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Sunday
Sep092012

From RAW to Final: Lighthouse near Halifax!

Hello everyone,

so here's another 'From RAW to Final' image.

Today, I want to share an image I took near Halifax, Nova Scotia (Canada). I took this during a workshop I taught there in June of this year. It was a beautiful calm day, and I was out until after sunset, being amazed at the colors and peace and quiet that I found at this location.

The lighthouse structure itself is much less 'impressive' compared to the nearby "Peggy's Cove" Lighthouse, which is the most photographed Lighthouse in all of Canada. But being there at sunset let me capture this scene in beautiful light and color.

My 'real' camera, a Phase One, was in the shop getting fixed so I took advantage of the opportunity and travelled much lighter on this trip.

This image was captured using a Canon 5D Mark III with a Nikon 24mm Tilt Shift lens (using an adapter).

Exposure time was 1235 seconds (just over 20 minutes).

It's rare that my exposure time is this long, but the light was fading fast at this point so I decided to double the exposure I initially metered for. The resulting image is still underexposed (by over 1 stop) and it speaks for the quality of the camera that noise levels were still relatively minimal.

Above you can see the 'setup' shot with my iphone. I spent more than 4 hours at this location, searching for the best 'viewpoint' and camera position. Weather conditions were great, with full clouds that I knew would make for interesting skies during long exposures.

I kept this image fairly dark throughout my post processing. I like the dramatic clouds and highlights near the tower. The final image is a stitch from 2 images, cropped to a 2:1 ratio panorama.

I liked the color in the sky, and used Alien Skin's Exposure 4 plugin to fine-tune it even further.

Photoshop CS6 was used to desaturate, and add selective sharpness and tonality to the rocks and lighthouse structure.

Hope you enjoyed! More tk...

Sunday
Sep022012

Fine-Art Long Exposure Online Course Starts October 8th, 2012!

Hello everyone,

my Fine-Art Long Exposure Photography Online Course starts again on Monday October 8th, 2012.

Get 10 weeks of learning, five assignments, and most importantly, personalized feedback on your images.

There are still a few spots left available.

For more information, and to sign up online, click this link.

Thank you!

Marc

 

Saturday
Aug112012

From RAW to FINAL: Old Barn near Calgary

Hello everyone,

So I just announced a new Fine-Art Long Exposure Workshop that will be held in Calgary (Alberta, Canada) on October 20th and 21st, 2012.

I have taught a similar workshop in Calgary last year, and the image below shows our workshop group at one of the shooting locations, including photo assistants Hajo (My Dad) and Richard. And I am in there as well.

We had students travel from as far as Scottsdale, San Francisco and Winnipeg. A big thanks again to everyone who came out! It was great meeting so many nice and enthusiastic photographers!

For today’s ‘From RAW to FINAL’, I wanted to share how I worked on one image I took during the workshop, and how I gave it its final look.

Calgary Long Exposure Workshop with Marc Koegel - Final Image: 'Old Barn'

Above you can see the final image: ‘Old Barn’.

Exposure time was 512 seconds, @ F11 ISO 50.

I used a total of 16 stops of ND filtration to allow me to get such a long exposure in bright day-light. Here’s a link to one of the filters I used.

Now let’s take a look at how I arrived at this final image:

The image above shows my ‘setup’ for taking the shot of an old barn. I used a Phase One medium format digital back. The final image was a panorama assembled from 2 images and then cropped to a ‘double square’ aspect ratio of 1:2. I liked the old barn but also wanted to incorporate the winding road, whch made for an interesting leading line.

The image above shows how I merged multiple images to a single Panorama using Autopano Pro Software.

Next, I am cropping the panorama that Autopano Pro generated to my desired aspect ratio of 1:2 or the ‘double square’. The resulting image has over 45 megapixel, thanks to using the Phase One Camera. I can make huge prints from this file!

I use Silver Efex Pro 2 Software to convert to black and white. This can be done in Photoshop as well, but I get amazing results in much less time with Silver Efex. Above you can see how the ‘simple’ black and white above was transformed into a more dramatic black and white image using the tools available in Silver Efex 2 Software.

You can download a free trial and if you’re doing lots of black and white conversions I am convinced you will love this software!

For my workflow I like tweaking what Silver Efex generates in Photoshop. This let’s me have ultimate control and fine-tune my images even more.

