This autumn has given us a lot of good images. The idea was simple: wake up early in the morning, drive until the roads vanished then set off on foot and hope for the best. We chose days that had changing conditions – rain, sun, clouds so that we could get most out of the day. And it paid off well.
I have chosen “Mountain Peak in Autumn” as part of the top 5 of the month in October so you know it’s a favorite of mine. I really like the contrast between the warm colors of the trees and the cold tinlike colors of the mountain and sky.
This wasn’t an easy image to get. Me and my brother climbed for about 4 hours through a beautiful forest on a steep slope, stopping from time to time but being unable to see much. After finally getting out of the woods one of the first sights was this one, blowing me away. The sun was playing through the clouds so I waited for it to shine a bit on the trees and the cliff that was nearer, but not too much to have harsh shadows. The waiting game was the hardest part because I knew we had more to climb that day, but I knew it was worth it so we remained in that spot until the conditions were just right.
I used my 70-300 mm lens at 92mm and an aperture of f/8 because there was enough light around and I know this particular lens produces the best results at this aperture, with an exposure of 1/250 seconds @ISO 100.
I love that this image “grabs” a piece of that day – the colors, the changing conditions, the giant cliffs and the overall mood of the place. I’m always amazed by this place, the sheer size of it and could spend days just watching the light moving over the cliffs, always changing the landscape.
This image is one of the favorites of people who visit my website and browse through the categories, so I thought I’d write a bit about how it was made. The timing should be great too – what better time to write about a dark scary image than Halloween?
Although it was June, the weather had been particularly cold so the weather conditions were great for mysterious foggy forest shots. Me and my brother had been wandering all day through the forest. The weather changed a lot of times from sun to rain so this brought a lot of opportunities. We ran like mad searching for light rays to capture and hid everything away looking for shelter when rain came pouring down. This happened throughout the day so later in the day we were pretty tired.
After chasing sun rays through the forest we reached a part that we didn’t know really well and were amazed to find some giant old trees with big twisted roots. It was really one of those special moments, one in which we felt our steps were guided there. One of those old trees stood out and I knew we had to make something special with it.
I’ve mounted my tripod in a strange position so I was afraid the camera was going to fall over, but it was worth it. I used a wide angle lens at 19 mm, an aperture of f/8 and an exposure of 1/3 seconds because the woods were really dark at that time. I had used hands before in photos to create a creepy surreal atmosphere and to make it seem like some kind of monsters were coming out from the ground. This time I used the hands of my brother coming from the sides of the frame and to the center. The final shot is a composite of 4 photos to make up for the fact that I didn’t have so many “hands models”. I love the darkness, the surreal feel and the overall mood of this photo.
That place really felt surreal and special so I am glad people like the image. For those of you who want to license dark scary surreal images, you can find it exclusively here: https://www.stocksy.com/1334681
Night falls fast on the shore. There is no way back. I try to light my lantern but the chilling wind blows it out. I finally manage to keep it alight. This light should get me through the night. It’s warmth pierces through the black. I am an island of light in an ocean of darkness, easily spotted. I can’t escape the feeling that I am being watched, and my heart races. I can’t see very far but whatever might be lurking can see me. I have to calm down and find my way. The light paints strange and scary shapes. I have to keep going…
The last month was really hot where I live. There wasn’t much to do in the day as long as photography goes because the temperatures were (and still are) unbearable so I took this opportunity to do some night photography and also test a new piece of gear that I’ve got.
A moonless night followed so the timing was perfect. Me and my brother have some places that we have done night photography before but no two nights are the same. The thrill of night photography can’t be matched by any other type of photography, maybe because in the dark we feel so exposed. We looked for interesting trees and angles at daytime because once the light drops it’s really hard to move and find subjects for the images. Some of the photos resulting from this shoot will probably surface on this blog too at a latter time, but it was the photo above, “The Visitor” that first caught my attention.
There was orange light that came from a nearby town and that was polluting the night sky so there was no way it would get better no matter how long I waited, so I decided to use it to my advantage. The strange eerie orange glow still let some stars be visible so I placed the subject in the center of the frame so it would almost be framed by this light. I used the flash of light to make the silhouette visible and it seemed to me that this looked like an alien apparition scene. I used and aperture of f/4 with ISO 3200 at 20 mm at 30 seconds so the stars would appear as points for this one.
