Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Portfolio page is updated!

Lots of new content! Have a look if you want, you might enjoy it :)

Fredrik Arnell Photography

Monday, August 9, 2010

Portrait: Purple Dress

We scouted the entire La Côte (the coast of Lake Geneva between Geneva and Lausanne) to find a good spot for this session, and at Nyon we happened to stumble across this extremely narrow jetty with the Alps as backdrop. The high probability of falling into the water of either of us or the lighting that was placed precariously in the water to camera right was a thrilling spicing to this session. A rogue wave got me, but both Matilda and the lighting managed to keep as dry as was possible.

Model: Matilda Tehler
Location: Lake Geneva, Switzerland

Camera: Canon 5D Mark II
Lens: EF 85/1.2L II USM
Light: Canon 580EX II in umbrella as key light to camera right, Elinchrom Skyports

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Portrait: Alley

I am trying to catch up with all the post processing I have to do. This is a session from a couple of weeks back, when Matilda and I went out in metropolitan Couvet for a session. A quiet and mellow session in an alley. Only one light source was used apart from the ambient. The intention was more to get to know the 85L than anything.

Model: Matilda Tehler
Location: Couvet, Switzerland

Camera: Canon 5D Mark II
Lens: EF 85/1.2L II USM
Light: 580EX II in umbrella, radio popper

Ahh! My 5D Mark II broke!

The recent trip to Italy was not kind to my equipment. A lot of portrait sessions and urban landscapes in all kinds of weather. Most things survived - but not my 5D2! It ended up showing a cryptic Error 30 and stopped wanting to take pictures - in Rome of all places - the most photogenic city in Italy (after Venice of course)! Well, I have now broken out the trusty 1Ds Mark II while the 5D is on repair in Zürich which was scheduled to take "over two weeks"!

On a side note, I have now refound the love for the 1 series bodies - they are really amazing! But the 5D's have their advantages of course.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Crazy skies continue

I had a portrait photo shoot around Lake Geneva yesterday, and in between I had the opportunity to capture the sky that turned more and more crazy.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Skies in Jura

People say it rains much in the Jura. It might be true, but the rain often passes quickly, and when doing so the sky sometimes turns crazy - like last evening. A few snaps taken during a break in the portrait post processing marathon!

Jura skies. Obviously with polarizer ;)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The new 85L

Now two weeks after receiving my new lens, the somewhat exotic EF 85 mm f/1.2L II USM, I begin to be able to handle it. Sure, I have used the 50/1.4 and 85/1.8 for some time now, but this lens is really something special and unique! The praises for this lens never seem to stop in the forums, and I now understand why - creamy drop-dead gorgeous out-of-focus blur, not comparable with anything else that I have tried, and the amount of blur that can be created is really over all expectations!

However, a lens this special is not mastered easily - focusing with such thin depth of field is a real challenge. I have for the first time had the need to change focus screen to a high precision matte surface screen, an Eg-S. This really helps in judging focus as well as manual focus when need. As a matter of fact, the standard focus screens only show lenses wider than f/2.8 as if they were f/2.8, which makes it very difficult to focus properly as the DOF can be as thin as 8 mm (!), and that is thin.

Not only that, it also required microadjustment for the first time. It is quite amazing how easy the new microadjustments are, in comparison with sending the lens in for adjustment (and the bill associated with it!). A +8 adjustment made the lens focus perfectly.

Finally, a test shot to show how insanely short the depth of field is. And this is supposed to be the railing of my balcony - hardly discerable. Nothing fancy, only a snapshot.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Portrait: Session in new studio

First session in my new studio! The studio is in an attic in my building in Couvet - a very interesting place, not just because it is full of dead flies and other creepy-crawlies, but the height to the ceiling is better than I have ever had (hairlight here I come!) and the sheer volume inspires fullbody portraits which I have been limited from before. The most interesting feature is that it also makes an interesting scenario in itself, given its wooden cell-like appearance. I need to clean out the dust though...