There you have it. Let me know what you think and don’t be shy to ask questions about the workflow above.

Thanks for reading and have a great day!

For those of you near Calgary, here is the link with all the workshop information. Thank you for visiting!

Marc

 

Monday
Jul232012

From RAW to Final: Icelandic Rock - The Video!

Hello everyone,

I've been finally able to track down a fast internet connection here in Spain so I could upload my behind-the-scenes video.

This video is in full HD (1920x1080) and almost 40 minutes long!

In it, I go over the following topics using the example of my 'Icelandic Rock' image:

  • Preparing for a photo shoot (photo trips), including several advance research methods
  • Composition choice(s) and long exposure technique
  • Camera equipment used for the 'Icelandic Rock' image
  • Camera shooting techniques (i.e. using shift movements, stitching multiple images)
  • Post Production techniques using Adobe Photoshop, NIK Multimedia Color Efex Pro 4 etc

I hope you'll enjoy the video and pick up a tip (or two!). Any and all comments, as well as questions, are not only welcomed but highly encouraged!

 

Sunday
Jul152012

From RAW to Final: Icelandic Rock!

UPDATE: Due to an unreliable internet connection here in Spain, I will have to post the video showing my workflow for this image in a separate post later this week. Thank you for your patience. Marc

Hello everyone,

a huge 'thank you' to all of you who have emailed, left a comment on the blog here, on facebook, google+ etc.

Encouraged by your response, here is the behind-the-scenes write-up AND video of my 'Icelandic Rock' image (original blog about it is below):

Here is the final image as a repost:

Before the image was even photographed: The importance of doing your research!

This image started forming in my minds eye long before I sat foot on the beach right in front of it. When planning my Iceland trip, I did a lot of research as to where to shoot.

Tools I use are google earth, maps, but also web sites like flickr, 500px and even general google image searches.

When I was looking around, I came across this location on flickr:

When looking at the above images, it is important to understand that this is NOT about copying any or anyone. It's about learning how a place looks, and what photographic opportunities exists.

I also paid attention to things like water level (tides) and possible camera angles (shoot from up high or lower from the beach). I also use a small app that shows me direction of sunlight, as well as sunrise and sunset times for any shooting location I am interested in.

In summary, here is what you should know about a location even before you get there:

  • Best time to visit
  • Sunrise and sunset times
  • Angle of the sun at different times of the day
  • Tides and times. Is it better to visit at high or low tide?
  • Best shooting angle(s) and camera position
  • Anticipated choice of camera and specific lens

Obviously, sometimes we simply cannot gather all this information ahead of our shoot but it is good to at least try and be aware of this list. It will make your photography much more enjoyable and almost guarantees the highest quality results.

Finally, from the images above I already knew that I wanted to make sure to expose in such a way that allowed me to have detail in the rock as well as the background sky. I also knew I wanted to visit at high tide, when the rock was fully submerged in water. I wanted to visit at sunrise, because the angle of the sun was helping to light up the detail on the rock, eliminating the need for extended bracketing and HDR type exposure. Finally, a low angle, from the beach, gave me a better view of the rock compared to shooting from high up on the cliffs.

The Camera:

I photographed this image with my Cambo Wide DS Camera, which is essentially a shift camera particularly useful with wide-angle lenses.

The camera offers generous lens shifts, as well as rear shifts that are great when what you're looking for is being able to stitch panoramas from several images.

Let's take a look at the camera and it's movements:

For this image, I used the rear shift so that I could stitch two separate exposures. Note that I did not need to move the camera itself, I only had to shift the rear.

Compositionally, I really wanted to include a lot of negative space around 'the rock'. I only had one lens, a fixed 35mm wide-angle equivalent to about a 21mm wide-angle on 35mm full-frame digital cameras. It was a wide view, but not wide enough. The panorama helped to include significantly more negative space in my composition, and later in Photoshop I increased it even more by using the 'content aware scale' feature. More details on that later in this post.

The Shoot: Arriving at the location

I arrived a bit later than what I had been hoping for. About 3 hours before sunset. There weren't many signs, and during my entire stay I did not see any other visitors. I packed my gear and headed for the beach, taking comfort in the fact that my cell phone indeed had reception. I also packed a small snack and a water bottle, so I could stay down on the beach for as long as I needed.

