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TUTORIAL: What’s your time of day? (Part 3) The Midday Sun

By tom dinning via Light Stalking

Noel Coward wrote that only mad dogs and Englishmen would dare go out in the midday Sun. Fortunately for us, Noel didn’t include photographers in those that shouldn’t.

Now that we have been up since 4am for the First Light at the beach and spent a pleasant morning strolling through the gardens in the Second Light, we may as well stick it out for the rest of the day. I still have some space on my CF card. Do you? So lets get out from under this tree and enjoy the rest of the day.

11.01am

My watch says 11.01am and it’s heating up. It’s going to stay this way until about 2pm so some preparation is in order. Looking out there, you might think there isn’t much to offer. But you are very much mistaken.

11.10am

Other than some UV cream and a hat, a comfort stop and a cool drink, I’m ready. I’ve snapped on a wide zoom (17-35mm) because I’m not heading anywhere special. That’s my ‘nothing special in mind’ lens. I’m going to wander to see where life takes me. Since I cast only a little shadow to follow I’ll let my nose lead the way. It’s big enough not to loose sight of in a crowd.

11.24am

I’ll do a quick pass by the beach to see if there is anything going on. The glare will be severe so I’ll slip on a polerising filter to cut back on the reflections and increase the blueness of the sky. You might be lucky enough to spot some interesting landforms as well ….. whatever your preference.

11.26pm

11.27am

11.35am

Last week the storms made the sky a bit more interesting but you take what you can get when it comes to the weather.

11.55am last week

And when things start to happen you don’t consult your watch to find out if its within your allocated shooting time.

Just because its midday, there’s not reason to be wasting your time in a library with a good book – or not!

12.08pm

If you’re looking for people doing interesting things, go have lunch with them. People, for some reason, swarm around food outlets at this time of the day. I don’t have a lot of luck with my pick-up lines but you might try: ‘I like the look of that pasta. Can I have a bite?’

12.22pm

If the weather permits, stay outdoors and shoot over the top of your sandwich. The wide angle will help here. Since there will be plenty of light, find a good depth of field and the focus will take care of itself. This is candid stuff – not museum masterpieces, so enjoy the moment without the hassles of perfect picture control.

12.50pm

You might be lucky enough to have a local market handy if it’s the weekend. The colours will be bright in this full sun so search out those in the red end of the spectrum.

12.59pm

If you are near a local Mall, have a walk down the thoroughfare. If it’s too hot you may have the place to yourself. Look around for those colours again. Assume that anyone who looks a bit strange has been affected by the Sun’s heat and give them some space; cranky fairies included.

1.00pm

Keep in mind the shadows will be about 8 stops below the sun lit promenade, so don’t expect too much detail up alley ways and through doorways.

The contrast at this time of the day is extreme and it can be used to your advantage. If you have some countryside nearby look out for full sun on textured surfaces. The sky might get a bit burnt out here so keep your horizon high or totally out of the picture.

1.02pm

If you choose to include the horizon, convert to B&W and darken the sky with the blue slider in the B&W adjustment layer. It looks better than a big blob of white overhead.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with doing the tourist thing and taking that shot from the lookout with the busload of grey nomads on their ‘Round The World Expedition. I fit right in.

1.07pm

I love the fountains at this time of the day. The water sparkles but you might need to walk around to find the right angle. Then wait for the lunchtime crowd to pass by. Someone will catch your eye.

1.10pm

Of course, if you live in some miserable climate like Brighton or Vancouver and it rains all the time, you can still go out. The wet streets provide a great atmosphere for you to practice your skills or just record your memories.

1.27pm

The old buildings are worth a look. Because the Sun is high in the sky, the shadows will be short. You will find one side of the building in light shadow, though. This is probably a bit easier to work with as far as exposure is concerned.

1.29pm

But don’t neglect the sunny side. Again, the contrast will be extreme and this can give you some interesting textures and shadows to play with.

1.32pm

Those hours between 11am and 2pm when most people are having a siesta, lunch or a respite in the air-conditioning can be a rewarding and exciting time for you with your camera if you are willing.

Oh, and save some memory for our early afternoon shoot. There’s always a sunset on the way.