Matilda and I made an introductory test session in the place and many ideas came out pretty neatly, given that we had to stop to vacuum or dust off something every other shot! Here is a selection from the session of a darker theme.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Lac Léman

Switzerland is very different from other areas of central Europe. Although the ocean is more than 450 km away you are never far away from a beach with azur blue water! Such as the croissant formed Lac Léman (or Lake Geneva), which is certainly special, as its lofty dimensions make it feel like you are gazing out over an endless ocean horizon. This is especially true when standing in either extremity of the croissant, Geneva in the west or Vevey in the east (however, maybe not so much in Lausanne in the middle).

The photo is taken from a wine yard in Chexbres overlooking the French Pre-alps. The conditions were very interesting at the top of the cliff. Although it might not be evident, the windchill factor is very present close to the lake, and by the time I took this photo my hands resembled extremities that did not belong to my body - it was that cold. Nonetheless, I enjoyed every second.

Lake Geneva seen from Chexbres, Switzerland

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Starry Sky over Jura

A choice when photographing starry skies is whether to render stars as dots or as lines. The former requires short exposure times and the latter longer. However, to reach something resembling a dot an exposure time of less than 30 seconds is needed (exact time depends on where in the sky the lens is pointed). To achieve this in a pitch black sky (appx. EV 0 or less) the sensitivity need to be high, i.e. very high ISO. This photo is exposed during 64 seconds at ISO 3200. Already at this shutter speed the stars are suspiciously "long".

The photo is taken south, and Orion is clearly visible in the right side, with the Jura rendered black. What nicely looks like a sunset is however nothing more than light pollution from the densly populated "Schweizer Mittelland", the flat(ter) space between Jura and the Alps. There is nothing revolutionary with this photo, other than the fact that it is taken from my balcony!

 Starry sky over Jura, Switzerland

Friday, March 19, 2010

Massif de Jura

We are now settled in the canton of Neuchâtel, Switzerland. Our apartment is located in Couvet - a smallish town among the hills of Jura. With an unobstructed view of the mountains from the balcon, it is very inspiring photographically. Having spent most off time in the Alps, I have had little opportunity explore the beauty of my immediate surrounding. However, a week or so ago my free time coincided with the light I had been waiting for. It was just to throw tripod, my trusted 5D2, and my landscape lenses in the car and drive up the mountain to find a good spot.

The photo is of houses in the Val-de-travers valley of Neuchâtel being sidelit and almost "torched" by the setting sun. I find it interesting how the polarizer often manages to tint non-sunlit areas more blue than usual, a property I was not aware of with these little babies (as they are usually called for to deepen skies and reduce reflections). I for sure need to investigate this more. In this case, however, this gives a nice partition of the photo into fields colored by light temperatures, an extreme orange from setting-sun light in focus, extreme blue from the polarizer in the background, and a more "normal" temperature in the foreground.

"Sun torched" houses in Val-de-travers, Switzerland

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Denmark on the way to Switzerland

The move to Switzerland is still eating up most of my photographic time. There has been very little creative work going on, instead more of the administrative arrangement of papers to a plethora of government agencies. I am hoping that I soon will be able to get creative with the endless photographic possibilities this country and region has to offer.

However, during the way down from Sweden to Switzerland we passed by Denmark briefly (200 km or so of this flat country). This particular evening presented a remarkable sunset through layered clouds and I composed many would-have-been nice photos through the window of the car as the freeway did not allow us to stop at any of the good spots. Just as the last light was on its way to disappear, the turn-off to the small island Farö revealed itself and with it a good vantage point to view the sunset through the pillars of the freeway bridge.

