Tag Archives: longexposures

Tourist in your own town

When was the last time you went for a walk as a tourist in your own town, city or suburb? We spend hundreds and thousands of dollars every year to go somewhere foreign or exotic and take our camera out, blow off the dust and take pictures. BUT when was the last time you wandered around Brisbane City, Bulimba or Capalaba?

I can hear it already:  “But I am too busy”, “I don’t know what to photograph”, “I need inspiration to shoot”. So here it is!

Go for a 15 minute walk down your street. Take your camera, don’t take your phone (unless it is your camera). Don’t walk the dog, just walk. Slowly. Look UP, look down, look around you, and take in all that your street has to offer. I am sure that you will find something to photograph in the first 100 metres – a flower, an interesting tree, a spider web, a hood ornament, or even just the clouds!

Whatever it is, try to photograph it in three different ways, and change the style in each. Use a different aperture or a slow or fast shutter speed. Photograph it close up. I have added some examples below to show you what I mean, as I live in Bulimba. Here are my Bulimba photos.

tourist in your own town Star trails and Planes; Canon 5D II, 16mm, F6.7, 189 shots at 20 seconds per shot (About 63 minutes). I didn’t even leave the house for this one, taken from my bedroom balcony, this is the stars the moon and some planes coming into land. This post will tell you how I did it.

02 Tourist in your own TownCityCat at sunset; Canon 5D II, F6.7, 1/20th, ISO 800. Taken at the Hawthorne Ferry Terminal just as the CityCat was leaving. This used a panning technique.

03 Tourist in your own TownAll clear on final; Canon 7D, F4.5, 1/1500th, ISO 400. This macro shot was taken in my back garden. Less than five steps from my back door.

04 Tourist in your own TownBulimba Ferry Terminal; Canon 5D II, F2, 1/1500th, ISO 50. I dropped my wife to the terminal and noticed the sun on the terminal building. I took this shot as part of my 365 photo a day challenge.
05 Tourist in your own TownSunsets and CityCats; Canon 5D II, F2, 1/45th, ISO 50. I saw the rays as I was driving home and thought the Hawthorne ferry terminal would give me a nice vantage point.

07 Tourist in your own TownTo Bulimba; Canon 7D, F9.5, 30 seconds, ISO 400. I missed the ferry to Bulimba, and while I was waiting (without a tripod) I put my camera on the ground, propped it up with my wallet and took this long exposure.

08 Tourist in your own TownDodge; Canon 1000D, F2.8, 1/350th, ISO 400. This was parked just out front of the Jetty Bar at the end of Oxford Street in Bulimba. As it was an old car, I thought I would give it a black and white process.

A picture can be taken anywhere, so take your camera with you and you will be surprised what you find.

Try This

Have a go! If a 15 minute walk up the street is too far, check out your garden. Or take a ferry instead of driving so you can enjoy the scenery.

If you are planning a holiday, why not get your camera out now and get back into using it, or if you need a little push, we have our holiday memories photo walk, to help you learn more about holiday photography.

Panning: how and when to use it in photography Part II

What is panning?

Panning is a photography skill that involves moving the camera left to right or up and down to follow your subject while they are moving. You can also slow the shutter speed down in order to blur the background as you take the picture.

The previous blog post will showed you three of the ways it  can be used. Below are two more ways and some practice tips.

Panning to show movement in the action

By using a long exposure I have shown how you can show movement in a scene like a waterfall, if you are panning however you are trying to show the movement of an object by showing the blurry background. You can use this to make a slow moving subject look like it was moving faster.

08 PanningCanon 5D II, ISO100 1/40th 16mm F11: By panning I have been able to make this little boy look like he was going faster than he was.

11 PanningCanon 5D II, ISO100 1/125th 40mm F6.7: By panning I have made this look like the motorbike was going faster than it actually was, but keeping the subject, the passenger on the back as sharp as possible.

Panning to get a shot as its too dark to freeze the motion.

This is almost not relevant any more as ISO is no longer as grainy at “high” ISO as it used to be early-model digital cameras. However, if you are still restricted to using an ISO 1600 or lower, there may be times in dawn or dusk. or under street or artificial light where you may need to pan in order to get a sharp shot.

04 Panning 04Canon 5D II, ISO400 1/60th 65mm F5.6: In the rain there is usually less light. Panning has still allowed me to capture the action without blurring the subject.

07 PanningCanon 5D II, ISO1600 1/125th 21mm F3.2: By panning I have been able to almost freeze the car in mid-air, but still been able to show that it is moving, all in a very poorly lit environment.

