For most of the day the human eye is far superior in every respect to any digital sensor or film. Much greater dynamic range, much better colours. Once the light is fading it’s a different story, our human eyes fail and the camera wins. This is especially true for modern digital SLR wonders!

Tuesday afternoon Copenhagen was treated to a bit of Winter magic. 95% of Winter days here are gray and overcast (so is my mood) with so few outdoor photo opportunities, but this day was sunny with perfect conditions for a Winter sunset. A Winter sunset has a much colder white balance turning the reds pink and magenta. Copenhagen has a lake system running a semi circle around the inner city as seen here. In the good old medieval days the lakes protected the city; gates were shut at night. Today, it is a good place to go to capture some mega cloudscapes standing on one of the bridges shooting alongside the lake. It was so windy the camera strap was at a 90 degree angle to the tripod and the whole rig was threatening to take off down the road. It was so cold time froze. But it was beautiful as the sun was setting and the red, pink and magenta colours were reflected into the frozen lake:

Click to see large size on my gallery! Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Copenhagen Winter Sunset Cloudscape
© Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Now; as the sun set and the even better dusk light awakens it is where your eyes begin to fail but the camera really shines – as we can simply do longer exposures to collect more light. Even light that we cannot see. There’s something about red light at dusk at long exposures that looks so fantastic when captured, even though your eye can’t really see in colour anymore as there’s just not enough light. But the colour is there, so keep shooting until it’s pitch black. Even though you can barely see anything the camera sees just fine and will pick up this incredible almost invisible warm magic dusk light. Tuesday proved a good example, I created this image at the very end of the dusk light with my whole body frozen in suspended animation except for my thumb operating the cable release (did I mention it was cold?)

Click to see large size on my gallery! Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Copenhagen Winter Dusk Cloudscape
© Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

It really is a bit magical. Your eyes cannot see anything but when you review the captured photos it’s a bright view into another world. Often people pack up their gear and leave as the sun hits the horizon and they miss the magical dusk light that can last up to 20-30 minutes. So stay, shoot, and remember – cameras can see in the dark!

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14 thoughts on “I see cloudscapes in the dark

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  1. Stephen Williams 11 years ago

    you've got to love the colours that can come out during this time! i find that quite often the best shot's come at this time after quite a dull sunset!
    so you're spot on about not being disheartened by a crap sunset. if there's clouds about anything can happen 🙂

    1. Flemming Bo Jensen 11 years ago

      Hi Stephen and thanks. Even on days with no clouds at all the dusk light can be very spectacular and you can get

      I love colours, really do, I love light even more though and I try not to get addicted to only liking the colours at sunset. I don’t subscribe to the ‘there must be clouds, it must be magic hour, must be a sunset’ theory. I need special light but it can be any sort of special light and you can shoot great photos all day long, you just need different approaches and styles – like black and white, duotone, use filters to add contrast to the sky etc.

  2. Tony Middleton 11 years ago

    Lovely tones and hues Flemming. How cold was it really ? (temp?) and do the lakes there really freeze over ?
    I agree with your comment about there not having to be any clouds. I think in Australia in particular it can depend on the origin of the cloud/air mass to what type of colours may occur…

    It was a nice sunrise here with cloud and a bit of bushfire smoke again…pity I went to perhaps not the best location for this particular one….hrmm 🙂

    1. Flemming Bo Jensen 11 years ago

      Cheers Tone. I reckon it was around -2 or -3 degrees so not extremely cold but with the strong wind it felt like the North Pole and I can't stand the cold anyway so for me that's super cold. And yes the lakes do freeze over!

  3. Tony Middleton 11 years ago

    Ahh – so they do freeze over ! that's pretty 'cool' (literally) ! but too cold for me also…if it was just a few days here and there then it would be good. lol

    Another day here in vic in the 30's-40's range with huge bushfire dangers lingering in the state…I'm off for a swim in the surf and a massage…keep warm !

    1. Flemming Bo Jensen 11 years ago

      Yeah the lakes are frozen over in these two shots and they have been quite a few times this Winter.
      It's too cold for me too, born in the wrong bloody country! Need to change that. Will try and keep warm, you keep safe!

  4. James 11 years ago

    Goes for early morning to, shoot the dark and you can get great colours in the morning

  5. thomasparkes 11 years ago

    Great colours Flemming. What angle tilt is on the camera, as you have a lot of sky. I find no more than 15degrees when stitching is the limit.

    1. Flemming Bo Jensen 11 years ago

      Thanks Thomas. It's 17mm wideangle at the extreme, single shot 5D Mk2 – no stitching this time 🙂 Was too cold to think about stitching.

  6. al 11 years ago

    Beautiful shots. I really love your Copenhagen pictures. They bring back wonderful memories.

  7. Markus 11 years ago

    Flem, you seem to have a freudian slip in your second picture title….
    Can't blame you, though. :o)

    1. Flemming Bo Jensen 11 years ago

      Hehe, I am using some html templates in Windows Live Writer, makes blogging faster but error prone I guess 🙂