Stocksy Top 5 of the Month – May 2018

I was away for some time and realized that the month is almost over and I haven’t posted the last month’s Stocksy top 5. Even though it’s really late this month, I had to do it as it has some great images. Either one of this images would also look great as a print:

Breathtaking view

man_enjoying_breathtaking_mountain_view
Breathtaking view

Dreamy night

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Dreamy night

Dark silent mountain landscape

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Dark silent mountain landscape

Night search

night_lantern
Night search

Predator and prey

predator_and_prey_spider
Predator and prey

Stocksy Top 5 of the Month – April 2018

I’m back with another Stocksy United Top 5 of the Month – the April edition. This time it’s about mysterious dark lakes in the forest, spring pastures with trees in bloom, gorgeous autumn mountain sunsets, creepy crawlers and night photos of river under the stars. I’ve also had some photos added to the curated feed lately, more that in the past. It’s great that Stocksy is finally expanding its vision into promoting dark, ethereal, mysterious images. Here is my Top 5 for April 2018:

Mysterious dark autumn forest lake

dark_mysterious_lake_in_haunted_forest
Mysterious dark autumn forest lake

Spring fairy tale

spring_fantasy__fairytale_tree_in_bloom
Spring fairy tale

Late autumn sunset with cabin

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Late autumn sunset with cabin

Creepy crawler

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Creepy crawler

River and mountain under the stars

night_landscape_river_under_stars
River and mountain under the stars

PhotoCosma is back on 1x.com

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Out of This World – from 1x.com

I’ve been an active member of One Exposure (1x.com) from 2008 and until sometime in 2012. In that time I’ve learned a lot, got frustrated a lot, saw a lot of great images, met some great people, grew up as a photographer, established my own style and when I became skilled and confident enough to know which photos of mine are good and which ones aren’t I noticed that the curation process doesn’t always work so good.

1x.com is a curated photography gallery so the level is usually higher than on any other online galleries that I saw. Only a small percentage of the photos (some say 3%, others say 5%) get accepted to be part of the gallery. That’s both good and bad. The gallery looks great and a lot of the photos they accept are extraordinary, but curation takes a great deal of subjectivism and the curators will favor and accept a certain style and category of photos. There are a lot of photos that should be accepted and aren’t, just like there are some photos that maybe shouldn’t be accepted – so the curation process is not perfect and it get’s frustrating and unfair a lot of the times.

That being said, it’s still one of the best photography galleries on the internet and the majority of time I’m glad of being a part of it. I have 17 photos that are accepted and curated on 1x.com and a total of 25 photos in my portfolio. I’m expecting these numbers to increase. I have also made my photos on 1x available as high quality fine art prints.

I’m confident that this will again be a great experience and that my images will find their place once again in one of the most interesting online galleries. I’ll let you know how this goes 😉

Winter Dusk

Man walking in winter at dusk
Winter Dusk

This winter wasn’t particularly rich in snow or very cold for that matter. There were a few photo opportunities but with snow only lasting a couple of days at a time, we had to plan everything really well. It was also the case with our last trip, one close to home but higher in altitude. The day before it was raining heavily and we kept watching the forecast as well as the weather outside. At night the rain turned to a heavy snow storm. By morning everything was covered with a thick layer of snow. The roads were bad but we managed to get up in the forest mountain not far from home, now covered in snow and fog.

The higher we went, the thicker the fog became. We kept going through the fog and it started snowing again. The blizzard had knocked down a lot of giant old trees and there was a strange sense of danger lurking through the snow covered forest. Later into the day we reached a clearing near the top of the mountain just as light began to fall and everything was turning blue. The gentle hum of the wind in the trees was the only sound we could hear and the atmosphere was really heavy. No human in sight other than us, no man-made sound, everything seemed so far away and muted. It was almost like we were hearing some sort of white noise. Lonely trees with strange shapes grew out of the snow like antennas to the sky getting lost in the fog. Everything was overwhelming. Got as many images as we could before the light started to fall. When out photographing it is easy to get lost in time, but as the night drew closer we had to get back on lower grounds and back into this world.

For the next couple of days after something surreal and intense like this, everything seems to be at a lower volume and running at a slower speed for me. Maybe this is the consequence of visiting another world. I hope the gate opens again soon.

Mountain Peak in Autumn

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Mountain Peak in Autumn

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.

The Visitor

alien at night under starry sky
Alien silhouette at night under sky with stars

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.

Thoughts on photo editing – the “fantasy” look in images

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Waterfall in wild fantasy valley with magical light

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.

Dark Dreams Series

dark dreams old cabin in dark forest
Old cabin in dark forest

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.

You can see selected works from this ever evolving series here: http://www.photocosma.net/portfolio/G00008kNAkAGjN00