Fisketorvet reflected

Double Up

Fiskettorvet is one of the Shopping Malls in Copenhagen.

Fisketorvet is one of the shopping malls in Copenhagen. In the beginning it was quite lonely, on the old harbor, but other houses, both residental, and offices has been built around the shopping mall. And now, it is a pretty cool area, especially for photographers!

This one is shot literally with the camera standing on the ground. It’s a amazing how clear a reflection in the water can be. I only had to fix a few issues in the reflection.

One day, at a conference I sat and played around with my camera. I had my 50mm lens on, and I shot photos of various slides from the presentation. Suddenly I noticed, that if I pointed the camera, at my iPhone, the iPhone would be completely blurred, but what it reflected was 100% sharp. Later I took this photo, which once again is a reflection in my iPhone shot real close with a 50mm lens.

Close up reflections

Closeup photo of an iPhone. Notice how out of focus the iPhone is, and how sharp the object reflected is.

I really wondered what happened and later on the same day I learned why. The glass works as a lens, and for that reason you have to focus from the distance of the ‘lens’ (the glass of the iPhone) to the subject. The iPhone and the camera being very close to each other makes this distance almost the same. And this also explains, why you can put your camera literally on a poodle of water, and reflect completely sharp.



Cologne Gold

Cologne Gold

Cologne Gold

I don’t know if there ever was Gold in Cologne, but if there was, they must have put it into this bridge. When I got close, I could see there is is another kind of gold on the bridge. It’s full of padlocks hung by lovers. I have never ever seen so many padlocks in one place, as on this bridge. It’s from one end to the other. It’s golden love!

Shooting this bridge, with the Köln Dom (or Cologne Cathedral) in the distance is a classic shot. I tried to find some different variations though I have the classic shots too. This is one of my variations. What I like about this one, is the strong leading lines, with the strong focus on the curves of the bridge, and yet the Cathedral is still an important ‘actor’ in the composition.

I started at the view platform of the skys craber right behind this vantage point called LVR Turm (LVR Tower). There is no problems using a tripod there – for a change!

The Bell Tower in Bruges

The Famous Bell tower in Bruges, Belgium. You can see it poking up from many places in the city.--Jacob Surlandwww.caughtinpixels.comArt sale as limited prints. Photo by Jacob Surland,  Licensed Creative Commons non-commercial v4.0.  No Derivative Work. Protected by

The famous Bell Tower in Bruges.

I only stayed in Bruges for one night, on the way to France. I did, however, make sure I got that way, even if it was bit longer. Bruges is incredibly beautiful, and there are a lot of chocolate stores, pretty close to Paradise if you ask me!

This photo I shot on the main square Grote Markt as a 5 shot HDR. It was on an extremely hot summers eve, in a light drizzle. I made a point of making a more dramatic image, than the original. This is the original photo:

Bruges dramatic bell tower

I created the drama, by adding some strong vignetting, and on top of that, I brightened the sky around the tower itself, and increased contrast to enhance the structures. A bit like a storm building up. This way I got a more interesting photo.

National Natural History Museum in Paris

Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle in Paris is worth a visit, alone because of the building. I had some expectations but I was still completely blown away when I got there. So incredibly beautiful and dynamic lighting for a fantastic room. I only had 1,5 hours before it closed, and I didn't even get time to see the exhibition.--Jacob Surlandwww.caughtinpixels.comArt sale as limited prints. Photo by Jacob Surland, Licensed Creative Commons non-commercial v4.0. No Derivative Work. Protected by

The colors of the roof and walls keep changing colors, to simulate day, night and the weather.

I knew that the ‘Muséum national d’Histoire Naturelle’  would be something special, but I was still blown completely away with the beauty of this enormous old room. I arrived in the midst of a tropical thunderstorm. The roof changes colors, along with the one wall, to simulate the weather. It can show lightning, day and night, and a rainbow … at least that was what I saw, during my 1,5 hours I had there until it closed. I didn’t even get much time to look at the exhibition, but that looked really awesome too. This place I would require a day, to do it full justice I think.

