Friday, January 30, 2009

Long Exposure in Day Light

lillie park blowing wind 3

Camera: Canon EOS Digital Rebel XTi
Exposure: 0.3 sec (3/10)
Aperture: f/22
Focal Length: 18 mm
ISO Speed: 100


To convey the windy day outside I wanted to show these reeds moving in the wind. This can be a difficult subject to photograph when the sky is completely clear on a Sunny day. Here are some things that have to be put in place for an image like this to work.
  • Reduce Distracting Elements - This is very important, but more so with an image that shows movement like this. Had I shot this directly head on instead of shooting up toward the sky; movement would have been much harder to separate from the background. The distracting elements could be reduced by opening the lens up to F1.8 or 2.8 however, this is not possible when showing movement in direct sunlight.
  • Slow Shutter Speed - Stopping the lens down to it's almost maximum will more then likely be required depending on the amount of wind present outside. You will also want to shoot at your lowest ISO possible 100 or 50 if available. If I was to shoot head on everything in the background would be in focus and sharp since the lens is stopped down so much. Since objects further away move a smaller distance on the film plane due to the Parallax effect they would be sharper then the foreground reeds which are moving. The eye would naturally want to look at the background since it is sharper then the foreground and the moving reeds would just turn into a distraction at this point.
  • Neutral Density Filters - Even with your lens stopped down your shutter speed may still be to fast to show movement. In this image I had to use my neutral density filter ND2 which stops the available light reaching the lens by 2 stop. I would have liked a ND4 in this situation since it was very bright outside but ND2 was acceptable. You can also use a polarizing filter stack with your ND filters or alone to further reduce the amount of light available.

Post Processing

Since I had to take this image during the day time due to the local terrain where these reeds were located this image taken during the sunset would not have worked. The reason behind this is the sun sets behind a hill located behind the camera. It would have cast a deep shadow over the reeds. Some external lighting would be required to show movement and a flash is to fast in this situation. A continuous lighting source would be require which is to cumbersome to carry in the field.

I was able to replicate a sunset using a simple gradient, some masking and a hue adjustment. Viloa! This is a situation where post processing was the only option to get what I envisioned in my minds eye.

Here is another image taken the same considerations in place without a sunset sky added using photoshop.


lillie park blowing wind 2

Camera: Canon EOS Digital Rebel XTi
Exposure: 0.5 sec (1/2)
Aperture: f/22
Focal Length: 18 mm
ISO Speed: 100

Abstract - Light Painting

Abstract Light Painting
Camera: Canon PowerShot S3 IS
Exposure: 2 sec (2)
Aperture: f/8
Focal Length: 21.3 mm


Abstract Light Painting
Camera: Canon PowerShot S3 IS
Exposure: 2 sec (2)
Aperture: f/8
Focal Length: 41.6 mm

Abstract Light Painting
Camera: Canon PowerShot S3 IS
Exposure: 2 sec (2)
Aperture: f/8
Focal Length: 21.3 mm


Painting with light can be a fun experience. Each image will surprise you as it's almost impossible to predict exactly what will happen with long shutter times at night. Having a friend drive a car while you operate your camera at night is the ideal situation for light painting I have found. I find what creates the most striking images is the use of negative space. I have seen the lots of light painting photographs taken from moving cars so other people have discovered this as well.

Problems:
I generally don't like light painting within cars using short focal lengths. When shorter lengths are used lights tend to stay in the same position relative on the plane of the film. Most people tend to shoot out the windshield with short focal lengths. When you do this cars coming towards you or cars that are moving with the flow of traffic tend to stay in the same place on the film plane. Understanding the parallax effect will help you understand why this is the case when photographing moving objects. Don't forget if the object is not moving but you are the parallax effect is still present.

If you would like to experiment with short focal lengths and long shutter times I find pointing the camera out the passenger side window works really well. This allows lights in the distance to move a a diffrent speed relative to lights closer to the lens. The first two shots where taken using this method.

If you wish to shoot out the windshield which can work very well and want to use a short focal length I recommend setting up a tripod to get nice sharp steaks of lights unless of course you want a bunch of streaks going all over the place. Using a longer focal length works good when shooting outside the windshield. The parallax effect is enhanced when using longer focal lengths so you can get away with shooting out the front of the windshield.

Colors:
Sometimes the pictures can come out pretty dull because traffic coming towards you is always going to be white and usually very bright compared to everything else. Depending on your location stop lights, street lamps, neon lights can give you some really interesting color combinations. Traffic however tens to be pretty dull it's going to be red or white for the most part. Going for details with longer focal lengths and shorter shutter speeds will give some interesting results as well.

Corrections:
Take everything I just said and throw it all out. Experiment and see what works for you. Everyone likes different methods of light painting. I have found these methods tend to give me the best images but, your situation and mileage will vary. Try experimenting with focal lengths and shutter speeds this is key.

Of course do this in digital unless you want to just burn through rolls of film.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Balanced Egg

Balanced Egg
Camera:
Canon EOS Digital Rebel XTi
Exposure: 0.05 sec (1/20)
Aperture: f/9.0
Focal Length: 50 mm
ISO Speed: 100
Exposure Bias: +1 EV

If it's possible it's probable, anything that is probable will happen given enough time. Throw these eggs into the air; eventually you will arrive to divine composition.

Lighting & Setup:

I used an Acculite Viewing Box which contains a fluorescent tube inside with a piece of frosted plastic on top to create diffuse lighting. This viewing box is used to view film negatives.


Eggs were placed at the edge of viewing box and taped in place. Camera and tripod were adjusted to photograph the eggs from above to create the illusion of them being stacked on top of each other.


I metered the scene then adjusted my ex poser compensation to over exposed by one stop from what the Meter was telling me. I decided to over expose because I knew my meter was giving me an incorrect reading. Since these light meters want to make the scene render out to about 18% gray it was making the light coming from the box much to gray instead of white.


Looking back I could have probably even over exposed the image by two stops to gain even more contrast between the eggs and the viewing box.




Post Processing:
Minimal post processing was needed. I used the healing brush to clean up a few spots on the viewing box and a slight curve adjustment to get more contrast. Looking back I could have probably made the contrast stronger but a better option would be to do it correctly in camera first.


I also should have been more careful taping the eggs to the viewing box to ensure they are precisely placed. I would like to revisit this image at a later date and perhaps experiment with different stacking.