Bridge leading off Farö Island in Denmark.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Portrait: Wishful Thinking

The first part of the session with Matilda last Saturday was centered around wishes and remoteness. The setup was a black wall background while sitting with arms resting on a table. All the best photos from this session ended up being close-ups.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Portrait: Mysterious Girl

Matilda Tehler and I decided to have a short studio session in between packing for Switzerland and a spot of bowling in Stockholm. The session had two parts, and the latter part was in stark contrast to the white-out portraits earlier this week. These were the very opposite, low-key portraits, and almost back-lit. Is it just me, or do these have a sort of 20's feel?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Landscape: Winter Trees

Yesterday's unexpectedly clear skies gave me the opportunity to work with polarizing to try to capture the very beautiful snow covered trees that dot Stockholm at the moment. These pictures were shot in Edsbergsparken in Sollentuna, just north of Stockholm.

Landscape at the shores of the frozen lake Edsviken in Sollentuna

The contrast from the blackish branches against the white snow and blue sky is something I find very entriguing.

The polarizing shift with a wide-angle lens can be seen clearly in this picture, dark sky in the middle and lighter at the edges.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Technique: Ratios between natural and artificial light

Transition periods of natural light when the light is constantly changing is probably one of the best situations when interesting outdoor photos can be created. A transition period is typically when the light is fading more and more in the case of post-sunset light or getting more and more intense as in pre-sunrise. Taking outdoor pictures in such conditions, however, presents some challenges to be overcome to get the most out of the good light. One specific such consideration is ratios between natural light and artificial light, i.e. the ratio of light intensity between e.g. a street light and the sky. This ratio is crucial to convey the message you want. A very intense natural light in relation to any artificial light sources makes the artifical light more or less disappear. An extreme example of this is photographing in mid-day, when the sky is at its brightest, when the light from a light bulb will be almost invisible (a ratio of 1:0). The other extreme is at night, when the sky will be near completely black and any artifical light will be the only light (a ratio of 0:1). Between these two we have our transition period, and the ratio will gradually change under such transition, something we need to watch when creating a photo.

The two photos below show this in action. The sunset was at 15:08 the day of the shooting. The upper photo was taken at 15:37, when the ratio was approximately 3:1 (the natural light was three times as intense as the artifical light from the streets lights and windows). Only 30 minutes later from the same location, the lower picture has quite a different ratio, closer to 1:1 (the intensity from the natural light from the sky was approximately the same as the street lights and windows). One thing is clear, the photos are quite different in both appearance and in the feelings they provoke. Which one is the better? Well, that would depend on what you want to say. Wanting to convey the message of a glitzy Grand Hotel in Stockholm I personally prefer the lower, with 1:1 ratio, for its deeper colors and fuller reflections in the water (due to the equal light ratios).

Grand Hotel in Stockholm at 15:37, about 30 minutes after sunset. Approximately 3:1 ratio.

Grand Hotel in Stockholm at 16:05, about 1 hour after sunset. Approximately 1:1 ratio.

Of course, much of the 1:1 ratio qualities can be achieved in post-processing of the upper photo, but for example the intense water reflections will be a challenge to recreate to look natural, not to mention all the time needed in front of the computer instead of being out shooting.

This short tech article only touched photographing landscapes with a combination of natural and artificial light, but the ratio thinking applies to any types of lights (even artifical vs artifical, as in the studio or flash vs natural light). So, next time you are out photographing in a transition period of natural light, with artificial lights in the scene, think about the light ratios, and I bet you will be surprised how much closer the photos are to your vision.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Portrait: White-out

With heavy overcast and skiing on my mind, the only photographically related today has been a refinement some older white-out style portraits - a style of portraits I have come to like over the last few months. Both portraits are of my beautiful sister, Annika Arnell, the first one from her previous north-facing-window-perfect-for-natural-light-portraits apartment, and the second from her new not-so-perfect-in-regards-to-light apartment on Söder, in southern Stockholm.

Kungsholmen, Stockholm

Söder, Stockholm

Stockholm Landscape: Stockholm from the Air

Today we took to the skies to get another perspective of Stockholm, up the Concrete Spire of Stockholm, also known as the Kaknäs Tower on the eastern shores. The winds at 141 m above ground turned out to be the largest obstacle to overcome when photographing from the tower; at 200 mm the slightest shakes will involuntary smear the the pictures nicely Gaussian for you. The ratio of reasonably sharp pictures from this outing were thus quite low. However, I managed to get the best pictures of the Kaknäs Tower I have ever created, where it was perfectly illuminated by the setting sun, standing out all orange from the cold blue of the ground and the sky.