2.00pm

Besides. if you’re making excuses for not taking photographs you’re only half serious.

via Light Stalking » TUTORIAL: What’s your time of day? (Part 3) The Midday Sun.

 
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Posted by on May 28, 2011 in Composition, Featured, Landscape, Technique, Tutes & Tips, Worth a Look

 

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TUTORIAL: What’s your time of day? (Part 2) Shooting at Second Light

By tom dinning via Light Stalking

This is a guest post by Tom Dinning who, besides being a professional photographer, teacher and mini-celebrity in the Light Stalking community, has also shared some very popular tutorials in the forums and in other posts.

If you have recovered from my recent post on shooting at first light, you might be ready for something a little more sedate. Enjoy breakfast with your partner, have an extra cup of coffee, even suggest your partner might like to come along (…on second thoughts, tell him/her you’re going to the dentist). Today we are photographing in that lovely light after sunrise.

Second light – Botanic Gardens.

I call this second light because, although I hate getting up too early, my preference is still for the light before sunrise. Still, it’s a great time to be out and about, especially if you’ve pulled a ‘sicky’ from work to join me.

I’m heading for the local Botanic Gardens for no particular reason than it’s there. My kit is made up of the usual suspects: a wide zoom (14 -24mm) and mid (24-70mm) but I’ve added a macro and a long focal length (200mm) for good reason as you will see.

Today is bright and sunny so I make sure I have all my lens hoods and a hat (that’s for my balding head). The tripod is always with me. In my experience, this time of the day can be deceiving. There seems to be heaps of light about but the shadows are quite dark so there could be some moderately long shutter speeds, especially if I want an extended depth of field.

(If you’re a beginner and I’ve just lost you with that stuff about depth of field and shutter speed, ask someone on Light Stalking to explain it to you. They’re really good at that.)

In my part of the world, this time of the day always seems extra saturated with the colours and the tonal contrast is amazing. So, I take full advantage of this. It’s what I call ‘shooting for the conditions’. I can’t change the climate but I can learn to live with it.

My eyes immediately begin to search the landscape for places where this saturation and contrast brings out the best in the frame. Deep green shadows are avoided. Speckled light is hard to expose correctly so I move out into the open.

Botanic Gardens are designed. So it’s worth looking for vista’s, frames within your frame, and nooks that have been purposefully constructed to catch one’s eye.

The low angle of the Sun provides beautiful backlight, rimming the tree trunks and highlighting the foliage. I walk and watch towards the Sun. seeking out long shadows that can be used to lead the eye.

Foreground and background are important but it’s easy to clutter the frame with too much. To avoid this, I take full advantage of my walking shoes and seek the best perspective before shooting; always endeavoring to keep that sun in the background.

‘But shooting into the sun?’ I hear you say. With a bit of maneuvering, the sun can be tucked behind some foliage or a tree trunk. You will need to  watch that histogram for blow-outs (sorry, there’s nothing wrong with the tires on your car). If you’re not sure how to use it, read the Light Stalking article on how to read a histogram.

Go for detail in the shadows if you can and let the sun burn out a bit behind the trees. It gives a nice halo effect and gives the impression of a brilliant sunny day. But don’t overdo it.

Since it’s usually quiet this time of the morning there’s always an opportunity for a self-portrait. Seats are placed strategically among the trees for effect as well as rest, so include them in your shots.

Also look for those special plants, unusual textures, surprising angles and, of course, the obligatory close-up.

One thing I learnt from this trip was to watch where I leave my kit. This is the time when the gardeners are testing their sprinkler system. At least it saves me washing this week.

For some reason, Botanic Gardens are not heavily frequented by wildlife. I have more birds in my back yard. I did find a few grazing geese and a spider, but other than a stray dog and a dead cane toad, I was the only animal in the park – and even my zoological status has been questioned by some.

Now its time to finish up. You’ll have enough time to download this lot before settling on a nice lunch and a glass of Chard. Then prepare yourself for the midday run.

Thanks for joining me.

This is a guest post by Tom Dinning.

via Light Stalking » TUTORIAL: What’s your time of day? (Part 2) Shooting at Second Light.

 

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How Using Just One Light Will Make You a Better Photographer

By alohal via Light Stalking

Many times, one light is enough.

