From Dawn to Dusk

Fresh snow. Colorful sky from Dawn to dusk. Christmas Day. What else can you do then enjoying the cold outside while capturing the beauty of nature?

I spent this Christmas visiting my family living in a small town outside of Trondheim. Since I live 7 hours driving away and my parents live 10 hours by plane away, it was great to spend some quality time with family. Good food and company was what I went there for. I had not expected to also be treated with perfect conditions for photographing! The one day that really stood out was Christmas Day

Surprise Sunrise

After a very enjoyable Christmas Eve I think most of my family was tired and felt like sleeping in. Normally I'm not able to sleep late into the afternoons, anymore. I guess forcing myself to workout before school or work, and waking up to sunrises in the weekends, has impacted my circadian rhythm. This morning a glitch appeared. I did't wake up before closer to 11am, which for me is no longer normal. I stumbled out of bed and walked into the living room where I found my grandmother knitting like she always does. Before I managed to say good morning, she told me to look outside at the beautiful colors in the sky. (Thank you grandma!). I walked over to the window and looked out, it took me some seconds to comprehend the beauty that was ongoing. I literally ran back into my bedroom, dressed up in the warmest clothes I brought, grabbed my camera equipment and ran out the door, ignoring the fact that I was both hungry and thirsty. I couldn't miss this sunrise! 

Some of you may be a bit confused by now. "You said you woke up at 11pm, but now you are going out for sunrise?" Correct. During this time of the year, the sunrise in Klæbu is between 11 and 11.30 whilst sunset is between 14 and 14.30 (2pm). Yes, it is at times annoying to have days as short as this, but at the bright side the light is incredible when the weather is good. The sunrise lasts until sunset. Basically, theres always a touch of color in the sky, since the sun doesn't go that high. 

When I got out of the door, I realised that during the night it had snowed even more. Excited I ran into the woods, fighting my way through the powder snow. Being used to sunrises lasting only for a short while, I desperately scouted the area for a good scene that really conveyed this winter sunrise. Then I found it. The perfect spot, it had to be, right? Nearly vanished tracks of animals crossing during the night, a natural frame made by the glowing trees and the great red sky in between. I loved it!

At this point I was sweating, shaking and feeling nauseous. The weather wasn't nearly as cold as I expected it to be, not yet at least, so all the layers of clothes may have been a little too much for me when running around on a empty stomach. Was this relevant for the story? Probably not. I just felt like adding a small factor of drama, as there were no unicorns or bears in the area for me to write about. After all, I stick to the truth! At this time my camera was up and I found a pleasing composition. Here is the first result:

Intense winter sunrise in Klæbu, Norway. Settings: ISO100, f/10, 3 bracketed images from 1/15 to 1/3 sec

Intense winter sunrise in Klæbu, Norway. Settings: ISO100, f/10, 3 bracketed images from 1/15 to 1/3 sec

When sitting here enjoying the scene and taking the images, I realised that the sunset just kept going. It was now close to a hour since I woke up, and the sunrise was even stronger now! Pleased that I got a shot, I decided to explore some more around these woods in hope of finding another spot too. Surely I did find another spot. This must be my lucky day! After only 5 minutes of walking, maximum, I found another scene, quite similar to the previous. 

Snow covered landscape glowing from the sunrise. Settings: ISO100, f/10, 1/8 sec

Snow covered landscape glowing from the sunrise. Settings: ISO100, f/10, 1/8 sec

I had now been wandering around for well over an hour, and got two shots I was pleased with, so I decided to walk back to the house. On the way back I found a couple more places where I took some pictures, but spoiled after the two previous scenes these shots never made the cut. Back in the house, I finally got some food and water to get a hold of my "empty stomach mood"!

Mid-day and sunset

As I mentioned initially, there is constant colors in the sky on days like this. I felt the urge to get out and explore some more of these areas, as I have never photographed much there before. My father and I decided to go out looking for some beautiful places after breakfast, while it still was a couple hours left until dark. I had envisioned a couple spots I would like to see, so we went out in hope of finding something good. 

The weather was now significantly colder, and the sky was not sure if it should be cloudy, grey, or clear. It seemed like every 5 minute the light changed, but most of the time it wouldn't take much more then 5 minutes before it became nice again either. Driving alongside a river, I spotted a view that I needed to shoot. We parked the car in a small pocket next to the road, and went back to the place I spotted. From the road it was nearly an impossible shot, at least not one that I wanted. Trees and branches in the way, that would have taken a year to remove in processing was not what was tempting. I decided to rather jump the guardrails and try my luck walking down the steep hill leading into the river. Since this was next tho the road, it is near double the amount of snow than it would have been. With snow to over my knees, I managed to get a good spot in the middle of the hill, and unpacked my gear. 

It was a bit sketchy standing here, as it really is a steep hill, and falling down wouldn't be that funny, maybe for my father, but not for me! Luckily there was a very narrow beach in the bottom of the hill, so most likely I wouldn't fall into the river at least! With the weather changing this fast, I managed to capture the scene in different light within few minutes. After spending close to 20 minutes in the hill, with snow in my shoes and hands on the edge to turning blue, I decided to head back to the car that my father had been so nice to warm up the latest minutes. 

Sunset reflects in Nidelven in it's winter coat. Settings: ISO100, f/11, 0.8 sec

Sunset reflects in Nidelven in it's winter coat. Settings: ISO100, f/11, 0.8 sec

Driving away from this location, we pass the narrow bridge over Trongfossen (Narrowfalls). I've been imagening a image here ever since I saw it for the first time two years ago. We stopped the car in the middle of the road, there rarely is any traffic at all here, and me and my frozen fingers went out to try to capture this place. I was really stunned to see how beautiful it was now that the snow was laying on the ledges. 

Photographing this location is really difficult, as the bridge is in a awkward angle. To capture all of the canyon without having the bridge in the image, I placed my tripod on the ledge, with my camera hanging over the river. Loosing my camera out here would not be an option, after all Trongfossen is at this place Norways deepest river. 52 meters deep. No way I'm jumping after my camera there, so I made sure to hold on to is as good as I could. 

Now that my tripod and camera was in position, the next challenge awaited. Since the difference in light was so big, I needed 7 exposures (!) to fully capture the dynamic range. Lets just say that manually blending this image in Photoshop took a while. In the end I feel that the blue fingers and hours of processing was well worth it, as I'm very pleased with this image. 

Norways deepest river Trongfossen during sunset. Settings: ISO100, f/11, 7 images blended from 1/13 to 0.8 sec

Norways deepest river Trongfossen during sunset. Settings: ISO100, f/11, 7 images blended from 1/13 to 0.8 sec

Feel free to leave a comment below with your thoughts about these images, or just life in general.