I could just squeeze in visiting the Museum between I hung up my artwork at Carousel du Louvre, and the VIP grand opening later in the evening.

About the processing of this photo

This photo is shot with a Sony A7R using my metabones Nikon adapter attached with my 16mm Nikon Fisheye lens. The fisheye is obvious. I used a fisheye in this location, to got something out of the ordinary classic shot from this museum, and I think I managed to get that. At least I have never seen anything like this before.

It is an HDR shot bracketed -2, 0 and +2.  The Sony A7R only allows for 3 bracketed shots, if you want more one stop or more between the shots, but that is ok and usually plenty of working space. I shot it at an f/stop somewhere in the middle. One of the drawbacks from using the Metabones adapter for Nikon is, that no EXIF information is transferred from the lens. But I know I had the f-stop somewhere in the middle, my guess is f/8-f/11. And then I had the camera at ISO 100 and the longest shutter speed was 5 seconds. This allows me to blur most of the people fairly much away.

I used my standard processing workflow for this image. I processed it in Photomatix (you might want to see my tutorial here), and afterwards i took the three originals along with the output from Photomatix into Photoshop and blended it to this final result. These are my three original unprocessed photos:

Paris - Natural History Museum

One of the important things, when you shoot a photo symmetric like this one, is that symmetry is as exact as possible. I could spend a long time while shooting, to get it exactly right in the camera, by shooting, checking and re-shooting. I work in a different way. I need to be ‘close enough’ to the final framing, but I do not mind, doing a final more exact crop at home on the computer. This way I get more time, to do more shots, instead of working one composition into death. This might be a different way, than others work, but I like it that way. Of course I sometimes get stuck, if I can’t get a “good enough” result quickly. I hate getting home with something, that I cannot use.

I am far from puritan about ‘getting it right in the camera house’. I see no point in doing that, it would only require more time, at each location, giving me less to time, to do more compositions.

In Photoshop I first got an “overall” good blend of the tonemapped output from Photomatix, and the three original images. Then I added some effect, by using Topaz Adjust. Afterwards i used two of the original shots ones more to fix or improve very specific areas.

Paris - Natural History Museum - Photoshop layers

How do I determine what ‘needs to be fixed’ in an image? What I get out of Photomatix is next to NEVER a final image. This I know, and I just have to look for the ‘problems’ with the image from Photomatix. There is always something, that doesn’t look too good. Something that is too extreme, a nasty halo or a to hard contrast. How do I spot that? I look closely at the image, both in a smaller thumbnail seized image, and in a closer to 1:1 version. But in the end it comes down to a mix of taste and experience/practice. The more images you have processed, the better you get at doing this. In the beginning, this was pretty much a lot of guessing work and less qualified work. Most of this early work, I have withdrawn from my public stream. The more images you process, the better you get at it, and some of the ‘problems’ gets so obvious to fix, that you hardly think about it.

In this particular image, I first got the ‘basic’ image, by blending the Photomatix version, with the three originals. Then I made some effect using, Topaz Adjust, and afterwards I fine tuned the image, by picking some very specific areas from the original images, to fix some problems.

Paris seen from the rooftop of the Arch of Triumph

A grand view of Paris seen from the top of the Arch of Triumph. The weather was not very good for photography, but it was the only chance I had to get up there, so I stayed stubbornly and covered my camera from the rain. And I am happy that I did, I got many good shots from up there. This one is one of my favorites.--Jacob Surlandwww.caughtinpixels.comArt sale as limited prints. Photo by Jacob Surland, Licensed Creative Commons non-commercial v4.0. No Derivative Work. Protected by

Paris seen from the top of the Arch of Triumph in bad weather.

I was in Paris last week to exhibit at Art Shopping at Carrousel du Louvre 2015. A pretty exciting thing. As a photographer, I, of course, could not go to Paris, and not shoot photos, and I carefully planned what to photograph, and when, while not exhibiting.

