It was impossible for me to sleep really long. The long day in Iceland and the tension about when the test result would arrive kept me awake. In the end, it was 12 hours that we waited. We spent the quarantine in the car on the way to the hotel as indicated. After12 hours of tiring waiting, the result – a negative test -was as a text message on our mobile phones.
The weather was constantly changing on the way. In addition to great photo opportunities, there were also boring sections with rain or dull views. At the end we arrived in Arnarstapi. Again along day with excursion to the basalt coast with finely distributed rain.Despite the unpleasant rain, the sky was full of interesting light conditions that the eye was not accustomed to correctly estimate.
Our flight to Iceland started in Germany with summer darkness, which was far from reaching its maximum. To the north over Germany and to the northwest over Scotland, th edusk could be seen in the west, and after not too long already the dawn in the east. The topology of the sphere allows us to see the evening in the left plane window and the morning in the right plane window.
Red clouds, sometimes dense, sometimes filigree, hovered over an almost closed cloud cover over the sea. Seeing the sun was reserved for the captain of the flight.
After a Covid test, we had to go into quarantine. Outside it was still bright as in our home on a winter afternoon at 4 pm. Everything was deserted, so I took a photo session at the harbor without violating the purpose of the quarantine. I was greeted by a strong eruption of the Krýsuvík-volcano system in the Fagradalsfjall mountains, for which I was only partially equipped in camera technology.
In the morning I was able to see the volcanic region again from the pool of the hotel. A half-full wine glass was on the edge. In the night three young mermaid have had loudly their fun in this pool.
Ansel Adams was a pianist. There’s even an edition of recordings of him from the 30s. For a long time he struggled whether he should become a pianist or a photographer.
Reading his book “The Negative” not only gives me insight into the technical processes that the “analogue” photographers had to struggle with. His often short sentences or comments on the image evaluation are an inspiring source, which always evoke in me the image of a qualified musician from Ansel Adams. He didn’t loose the spirit of music when photographing or processing.
His comments on infrared photography inspired me to rework a color image of the northern part of the island of Sylt and to study the effect of different color filters on contrasts and tonality.
The contrasts in the color image are weaker, the color also distracts a little from the mood of an impending thunderstorm. A bit of luminosity or radiance comes out better in the clouds in the black and white image.
For the first composition today I started with cornflowers on a lightbox. I always have liked cornflowers with their typical cornflower blue. With this composition I wanted to show different stages of cornflower development in one image.
I developed a combination of colours that the garden offered me with the craspedia globosa to create this picture, in which red, blue, yellow and green play a leading role.
At the end of the day, harmony was restored. The clouds moved quietly and in almost parallel formations over the church. Today, we’ll leave Sylt.
In the evening in Keitum we went after dinner in a pub a little walk. The light of the sunset was special and it changed continuously with the cloud train. After all, there was quite a bit of wind to be felt. Within less than 1 hour I took many pictures, leaning on fence posts to be less shaky.
Initially, there were phases with almost homogeneous cloud backgrounds.
The simple geometry of the lateral image of St. Severin calmed the increasingly wild sky.For a moment it looked like thunderstorms. A crack went through the clouds that reminded me of an old church song.
However, the threat of an approaching thunderstorm dissolved without a single drop of rain and the setting sun colored the clouds before we got back into the car for the drive home.
Expressive pictures on Sylt seem to be easier to achieve with clouds. The last days, first in black and white, now increasingly in color. The cloud structure of the sky reminds me again and again of Emil Nolde’s oil paintings.
First I edit the RAW images with Capture One. This allows me to determine the light and dark parts as well as the contrasts and colors. Then I erase the unavoidable stains, either from the sensor or from the optics. At the end a few filtering in Photoshop with Topaz or Nik Collection. All filters masked out and painted in at some homeopathic dosage.
The basic question of the creative photographer is, wether the representation of a photograph is literal or a departure from reality as projected in his „mind’s eye“. An expressive image is photographer’s goal. When the interaction of the different factors of exposure, aperture and camera characteristics is well understood, creative freedom knows no limits. Positively speaking: the sky is the limit.
The scenario of an almost threatening thunderstorm cloud, which, however, is still in a protective distance, is sometimes surprising on the beach. The tetrapods on my image will protect the island from flooding, but not us from rain.
A colored picture blurs this impression completely. Black and white rendering clearly shows the energy inherent in a thundercloud. We came across this cloud at Hörnum and it accompanied us all along the beach.
Just a short time before, I managed to capture the impression of a constantly beautiful weather with a cool wind and gentle waves. A strong sun pushes away all dark thoughts. On the horizon, the clouds are raining a bit.
Many times we are waiting. We like to draw strength from contemplation. Time is passing by imperceptibly, almost a little too fast.
With color photos expressive images can also be created. The true brightness values of a color image like to deceive our eyes. Quantitative estimation with the help of Lab color display is a great help in the accurate determination of brightness values. To make an image look like I had it in my „mind’s eye“.
This image was shot when looking back on our way to the sunny southern beach. The area is located in the north of Sylt and is called “Ellbogen”. Shortly before, we had protected ourselves from a heavy rain shower by waiting in the car.
The path to northern beach was illuminated like by a spotlight, the dune next to it dark, the thunderstorm clouds even more dark. The raw image didn’t reflect what I saw during that short moment. The raw image was flat and without extremes. By processing I tried to restore my original impression.
I like to let my thoughts be taken by cloud formations on a journey into the indefinite. In order to emphasize the weight of the clouds in the following photo, I tried to present the relatively close parts in a clearer and more contrasted way. The RAW image had a lot of width, but without a center of gravity. The colours are rather pale and not very saturated, thus emphasizing the nordic look.
On the westcoast of Kampen, the Red Cliff, which contains oxidized iron ore and has therefore assumed a red color, offers a strong contrast. The erosion leads to washes that may be reminiscent of skin wrinkles. The picture is interesting if rendered in color or monochrome.
After a short climb we reached the upper edge of the cliff.
An idea of Ansel Adams regarding the reality of a photo keeps me captive. His best photos, as he writes in hisbook “The Negative”, are often described by viewers as truly realistic. But they’re not. On the contrary. These would often have been the most intensively worked on by him.
He repeatedly insists in this book that the best images would have been those in which he left reality in the processing to show what he wanted to show or felt.
I am often impressed by the clouds passing by or the play of clouds in the sky. In a colored picture, I don’t quite succeed in directing the weight of the picture to the clouds in the sky. Despite the use of filters with and without gradients, the color image is beautifully colored and bright, but the desired focus is lost. With black and white pictures, it seems to be easier.