Your pho­tos

Mikael Svens­son doesn’t just seek the right lo­ca­tion, but the right mo­ment in time for his stun­ning land­scape pho­tos

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This is­sue, reader Mikael Svens­son ex­plains how he tries to find the per­fect mo­ment to cap­ture the land­scapes of his na­tive Swe­den

My pho­to­graphic jour­ney be­gan dur­ing my years work­ing in a ho­tel in Grövel­sjön, Dalarna, which is a moun­tain­ous area in south­ern Swe­den. There I felt in­spired of­ten by the fleet­ing mo­ments in na­ture’s ever-chang­ing land­scapes and light. I wanted to cap­ture these mo­ments when­ever I had free time out­doors, trekking or ski­ing.

I started my pho­tog­ra­phy busi­ness part-time in 1999, and five years later I’m do­ing it for a liv­ing. Work­ing full-time has its ups and downs. It’s maybe not the best way to get rich, but it’s more a life­style for me, and I get to do what I love most. Since start­ing out I’ve taken images for seven books, and am al­ways work­ing on var­i­ous new book projects.

In 2004 I moved back to my home town of Möl­ndal, and I’m now close to both the ocean and the for­est, so I don’t need to travel too far to find the pho­to­graphic mo­ti­va­tion that I seek. The chal­lenge is cap­tur­ing the per­fect light, which ex­ists in only a fleet­ing mo­ment. To me, pho­tog­ra­phy is not only about be­ing in the right lo­ca­tion, it’s also about cap­tur­ing the right mo­ment.

When I started out I shot on a Nikon film cam­era. When the first D-SLRs hit the mar­ket I used a third-party body, so that I could still use all of my Nikon lenses. Since than I have been a Nikon shooter, and I have used many bod­ies, from the Nikon D200 to my lovely D810. The qual­ity and per­for­mance of the D810 is out­stand­ing.

See­ing stars

When I want to cre­ate ‘sun­stars’ in an im­age, I use my Nikon 20mm f/1.8 wide-an­gle lens. On this won­der­ful morn­ing at Pico do Arieiro [1] (the Por­tuguese is­land of Madeira’s third-high­est peak), the sun peered above the clouds and all I could think was: ‘sun­stars’! I set up my D810 and 20mm lens on a tri­pod, put the

To me, pho­tog­ra­phy is not only about be­ing in the right lo­ca­tion, it’s also about cap­tur­ing the right mo­ment

self-timer on 20 secs and be­gan the ‘selfie’ ex­er­cise: I ran to the clifftop, struck the pose you see in the im­age, and then turned and ran back quickly, all the while hop­ing that a sud­den gust of wind wouldn’t blow the tri­pod over and de­stroy my pre­cious D810!

Gothen­burg, Swe­den, is a place that I’ve vis­ited many times. Try­ing not to shoot the same thing time and time again, but to find a new per­spec­tive like this [2] is not easy, but with the chang­ing light it never stays the same. For this shot I used a six-stop neu­tral den­sity fil­ter to en­able me to set a longer ex­po­sure, which meant I was able to smooth out the move­ment in both the wa­ter and the clouds. My fi­nal ex­po­sure time was 63 secs at an aper­ture of f/8.

Fi­nally, this lit­tle cabin on a cliff over­look­ing the sea in Bo­hus­län, Swe­den [3], is a pop­u­lar sub­ject to shoot, and the gran­ite cliffs of Bo­hus­län’s coast­line make it a real mecca for land­scape shoot­ers. The cliffs have a won­der­ful tex­ture, and you can find lots of an­gles to shoot from.

I could wan­der around for a whole day just look­ing for for­ma­tions in the coast­line. I found a spot where the cabin pro­vided some scale to the im­age. Three sec­tions of cliff and lines in the gran­ite led the eye up to­wards it. I set my shut­ter speed to 30 secs to make the wa­ter and sky more dream­like.


2 Lake­side Re­treat Nikon D810, 16-35mm f/4, 63 secs, f/8, ISO64 3 2

Clifftop Cabin Nikon D800E, 16-35mm f/4, 30 secs, f/8, ISO100 3

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