I did a very careful planning of what I want to shoot mornings and evenings, and what to shoot while driving down there, and back again. It’s the first time I have been the so prepared – and yet you can still meet obstacles.

I will only have one blue hour evening, and where did I want to go? In the end, I decided for the rooftop of the Arch of Triumph. There is a magnificent view of Paris from up there. I got there in good time and waited in the line. After waiting 30 minutes in the line, I got so close to the ticket office and saw a sign which said ‘no bags larger than 40cm’ mine is 53cm and my hope sank. What a stupid mistake to make. I knew that I could not use tripods up there, but no big bags? I took a deep breath, and went took a shot at it, anyway, and I slipped through. The security guard just received a large group to pay his attention to and did not pay attention to the size of my bag. Lucky me.

I thought I was home free from there, but noo… There was a more specific security check, before going up to the top of the roof. The security lady started saying something about the size of the bag, but I just opened it and showed her my camera equipment. She said ‘no tripods’, but I knew that and had prepared for that, and she let me through.

I got to the roof, after climing a small narrow winding staircase. It really was taller than I expected, and when I got up there, the view was magnificent. I had taken no chances and was there almost two hours ahead of the sunset. So I had to wait.

Instead of a tripod, I had brought my Manfrotto Super Clamp which I bought at Amazons. This really is one of the best pieces of photo equipment I have, and especially if you compare it to the price. All photo equipment is insanely expensive, except for this one. It allows me to screw a ball head on, and then I can screw the Super Clamp onto my tripod, and have two cameras or as I had planned for the rooftop. It looks like this:

The Super Clamp is really made for filming equipment, but it works with cameras too.

Because I knew tripods wasn’t allowed, I had researched the nature of the roof and had seen from photos, that there was a spiked fence, which the Super Clamp would be super easy to attach to. And that was my plan. But I had not considered that the fence might be wobbly, and it certainly was. It turned out, that people leaned against it, while taking selfies, and children yanked in it. My camera would fly back and forth on long exposures.

While I waited, I searched for my compositions. This one I liked particularly well because it is different from the classic shot from up here. I also got the classic one, but this one I liked rather much. And guess what? It’s shot with a fisheye lens. You can hardly even tell!

While I waited, bad weather came. La Defense in the distance disappeared completely, and it got closer. At this time I did not feel very lucky at all, but in the end we only got a small portion of the bad weather; enough to have minor problems with rain, but not enough to ruin the photos.

Back to the wobbly fence. When it was time, and the exposures got longer, I waited until the fence was still, or if didn’t stay still, I held my breath and I put my full weight against the fence (hoping it would hold). I shot a lot of photos of the same composition and hoped that enough would be sharp enough to work with. As it turned out, it was not so bad at all. I got a lot useable photos.

So this photo I am quite happy with, not only because I like it, but also because I went through a lot of trouble to get it.

You can buy pearls on Rialto Bridge

We had a great time, while shooting photos from the Rialto Bridge in Venice. People were happy, and a band played music. The bridge itself is a master piece of architecture, and no wonder it attracts people.--Jacob Surlandwww.caughtinpixels.comArt sale as limited prints. Photo by Jacob Surland, Licensed Creative Commons non-commercial v4.0. No Derivative Work. Protected by

Nice Pearl Shop on top of the Rialto Bridge in Venice.

We didn’t buy any pearls when we were on Rialto Bridge. We were far too busy shooting photos. Half the bridge was under reconstruction, but we still managed to get some great shots. One of the things I like, about shooting in Italy at famous locations, is that there usually is a band playing some music. People are in general friendly and happy, and moving around with selfie sticks, trying to shoot themselves with their loved ones. I wouldn’t dare to put any of my cameras on a selfie stick though!