The master of the “one light,” Zack Arias once racked up a huge debt from being a gear head. From this experience, he learned to use the bare minimum equipment and came out stronger as a photographer. As someone who has been a gear head myself, I subscribe to Zack’s philosophy that a little gear can go a long way. After all, we are trying to develop not a collection of stuff, but a body of knowledge with which we create artistic interpretations of what is around us.

So, one light is enough.

The effectiveness of lighting depends on where you place it, how much power you give it, and what it does to enhance the composition of the image.

One light can enhance ambient light. Copyright Aloha Lavina.

The photo above was made in late afternoon. The sun was descending, and it made these wonderful streaks across a vine-covered wall. I asked Afrodite to stand in front of the wall, positioning her where the sun’s rays would spotlight her in the brilliant gold dress.

I also placed a bare flash gun camera right and above her head, tilted so it shone a light parallel to where the sun’s rays fell. I put a light shaper tool called a snoot on the bare bulb—essentially a cereal box I had cut and taped together with black duct tape so it fit on the front of my flash, but that’s another story— focusing the light specifically on her head.

Because the composition already had the sharp slice of shadows and streaks of light from the sun, I only needed a pop of light to remove some shadows from the model’s face. I opted to give the flash the intensity of 1/32. That was enough to enhance the sun’s light without overpowering it, and the portrait looks like it was lit with natural light.

Who would have thought a bare light could be this soft? Copyright Aloha Lavina.

Even in a room without large windows, it’s possible to use just the one light. For the shot above of Angie with the burgundy curtain, I placed a bare flash about two meters in front and above her head, zoomed out to a wide range, around 24mm, so I could illuminate her and parts of the curtains.

I asked Angie to play with the drapes and waited for just the right moment to take this image. The result is soft light, almost like that from a beauty dish, but it was actually from the light of one bare flash. Who knew that undiffused light could be so soft?

The trick was to control the amount of light that came out of the flash. I triggered the flash with my on-camera flash on commander mode, and the effect I wanted was of lamplight in a room—soft, with soft shadows. The flash firing at 1/40 was enough to create the lamplight effect.

Arias mastered his shoot-through umbrella along with the one light. I prefer to use a 60 cm softbox. It’s one of these inexpensive, non-brand items that fold up like a reflector. It’s light and I can use it with portable flash guns: great for portability and flexible set-ups.

I used the softbox to enhance the window light in the shot of Chloe below. This image was taken around one in the afternoon. Lots of harsh light outside. But in this broken building with the North facing window, that harsh light came in softer than it would have been without the roof. I wanted to enhance that softness; my model had a soft look, and soft light would accentuate that. So I placed one light in a softbox, firing at 1/16 to approximate the window light, about half a meter away from the model. The result was an image that had brilliant, diffused window light.

One light plus one light shaping tool equals soft portrait. Copyright Aloha Lavina.

With one light, you have the advantage of learning everything you can about how minimal gear can help you make magic. It’s true that learning how to light with only one strobe can be a challenge. But it’s a challenge that doesn’t hurt your pocket, and can only help your skill.

Aloha Lavina is a Bangkok based photographer whose photographs have appeared in CNNGo (USA), UTATA Tribal Photography Magazine (USA), Seventeen magazine (USA), Estamos! (Ecuador), The Korea Times (South Korea), and several books. You can see her work at her website, read her articles on her blog or follow her on Twitter.

via Light Stalking » How Using Just One Light Will Make You a Better Photographer.

 
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Posted by on May 25, 2011 in Featured, Flash Photos, Technique, Tutes & Tips, Worth a Look

 

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How to Use Natural Frames to Enhance Photographic Composition

By Light Stalking

In a lot of photographic situations, a photographer will often come across a natural object near the scene that can be used to “frame” the main element of the image. It’s a common photographic composition technique and one that can be used to great effect if you can pull it off. Here are a few things to think about when you next have the opportunity to frame your photograph as well as some examples of successful images that use framing.

Alcatraz - Exercise Yard Exit Door "Sailing Away"
Photograph by David Paul Omer

Keep in the back of your mind the common objects that can be used to frame an image naturally. The most common are trees and branches for landscapes, windows and doorways and tunnels and cave-openings. Of course, that is by no means an exhaustive list, but remembering these common objects gets you into the habit of considering less common things to frame an image.