09 PanningCanon 20D, ISO800 1/40th 40mm F3.5: The upper limit on the 20D was really ISO400. This ISO800 image is very grainy, but by panning I was able to take this image just before dawn at a 24 Hour race. The darkness allows the viewer to see the glowing brakes better.

Try This

To learn how to pan properly, you need to make some decisions about your settings before or while you are taking pictures. To get a better understanding of what you need to set and what to change, you need to be able to register how fast your subject is moving, and change the shutter speed to suit.

  • I would start with a shutter speed of 1/subject speed in km/h. So, for example, a car moving at 60km/h past you would be shot at 1/60th of a second. Then slow the shutter down further to increase the blurred effect.
  • You need to be using a continuous focus system on your camera: AI-Servo (Canon) or AF-C (Nikon). Most entry level cameras only have a centre focus point that is better at tracking focus. Revert to your manual for more information.
  • Stand comfortably and make you are facing where you intend to take the picture through the motion of the panning. Don’t twist as you pan and then take your picture when your feet are facing forwards and your twisted to the left or the right.

The best way to practice is to find somewhere that has moving targets that pass you at the same speed. So you can get accustomed to that speed. When you feel that you have practised enough, move to a place where they go faster. And so on, note that the more you practice the better you will get.

Panning: how and when to use it in photography

What is panning?

Panning is a photography skill that involves moving the camera left to right or up and down to follow your subject while they are moving. You can also slow the shutter speed down in order to blur the background as you take the picture.

This blog post will show you two of the ways it can be used. There will be a follow up post showing another two uses and some exercises on how to improve your panning skills.

Usually this skill is used in sports photography with very fast moving subjects but it has many more uses.

I feel that panning is a great skill to learn, as not everything you will photograph will stay still. Sometimes you are moving and the subject is stationary, so you need to pan with it. An example would be taking a picture from a fast moving train.

How do I use it on my camera?

There is not one setting that makes panning what it is. It is a mixture of movements and shutter speed that will get the result you want. Image stabilisation can be helpful but was not used in any of the examples below. This post walks through a few different examples of panning, showing the settings and how to get similar results.

What does it do to my pictures?
Blurring the background, while keeping the subject sharp

This is typically the look that people want from panning. Blurring the background and keeping the subject sharp draws attention to the subject and takes the focus away from the background. This could be useful where the background is distracting or muddled with colours.

01 Panning 1Canon 40D, ISO100 1/80th 135mm F7.1: By panning with the car I have been able to keep the car sharp while it was driving past me at about 120km/h. By using a large number F there is enough depth for the driver to be sharp as well.

02 Panning 2Canon 7D, ISO1600 1/60th 105mm F4: By panning at such a slow shutter speed I have removed the distracting crowd in the background of this shot, and the focus remains on the driver and his bike.

10 PanningCanon 5D II, ISO50 1/60th 70mm F14: The timing tower and the white building at Lakeside are quite an eyesore. By panning and blurring the background, the car (the subject of this photo) is more prominent.

Keeping the subject sharp while you are moving

An example of this is taking a picture from a moving train. Say you wanted to get a picture of a landscape while you were passing it from a moving train. You want a reasonable depth of field, using a large number aperture, this will of course slow the shutter speed down. By panning with your subject you will be able to get a sharper shot than trying to keep the camera still.

03 Panning  3Canon 5D II, ISO400 1/180th 50mm F6.7: This shot was taken from a moving train in Intelaken, Switzerland. I wanted a slow shutter speed so the waterfall wouldn’t look frozen, by panning I have allowed the shot not to blur.

Blurring the foreground to remove it from the picture

This is not usually seen in the everyday world of a photographer, but motorsport photographers have to deal with photographing through fences, crowds of people or many other objects to get the shot. Sometimes you can use a small number aperture to get the fence out of focus, but you can also do it by panning. By slowing the shutter speed down you can actually blur out the fence.

05 PanningCanon 7D, ISO100 1/80th 16mm F9: The blurry brown in the foreground is tall grass. As the sun was behind me, this was “the best angle” from which to capture this car. However the grass in the foreground was in the way. I couldn’t move the grass, so I had to use a slow shutter speed to blur it out of the photo.

06 PanningTop Left, Canon 5D II, ISO400 1/125th 70mm F8, Bottom Right, Canon 5D II, ISO100 1/125th 150mm F3.5: The fence in the top left picture is starting to disappear with some panning at 1/125th. By getting closer to the fence, using a longer length lens and a smaller aperture, the fence in the bottom right almost looks to have disappeared.

To Be Continued

Counting the true cost of a photo

The cost of a photo is not just the memory card it was taken on, nor is it just the cost of the model of camera and lens you are using. The true cost of a photo is more about the story behind the photo, the setup, the taking of it and the inevitable processing.