These are a couple of my favorites from same evening:
The view from Rialto Bridge is world famous, and not without reason. It is stunning. I tried to capture a slightly different scene, than the classic Canal-Grande seen-from-the-Rialto-Bridge photo (though I shot that one too). I love that Mahony taxi boat in front of Hotel Rialto, and that restaurant with the golden light.Read the full blog post here: SurlandPhoto by Jacob Surland, Licensed creative commons non-commercial v4.0. No derivative Work. Protected by


Crossing the Rialto Bridge is a must do experience when visiting Venice. And if you have the option to plan it, try to do it at sunset. The houses along Canal Grande look just awesome with the lights and colors. Stay and watch the traffic for a while. Gondolas, Varporettos, taxi boats, and ordinary people cruising in their small speed boats. It's a very busy area. Photo by: Jacob Surland,

Exhibiting at Art Shopping Carrousel du Louvre

Christmas Viking Ship

Vikingship on a winter’s morning

I am leaving for Paris tomorrow to attend the Art Shopping Carrousel du Louvre. I am pretty excited about it, and thought I would share with you, the two pieces I am going to exhibit.

The first one is my ‘Viking ship on a winter’s morning‘, which seemed to be an instant classic, and one I have had a lot of success with since I made it 3 years ago.

I had just got home from New Zealand to a winter clad Denmark, and the Viking ship ‘The Sea Stallion’ sat on land with lights on. On the first day I went down there, I had the wrong lens with me. The next day there was newly fallen snow, and I went down during the blue hour and got my shot. The newly fallen snow was a nice improvement.

During the post processing I removed all blue colors, which is what makes this image so special. It doesn’t work on all images, but on this one it certainly did.

The second one is ‘Tower Bridge and City Hall under the Stars‘:

London City Hall with the London Tower Bridge just after midnight. Only a few people hovers around the area. The stars are peaking out from the skies. Photo by: Jacob Surland,

Tower Bridge and City Hall under the Stars

The photo of ‘Tower Bridge and City Hall under the Stars‘ took particular long time to create. It is a composite with a Swedish set of stars in the upper left-hand corner. It took me a long time because the photo kept lacking something magical, and I couldn’t find this magical component, but I didn’t give up. I played with this photo during a period of several months, and then suddenly one day, things started moving. I had found the color theme, I wanted to use, and when I noticed a handful of stars in the corner, I instantly knew what my magical component would be; stars in the corner. I used a shot of the Milky Way that I shot in Sweden earlier.

I make my photos into artworks

Art is about communication. I could have settled for a normal post processing on both of these images, and they would have looked more or less like, what it looked much like when I was there, but it would have been less interesting photos. It’s a different story I want to tell, than the ordinary story. I want to take the viewer on a journey into a land between the real world and the surreal world. Let the viewer ride the mountain ridge, with the valley of reality on one side, and the surreal valley on the other side. The viewer must be fascinated with the amount of details, colors and the different presentation of reality. The viewer might even question if it is a photo at all. That is my aim with what I do.

This put’s a lot of restraint on what photos I can use. The single most important element in my photos is the light. If the light isn’t right, I can’t use the photo. And when I have the photo shot in the right light, I will spend time finding the journey I want to bring the viewer on. Sometimes this comes fairly easy, at other times, this can be very difficult.

Because of the high standards I require of myself, I can only produce a smaller number of artworks.

–Jacob Surland

Working with the White Balance in City Night Photography

Castel Sant'Angelo or in English Castle of the Holy Angel, was the Mausoleum of Hadrian, Emporer of Rome in the second century. It sits by the river of Tiber. It leaves one with a massive impression, not because it's particularly beautiful, because it isn't, but yet, it fascinates. It used to be the tallest building in Rome.--Jacob Surlandwww.caughtinpixels.comArt sale as limited prints. Photo by Jacob Surland, Licensed Creative Commons non-commercial v4.0. No Derivative Work. Protected by

Castle of the Holy Angel seen from Ponte Sant’ Angelo.

