel tripod, with a Benro BH-2 ball head.

 

Condition

The weather at this late summer evening was incredible. The sun was shining bright in the sky, with some small and light cloud coverage. Unfortunately as in any Finnish forest at this time of the year, there are mosquitos, a lot of them.

 

Technique

In landscape photography, it’s all about the light. The first thing you have to consider is how to harness and capture the light in the frame. I always carry a tripod with me, to be able to use long exposure times if needed. In many cases, you don't need a tripod, because even in the golden hour, there is often enough light still left to shot handheld with a good modern camera.

In photography, it’s about being in the right place at the right time. Sometimes you can engineer it yourself, but sometimes it just happens. You can plan everything to perfection, but once you reach the location, you are met with rain and overcast skies. Unfortunate and unplanned things happen, but for me, this gives new and interesting perspectives and light. But once everything falls in place, it can become something magical.

This shot was taken at 28mm focal length to get a wide view, but also to get the framing I wanted. ISO was set at 100 to get the cleanest image possible. Aperture value was F16 to get both the foreground and the focus point as sharp as possible. The exposure time was 1/50 seconds to get the correct exposure in the highlights.

 

Tips & Tricks

When shooting landscape, especially in a thick forest location, you should always consider where the sun will set. I have scouted many breathtaking locations, but on many occasions, the sun has set in the wrong direction, which made the framing I had envisioned completely impossible. Sometimes you get lucky and all the pieces fall in perfectly, but more often than not, it’s the complete opposite. This is why good planning and scouting helps a lot in getting the shot. A tripod can be helpful if there isn't enough light left from the setting sun or you decide you want to shoot at longer exposures. 

When trekking to new locations (even if only for one day), especially those locations that you are even slightly unfamiliar with, it’s paramount that you pack accordingly. This should include at least: water, snacks/food, first aid kit, flashlight, matches, mobile phone and warm clothes. For longer hikes, you should obviously pack more thoroughly. 

Last Light l - RAW image - 28mm, ISO 100, F16, 1/50 sec

Last Light l - RAW image - 28mm, ISO 100, F16, 1/50 sec

Post Processing

As much as I love to travel to amazing and beautiful places with my camera, for me, the real magic begins when I get back home and see the photographs on my monitor.

The journey of post processing is individual to all, some like it light and colourful, some dark and gloomy. To me, it’s about showcasing the true raw beauty of nature from my own perspective, from my own view and place within it. Anyone can take a similar image in the same place, but only I can make it in my own vision, the way I saw the scene.

For post processing I use Adobe Lightroom CC. I won’t speak in length about any particular exact details about the post processing, only highlighting the major steps and measures. Post processing is very much trial and error and you should make the image the way you saw the scene, not duplicate or follow any set guide. This particular frame was quite heavily processed due to the bright sky and dark foreground. Before starting with the actual processing of the frame, I always check the lens corrections, removing Chromatic Aberrations and enabling the profile corrections. I also level the frame if needed. 

The exposure, contrast, shadows and saturation was increased.

The highlights, whites and blacks were decreased.

The temperature was also slightly decreased to make the frame more cold.

Last Light l - Final image

Last Light l - Final image

Afterthoughts

Taking landscape photographs in the late evening sun, can be challenging. The sky will be bright and overexposed while the foreground will be almost pitch black. Thankfully, modern cameras and the RAW files they produce can be pushed very hard in the post processing. This gives the photographers a lot more flexibility, without the need to shoot HDR.

This image turned up exactly as I envisioned when taking the shot, it’s exactly as I saw the scene there and then.