Patience is key for capturing the spectacular moment where the sun dips below the horizon – and Ole Henrik Skjelstad, a photographer who lives just north of Oslo, Norway, snapped a photo in July that was well worth the wait.
After visiting Romsdalen with photographer Greg Benz, the pair went to Hardanger with the goal of shooting Voeringsfossen (Vøringsfossen), a waterfall located on the western slopes of Hardangervidda.
“I have been at Vøringsfossen a few times and am reasonably familiar with the location,” Ole said, but added that with recent construction work in the area to provide more safe vantage points for visitors to view the expansive valley, he wasn’t sure if the landscape would look the same.
“We headed up there a few hours before the sun would set so that we could test out various possible compositions,” he said. “It was pretty gray when we arrived, but luckily, the cloud cover opened up a few minutes during sunset and thus offered us some nice colors and light.”
Camera & Settings
36.4MP Full-Frame CMOS Sensor, 3.2″ Cross-Tilt LCD Monitor, Full HD 1080p30 Video Recording
Using a Pentax K-1 and the Pentax 15-30mm f2.8 lens, Ole shot at a focal length of 15mm to capture as much of the view as possible – but admitted that even that “didn’t encapsulate the whole scene.”
“After having shot the bottom half of the scene, which included just a small fraction of the sky, I tilted my camera upwards to get more of the beautiful sky,” he explained. “It would, of course, have been possible to shoot verticals, but for some reason, I decided against it.”
For the bottom half of the image, Ole said he shot at f/8 with an ISO of 100 for an exposure time of 0.3 seconds. In order to keep from blowing out the highlights in the sky, he said he shot the upper half “a couple of stops darker.” He also used a NiSi 6 Stop neutral density filter to smooth the flowing water.
After importing the RAW files into Lightroom, Ole combined the two images and did some stitching and boundary warp to create a seamless, true-to-life panoramic shot.
Then, he turned to Photoshop. A bit more warping was needed, he said, to bring back the proper scale of the waterfall. He also adjusted the color, did some dodging and burning, and tweaked the midtones to brighten the entire scene before applying a few dramatic filters in Color Efex Pro.
Finally, he achieved the finished product that he’d waited hours for – an image which he said reveals “the sense of awe that comes over you when you are standing close to the edge, beholding the valley and the spectacular scenery ahead of you, accompanied by the roar from the waterfall.”
To see more of Ole Henrik Skjelstad’s work, find him on 500px or Instagram.
Jessi Gowan is an award-winning writer and photographer who specializes in rural landscapes and fine art abstracts, with a focus on form and composition. Her photography has been included in a variety of publications, as well as in exhibitions in Canada and the United States.