Kaknäs Tower, Stockholm

Kaknäs Tower Close-up, Stockholm

Westerly view of Stockholm from the tower.
In the foreground Djurgårdsbrunn Road leading into Östermalm. In the background the Old Town with the City Hall.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Stockholm Landscape: Blue skies

The cold persists and after a week of very good photographic weather, Stockholm showed us clear blue skies in the winter. Yesterday's (urban) landscape session in central Stockholm gave me the opportunity to experiment with skies and optimal light. Yesterday's sunset was at 15:07, and to the east (away from the sunset) the good light (in my opinion) was only between 16:00 and 16:10, a small window of 10 minutes. The first picture below was taken in that window. To the west (setting-sun side) the good light begun at 16:15, but didn't fully mature until 16:25, from which it stayed good until about 16:50, when the west sky started to become too dark. The two lower pictures were taken with west skies as background. It's really amazing how long time the post-sunset light lingers in the sky this far north in winter.

View from the castle of Grand Hotel and The National Museum, Stockholm

Storkyrkan, Stockholm

The Royal Castle in Stockholm seen from the plateau to the west.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Stockholm Landscape: Coldest day yet

Yes, it was -15°C in Stockholm today. And with cold weather comes great opportunities; add to that a clear day and I got a backdrop that I have been longing for quite some time. Matilda and I went out, dressed to the teeth wearing all the cloths we could find, totaling not less than four layers! I repeated much of the subjects from yesterday, especially the Royal Castle - and the results are quite different from the moody skies of yesterday.

The bitter cold also tested the equipment. It is evident that you get what you pay for - my $7 Ebay remote shutter didn't love the cold and gave up somewhere in the middle. The camera and tripod did hold up (apart from frozen water in the build-in compass of the tripod!). A first for me was how extremely slow the LCD displays got, I have had cameras in the extreme cold before but I have never noticed this, where it looked like the f-stops on the LCD hesitated to change. Well, the liquid crystals of the Liquid Crystal Display were not very liquid anymore I guess :)

Smoke over Södermälarstrand. How can there be factories right in the heart of the city?

Högalid Church. All the birds of Söder decided to go for a flight at the same time.

Royal Castle of Sweden

Royal Castle of Sweden.
Quite a different picture compared to the one from yesterday. Note the ducks making a racket in the foreground, which I think adds to the picture. It is also interesting to see the work of different light temperatures (and some colored lights) reflected in the water.

Burnt cars again!

It is strange - approximately one and a half years ago two fairly new cars (Mercedes and Audi) were put on fire in the parking lot close to our house. A freak accident/attack to some people's car you would presume - BUT, yesterday, the exact same thing was repeated, two cars were put on fire during the night - at the exact same spot! (same Mercedes model as well). Where are we living? Detroit? This must be the real ghetto! Luckily, our car is not a fancy Mercedes :)

I snapped a few quick photos of the unfortunate car left using natural light only. On a technical note, the different light temperatures (bluer from the late afternoon sky, I would guess 9000 K and pink from street lights, about 3200 K) made the pictures worth-while in my opinion. Light challenged as it was, they all ended up at ISO 3200 at f/1.4.

It has an eerily ressemblance of the photos a year and a half ago, of which one is actually hanging on my wall.

Stockholm Landscape: Winter in Stockholm

Matilda and I headed out to Skeppsholmen, a small island in central Stockholm for a magnificent view of the Old Town of Stockholm. The light in Stockholm today was so so, but after some post processing there were a few pictures that actually showed to have at least some potential. I ended up using one of them as new header for the blog.

Old Town of Stockholm in after sunset light.

Old Town in Stockholm were I hope to convey how cold it really was!

The Royal Castle seen from Kungsträdgården.