Posts Tagged ‘tripod’

This tip isn’t a huge secret but a lot of people don’t care about it. Do you want great landscape photos? Shoot at dawn or dusk. You can have the perfect landscape in front of your camera, best composition ever, but if light sucks, your photos sucks too. You won’t get the best light at 2 pm or 4 pm but only during sunrise and sunset. And of course, you need to be lucky to have everything work out in the scene.

Take a look at this video. You won’t see a single photo taken during other times of day than dusk and dawn.

The Arctic Light from TSO Photography on Vimeo.

I made another video because it is simpler to show than to try to describe.

A Tip for Starting HDR Photographers from Jan Jílek on Vimeo.

Hey guys, I’m back with another blog post. This time I was out shooting star trails. I’ll try to cover all stuff you need for this type of shoots, write down some of my experience and maybe even post a video. So let’s go.


First of all you need a camera with BULB function. This will enable you to keep a shutter opened as long as needed, even more than 30 seconds. Im sure all Canon and Nikon DSLRs have this function, if you’re shooting Olympus, Sony or anything else, just check out your manual if you aren’t sure. Next piece you’ll need is a cable release with shutter button lock. It will minimalize camera shake from pressing the button and thanks to shutter lock you don’t have to be holding the actual button for 10 minutes or even more. And the last part of equipement is a good tripod. These three things are essencial.

The Rule of 600

This is quite general rule in night photography. What does it mean/do? To get star trails, your shutter need to be opened for some time. And that time you’ll get by dividing number 600 by your focal length. And the result is in seconds. If you keep your shutter speed longer than the result, you will have trails in your shot. Of course, longer shutter stays opened, better results will be. This rule isn’t any dogma or carved in stone, just a helpful tip 😉


Not much to say about this part. You need dark enviroment so getting this type of shot is almost impossible in city because light polution. Get out into country, find some great spot and wait for dark. BRING A FLASHLIGHT! It will keep you company 🙂 How long should your shutter stay opened? You have to test that out. Every place is different. Shoot in BULB mode, set your aperture as you need to and fire some test shots. Be sure to have your batteries fully charged up, these photos sucks them dry very quickly. With time you can take photos in matter of seconds but even minutes and more. Just watch the temperature. In hot climate sensor will heat up faster and might get damaged with very long exposures. Shooting in colder conditions is better because you’ll be able to get away with longer exposures.

Post processing

These types of photos need some post processing. First of all, shoot in RAW mode, it will give you most data to work with. First I was trying to double process an image, once for sky and once for foreground. Wasn’t a bad idea but blending those two together gave me a headache. And the result wasn’t as good as I wanted. Then I tried just Lightroom, used exposure, fill light and blacks to get great looking image. Corrected a bit white balance and gave few finishing touches. And here is the final result.

Spin, Baby, Spin!

Hi guys, I found on the Internet awesome video about timelapse photography. It isn’t the How To Guide but great work. You just have to check this out:

In HDR photography we are taking multiple exposures of the same scene. So the best possible situation is shooting some architecture or landscape w/o any people, animals or wind involved. By putting camera on good sturdy tripod we minimize it’s movement and by using AEB (Auto Exposure Bracketing) camera takes the images. Pretty simple, but this doesn’t work too much in real world.

In real world you can put your camera on tripod and set AEB. That is great and easy way how to get started. But now in Prague I don’t have my Manfrotto so I have to shoot hand-held. And believe me, with my 70-200 f/4 NON IS it is quite hard to keep it perfect steady. To get sharp shots I use higher ISO. But the worst problem is movement. People moving in the photo. When there is just one person, you can play with it, process multiple photos and than use layers to hide the moving person.

But what if you are in a square? Or even better, what if you are on crowdy Venceslav’s square? This is the time I let software itself to remove ghosting. In Photoshop CS5 you can choose one sample image and the ghosting will be removed acording that image. But I didn’t get so nice results from Photoshop as I did with Photomatix. So I tested out version 4 with reduced ghosting and it is blast!

Believe me, if you want noise in your photos, shoot with a Canon camera that has DIG!C III processor and than use Photomatix. You have to apply a lot of noise reduction to the image and as a result you get a less sharp image. You just have to find that sweet spot. To reduce ghosting check “Reduce Ghosting Artifacts” and I usually use High setting. That’s all folks! Here is a final image w/o movement. This time I put it in big dimensions, click on it to see in bigger size and check the fine work of Photomatix.

HDR of Venceslav's Square

Hello everybody, it seems my small post about shooting at night was a bit blast, at least for my blog, so I decided to add another post about night photography and what you can do with cameras at slow shutter speeds. The video is done by Mark Wallace for Adorama TV. Mark is a great people photographer and he has some awesome shots so be sure to check out his website. Here you can find the video. If you like more info and videos about photography, subscribe to AdoramaTV’s Channel @Youtube.


The Infinite Road Uncorrected

Hi to all. During my exam period at the university I didn’t pass throught one exam and I’m waiting for second term. This term is planned on February 1st and my last exam was taken on January 17th. So this whole time I’m at home having nothing to do, because most of my friends are in Prague or spread around whole republic and, Slovakia, Russia, USA, UK, Austria, Australia and more countries around the world. So the only way how to keep in touch with them is using Social Network. Also because the bad weather I didn’t go out and make some pictures but today everything changed! 🙂

HDR from the Walk, Unprocessed

The temperature was quite good, about 0°C (32°F), no rain, no snow but just the sky wasn’t anything interesting. To be honest the sky was just one huge plane of grey color mixed sometimes with darker and lighter grey. And I wanted to go out in these conditions and shoot landscapes? Yes, not nature but landscapes!? I really had to be crazy ….

