Tag Archives: Marsel

New on 500px : Water Wars by MarselvanOosten by MarselvanOosten

When I traveled to Iceland for the first time, I had already seen thousands of images of this spectacular country. Creating something original, or at least slightly different, is not easy when most of the locations have literally been photographed to death. But, therein lies the creative challenge that pushes you to greater heights. Or frustration.

The famous black lava beach near Jökulsárlón is one of those iconic locations. The typical shots usually involve a few pieces of crystal clear ice, black sand, and slow shutter speeds. There is a good reason that most photographer, myself included, like to take this approach when shooting at this überphotogenic location: the results look stunning. Tranquil scenes with silky smooth water. However, I really wanted to try some different stuff as well, like the complete opposite.

The ocean here can be pretty brutal, just like the weather. On, or just after stormy weather, huge waves keep crashing into the beach, pushing even the biggest icebergs onto the sand. I decided to photograph the moment of impact from up close – with a wide angle. This means two things: 1. You will get very wet, and 2. you might get hurt.

The wet part is not a real problem, it’s just annoying. Wearing proper rain gear will keep you dry (unless you go down, which happens every now and then), but the equipment is of a much greater concern. I always use my RainCoat rain cover to protect my camera gear from rain and sea spray, so as long as I don’t submerge it, it will be fine. Talking about the RainCoat – LensCoat (the manufacturer) and Squiver have organized the easiest contest ever. Entering the contest is free and will only take you 15 seconds. You can win one of three RainCoats. I’d give it a try.

The dangerous part of this kind of photography is something that a lot of photographers don’t realize until it’s too late. These massive chunks of ice can be 5 to 7 feet tall and weigh a ton. When they’re just lying there on the beach, it’s all safe. But when a powerful wave hits them at full speed, all the ice gets pushed further onto the beach, all pressed against each other. If you’re standing in the middle of all these razor sharp glass rocks, you risk ending up without the lower half of your body. This is even worse with incoming tide. It takes a lot of concentration and athleticism to pull this kind of photography off. Coincidentally, I saw photographer James Balog do something similar a few years later for his documentary Chasing Ice – he was wearing a harness and his assistant was holding a rope to be able to pull him back in case of an emergency. That’s how dangerous it is.

And finally, I had to completely change my photographic routine. There was simply no time to first find a good composition, set up the tripod and wait for the right moment. I had to run into the ice when the water was still retreating, which meant that the ice was moving constantly, pulled back towards the ocean. I had between one and two seconds before the next wave would crash into the ice again, so that’s the amount of time I had to set up my tripod, get a composition and focus. The moment the water hit, I could take maximum two exposures and then I had to run like hell to not get submerged or crushed by the ice. Not the easiest photography, but certainly very exciting.

This is one of my favorite shots of that session, which I survived in one piece. On another occasion I tried something similar and ripped a muscle in my left calf. The first few days of the tour I had to walk with crutches.

If you would like to join me on our next Iceland tour and learn more about landscape photography and composition, please check out my website for more information:

Squiver Photo Tours & Workshops

Or download the brochure:

Iceland Winter Wilderness (PDF)

Hope to see you there!

Marsel

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©2014 Marsel van Oosten, All Rights Reserved. This image is not available for use on websites, blogs or other media without the explicit written permission of the photographer.

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New on 500px : Extreme Fogscape by MarselvanOosten by MarselvanOosten

Before you start reading: please click on the image above to see it on black. I spend about a month in Namibia every year, and I have been doing so for some 14 years now. In the beginning, people were amazed when I showed them my first pictures from Namibia – most people had never heard of the country, let alone that they’d seen any images from it; ‘Wow, that must have been photoshopped!’ Soon after our first visit, my wife and I set up the first photography tour to Nambia in the world. It was an instant success, and the past years we’ve been doing two to three tours to this amazing country every year. Needless to say I have quite a few Namibia shots. One of the creative challenges for any photographer, and that includes me, is to try not to duplicate what you’ve already done before. The first few years that was not very difficult, but after five years or so it started to get more challenging. There were times that I thought I had tried all the lenses, all the viewpoints, different lighting conditions, different seasons. An additional ‘problem’ in my case was that my Namibia images were pretty well known fairly quickly, which resulted in Namibia being high on most landscape photographers To Visit lists. The moment you get thank you letters from the Namibian Tourism Board for promoting their country, you know enough. So the more photographers started visiting Namibia, the bigger that creative challenge got – not only did I have to make sure to not duplicate what I had shot there myself, but also what other people had been shooting there. The fact that I was bringing groups of serious photographers there myself every year obviously didn’t help, not to mention the fact that suddenly many other landscape photographers from all over the world started to set up tours to Namibia as well. But as they say: competition is good, it pushes you harder. And so it did. I was the first photographer to create an extensive night photography portfolio from Namibia many years ago, and many have followed since. Then I was the first to create a time-lapse video in Namibia that was shot entirely at night, and pretty soon many followed. Am I complaining? No, that’s just how things work. Especially with the amount of exposure you can get on the internet in general and this site in particular. It just makes it harder and harder to come up with something original. Another complicating factor is the fact that with landscape photography it is very easy to copy someone’s composition, especially if you know how to find the location. With Deadvlei that’s not very difficult. On multiple occasions I’ve run into photographers in Deadvlei who had my images on their phone and were trying to find the compositions that I had used in those shots. And on last year’s trip, I saw a photo tour leader there who found the exact spot from where Frans Lanting had taken a photograph that was published in Nat Geo the year before. His participants were all lining up behind him to copy the shot. So what can you do? Keep thinking about new possibilities. It’s hard, and it’s getting harder every year, but there will always be creative possibilities that have not yet been explored – or at least: not at your specific location. Whenever I see a photograph from another photographer from this place, I can point out exactly on Google Maps which tree it is and in what direction it was shot. It’s sick, I now – I’ve been there too many times. But I’m leaving for Namibia in a few weeks again, and I have already thought about what I will try to shoot there this time. That’s how the panorama you see here from three years ago was born as well. Sure, people had shot panos in Deadvlei before, but I decided to shoot one with a 200mm lens in rare foggy conditions. It’s the combination of those two creative decisions that have resulted in a unique image – for me, that’s what it’s all about. The pano above was shot with a 70-200/2.8 lens and it consists of 21 stitched images. The original size is 21,000 pixels on the longest side, hence the ridiculous aspect ratio. I apologize for the verbal diarrhea – too much caffeine this afternoon. But before I forget: If you would like to join me in a few weeks on this year’s Namibia Untamed tour and learn more about landscape and night photography, then you’re in luck: due to a cancellation we have one opening again, and we offer a 500 Euro Last Minute discount as an extra incentive. If you’re interested, and of course you are, please check out our website for more information: Squiver Photo Tours & Workshops Hope to see you there! Marsel ©2014 Marsel van Oosten, All Rights Reserved. This image is not available for use on websites, blogs or other media without the explicit written permission of the photographer.
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