Lofoten in Blue

Photographic Field Guides



30th @ f/8.0
ISO 100
Canon EOS 5D Mark II
Inspiration and information to help you make the most of your travel and photography
The Book
It's big. It's bold. It's beautiful. It's a new hardcover book by Ewen Bell.
Take a look

Tours & Workshops
Visit Ewen's tour and workshop pages

Lofoten in Blue
Processing landscape images is a critical step to building the intensity of a capture. The job isn't finished until you've tackled the RAW file, until you've dug deep and pulled the very best out of it. The treatment a capture receives in processing will make or break the image.

Creating a treatment for your landscapes is more than just picking a funky preset in Lightroom. Ideally the treatment itself should be a reflection of the experience, it should carry a hint to the true nature of the landscape you are shooting.

Lofoten, on the coast of northern Norway, is a unique place to visit in the depths of winter, with dramatic snow dusted mountains that plunge into the water. The temperature of the ocean negates the Arctic conditions and moderates the extent of freezing. On a cloudy day the cold air and low light creates a deep blue tone that strips colour from almost everything, with just the deep red tones of fisherman cottages defying the tonal pallet.

The blend of blue hues and slow skies inspired me to build a treatment for these landscapes that plunges into the world of white-imbalance. Instead of resisting the unusual colour range my chosen treatment embraces it, enhances it and immerses in it. I dropped the colour temperature towards the 4400K mark and additionally dropped the colour saturation to a fraction of it's normal level.

Without easing off saturation the manipulation of colour temperature usually comes across as corrupted instead of calibrated. Subtle application of saturation is the key to flexibility when creating bold treatments. And our aim here is to be very bold instead of very normal. After all, why be normal when you can be interesting.

This set of images from Lofoten were gathered during a 5km walk that took around 6 hours to complete. Slowly slowly. Every few hundred meters, with tripod slung over my shoulder, a new vista would inspire my imagination and I'd spend a good 30 minutes shooting variations on the composition.

Drawing long clouds and silky water into the frame were the two main objectives. A very powerful Neutral Density (ND) Filter does the heavy lifting, converting a dull and flat cloudy day into a moody and magical capture. A ten stop ND filter is gold, although in the fading light a 4 stop would have been handy too. Given the chance to shoot exposures at 30 seconds you can get some lovely slow scenes, but if time permits then 5 or 10 minute exposures are even better.

At the end of a week in Lofoten I had barely scratched the surface of what this landscape has to offer. Mountains of towering rock, deep coatings of fresh snow and narrow channels of ocean tucked into fjords. Beaches where the snow is washed away by tides, and tides that are frozen solid by the snow. I could spend a month here and still not get bored.

Armed with my blue treatment I looked back on the rest of my first flush of Lofoten captures and applied the same response to those scenes. Some worked better than others because some images were captured with a different processing in mind.

Knowing how you will treat your RAW files in processing will change the way you shoot them, especially when working a very bold treatment. You get a little more picky about what you shoot, tailoring your captures to suit the final effect. Anything that narrows your creative style will also make your work more distinctive, for better or worse. Mostly it's better.

A place such as Lofoten will look gorgeous with many kinds of treatments, but etched into my mind's eye are those tones of blue that you get from a cloudy day in the Arctic. Sometimes photography is as much about what you feel as what the camera sees, which is why processing images with your own treatment is so important to the final result.

See the full set of images from Lofoten here:

Share Your Thoughts


Just The Facts

A special thankyou to Sandro, a local in Lofoten, who helped make our journey even better. The lead photo for this story is dedicated to him and the loved one in his life.

I hope to be returning to Lofoten in 2014 and running some more detailed adventures into the world of landscape photography. With the help of Sandro of course :)
This feature was last updated on Saturday 16th March 2013

Copyright: All images and words on this web site are copyrighted and may not be used without permission.
Feature written by / Ewen on Google

Related Links
  Lofoten  Norway  Photographic Field Guides  processing  raw 

Photographic Field Guides

Fabulous field guides for my favourite destinations. Full of rich detail to help you make the most of your photographic opportunity on location.

Punakha Sunrise

Punakha Sunrise

A rare opportunity to welcome the morning rays of sunshine as they break across Bhutan. Here’s your guide to one of the most beautiful photographic experiences in the land of the Thunder Dragon. Sunrise over Punakha in the Himalayan winter.
Angkor Wat and Siem Reap

Angkor Wat and Siem Reap

Angkor is special. Crowded, popular, humid, hot and special. There are a lot of people who visit this place, but because it's special. It's one of those places that lives up to the hype. Hordes of tourists and scores of relentless souvenir sellers are the serious downside, have no doubt. But despite these impedances you can get great shots of the ancient ruins and contemporary culture.
Sunbirds in the Carpark

Sunbirds in the Carpark

If your goal is to catch great photos of birds, your best opportunities might be easier to access than you imagined.