It didn't take long to reach the beach, but the climb down the cliffs was a bit difficult while carrying camera gear and a tripod. As mentioned, I was happy to know my cell had some reception. I sat up my camera and started taking pictures within minutes of standing on the beach. One of the benefits of doing my research ahead of time!

The RAW files and merge to Panorama:

Here are my RAW files, which I merged to a single panoramic images in Photoshop CS5. To do this, simply select both files in Bridge and choose Tools --> Photoshop --> Photomerge.

Above, you can see the results of my panoramic stitch. If you've never tried it, I am sure you'll be surprised by how easy it really is to make panoramas. Be it using Photoshop or, my first choice, Autopano Pro Panoramic Software.

Above you can see the final composition after I have applied the 'content aware scale' command in Photoshop. Note that now the sky area has been enlarged, and I have also moved the rock off the center and the horizon line is moved down, giving emphasize to the sky.

What needs to be worked on is the sky. Unfortunetely, there were no clouds that day. But Photoshop will come to the rescue!

I have to point out, though, that I MUCH rather shoot in the right conditions than resort to Photoshop. It's much more fun to me to photograph in the right light, and this will keep my post production to a minimum as well. But in this case, it was too hard to re-visit so I had to make use of photoshop to 'enhance' the sky (and was aware of this even before I pressed the shutter).

Above you can see the image after I changed the sky, using one from another capture that was done elsewhere in Iceland.

My behind-the-scenes video will show you exactly how I did change the sky. It's a matter of making a selection and then copying in a sky from any other image files.

Compositionally, I think that this sky complements the image very well. It adds some drama, and the highlights right behind the rock makes the viewers eye travel there and stay there.

Above you can see the final Photoshop file, complete with all 8 layers. Note that this file also includes an alternate sky, as well as an alternate color treatment. All of this makes the file size explode to almost 2 gigabyte.

I used Nik Multimedia's Color Efex Pro 4 to create the color treatment above. The vignette was important to further help keep the viewers eye inside my composition. Furthermore, I used a slight blur effect that was only removed selectively on the rock, as I wanted to preserve the sharp detail there.

With this final image, I belief I have done everything to draw the viewers attention to the rock itself. The surface is very sharp, and the high amount of negative space enhances its impact within the overall composition. Finally, the false color treatment that is biased on the 'dark' side adds moods and mystery to the image. Exactly what I wanted.

Before I close, I also wanted to share my alternate color treatment for this image.

This was achieved using Alien Skin's Exposure 4 Plugin. I have been using Alien Skin products for as long as I have Nik Multimedia. If you haven't tried it yet, they do have a free trial version ready for download.

This version was actually the favorite of my wife. Everyone else around the studio preferred the first, including myself. This version is a bit brighter, not as dark and mystical.

I hope you enjoyed this behind-the-scenes look. Thank you for reading!

More tk..

Thursday
Jul122012

Fine-Art Long Exposure ONLINE COURSE!

Hello everyone,

I wanted to take the opportunity this week and tell you all about my upcoming Fine-Art Long Exposure Online Course which is starting again next Monday, July 16th, 2012.

Since January of this year I have been offering my popular Fine-Art Long Exposure Workshop in this new online format.

Within the past 6 months, I have had over 100 students already! It has been a lot of work to get this organized and delivered, but I am thrilled by the incredible feedback I have gotten. I have met some wonderful people and photographers this way, and look forward to a lot more!

This online course is 10 weeks in length, with 5 assignments given. You will receive personalized critique and feedback on your images, along with learning resources both in written and audio and video formats.

The course is offered through my workshop company, Vancouver Photo Workshops. Here's a screen-shot and a link so you can get more information:

Long Exposure Photography 10 Week Online Course

Direct link is here:

http://www.vancouverphotoworkshops.com/workshops/Long_Exposure_10week_Online_Course.php

I have been teaching my fine-art long exposure workshops and courses since late 2006. I have welcomed students from as far from away from Vancouver as Norway and New Zealand. With technology opening up new avenues for communication and teaching, it is time to expand into the online 'realm'.

Monday
Jul022012

Lighthouse at Westkapelle (Netherlands):

Hello everyone,

I will take a break from posting images from my trip to Iceland this week, and instead share with you an image I took in Westkapelle (Netherlands).

I visited Domburg, only minutes from Westkapelle, while on my way to the Google+ Euro Photowalk in Berlin (Germany). My 'mission' was to scout for an upcoming workshop there.

