- Star Trail Photography Tips
- Interesting Photo of the Day: Down the Drain
- How to Light Two Surfaces with One Light Source: Portraits (Video)
- Timelapse Photography Tutorial (Video)
Posted: 18 Nov 2013 04:39 PM PST
One of the lessons in the Photography Lab series I teach is a lesson on night photography, specifically shooting the stars. There are two essentials to know before going out to shoot stars your first time.
ONE: The Earth is rotating. This means you can photograph star constellations, but after about 15 seconds, you will start to get blurring in your stars because of the movement of the Earth.
TWO: You should know a couple of constellations before you go out: the Big Dipper and Orion are the two I use to orient myself.
Why the Orion and The Big Dipper? First, they are extremely bright and easily found in the night sky. Second, besides being my favorite constellation, Orion is usually high enough in the sky to photograph with other stars around, but it can also sit low so you can get nice foreground elements in your compositions. Finally, use the two stars which make up the pouring end of the Big Dipper to find the North Star. Look at the bottom star in the dipper part of The Big Dipper, the non-handle end. Draw a from the bottom star in the dipper to the top star in the dipper, then continue this line until you see the Little Dipper. This line (and these two stars) point to the last star in the handle of the Little Dipper. Why is this important? The last star in the handle of the Little Dipper is Polaris – the North Star.
If you know where Polaris (The North Star) is located, you can point your camera in this direction and, using long exposure times, you will get circular star trails instead of blurry constellations.
When I shoot stars, I use 2 lenses: a Canon 10-22mm and a Tamaron 28-300 which I use in the 28mm – 80mm range. I set my camera to M (manual) and use the following settings:
Some other items you may want to bring along:
You can follow me as I continue to experiment with star photography techniques. You can see my attempts (success and failures) in the gallery at http://www.LiteWriting.com.
Now you know what gear you need, what settings to use, and where to point your camera. It’s time to get out there and try some star photography for yourself!
About the Author
Posted: 18 Nov 2013 03:21 PM PST
It’s called a Bell-Mouth Spillway, and its an added safeguard against flooding at dam sites. Dams often have human controlled mechanisms for allowing water to pass through downstream, especially in cases where the water is used to generate electricity. But in the case of floods, high water spilling over the dam can damage and sometimes compromise the structure—and a dam failure can be catastrophic. The spillway provides an alternate exit for rising waters, allowing it to safely rush downstream before it ever reaches the top of the dam:
There’s no indication as to what dam is being served by the above spillway, but one about that size is capable of eliminating 362,000 gallons of water PER SECOND.
And to answer the obvious question: No, you cannot ride the spillway. You will die.
Posted: 18 Nov 2013 02:31 PM PST
Shooting portraits with hard light is something photographers are generally taught to flee from—"Always use softboxes in studio sessions, and only shoot natural light portraits in the morning and evening, or your photographs will look washed out and amateur," they say.
But while shooting portraits with a hard light source can be tricky, it can be especially rewarding if the light is diffused properly using a reflector panel. In this video tutorial, photographer Joe McNally demonstrates the practice of using one hard light source to light two surfaces:
McNally's example shoot took place in a loft-like room with large, grated window panels leading out to a porch. Thinking that the shadows cast by the window grating would make a nice pattern on the brick wall behind the model, McNally positioned an undiffused Elinchrom Ranger 1100 Watt Second Power Pack out on the porch, angled so that the light "sprayed all over the set" and cast the desired shadows on the wall.
However, while this type of lighting is perfect for creating drastic shadows in the background, it's too harsh for lighting model's faces in the foreground.
To retain those bold shadows, but soften the light on his model's face, McNally used a Lastolite 32" Trigrip Reflector panel, positioned as close to the model as necessary to interrupt the flow of light spilling onto her face without affecting the light striking the back wall.
Go to full article: How to Light Two Surfaces with One Light Source: Portraits (Video)
Posted: 18 Nov 2013 10:28 AM PST
We feature many timelapse photography projects here on Picture Correct, but rarely do we find such great examples of how they were made as we have with the Dustin Farrell‘s video that you can see below. Over the 17 minute explanation, Farrell generously shares with viewers the process he uses to capture the tens of thousands of images needed to complete a single timelapse film. Take a look:
Using a Canon 5D MK III and a 14mm EF f 2.4 and 24mm lens EF f 1.4, Farrell manages to capture some stunning visual images which he then renders together in post processing. By walking the scene with his camera, Farrell is able previsualize and get a feel for how the photos will turn out. When shooting night skies, Farrell calls on the iPhone app, Night Skies, to help plan out when the stars will be perfectly aligned.
When taking the timelapse images, he sets up an 8-foot Stage Zero dolly which he uses to capture the slow panning effects found in his timelapse films. The dolly is controlled with a MX-2 Motion Controller, which is fully programmable to move at precise increments and intervals. The controller is usually set to move very gradually, so that when the images are played back via timelapse the pan appears smooth and not to quick.
To help light the foreground, Farrell setup a battery powered 1 foot by 1 foot LED Daylight Flood panel, but notes that is a delicate balancing act between too bright of a foreground and too dim. When shooting on the settings he used–30 second exposure, 2500 ISO, at f2.4–it is easy to overlight the foreground. He set the flood panel to just 10% brightness and bounced it into the ground to further diffuse and soften it.
Farrell also states that he shoots RAW 95% of the time, “because having that RAW data is priceless.” Given the high dynamic range of many of the sunsets and landscape scenes he prefers to shoot, the RAW information enables Farrell to fine tune the highlights and shadows.
Once the shoot has commenced, Farrell moves into his office where the tedious task of editing and rendering the footage begins. He starts by importing the photos into Adobe After Effects which automatically opens in them in Camera Raw where he makes minor adjustments such as lens correction, clarity, and white balance settings. Once done in Camera RAW, he makes a duplicate layer in After Effects and the real magic starts to happen.
Given the nature of shooting night and low light settings, noise will always be an issue when using great cameras such as the 5D MK III. To help combat the noise, Farrell uses the Neat Video Pro plug-in which handles the noise and brings it down to a more agreeable level.
Once all the adjustments are made and the images are edited to perfection, Farrell renders them together and sets them to playback at a frame rate of 29.97 frames per second. He prefers this framerate over a commonly used 24 fps, because he feels it is more pleasing to the eye–and judging by the quality work Farrell has repeatedly turned out his eye is a great judge of what looks best!
For Further Training on Timelapse Photography:
There is a COMPLETE guide (146 pages) to shooting, processing and rendering time-lapses using a dslr camera. It can be found here: The Timelapse Photography Guide
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