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John Einar Sandvand

A late night stop in Ølen

Ølen-2
PICSPIRATION SUNDAY: I was on my way to my summer house. It was late. I was tired. But I just had to stop the car when I passed the small town Ølen in western Norway.

Many people put away their camera when it gets dark. But often there is no reason to do so, at least if you have a solid tripod as assistant.

I have been at my summer house in western Norway this week. It is a nine hour long drive from my home and it is easy to get tired at the end of the trip.

At 10 PM I was finally approaching the end of the trip. I reckoned it was only one hour left when I passed the small town Ølen.

I didn´t plan to stop. But I just had to.  Two oil platforms lit up the harbor and was a beautiful contrast to the dark sky.

So I stopped, found the local pier, took out my tripod and started photographing.

HDR photo of four exposures

The main photo in this article is an HDR photo composed of four exposures. It was taken with ISO 100 and aperture f/22.  Exposure times was 40 seconds, 80 seconds, 160 seconds and 320 seconds.

In fact I had two more exposures – 10 seconds and 20 seconds – but decided I did not need these. They were just too dark.

I don´t bother to think too much about what is the correct exposure time when I do this type of photography. It is much easier to just start shooting.

Typically I will set the desired ISO and aperture, and then try one shoot at 5 seconds. I will then check the histogram quickly. I want the first one to be on the dark side – and with no bright details blown out.

When I have a first shot that is nice and dark I will just double the exposure time for the next shot, and then keep doubling until there are no completely black parts in the photo.

Oil platforms in the dark

At Ølen there are often oil platforms under repair – and they can be a beautiful view.

Here is an HDR photo of the two platforms.

Ølen

The ISO is also for this photo 100 – and the aperture f/22.

Why so small aperture? Because it will often make very bright lights look as stars. It is maybe not so apparent in this photo, but in other cases it can create a very visible effect.

This photo is put together by six different exposures: 5 seconds, 10 seconds, 20 seconds, 40 seconds, 80 seconds and 160 seconds.

And yes, it does take some time for only one image! In this case it was good to have a warm car and an iPad next to my tripod 🙂 Not always I have that luxury!

Yes, night photography takes time

It was a 30 minutes photography stop – and it gave me only two photos.

Was it worth it?

Of course! I like these two photos. And I enjoyed arriving at my summer house very late at night, putting fire in the stove, pouring myself a glass of red wine and start editing these two photos.

At that time I forgot I was tired 🙂

About the author: Communications officer, journalist, author, digital strategist, photographer, traveller…and more.

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