In only a few days I will be heading back to this amazing coastal area to host my Fine-Art Long Exposure Workshop that I will be co-teaching with my good friend and award-winning Photographer Joel Tjintjelaar.

This will be the 2nd workshop I will be teaching in Europe together with Joel. If you're not familiar with his amazing imagery, please go ahead and take a look!

The workshop will be based in Domburg, a small coastal town that gives us quick and easy access to locations such as the Westkapelle Lighthouse.

Here's the image I made back in May:

Image Details:

I used my Cambo Wide DS body with a Rodenstock 35mm lens, fitted to my Phase One P45+ Digital Back. Exposure was 8 minutes at F11.

This camera is pretty unique in that it allows you to introduce a substantial amount of lens shift. For this image, I shifted the lens upward by 15mm. This allowed me to keep the architectural lines of the lighthouse straight and in alignment.

While shifted upward (also called 'rise'), the camera also allows for left and right shift which is a great way to create several images that can be easily merged to a single panoramic image. It does so by moving the rear, or sensor plane, so all such movements stay within the image circle of the lens with no need to find the nodal point.

I shot 3 seperate exposures in this case, and merged them to a large panorama with almost 60 megapixel resolution (even after cropping 'double square' as seen above).

Composition thoughts:

While staying in Domburg, I visited this location several times (3 to be exact). One of the tips I frequently give to my students is to make time to re-visit locations and keep shooting until you are completely satisfied.

When shooting sea-scapes like this, elements like water level (tides), time of day, angle of the sun, amount of cloud cover, and even amount of tourists walking around the site are all important factors and will have an effect as to how your final image turns out.

For those reasons, among others, I always try to re-visit whenever I can. It is hard, virtually imposible, to get an image you're really satisfied with in a single visit. When you re-visit you'll be forced to think about your composition and you'll be more likely to try something new. That is when the 'magic' happens, at least it feels like so for me.

To demonstrate this point a bit further, let's consider the following four behind-the-scenes (BTS) images:

The above images show my camera setup during several visits. I shot from several angles, until I finally arrived at the viewpoint I liked the most (first image, top left corner).

A big bonus is a leading line that was created by some wet rocks. On my last visit, I arrived when it was raining. I stayed until the rain stopped and was quick enough to setup my camera to take advantage of the perspective that used the light reflecting of the wet rocks in the foreground. If I hadn't visited several times, I would have never seen this small detail that, in my opinion, greatly improves my composition.

The longer I worked my framing, I also saw myself including more and more negative space. I moved my camera further and further away from the Lighthouse, and by reducing its size relative to its surroundings, I belief I made it gain visual importance and weight within the composition.

The importance of negative space is another tip I often talk about with my students. It's the reason I like to use wide-angle lenses, and using panoramic imagery also helps create wider perspectives.

What I did in Post-Production:

The first step was to create the final image and composition by merging the 3 separate exposures using Autopano Pro. The result was cropped double square in Photoshop CS6.

The image was converted to black and white in Silver Efex Pro 2 and further adjustments were made in Photoshop CS6.

This is actually the first image I ever published that features selective colouration.

Can you see the faint red hue in the lighthouse?

I was experimenting a lot and when my family, including my 3 year old daughter Mila, all agreed that they liked the color in the lighthouse I thought I'd give it a try and wait for your feedback.

The reason I decided to experiment with this was to give the lighthouse just a bit more presence. Draw some more attention to it.

Please let me know if you think it worked.

Upcoming Workshop in Domburg (Netherlands):

As of today, there are still 2 seats left available in my upcoming workshop in Domburg. Remember that you'll get not 'just' me but actually two instructors. 

There are only a few days left, so you got to be quick making your decision. Click this link to see more information about this unique offering.

Thank you for reading. More tk...

Friday
Jun082012

Icelandic Rock

Hello everyone,

so here it is. The 2nd image from my trip Iceland in May.

This was one wild place. Took me a while to find it, and the access had me scrambling down a 500 foot cliff to a black lava beach. While at this location I did not meet or even see any other humans, so I paid very close attention not to slip and fall while descending down the cliffs. Who knows if and when I would have been discovered -:)

Image photographed with a Cambo Wide DS fitted with Phase One P45+ Digital Back and 35mm Lens. 121 Seconds at f8. ISO 50. 2 horizontal captures stitched. Final image is 70 Megapixel resolution and should make a great big print.