Castel Sant’Angelo or in English Castle of the Holy Angel, was the  Mausoleum of Hadrian, Emporer of Rome in the second century. It sits by the river of Tiber. It leaves one with a massive impression, not because it’s particularly beautiful, because it isn’t, but yet, it fascinates. It used to be the tallest building in Rome.

Shooting photos in Rome at night, is great fun, but also a big problem when you start post processing the photos. The city lights are VERY yellow, even when you are on location and looking at it. When we walked around and shot photos along the River of Tiber, I just knew that colors would be a problem. This is not the first time I have encountered such yellow city lights. I also experienced it Rothenburg ob der Tauber in Germany. They use some kind of LED lamps, with a very yellow glow.

The problem with yellow lamps is that you don’t really get a lot of colors reflected back. Think back to the old days with a dark room. The red light bulb made a white piece of paper seem complete red, even if you knew it was white. The same thing happens with a yellow lamp. The light almost only has yellow colors in it, and the only colors they really reflect is yellow. It’s a strange concept the first time you run into it. A surface can only return, the colors that the light source contains.

Once I heard a question ‘what color is the Moon really?’ and the answer got very complex, exactly because of the colors the light contains, and that different colors have different wavelengths.

In my world, the color of light is less complex than wavelengths, it’s just a couple of sliders in Adobe Lightroom.

Castle of the holy angel before

On the left you see the fixed white balance, and on the right you see the out of camera white balance.

Usually, the color of city lights is somewhere between 2200 kelvin and 3300. Modern LED lamps tend to be in the lower end of the span, but there is only way to find out, and that is by adjusting the temperature.

Castle of the holy angel before white balance

This usually brings you to the right temperature, but with the city lights of Rome, I found that I hit the bottom, which is 2000 degrees Kelvin, before I am happy. And I am only JUST happy and not really happy. No flexibility at all.

Castle of the holy angel before white balance adjusted

This is much better, but there is still a purple and yellow hue to the statue. To adjust this, I can use the Tint slider, but before doing that, I will show you a little trick. The trick will make it quite easy to find the best possible white balance much easier.

Tip: Before adjusting the temperature and tint slider, I dial up the Vibrance and the Saturation to 100. I am not going to leave them in this place, but it makes it easier to spot color casts because they are exaggerated.

Castle of the holy angel before white balance trick


I adjust the Temperature and the Tint to find a compromise. My aim is to balance the amount of blue and yellow and purple or green. This IS a compromise, but when the balance is found, I have found the best possible white balance. I will have to make local adjustments to make changes to it.

Typically this is a real problem if there are mixed light source, it could be electrical and natural light or just different sorts of electrical light.

This is what I ended up with, after using the trick:

Castle of the holy angel before white balance trick adjusted

While this has got a little more purple, it also has less yellow. It turned out, that some of the yellow really was too much green. The compromis is to accept a bit more purple in the image over all, but purple can be removed, using the HSL panel, in Lightroom, if need be (so can yellow for that matter).

When I dial the Saturation and Vibrance back to 0 I get this acceptable result:

Castle of the holy angel before white balance trick adjusted desaturated

And the full image looks like this:
Castle of the holy angel before white balance trick adjusted desaturated full image

I still had to work with the colors, but in general I have am rid of the super duper yellow image, and have something in the natural world. There is a purple hue, but that can fairly easy be removed using either Photoshop or Lightroom.

From here I did my Photomatix and Photoshop blend images show.

These are a couple of other examples of city night shots, that had a real strong yellow orange glow to them before I started processing them:

During the day, The Bean in Chicago is crowded with people, enjoying the wild reflections. It is insanely fascinating, such a large curved mirror, and I shot a ton of photos during both day and night of The Bean.Read about the making of this photo here: SurlandPhoto by: Jacob Surland. Buy limited prints on Licensed creative commons non-commercial v4.0. No derivative Work. Protected by

Cold evening at the Bean in Chicago.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber is one the most idyllic German medieval towns I have visited. Fot that reason I have been there three times. This split road is particularly lovely I think. Photo by: Jacob Surland,

Rothenburg split road. Not as vibrant as it could have been, if not for the strong yellow city light.