I get the window seat!
Photograph by Ed Siasoco

Remember to use the frame to convey depth in your image. There are basically two main ways to do that. Colour and depth of field. The most common (though not only) way to use colour to convey depth is to have the frame in silhouette (or at least much darker than the main object of the image) such as the forest image below. That means that you need to expose for the background or main object of the image.

As the frame is a foreground, you also have the opportunity to either have it in focus with a narrow aperture or out of focus with a tighter aperture. The choice will very much depend on the situation, but remember to consider the options before taking your shot.

Our love is like the misty rain that falls softly, but floods the river...
Photograph by ManojVasanth

Potato Island

Photograph by Wolfgang Staudt

Don’t think that the frame needs to cover every side of the image either. Many of the most successfully framed images only have one or two sides framed (such as with a tree trunk and branch). On the other hand a fully framed image through a window or door can also be very effective. Use your own judgment.

Employ framing only when it suits the image. Don’t use a frame for every shot. It is easy to overdo framing, especially in a collection of shots from the same shoot. Use it sparingly and only when the opportunity for a good shot is there. Framing can look a little forced at times, so don’t fall into that trap, but don’t be afraid of it either. Again, this is one of the things in photography where every situation is different and you are best advised to use your own judgment.

no need for a frame
Photograph by Izarbeltza

Using a frame in your shots gives you an opportunity to draw the eye of your audience to the main element of the image that you want them to look at. By remembering a few basic pointers as well as always looking out for unique ways to frame images, you give yourself a much better chance of capturing a great photograph.

two Sides
Photograph by Robb North

via Light Stalking » How to Use Natural Frames to Enhance Photographic Composition.

 
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Posted by on May 23, 2011 in Featured, General, Landscape, Technique, Tutes & Tips, Worth a Look

 

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Using content to increase the visual impact of your travel photos

{Post removed at request of Lonely Planet Images due to copyright issues}
Richard I’Anson talks about photographing iconic images.Lonely Planet images discusses what camera gear to bring on the road.

Read these insightful tips on editing images in Lightroom.

Get all the great hints and tips on travel photography from Richard I’Anson’s latest book.

via Using content to increase the visual impact of your travel photos « Lonely Planet Images Blog.

 
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Posted by on May 18, 2011 in Worth a Look

 

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Using Photography to Appreciate Life

by Michael Zhang on PetaPixel

365grateful.com from hailey bartholomew on Vimeo.

Back in 2008, photographer Hailey Bartholomew was feeling down even though everything seemed to be going for her in life. After getting some counseling, she began an exercise in reflection and gratitude by purchasing enough Polaroid film for an entire year, and taking a single photo every day of something she is grateful for. Before long, she began noticing things that she otherwise would have overlooked, and her life was transformed by simply looking for the small things in life that are easy to take for granted.

Seeing and celebrating the good in my life affected not only the way I felt spiritually and physically but it improved my relationships with others too. It was not long before it was hard to only take a single photo each day. The more I noticed and took photos the more I began to notice the good and great moments in my life and want to capture them. [#]

After sharing her project, which she calls a 365 Grateful project, through Flickr, Bartholomew is on a mission to spread gratefulness and an appreciation of life to other photo enthusiasts.

365 grateful (via Digital Photography School)

via Using Photography to Appreciate Life.

 
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Posted by on May 18, 2011 in Inspiration, Musings, Worth a Look

 

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Tips For Getting Started With Time Lapse Photography

Image from fixthisphoto.com

Image from fixthisphoto.com

by Ian Sheldon on PictureCorrect

If you’re a keen amateur photographer or even a pro and want to have a go at time-lapse photography and time lapse film making, I’ve listed some top tips to help you get started. It takes time to learn how to make the amazing time lapse videos some professionals have put online, however, for simpler applications, and just to get you started, I’m going to give you ten top tips. Here goes…

1. If you have a camera with a built in intervalometer (timer) that’s great. If not, you’ll need to go shopping to buy an intervalometer. They are more commonly called ‘remote control triggers’ nowadays. But just make sure they have an ‘intervalometer’ function; that is a function that allows you to set up to take images at pre-set intervals. There’s no use me recommending any intervalometers or remote devises here – as it really depends on what camera you have. But a bit of web research should give you some ideas of which one may be best for you. Before you get started properly, get to know the intervalometer and what it can do.

