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Archive for February, 2010

Hello all. After some weeks, i have finally updated my webpage with the last images we took this winter in the Scottish Highlands, and some images from Switzerland… Feel free to check them out, i hope you will enjoy them as much as we enjoyed getting our toes and fingers frozen! ;-)  Take a look at http://www.rafaelrojasphoto.com, last additions gallery!

Here is one of those images, taken at the Elgol coast, in the island of Skye. We stayed for a week in the area, and could go a couple of times or three to this fantastic and quite photographed location. Armed with the 617 camera loaded with the glorious Velvia, we witnessed that evening a quite dramatic sunset. In winter, this place gets nice side-lighting at sunset, when in summer the Sun would almost set in front of you. We were lucky that week, with half of the Skye island covered in snow, what made the Cuillin mountains appear even higher, rising from the depths of the sea.

I looked for a nice viewpoint where the panoramic format would work, with those interesting and textured rocks at the right leading the eye directly to the focal point formed by the distant Gars Bheinn peak. The peak, capped by those nice lenticular clouds which picked some beautiful pink hues, balanced well with the rocks at the right of the composition. Right before sunrise, the sun peeked under some clouds for a few minutes just before sinking over the isle of Rum. The pale rocks turned gold and the scene was magical indeed. This is one of the last images taken where I could make the most of that window of opportunity.

As the sun intensity was quite reduced, the contrast of the light fell well within the dynamic range of the velvia film, leaving nice details even in the shadows. I used a couple of grad filters for the sky and part of the water to compensate for that high luminosity of those areas. 

I hope you will like the new images! Thanks for reading, and great light to you all ;-)

Image taken with Fotoman 617 camera, Schneider Super Angulon 90 XL lens, Velvia 50 slide film

Image taken with Fotoman 617 film camera + Schneider Super Angulon 90 XL lens , and Velvia 50 slide film

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I am very pleased to announce that I have become one of the collaborators of National Geographic Traveller Spain. Last month of May 2009 one of my images appeared in a travel article about Switzerland, and on the cover article of the March 2010 number I write a whole article about the National Parks in California and the Sierra. This is really great news! You will be able to download the article by clicking on this link. Take care and great light to you all.

Article National Geographic Travel – California – Rafael Rojas

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This is another image that fall into that category I am always so fond of: the animalscapes. Put an animal into your landscape and the image will come to life inmediately. We went down by the lake shore waiting for some nice sunset colours to come. At the selected site, these nice rocks gave a beautiful foreground towards the alps at the other side of the geneva lake, with those strong diagonals, pointing towards the quite triangular disposition of peaks in the top part of the image. The colours did not turn fiery nor colourful, but the whole ambiance kept a really magical muted mood, with nice textures in the clouds at a certain point mimicking the calm water rippled surface. I composed this image where the rocks also tend to form a kind of circular closure in the foreground, keeping the pyramidal peak quite in the center.

And then magic happened. A nice swan came directly to where I was, and posed for me for some seconds, staying exactly at the very middle of that “imaginary” circle, and exactly under the quite “energetic pyramid” created by the distant dominant peak. In order to keep the speed short and freeze the swan I got rid of the polarizer filter I was using, cranked up the iso up to 400 and opened up a little the aperture, keeping 0.5 seconds of exposure as a result. A few exposures gave a blurry result, but I managed to keep a couple where the swan was acceptably sharp, and one where its pose was really adding to the composition.

I then did a conversion to black and white, as this would keep better the timeless character of the scene and focus the attention on the tonal contrast (the swan and the dark rest), the geometrical and graphical design created by foreground and background, and the contrast created by the opposition between living being and mineral landscape, soft swan and sharp-jagged forms around and static and dynamic elements in the scene. I introduced a mild vignetting to focus the attention of the viewer on the swan, and voilà!
Take care, thanks for reading and great light to you all

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This is a very fresh image from the last week. Taken in the Jura Mountains, looking straight into the Alps. What means this image is compressing the two main ranges of Switzerland, some 35 miles apart, into the same shot. After a heavy snowfall, we decided to wake up early (really early) and brave the cold temperatures. It might sound horrible, but you might be surprised to know how nice that is. A perfect pristine winter wonderland just for you, trudging across the snow and listening only the sound of your own panting.

This is one of those images you do not plan, that find you instead of the other way around. In fact, before taking this image i was looking more in the west direction, searching for images with the earth shadow colours over the snow laden trees. However, as sunrise approached some heavy clouds started to cover the East, and with them the likelyhood of getting a spectacular sunrise.

I saw these four trees, which due to their relative different distance seem to appear in a perfectly ordered way according to their size. I decided to set them against the distant mountains and rising sun and waited. As the sun rose, beams of light pierced the cloud cover, outlining the alpine peaks and lighting the base layer of clouds.

In terms of composition, i specially liked the “triangularity” of this image. The peaks, the trees, the two diagonals created by the snow base and the cloud cover, the diagonal which follows the tree tips… all that defines a structure composed of triangles, which give to the image a quite dynamic character. The contrast in complementary colours and the contrast in soft and jagged, warm and cold goes also in the same direction.

No HDR or double exposition here. The snow quite reflected the open sky light coming from the West, and the Nikon D3x did a good job allowing to fill in some light back into the shadows without filling it with horrible noise. The highlights are not blown up, but close to where the sun was they are quite light indeed. In terms of white balance i kept a neutral one to keep some blue in the snow, contrasting with the warm tones of the sunrise. You know anyway, i like the blues. I slightly desaturated the image, but you might still find it too colourful? It was a colourful sunrise indeed…

Thanks for reading, and feel free to drop a comment, I would love to know what you think about!

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I am very happy to announce that I have been called to join one of the most reknowned french speaking landscape photography group around. The group, which is called “bouts de planète”, represents the work of some extraordinary photographers: Samuel Bitton, Vincent Favre, Xavier Jamonet and Christophe Carlier.  From now on, the site www.boutsdeplanete.com will also showcase my work, and some interesting news related to landscape photography.

Take a look at www.boutsdeplanete.com, it is really worth. For the time being, just in french, english version will come soon…Anyway, did I tell you photography speaks a universal language?

Take care and great light to you all.

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Today I have received the great news that one of my images has won a Highly Commended prize at the Naturescapes Images of the year 2009!.

The winner image has made it into the “landscape” category, one of the typically most difficult due to the high amount of incredible imagery it attracts.

Naturescapes is one of the major international nature photography on-line magazine,  made by and for professionals and serious amateurs in the field of nature photography. Thousands of images are taken into account for this annual contest, where some of the best nature photography can be seen. Take a look at the winning images by clicking on the following links: 

My winning image         

All winning images   

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The image of this week focus on shape and texture. What is this? Why care? Why do you need to put a label into this image? Forget for a while what this image might depict, or where it must have been taken, and wander around looking at the incredible textures and shapes that form the image. No focal point here, almost no information added by the colour (just the idea of  cold, reinforced by that bluish cast) and no sense of scale. This is one of those images mid way between an intimate landscape and an abstract. 

Made under dawn bluish open sky, where the blue soft light reflected by the sky ceiling provides a maximum of color and detail, and a very low contrast light that enables to render the image without too bright hot spots or too dark shadows amongst the peebles.

At three meters from these peebles, the seashore of the Skye island in Scotland. Very rare situation indeed, proof of one of the harshest winters recorded in the last 20 years in the area, according to the records.

Thanks for reading, and great light to you all. 

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