This trick on white balance I have showed you here is the easiest and fastest way I have found so far to do a pretty accurate white balance.

–Jacob Surland

Sunset at Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo is one of the most extraordinary things I have seen in my life. A lake of the most odd blue color, and then a painterly sky like this.Jacob Surlandwww.caughtinpixels.comArt sale as limited prints. Photo by Jacob Surland, Licensed Creative Commons non-commercial v4.0. No Derivative Work. Protected by

Lake Tekapo is one of the most surreal lakes I have ever seen, due the color of the water.

Lake Tekapo is one of the most extraordinary things I have seen in my life. We drove around New Zealand in a campervan for a month. While a month seems like a long time, it really isn’t enough to do New Zealand proper justice. We skipped a large part of the Northern Island, not because we didn’t want to see it, but simply because time didn’t allow it.

Our last night in our campervan we had with a view of Lake Tekapo. And we sure did have a great day there. We drank the world famous in New Zealand soft drink L&P had our favorite sandwiches with Watties Ketchup for lunch, while we sat in the back of our campervan and enjoyed the view of Lake Tekapo.

At sunset time, we were rewarded with the most amazing sunset, with surreal painterly like clouds. A sunset worthy of New Zealand.

This is another one from Lake Tekapo – notice the surreal color of the lake:

Church of the Good Shephard

The Church of the Good Shepard watching over Lake Tekapo.

These are some of my other shots from New Zealand.

Morning Glow in Milford Sound

Milford Sound – so beautiful the gods placed the Sand flies there, so that mankind would not stay there for too long.

On The Road Again

Driving towards Lake Tekapo.

The Fountain at Pantheon in Rome

This photo of the fountain in front of Pantheon is one of my favorites, from my trip to Rome. At first I didn't see it, but when I got close, this acid green color showed up. I when a bit closer, and I could see there was a shape in the water, and I went even closer to get this. And believe me, that color is as good as straight out of the camera.--Jacob Surlandwww.caughtinpixels.comArt sale as limited prints. Photo by Jacob Surland, Licensed Creative Commons non-commercial v4.0. No Derivative Work. Protected by

The Fontana del Pantheon has an acid green color at night.

I just returned from Rome. We were down there to receive my parents in law. They had walked all the way from Denmark to Rome, not exactly on a pilgrimage. They began in 2003. My father-in-law crossed the Alps at the age of 76 with no problems at all.

We received them at the gate at Piazza del Popolo and had cold Prosecco (Italian version of champagne) ready. They ended up walking approximately 3300 km over a span of 13 years.

But, being in Rome, also offered a lot of photo opportunities; not as many as we had hoped, though. The only major site we visited, that did not have scaffoldings, was St. Peter’s Basilica.

On the very first morning, we went to the closest location the Spanish Stairs, and when we got there, it was completely sealed off, and entrance to the stairs was impossible. It didn’t matter a lot because the church at the top was covered in scaffoldings.

Spanish stairs sealed off

The Spanish Stairs were sealed off both at the top and the bottom.

Instead, we moved on to the Pantheon.

I can see that I have learned a lot. I shoot much more purposeful now than I did earlier. I have researched areas beforehand and have some ideas of what there is to shoot. I go straight for the more or less bullet proof shots, and then I start searching for more unusual angles. Using this method, I find that I always have at least one carry away shot.

The photo of Pantheon in the top of this post is one of my favorites and the first one I processed. I didn’t see it, at first, but when I got close to the fountain, this acid green color showed up. And as I moved closer, and I could see there was a shape – the foundation of the statue – in the water, and I went even closer to get this.

Believe me, that color is as good as straight out of the camera.

Pantheon itself is one of the most amazing buildings I have ever seen. The roof inside is insanely beautiful.