Christoph Balzer


After Sunset

Evening mood in Lausanne.

Calm sea

Even though I visit this place at least once a year, I have not yet succeeded in taking a 'typical' sundown photo here. Some clouds will always show up in the end. After another frustrating cloud-barrier, I decided to put on my new 1000x ND filter and play around with it a bit. Eventually, the sun even sneaked out of its cover for a short moment.

Somewhere in France

Silence

Even though this one week in Tromsö was all about northern lights, I've also seen a bit of the surrounding area during daytime of course.

Glacial Lagoon

One of my favorite pictures from the glacial lagoon. This block of ice once was part of a huge iceberg from a glacier that was eventually washed ashore by the tide. On this photo, a wave washes around the ice (and my feet...), captured with the help of a ND6 filter.

Power To The People

The weather was quite wet and misty again when we were driving on Iceland's Ring Road. After another rain shower, we stopped for a super intense rainbow, but the look of the landscape - the colors looked a bit like from a painting - caught my attention.

Darkness

On our first evening in the Highlands, I captured the very last photons before it got pitch-black. I actually misjudged how fast it would get dark, but I didn't like the first compositions, so it took me a bit longer to finish... Thanks to a very long exposure, the slow movement of the clouds resulted in a bit of a cotton wool-like look. I think the image nicely represents how quiet and peaceful the highlands are at this time.

Black Sand

The stormy, rainy weather didn't give us much of a break. In between two rain showers at the black beach near Vík, I tried different perspectives and also experimented with long term exposures. In the end, I think this picture shows best the stormy and rough weather that is so typical for Iceland and which accompanied us almost the whole week.

Wrecked

Shot on a stormy evening.

Seljalandsfoss

My first idea was to capture Seljalandsfoss’ impressive power from below, so I positioned my tripod on the grassland you see on the left. Unfortunately, it was a bit windy and my lens got wet immediately. I tried to dry the lens, wait for the wind to pause for a few seconds and then rush through with my photos, but there was still too much spray in the air. When both my camera (good thing the 5D III is weather sealed… I tried to keep it as dry as possible though) and I were soaked, I eventually chose a better standpoint. (Special thanks to Thomas J. for lending me his ND filter - my filter got unusably dirty for the moment during my first experiments. ;))

Aurora Borealis

I was unbelievably lucky when I went to Tromsö last year - the aurora activity was amazing, we were out shooting until late in the night. By the way, it usually looks best when "viewed on black", at least on my monitor... I really need an Eizo instead of the glossy iMac screen. ;)

Glacial Lagoon II

A second, more peaceful picture taken at the glacial lagoon Jökulsárlón. I shot quite a few photos of this block of ice, but every time the results were unbalanced. Luckily, after about ten minutes, a wave brought in another, small piece of ice which allowed for a composition which I found more appropriate. Once again, captured with a ND6 filter + ND0.6 grad.

Norwegian Sea

I shot countless different compositions at this place, with and without ND-filter, but this is the only one I really liked in the end. HDR created from five exposures with Photomatix Pro. In order to achieve a more natural look than what you often get directly out of HDR software, I saved the 32 bit-HDR from Photomatix (i.e. before any tone mapping), then opened the .hdr-file in Photoshop CS6 for some adjustments. Lightroom 4 sometimes seems to not be able to cope with an exposure that’s too far off, even though all the information is available in the file – e.g. the exposure controller ends at +10, which is not always sufficient for Photomatix’ output. Luckily, PS offers a larger scale. Next step was saving the image as a 32 bit-TIFF to be able to afterwards further process it in LR4. The shots were taken with a Lee Big Stopper (ND10). Unfortunately, I don't know the exact location anymore, forgot to activate my GPS.

Wrecked (Ice Edition)

Part of an old shipwreck, somewhere next to Tromsö. (Again, I do not have the exact coordinates, sorry - should have recharged the batteries...) To keep some structure in the ice floes, I again used Photomatix to create a 32 bit-HDR and processed it with PS6 and LR4, as described in my last upload, Norwegian Sea. Also, the same Lee Big Stopper (ND10) was used.

The Highlands

Iceland’s weather really is weird. Just shortly before this picture, it was raining and you couldn’t see much at all except fog. Then suddenly, the sun was shining for just a few hours until the weather changed again. The Highland’s landscape is very diverse. Drive a few kilometers, and you’re in a new world. From a completely unreal surrounding made of black volcanic stone and green moss to an area that almost looks ‘normal’, until you notice the shape of both hill and ground and realize that this incredible green is not the usual grassland but - again - moss.

Skógarfoss

Probably the most famous waterfall from Iceland? I saw a lot of beautiful photos from this place on 500px.com and other photo communities. Still, being there, I had to take my own shots, of course. Luckily, there was a short timeframe with almost no other tourists running around. As always, I tried a lot of compositions and shot mainly long-term exposures, which has a certain beauty to it, but I also took some shorter exposures with no ND-filter. In the end, I prefer those results because I think it shows much better the waterfall’s power. I processed seven exposures in SNS HDR, a really nice and interesting program that I can only recommend to try out! (Unfortunately, it only runs on Windows, but that’s when Parallels or VMWare come in useful...)

Mysterious Highlands

It was raining quite a lot during my Iceland trip, I think I mentioned this more than once. On the one hand, that meant you didn’t have much time to take your shots until the front lens got full of raindrops again and there weren’t too many chances to photograph a spectacular sky. On the other hand, especially in the Highlands, you often had a mysterious and sometimes dramatic atmosphere. We were waiting at this place for the rain to stop for quite a while. When the weather gave us a short break, we had to be quick - but at least we were rewarded with the most intense green I’ve ever seen, at least in nature. I always thought that this super-green moss many people photograph on Iceland would be solely the result of pushing saturation to its limits, but as I found out, there really is a special sort that looks just like that when there is enough water. (Notice the difference between the moss directly next to the stream and farther apart.) A Hitech ND8 filter was used for this shot.

Wrecked II

This photo was shot shortly after Wrecked. It was interesting how fast the weather changed on that evening – all of a sudden, there was a pretty strong storm approaching, more or less rendering the tripod useless. (Next time, I’ll hopefully adapt more quickly to changing circumstances after the effort I had to put into editing this image. ;)) This photo will (most probably) be the last one uploaded to my Iceland-Set, at least until I have another chance to travel there. Until then, stay tuned for loads of Aurora-photos from Tromsö and more.