The blue light adds a bit of contrast and makes me think of Sci-Fi, as does the field and stars. I love the mystery that comes with this one, it’s a great addition to my night photos.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that I love surrealism. I like surreal films, TV shows, images, paintings, literature, music and quite anything that has a surreal theme. Surreal art has always caught my attention and a lot of inspiration for my images comes from it. I guess surrealism bleeds through some of my images that have a mysterious and strange atmosphere just like dreams sometimes bleed through reality. My best known images have a hint of the surreal in them and I think it’s one of the things that draws people to them, or should I say into them.
It’s a no-brainer that one of my favorite TV shows is Twin Peaks. It’s resurrection and the first episodes got me in the mood for surrealism so I came up with some images to reflect on that. They fall in the surreal and fine art category, much like my Dark Dreams series. I think they would make for great prints, or backdrops for imagination, passages for the mind into other realms. They are mainly strange experiments that have materialized into something more coherent.
Old tree with long branches in scary forest at night
A couple of days ago I was editing the photo above and I wanted to give it a magical look to make the viewer “feel” as much of what I have felt the moment I took this photo. I also remembered about the whole “purists” vs “editors” war with some going as far as saying that the goal of editing a photo is to make an image look as if it hasn’t been edited.
For me this is not true. I edit my photos to make them have a special atmosphere or to make them transmit something more accurate to what I felt or had in mind when I took the photo.
It’s not that the camera doesn’t render correctly what I see, but there are a lot of other stimuli (like the wind blowing, the sound of water, the sweet smell of the vegetation in the air, etc) that don’t get trough the camera. I use post editing to make an image more vivid or to make its atmosphere a certain way. I know that some might say that the image becomes something “unreal”, but an enhancement of certain features in an image makes it more real and closer to what I saw and felt that moment.
I remember that when I took this photo I wanted to have as much as possible in focus, on the whole length of the waterfall and river that makes the eye travel trough the whole frame, from the rocks in the foreground up to the sunspot above. A dog that stayed with us that whole day stayed still for a couple of seconds, just enough to appear in the frame so I felt that it’s a nice touch to give the photo a sense of greatness. I used a 5 seconds exposure time at ISO 100 to emphasize the flowing of the river and f/11 aperture to have everything in focus. When editing it I added a subtle glow and made the rocks a bit more cold in color temperature and the sunspot above a little bit warmer to replicate the contrast between the dark cold valley and the sun shining above. It made the whole scene closer to what I wanted it to be, to what I saw and felt that day. Hope you enjoy the image. I also made it available on my Stocksy United portfolio under the “Wild fairy tale landscape with waterfall in the woods” name.
For me editing means getting access to a digital darkroom. The process is really not that different to what the great masters of photography were doing back in the days.
This photo of wild horses on a green meadow is one of my favorite spring images. It stuck trough the years and when I think about spring photos that I have in my portfolio this image always comes to my mind.
It’s taken some years ago in 2010. It was taking at the end of a day with no extraordinary conditions for photography when we were about to call it quits. We were following a herd of horses and didn’t have much luck getting close. The clouds were covering the sky and rain was approaching but as we got to a hilltop a ray of light from the setting sun started shining over the meadow and was casting beautiful long shadows of horses and trees. The silhouettes of the horses give a sense of the grand scale of the landscape. The soft light gave that fantasy landscape aesthetic that I always search for, a fine art aesthetic. I used a tele lens at 90 mm and a 1/320 shutter speed with f4,5 because I was shooting handheld due to the fact that the conditions were rapidly changing and didn’t have time to set up a tripod.
The Dark Dreams series is something that’s been a work in progress for the last five years or so. The majority of photos from PhotoCosma have a dark and mysterious side but this is taken even further in the series. While browsing trough our portfolio in the early days, we noticed that there are some photos that work well with a darker edit and that don’t fit in any particular series, but could be used to create a story on their own. After some time we got our hands on a selective focus lens – a Lensbaby – and realized that this type of approach could bring a whole new dimension and really made sense given the fact that PhotoCosma is all about mood and atmosphere. It seems to me that it’s a great tool for creating surreal fine art photography and seeing the world in a different perspective. This type of lens makes the edges become out of focus so it seems the viewer is drawn into the frame. I think this is why these images are so powerful and alive, sometimes even inducing motion feelings. Everything becomes blurry, dreamy, soft and some have even told me that some photos give them a sense of nausea, anxiety and restlessness. Putting it all together we realized that this is how some dreams that are surreal make you feel so the title stuck trough the years.