Sunday, September 27, 2015

Getting Off the (Well) Beaten (Tourist) Path

Digging back into the archives for this photo from 2007. Anyone ever been to Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia? It's a beautiful little place; however, it can also be a very busy place as it's an extremely popular tourist destination.

I've had the chance to see it, and hoping to get back there again next year.  I was able to get there relatively early, and while there were others already there was able to avoid the massive crowds. But that all changed when four large tour buses arrived!

Now I love shooting wide angle, sweeping landscapes, and I was able to do that here. In fact I got pretty much the same "tourist photos" that a lot of people get (hey I was still new at photography), and pretty sure I found the exact tripod marks from so many others before me...see the images below, for example.

But when those tour buses arrived I had to start to think like a photographer, and choose a new strategy. I decided to change my approach to eliminate the crowds and look for something unique. In this case I took a stroll off the well beaten tourist path where I found these two beat up little boats. The next thing I did was to zoom in a bit more to eliminate any distracting elements around them.

Try this the next time you're battling a lot of crowds. Take a walk off the path a little, and try zooming in a bit more to eliminate distractions, get some of those detail shots that help to fill in the story you're trying to tell.



Sunday, September 13, 2015

"The Post" - Part 3 - Milky Way Over Nelson

Hey everyone, here is the third and final instalment of my Milky Way over Nelson series of the "The Shot," "The Shoot & The Gear," and "The Post."

Here's a video on how I post processed my Milky Way images. Really simple processing using only Lightroom.



Monday, August 31, 2015

"The Shoot & The Gear" Part 2 - Milky Way Over Nelson

Welcome back! Moving along with part 2 of this series is "The Shoot & The Gear." I was back in Las Vegas in early August for Photoshop World, my second year attending, and it was awesome...again!

One of the pre-conference workshops I attended was lightpainting with Dave Black. Basically, lightpainting is done in the evening when it's dark, where you hold a long exposure for the ambient light, then move off-camera and use an LED flashlight to "paint with light" on your subject. Check out Dave Black's site to learn more and get inspired to try it yourself.

I mention the lightpainting as it's germaine to how I got the image above. To lightpaint you use a long exposure with the following starting point of f8, 30 sec, ISO 500, and then you adjust as needed to get a decent overall exposure. This is all done on a tripod, obviously. While doing this for over an hour you get pretty comfortable with managing long exposures, and you can get pretty good at predicting how varying exposures will look.

As the workshop was winding down I headed back to the bus, and that's where I looked up and saw the Milky Way (everyone with me had already seen it and were shooting so I was kinda late to the party; I was shooting in the other direction for most of the night). So I set-up and began shooting away. As I mentioned in my original post I shot in both landscape and portrait orientation. Always good to do both just in case you don't make it back to that spot. That way you can decide later on which one you like best.

Here we go with the gear and settings:
- Nikon D810
- 24-70 f2.8 (version 1 since a new version with VR has just been released)
- 24mm, f2.8, 30sec @ ISO 2500
- This was all done in "Manual" mode

I also used the timer setting with a 5 second delay (I was already using that for lightpainting as I needed the 5 seconds to get off camera with my flashlight). However, you can use a cable release or a wireless remote just as well.

I set my focus mode to manual and then to infinity by turning my focus ring all the way to the infinity mark, and then back just slightly. There are a few different focus techniques for shooting stars and such that you can Google, but for this I chose set it to infinity.

Aperture - you always want to shoot with the widest f-stop as possible so you can capture as much light, and as many stars as you can. For me this was f2.8; however, if your widest f-stop is f4.5 then go with that.

Shutter Speed - a good starting point is always relative to your focal length. Basically whatever your focal length is that will be your shutter speed in seconds. In my case I was at 24mm so the closest shutter speed was 25 seconds, which is where I started. I ended up bumping it to 30 seconds as I got a bit more light, and the overall exposure looked better to me. Again, take a few different exposures so you have some options later on.

ISO - I set mine to 2500. Again you want to capture as much light as possible and this is a good starting point. However, if your widest f-stop is f4.5 you may want to push the ISO a stop or 2 higher than 2500. If you need to go higher after your first exposure then you bump bit by bit until you get something that looks good.

Remember, this is all about your exposure triangle of aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. With your f-stop at its widest you only have shutter speed and ISO to play with to adjust your exposure. So start with some base settings and make adjustments along the way to see what works for you.

One last thing about trying to capture the Milky Way is that you really need to have a dark sky. I live near Toronto where there is a lot light pollution so I don't get to see the Milky Way a lot around home, if ever. However, Nelson is about 50 minutes south east of Las Vegas, basically out in the middle of cell service, and no light pollution. You could see the Milky Way with the naked eye, which was really cool! So basically get as far away from a major city as possible and you'll be in a good shape for some serious star gazing.

So that's it for "The Shoot & The Gear" in this series. Stay tuned for the final installment, "The Post," where I'll show how I post processed the final image.



Saturday, August 22, 2015

"The Shot" Part 1 - Milky Way Over Nelson

OK folks, time for another instalment of The Shot, The Shoot and the Gear, and The Post. This is where I post a photo, then follow up with the how I shot it and the gear used, and finally my post processing to create the final image.

In this instalment I actually have two shots, one landscape and one portrait. I like to shoot both sometimes and decide late which one I like better. In this case I'm leaning towards the landscape orientation as my favourite, as the foreground adds a nice element to the overall scene. But you can decide which one you prefer.

Stay tuned for the next post!