While shooting, I setup with iPhone 4s to record a small, but fun, behind-the-scenes timelapse movie.

Have a look here:

This large lava rock formation sits in the ocean about 100 feet from shore. I had never seen anything quite like it before. I was there about 2 hours ahead of sunset, with the sun descending down right behind me.

Because this 'rock' has such strong visual presence, I wanted to include large amounts of negative space in my composition. My 35mm lens gave me the equivalent view of approximately 21mm on full frame 35mm digital, but I wanted to include even more negative space. That's why I decided to make 2 captures and merge them together as a Panorama that now showed a perspective similar to about a 12mm lens on 35mm full frame digital.  

I received my new Cambo Wide DS camera just days before this trip, and was eager to test it out. It turned out to be the perfect photographic tool, allowing me not only to shoot wide-angle, but do so while being able to apply generous amounts of shift to control my perspective. Even more impressive, this camera allowed me to stitch 2 images without having to move the camera itself. It's all accomplished through rear shifts, which makes it a dream to stitch (as the movements are within the lens's image circle).

In Photoshop, I decided to 'play' with color. I loaded this image into 'Exposure 4' plugin by Alien Skin Software. If you're not familiar with this plugin, give it a try. It did a great job on this image.

It's not easy to convince me not to shoot in black and white -:)

Note: Please let me know if you'd like to see a 'From RAW to Final' Video for this image.

Just leave a comment below and if there's enough interest I will put a video together. This would include starting with the original RAW files, merging them to Panorama, Photoshop adjustments and color treatment in Alien Skin's Exposure 4 Plugin. 

Thanks for taking a look. More tk...

Wednesday
May232012

A First from Iceland!

Hello everyone,

well here it is. The first image from my recent trip to Iceland.

Iceland easily places on the top of my list of countries to visit if you're into long exposure photography. In fact, there are many more cool things to do an explore there, but having only 7 days kinda' cut my agenda down to the essentials. Photography essentials that is. I rented a small camper van, hit the road and didn't stop looking for picture opportunities until it was time to head back towards the airport, 7 days later.

Along the way I took 337 pictures (yes that's less than 50 per day), saw some incredible places, ate great food and met some wonderful and friendly people. Oh, and I got a private visit and look inside an old lighthouse, almost got stuck on a high mountain road, and managed to survive without internet access for several days. Well, barely. 

Chatting with a photographer friend of mine just before the trip, he mentioned that Iceland is one of those places that can't be adequately described - you got to be there to really understand and appreciate it. When I arrived at the Glacier Lagoon I was blown away and couldn't agree more with my friend's statement..But this is by no means the only place that deserves this description. During my travels, I came across many sites and vistas that not only made me fall in love with Iceland but also had me mark my calendar for the next time I would be able to return. 

The image below is one of the first I took, right after touching down and picking up my camper. It's less than as 15 minute drive from the airport.

Camera is a Cambo Wide DS. 35mm lens. Phase One Digital Back. Exposure is 64 seconds @F11 ISO 50 with 13 stops of ND

This image is a stitch (or panorama) made out of 2 separate exposures, each shot at 64 second exposure time. It was real windy that day, so the clouds were moving fast and I was happy to have packed my big and heavy, yet very sturdy, tripod for this trip. I stayed at this spot for several hours, and actually re-visited it twice before my time in Iceland was over.

 

In the coming weeks, I will be posting more images from this trip, which in addition to Iceland, also took me to Amsterdam and Berlin, where I participated (and presented) at the Gplus Euro PhotoWalk.

Both Amsterdam as well as Berlin deserve seperate posts and those will follow soon as well.

For now, I am happy to be back in Vancouver, united with my family. This was the longest trip away since my kids were born, so it was time to put the camera(s) down for a while and return home.

More tk...

 

Friday
May112012

Interview on Nikonians Photo Professors Podcast!

Hello everyone,

just a short note today that an audio interview with me has just been released on the Photo Professor's podcast.

The Photo Professors are Rick Hulbert and Rick Paul. They talk with me about my long exposure photography, and there are a few tips in there for you to get started shooting in this style!

This podcast is available for download on the Nikonians website where you can also find the RSS feed and link to iTunes.