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Tuesday
Apr262011

Photo-Du-Jour: Tree on the way to Seattle!

 

Today, I picked and image I shot a few weeks ago while driving back to Vancouver from Seattle.

The weather that day had been miserable. Non-stop heavy rain made driving at highway speeds rather tiring, so I pulled off the road to stop and have some lunch. The rain suddenly stopped as I was driving up to this scene. Knowing that I will most likely only have a few minutes before the next down-pour would begin, I parked and setup my camera as quick as I could.

Exposure on this image was 181 seconds, and I really like the effect the long exposure had on the tree and its moving branches. It was a windy day, so the branches moved especially the ones furthest away from the trunk. I took 3 shots, before I thought to ask my wife to sit on the piece of driftwood washed up on the beach. This gave a needed element of tension in the composition – and introduced a ‘human element’ that added visual and emotional interest. Others may also call it the ‘counterpoint’ (my Friend Arthur Meyerson speaks about this concept very often).

The image was converted to BW from RAW using Lightroom 3. It was shot on my trusty Nikon D3.

This is another great example of how long exposures can yield very interesting images, as you explore the relationship between moving and non-moving elements within your composition. It’s a matter of delicate balance. If the whole tree had been moving, or if nothing had moved due to absence of wind, in both incidences the resulting image would have been far less successful.

This image always reminds me of the fact that any day can yield a good photograph. Any day. Even if you last expect it. Give it a try sometime.

Happy Shooting – and see you soon!

Saturday
Apr232011

Photo-Du-Jour: Rocks @Martha's Vineyard 

 

This is one of the first images posted on this Blog that has been shot using large format film. I used my 4×5 Toyo viewcamera, the film was Fuji Across. I was traveling along the East Coast, on my way to Maine when I stopped at Marha’s Vineyard. A resort-type island getaway, this turned out to be one of the most picturesque locations I visit during my trip (if you had long exposure in mind that is). I spent 3 days on the island, shooting from dusk ’till down. For a small place, there seemed to be photographic opportunities everywhere.

The image above was made just after sunrise. Exposure time was about 20 minutes. Aperture was F11, using 13 stops of ND filters. Don’t quote me on these figures. I recorded all analogue exposre in a small notebook, but gotta’ say that I have gotten real used to having metadata readily available now that we are in teh digital age. Matching up frames with notes was never fun nor an exact science…

The tide came in rather quickly that morning, so once this exposure was finished, it was high time to move my tripod (and myself!). The 53mm ultra-widenagle lens was shifted down to give me the dramatic low angle pespective (the rocks in the foreground were actually fairly small, but the wideangle exagerates their dimensions very well).

The film was hand-processed, and scanned using an Imacon (now Hasselblad) virtual drum scanner. The resulting file is over 600 megabytes in size, printable at almost any size. When quality is your priority, well exposed, processed and scanned film still beats digital capture. this is especially true with long exposures, as film shows no artifacts or noise no matter how long you push your exposure time.

Once scanned, the image was edited in Adobe Photoshop. I’ve experimented with some sepia toning methods, and ended up with the above as the final version. I used an excellent Photoshop action put together by my friend Greg Gorman. You can download the action free from his website. Since my image was black and white already, I was mostly interested in the way it allowed me to apply a realistic looking sepia tone. If you haven’t tried Greg’s action, go ahead and do so today. You won’t regret it.

Friday
Apr152011

Long Exposures of German Lighthouses!

Hello everyone,

below are a few images from a recent shoot in Germany. I was visiting my family and friends back in Hamburg.

As most of you will likely understand, a ‘break’ or ‘vacation’ (as it is sometimes called) will ALWAYS include time for photography for me. In fact, I have been known to take ‘vacations’ so that I finally have time for my photography. You could almost call it work, but the difference is that I enjoy every second of it.

My wife already knows that those 5 minutes frequently turn into hours, especially when I am shooting my long exposures (and she is very understanding, at least up to a point).

Here is a small preview of what I have been working on this past photo trips:


I spent some time on an Island called Sylt. Lost of expansive beaches and sand, and, as it turns out, lots of lighthouses, too. This is how I selected this subject, and thought I work on a small series.

I am working digitally here, with my trusty D3 and 18mm prime lens. Shooting wide-angle like this really worked, especially when I was able to capture stormy clouds and all the drama that came with it. On this next image it would have been great to get a bit closer, but all i had was my 18mm. You work with what you have...

Finally, as I was getting ready to escape from the rain that was sure to start any minute, I couldn’t resist taking this last images which is a self portrait. I started the exposure and walked into my own frame to sit there for a few minutes.

I sat on the bench for about 3 minutes (total exposure was about 5 minutes). When I got up and walked over to my camera, it had just started to rain and the wind was blowing in strong gusts. In fact, the gusts were so strong, the tripod was about to be blown over if I hadn't caught it. Way to avoid what could have been a real expensive afternoon...

Let me know what you think – any and all comments are much appreciated!

BTW, I’ll be teaching a Long Exposure Workshops, Level 1 and Level 2, in Vancouver and Calgary this summer. Have a look by cliicking the links. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday
Mar162011

Photo-Du-Jour: New York City Golden Hour!

Hello!

Another color photograph for your review:

This was shot from the “Top of the Rock”, which is the observation deck on the Rockefeller Center (on the 86th floor I belief). I went up there with my Nikon D3 and 24mm TS lens. This lens does both tilt and shift movements, which is extremely useful for creating images like this. I use this lens most often for architectural work, as the shift allows me to reduce the appearance of converging lines.

Due to the shift capabilities, this lens is also extremely useful for creating panoramas. You don’t actually have to move the camera, just shift the lens to the side and/or up and down.

The image above was shot at twilight at around 5pm. Interesting to know that the sky was heavily overcast and boring grey in appearance, but still the blue color came through in the final photograph. Saturation was increased in post, white balance was set at capture to sunny (which makes the tungsten lights in the office towers glow yellow).

I waited until the lights on the Empire State Building were turned on.

Exposure was 2 minutes, which can be seen by the mostly blurry smoke formation on the right side. I used a 3 stop ND filter and an f-stop of F11 @ISO 200 (which is the optimal ISO on the Nikon D3).

Tripods are strictly prohibited not only on this observation deck but probably on most all around the country. So I brought a Gorilla Pod with me. Incredible trick, as this gets you trough security without a hitch. Sure, it took only minutes until I was questioned while shooting, but after a polite explanation I was allowed to continue. Not that the security officer seemed to understand what I was trying to do – He left shaking his head and thought I was crazy standing out in the cold in the same spot for over an hour per image…

A tripod was not only necessary for the longish exposure time, but also for creating a seamless panorama where the camera does not more between single shots (only the lens shifts). Even if you do not have a shift lens and it still helps to rotate the camera on a tripod rather than handholding it (even when using a fast shutter speed).

The Gorilla pod was a lifesaver in this situation. Sure its not as sturdy as my Gitzo, but it does the job where I cannot bring anything bigger.

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