2. Timing is all-important. Like a good comedian, a good time lapse photographer must get his/her timing right! The most common error for all time-lapse newbie’s is setting unrealistic intervals between exposures. If the intervals are too long, you wont have sufficient frames to do an edit. It is better in some ways if you have too many (as you can always ‘lose’ some). But just be aware that too many may mean your camera having problems with processing. Plus, you don’t necessarily want to work the shutter on your camera too much! Setting the interval time between exposures is something that will come with practice and experience. You end up getting an instinct for it. But, a few things to bear in mind to help you are to A) think how long you want the time lapse sequence to last, and B) hold in mind that your edit will be sequenced at around 25fps (frames per second). Think! You’ll have to get 25 exposures / frames for 1 second of sequence. Someone once asked us to take 4 frames over 24 hours for a week and edit a time-lapse sequence for them…….until we pointed out that the ‘sequence’ would only run for a fraction over 1 second!

3. Camera settings are important, and these all depend on the type of time-lapse you do and the various factors involved. It can get quite complex. But, to get started, just set the camera on AV (aperture value), set your f-stop modestly to around 4 and just a few hundred on your ISO (we don’t want noisy images). This should give you a nice balance between controlling your camera and letting your camera decide some things for itself.

4. Get a tripod. It may sound obvious. But we’ve seen people trying to do time lapse by perching a camera precariously somewhere where it can easily be knocked. Remember, time-lapse photography and film-making only works by getting images that are captured from exactly the same fixed position. If you see a sequence edited together from frames that are different – because of camera movement – you’ll see the whole sequence shaking and wobbling! No good! A tripod, locked into position will give your camera a nice stable platform.

5. Get a decent size memory card. It may sound obvious again, but it’s another common error. As the proverb says, ‘You have to cut your cloth according to your coat’. Take a test image. What is the file size that the image is coming in at? Now multiply this by the number of images you’ll be taking. Is your card big enough? No? Then you’ll need to do either the following OR a combination of the following: a) get a bigger card b) reduce the file size (quality) of your captures c) do a card-swap at necessary intervals (taking care not to knock your camera). The real experts may output to an external storage device…. They may insist on bringing their images in HD (high definition) and creating HD time lapse movies…. but I’m trying to keep things simple for you here!

6. Be aware of power issues. Again, if you are time-lapsing using a camera with a single battery, you’ll need to be aware that it will run out relatively quickly. You’ll know how quickly if you know your camera. To solve, you can use a battery grip to extend the time you have, or even better, get an ac adaptor and plug your camera into the mains!

7. Do indoor projects first. You can control your environment and the lighting this way. Outdoors, you potentially face greater challenges; the weather, changes in light, away from power sources and so on. We know people who have wrecked very expensive DSLRs by leaving them unprotected out and not noticing its been raining!

8. Stick to things that wont take too long to capture at first. What about an ice cube melting, for a really short time lapse? Then, as you become more ambitious and experienced, you could always progress to cress seeds growing or an indoor potted flower opening. A simple favorite is to deprive an indoor plant of water for a while, then water it and time-lapse its recovery! Another great one is to place a white flower in water, add food colouring to the water and time lapse the nice effect of the colour climbing up the flower as it drinks….

9. You have all your images. It’s time for the edit. What? You can’t edit? Well that’s fine. Although again, the experts put their images through a number of processes in post production – we are keeping things simple. And what surprises most people is that there is a simple way to edit. It wont be anywhere near as good as what the experts do – in fact the experts wouldn’t really call it editing strictly. However, it works for our purposes. The secret is throwing your images into one of the applications that just auto-sequence them together. I can’t mention any of them here…but do your research.

10. I said there were ten tips….. so here is the tenth. Get your work out there, share it. Look at what others have done, join a forum, swap tips, practice, and above all…have fun getting started with time lapse photography.

About the Author
Time Lapse Systems provide Time Lapse Photography solutions for the leisure, construction and security industries. We have experience in shooting both short and long term time lapse footage and editing for use on either DVD or the Web.

via Tips For Getting Started With Time Lapse Photography – PictureCorrect.

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2011 in General, Technique, Tutes & Tips, Time Lapse, Worth a Look

 

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