Heavenly Places

Heavenly Places

I don’t know where creativity comes from nor do I care.

It’s a funny thing that for me happens automatically as if my hand is being guided by some otherworldly force.

Many times I will drive out of town with a specific idea in mind and more times than not I end up photographing something completley different. Is that creativity?

This morning was a busy one with all the family heading off to their full time or summer jobs between semesters.  A small mountain of laundry needed to be done and as the one person who is retired and stays at home it is incumbent upon me to get it done. I had just finished my second load of laundry and happened to look out of the window to see the beginnings of wispy cirrus clouds. The past few days had been overcast and at times raining hard so even though I wanted to get out I knew better and stayed at home.

Off I went with just one lens and a few neutral density filters and oh yeah, just one camera body, the one modified to photograph infrared.

Ten minutes later I was walking along a country road framing the shot, putting on the TWO neutral density filters to bring the exposure down to three minutes and grabbing a shot.

This went on for half an hour before I got bored and decided to visit a tree that I had photographed in the past. What makes the tree interesting to me is that it is sitting on a small hill in the middle of nothing. That’s odd because most empty fields around here are used as pasture for grazing or tilled for crops.

As I walked in the wet morning grass up to the tree my thoughts wandered to my recently departed brother. It’s funny how he continues to visit my thoughts. So many happy memories of when we were young, before we were married and our own families to raise. A large part of our lives was spent outside. My father who died when I was six years old was an avid outdoorsman. He left behind a treasure of Field and Stream and Outdoor Life magazines upon which many dream trips with him were planned.

Maybe it is because of the above that I feel a special connectedness with the outdoors? It can be in the mountains, by the lake or out on the prairies and still the feeling of awe and connectedness is there but back to the little tree sitting by itself in the field.

I composed my shot, put the two neutral density filters onto the lens and pressed the button on the timer. As I waited for the timer to count down the three minute exposure my mind did what it always does at these times, daydream. For a few minutes all that existed for me was this tree out on the prairie all by itself. Vehicles could be heard buzzing by on the nearby highway oblivious to this special place.

Maybe that is what photography is? An escape? Or a visit to a familiar place?

When I got back and started looking at what I had taken this morning I was struck by the heavenly feel the photos had. It was all light and space. It was for a moment while I was there, a heavenly place.

Happy shooting,



~ by Dan Jurak on June 13, 2016.

10 Responses to “Heavenly Places”

  1. It’s wonderful to be able to experience that. I think it is one of the added bonuses of shooting LE––––the two to four minute wait where you can let your mind wander. You came back with a lovely image of the tree. I especially like the shape the clouds took to curve over the tree. And the open black sky to the right really sets the tree off. Nicely done.

  2. Hi Frank, infrared is always a gamble. I still don’t have enough knowledge with it to consistently predict the outcome. Same goes for long exposures. There are so many variables, speed of clouds, direction to camera, elevation, etc. and it is such a long wait between exposures. LOL


  3. I understand about infrared. I shoot IR, with a converted camera and it is always tricky and a bit of a mystery. But, that’s part of the charm, too, though I wish when I am shooting that I was able to be more confident with what I was getting. I haven’t shot a lot of LE, but I do know what you mean. So many variables, and I end up guesstimating a lot.

    It is especially long in between exposures when you run the in-camera noise reduction, as I elect to do. A three minute exposure becomes a six minute wait. I know some folks don’t use internal NR and rely on post, but the tests I did show it makes a difference.

  4. Dan, very nice IR shot. I believe you are using a 720nm converted camera. I have been shooting IR with 590 nm conversion now for about three years and I think I might have a handle on some aspects of it – still working on post processing techniques :-). I was really glad to see that you used an ND filter with this one as I have been wondering how the camera would respond to its use. This has given me some more incentive to try an ND with the 590nm and see what I get. One question – was this a glass filter or a resin filter? I don’t know if it makes a difference, but I am curious. I am looking forward to seeing more of your IR images.



  5. Hi Ron, thank you. I think that my camera is converted to 720nm. That sounds right without me checking my receipt.

    I have another camera that is modified similarly to yours. I used to swap colour channels to get bluish skies. This camera is a more extreme conversion and is really only useful for black and white conversions.

    My experiment with ND filters taught me something that I hadn’t considered. Some ND filters like the Formatt Hitech brand really do block infrared as advertised. With a Formatt Hitech ND filter on my modified camera no exposures would register, at least not with how long it might have taken to get one timewise.

    My first experiments with ND and IR were with the Formatt Hitech which produced no image and then with a cheap Tiffen 10 stop ND filter. The Tiffen which is glass passed enough infrared and blocked enough visible light to at least get an exposure registering.

    The camera and filter combination that I will probably be using all summer (in part because ALL of my ND filter are Formatt Hitech and I cannot afford to buy another complete set of ND filters!) are the ones that fit my 14-24 lens. It takes a giant filter, 145 mm. Those filters are made by Fotodiox Pro, WonderPana and are resin. When I stack a 10 stop and 5 stop filter my exposures during a sunny day, mid day are around f8-11 at 3 minutes. It isn’t as long as I like for clouds but I haven’t shot enough to experiment with longer exposures yet with this combination

    I don’t think resin or glass makes a difference. It is the amount of infrared light that is blocked that does. If no infrared passes then of course, no image.

    I hope this helps,

  6. My heart goes out to you, losing your brother. There is something about being in nature and creating in it that is therapeutic. I lost my dear cousin a couple of years ago and I happened to be in Jasper on a family vacation when I got the news. She loved the mountains, so it was fitting to mourn her there. I got up early the morning after she passed and experienced the most beautiful dawn light I’ve ever seen. Your image is beautiful and powerful!

  7. Thank you Sandra.

    Nature is a cure for so much that ails us.

    So sorry to hear about your loss. I have come to accept that loss is inevitable. Knowing that, it still hurts.

    Thank you for your kind and inspiring words.


  8. I love your descriptions of what you see and think as you journey with your muse.As well as the resulting photo.

  9. Thank you Jane. I think the thought processes taking photos are almost as important as the photo itself.


  10. Dan, thanks for the insight on the Formatt HiTech filters. I knew that there were some out there that blocked IR light, I just didn’t know which ones. This is a start on my list.


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