It’s time for the Stocksy United Top 5 of the month – this time for November. I’ve had a hard time choosing them but I did it in the end with a bit of delay. There is a bit of everything here: adventure under dramatic skies, rare natural phenomenons, extreme cold, beautiful natural conditions coming together perfectly to highlight the beauty of autumn and magical nights under starry skies. Got your attention? Then here are My Stocksy top 5 for the last month:
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 month of August was really prolific in terms of accepted images on Stocksy – 28 of them got added to the Stocksy collection and it was really hard to choose only five of them. I did it in the end, and I hope you like them as much as I do. These are my Stocksy top 5 picks for the month of August:
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.
I’ve written about photographing star trails and other types of landscapes at night before on this blog, but there is another type of night photography that I like and find really interesting – photographing deep in the woods at night, in total darkness. It’s a unique experience and I have to admit that I really feel the grandeur of nature when doing this.
This works best when the air is a bit hazy but there isn’t any thick fog. Going deeper into the woods on forest roads and then leaving it always feels a bit like the premise of a horror movie. It’s a totally different experience than in the daylight because a lot of the forest creatures are nocturnal. There are strange noises and little glowy eyes following you everywhere so imagination runs wild. Knowing that the “safety” of civilization is so far away and gets ever further makes for and interesting mix of emotions.
It was on one of these night hikes trough the forests of Transylvania that I made the photo “Apparition in Forest at Night”. As always, I was with my brother. We saw that the light from the flashlight is casting interesting shadows and tried to see how a lit silhouette would perform under such conditions. Like on all night photos I used a tripod and a wide angle lens. The problem here was that the light behind the silhouette was coming from a flashlight and was pretty low so the silhouette became blurry because of the tiny movements. I tried to keep the exposure as low as possible but still needed 50 seconds at f5,6 and ISO 400. Multiple tries later, the result was something surreal and dark that makes the mind wander. It could be a magical portal to another world, the materialization of a dark time, a ghost apparition or even an alien. It could also be a vision for the concept of spiritual enlightenment, time and space.
The image is available on NatureStockPhotos.net
Winter has a mysterious side matched by no other season. The fact that there are only a few hours of light might be a drawback, but for me this thing sets the right mood for the mind to imagine fantasy worlds that begin where the dark snowy woods begin, and where the roads become impassable for the vehicles.
I was out with my brother photographing the beauty of winter woods all day carefully timing everything so I wouldn’t get caught by the night as the plan was to get back to the car while the light was still enough, but just when I wanted to turn back it started snowing so I knew that I had to miss my schedule and stay a little longer. The snowflakes were falling heavily over the landscape so I took this chance and took as many photos as I could. In winter light falls fast so every minute the conditions were changing. It came to a point where I realized that it’s completely dark, so me and my brother started using our flashlights. The image of a man walking through the fog at night in the woods with snow flakes falling everywhere looked very theatrical, it was like we were seeing a movie so we had to capture this.
Using a wide angle lens and a tripod I opened aperture to f5,6 so I could have a shutter speed of 20 seconds and still have everything in focus. I used the flash multiple times to make the large snowflakes visible in the frame because otherwise they would not have been visible.
Like all the photos that remain in the mind of the viewer, this one has a special atmosphere. The man is wandering in the unknown. Anyone can make his own story out of it. Maybe the character is lost, or he is out seeking something in a haunted forest or it could even be that the silhouette belongs to a ghost or an alien. Imagination has no limit. I’m glad that a lot of people saw something in it too and made their own story.
I really like taking photos in the night because it’s such a surreal and out of this world experience. I have posted before about the thrills of night photography here.
The photo above is made using a really long shutter speed – 60 minutes, so that the stars become star trails. This is due to the movement of the earth and the fact that the Northern Star (Polaris) is realtively still, so the whole night landscape is eerie, strange and beautiful. I’ve added a light source and a silhouette that could be the one of an alien so everything has the grandeur of the cosmos.
I love the peace and quiet of the night. While I’m out photographing at night it’s almost like a form of meditation. This has to do with the fact that night photography often requires really long exposure times, but I think it also has something to do with the fact that one can see our place between the stars and realize that we are part of a much bigger picture. This feeling is the most intense at night while gazing at the stars.
The photo above was taken on such a night of wandering on meadows and watching the stars and it has received a lot of attention trough the years, turning eyes and also selling a few prints. I think the reason for this is that it has a great subject – a strange looking tree in the foreground that almost seems to literally reach for the stars given it’s shape, but also because it captures another moment: the red moon rising. A lot of people asked if it is the sun or the moon that is visible. It’s actually the moon rising at midnight. If it were the sun, the whole scene would be too bright and the stars above would not be visible. I usually like horizontal prints, but this photo looks great as a print because the whole scene unfolds vertically: the darker area with the bright stars at the top of the photo, the middle blue part that is lighter and has fewer stars, and the bottom red part that has just a few visible stars. The exposure time was pretty short for a night photo – 46 seconds, so the stars won’t appear as light trails – I think I’ll make a post about star trails in the future as it is really interesting waiting for hours to see the final result. The night holds many mysteries. And even though night photography is difficult and takes time and patience – it is really worth it. I especially like the fact that I bring to light scenes that would otherwise remain hidden in the dark and would never be seen.
You can license this image here: https://www.stocksy.com/750368
Print available here: http://crated.com/art/266374/tree-under-starry-sky-by-photocosma?product=PO&size=14%7C10