01 Cost Of Photo experienceBoat on Brienzsee, Ringgenberg; using a wide angle lens gives the mountain’s behind the boat some perspective.

If you were on a holiday, the cost of a picture could include the cost of the trip, added to the cost of the camera and so on. But what about your experience? By experience I am not meaning your holiday experience I am meaning the experience you have behind the camera – your abilities as a photographer.

02 Cost Of Photo experienceFlying Scotsman, Paris; the RAW processing of this image was made to look like it was taken in the same period that the car would have been new.

My experience is in motor sport photography, and my experience in that genre has made me aware of where incidents may happen or places that would make a great new angle. This allowed me to capture images that were different to the normal and would tell a different story, or show a facet of the sport that people had not seen before.

03 Cost Of Photo experiencePimlico Tube Station, London; by taking this photo at 1/8th of a second, the train moving out of the station has been accentuated. By using the right balance of ISO and shutter speed I was able to hand hold the camera for this shot.

Over the years I have tried other genres of photography and I have come to the conclusion that a photographer that is good at their genre usually is an expert in that genre too. A surf photographer will be able to pick waves that a board rider will take, and know which surfer to follow as they have the best wave.

A landscape photographer will know what time of the year the best cloud formations appear over their subject and the placing of the sun to maximise the lighting, as you can’t move the mountains but the sun does shift over summer / winter.

Likewise a macro photographer will know that a dragonfly will come back to a perch it has sat on if it flies away, as long as you’re patient enough.

04 Cost Of Photo experienceBoats for hire, Lake Como; by using a tripod and a long shutter speed I have made the headlights of the cars drag.

So this knowledge is part of what makes up the cost of a photo. The other part of the cost, is knowing which lens to choose, which aperture to use, what the shutter speed will do to the mood of the image and so on, as you have seen from the examples above there is more to the picture than just pushing the shutter button.

05 Cost Of Photo experienceFlower bokeh, Rothenburg; by using a very small number aperture I have made the different flowers behind this poppy blend into the photo.

06 Cost Of Photo experienceSpiral staircase, Arc de Triomphe; by using a fisheye lens, the spiral of the staircase has been exaggerated.

07 Cost Of Photo experienceDole Reflections, Dole, France; by using a HDR technique I have been able to capture all the detail in this scene.

This is what we are here to teach you! Our next Learning to crawl beginners class is on the 30th of August book now.

 

The making of “30 Minutes of Lightning over Bulimba”

I recently posted a picture which was taken of a large storm with lots of lightning over Bulimba. It was on the 29th of Dec last year. Usually I would post a picture like the one below of ONE big strike captured in one shot.

ligthning over bulimba
ligthning over bulimba

To capture this sort of picture, I have set-up my camera on a tripod, I have set the camera to manual focus, and pre-focused on the tree in the distance, then set the camera to a manual setting that suited the night, on this occasion it was aperture F9.5 ISO 400 and shutter speed of 30 seconds (this is a long exposure). Then I wait for the lightning to do its job.

But while the storm was passing over, I noticed that the lightning was quite regular. The storm was so large that there  would be lots of strikes. So I had an idea, if I took lots of images of the strikes and then put them all into one shot, what would it look like?

This style of processing is called “stacking”, to do this I have used some free software called Startrails, its usually used to stack images of stars tracing across the sky into a star trail, like the picture below. You can download their software here.

110514 Startrails1

So I reset the camera with this in mind, all I wanted was the shots with lightning in them, so I set the camera to F9.5 ISO 400 and 4 seconds. Using a remote shutter trigger, I locked the camera on so it took continuous shots of the storm as it passed over.

The result was about 450 shots taken over 30 minutes. Of those there were 75 images with lightning bolts in them, here are a few of the images.

ligthning over bulimba
ligthning over bulimba
ligthning over bulimba
ligthning over bulimba
ligthning over bulimba
ligthning over bulimba
ligthning over bulimba
ligthning over bulimba

Please note that the buildings in the foreground and the clouds are not lit up by these four pictures above, but a couple of the closer stronger bolts of lightning actually lit up the houses and clouds like this one.

ligthning over bulimba
ligthning over bulimba

Those 75 were then processed by Startrails and the result is below.

ligthning over bulimba
ligthning over bulimba

The difference in the lightning bolts colour and size were the first things that amazed me. Not to mention the amount of bolts that hit very similar spots!

If you note the camera settings above, this could have been taken on a 100D Canon or a D3200 Nikon with a standard kit lens.

The extras that you would need are a remote shutter cable release depending on your camera brand and model they range from $20 to $100, and a tripod.

Please leave a comment if you have any questions.

Michael