The Vigeland Park comes to life at night By Roy Darvik with the Leica M-P Typ 240

Roy Darvik from Oslo, Norway bought his first Leica when he enrolled at film school in the U.S. It was a Leica M4-P but he soon traded it for a Leica M4. He also photographed with a Kodak Medalist (6 x 9 cm format) and a two-eyed Rolleiflex. Besides working on film and TV production, which has since become his day job, he spent all his time studying photography. His teacher, Pok Chi Lau from Hong Kong, encouraged him to take pictures that matter to him. Roy Darvik is forever grateful that he had the opportunity to study with Pok Chi Lau. The Vigeland Park in Oslo is the world’s largest sculpture park created by a single artist. It is Gustav Vigeland’s lifework with more than 200 sculptures in granite and bronze. The Vigeland Park was mainly constructed between 1939 and 1949. Roy Darvik photographs the various sculptures at dusk and during the night, utilizing an innovative form of pin-pointed flash and moving his camera to bring these fossilized stone figures to life.

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Like some sort of man-made Pompeii, the sculptures rise in front of you, forever frozen in a single moment of time. I love the challenge of trying to make the sculptures come to life. The Vigeland Park changes drastically from season to season and the ever-changing light brings out new and exciting details in the sculptures.

My favorite time of year to photograph the sculptures is actually late autumn despite the cold temperatures. The frost brings out interesting details in the sculptures and gives them an extra dimension. The evenings are also longer and darker. That gives me an opportunity to play with shadow and light in new ways. I’ve actually built my own black wrap, which I have placed on a Gobo lens. I always mount the flash on a tripod. This gives me the freedom to work on slight camera movements during long exposures. The outcome is eery and really makes the sculptures come to life.

It’s not an easy task to control all the factors involved even though I carefully plan ahead what I want to achieve. The pictures can be very different from exposure to exposure and sometimes I end up with a couple of hundred exposures of the same motif and every single one of them is unique. It’s an exciting way of photographing the sculptures.

I use a Summilux-M 50mm on my Leica M-P Typ 240. In order to get an even more limited depth of field I photograph close to the minimum focusing distance. I normally use Live View when photographing. Live View might seem like something of an anachronism on a camera modeled on a mid-20th century rangefinder, but it’s very useful for candid shooting and waist-level compositions, as well as anything requiring critical framing.

My Vigeland Park project has been stretching over several years and I’m not finished with the park yet. Maybe I will make a book one day.

– Roy Darvik

 

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