But really, the tip for today, and not just for today is simple. If the sky doesn’t look good, don’t put it into the scene. It is simple and effective. At least you won’t have that boring plane of grey color on the top of your images. Also sometimes this can help and you can use it to your advantage. With this plane made by clouds you get a free extra super large softbox and that is cool for portraits. This can be the plan B when weather isn’t so great outside.

In the begining of the post I put two images, both weren’t finished. The Infinite Road isn’t bad at all, but the white balance is absolutely somewhere else than it should be and with the HDR you can see a really bad blue tint. Here are the final images. For the road I used only Lightroom 3 to process it, for the HDR I had to jump into Photoshop, set black, white and grey point using curves and than I used a plug-in. The secret ingredience … Nik Software Color Efex and it’s Brillance/Warmth preset. Hope you’ll enjoy them.

The Infinite Road Processed

HDR from the Walk Processed

I think this name is quite good for things I’d like to tell you about. HRD stands for High Dynamic Range and there is a huge boom with HDR photographers. The basic idea of this type of photography is to mix multiple exposures and increase a dynamic range. You can do it using several methods, the most complicated is using Photoshop and masks to blend your exposures together. Thanks God, there are few good pieces of software that will do it for you.

The most know is probably Photomatix by HDRSoft. Another cool tool is Photoshop, but version CS5. This exact version has HDR Pro feature that will merge your exposures and do it the cool way 😉 But this article isn’t about using different programs to do this type of photography. It is about something different.

A lot of folks out there think HDR is cool, some are neutral and the rest hate it. That is OK, but many photographers that like HDR images get pissed off when they take their HDR images and then they will start to hate it. How may it happen? Simple, all this softwares like Photomatix or even HDR Pro are made “just” for merging down your exposures, it won’t make the final image on its own. But a lot of people don’t know that and that might be one of the problems they thinkHDR sucks.

So how do you get those cool looking images like Trey Ratcliff makes? When you merge your exposures, save the file as a 16bit TIFF file. Then go into Photoshop or any other program you are using for editing and finish it there. With HDR photography a huge problem is halo (those shiny aura looking area around some part of image) and bad color. On the image bellow you can see how it looks and get familiar with it.


HDR Image w/o color and halo correction

When you click on the image next to this text you can see all the issues. Yellows are too much yellow and around the tree is a big halo. Halos happen in parts of image where there are big contrast differences like in this part. Tree branches are dark color, about dark brown and the sky is nice light blue tint.

And that color issues? Well lets think about it first. Lets say you are taking some images of landscapes and your exposure setting is absolutely correct. What will happen? You will have good exposure on the landscape but colors might not be so good and to be honest I’m almost sure you’ll try to fix it. When you’ll underexpose the scene, colors there will get more vibrant and saturated. That is good point and one of the reasons why Moose Peterson, famous landscape and wildlife photographer, shoots almost all the time at -0.5 EV from correct exposure. For the colors.

Now when you have some scene with a lot of dark spots, your colors will be more saturated there and even more when you will use some HDR program to process it. That is what happend with the bottom part of the tree and houses in the background.

Now how to get rid of this stuff? Simple, hop into Photoshop, because that is the best way, at least for me, how to do it. For getting rid of that bad color I try to get my white point, black point and grey point set correctly. Another way how you can do it is using Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and affecting only colors you want to affect. After it use layer mask to blend it with your picture. It may require more than one Hue/Saturation layer and don’t be afraid to experiment. The last but not least option is to use one of the original images and layer masks to blend it with the HDR processed image. To be honest, I don’t use this last method.

About halos …. well that is more simple than you think. You can use clone tool with blend mode set to normal. Then clone the pieces further away from the tree over the ones that are closer and lighter. Another way is to set your clone tool blend mode to darken. This will affect only pixels that are brighter than the clone source and clone just those. The problem here is that it is still cloning. You take one part of image and insert it severaltimes into different locations. The default texture might go away. I personally like to use burn and dodge tools for this. It is simple and fast. Problem here is a bit with control because the changes are made on the actual layer and with using clone tool you can make changes on blank layer above. That way bad cloning won’t affect the original layer you are cloning from.

There are of course other ways how you can do this but this is the way I do it 😉 Here is the final image.

HDR w/ corrections

So after some time I had enough time to pick up my camera again and try tripod, flash, and new wireless triggers for speedlight. To be honest this wasn’t the result I was going for … Yes, the first idea was it has to be a square shape and everything else was luck 😉

For this shot I used a plaing glass, one kiwi sliced on approximately same height slices, flashgun, tripod, camera and my ACA certificate. What!? It was great as a reflection panel and I had to use something to spread the light 🙂

The glass was laying on my left and right reproductors in about 30 cm (1 feet) height and on it I put those individual slices. Then I used the “extendable” central column of my Manfrotto 190XPROB and put the camera up above the scene. I used flash in full manual mode (because I cannot use TTL) and set it to 1/8 of power. It worked better than I expected.

Here is the final shot 😉

Shot with Canon Rebel XSi / 450D with Canon 28-70mm f/3.5-4.5 lens @52mm, 1/200s, f/8, ISO100, processed in Lightroom 3

As you might read in my previous post I bought a new tripod. But I this weekend I had the first chance to try it out. I bought this tripod especially to support my 70-200 f/4 lens from Canon so it was my first choice and first testing shots. I didn’t use the mirror lock-up feature with this lens so pictures that came out with this setup weren’t as sharp as they will be with this feature. BTW every image in this post can be seen in 1:1 size by clicking on the image itself.


The first test picture of new tripod Manfrotto 190XPROB with MA 496RC2 ballhead. For this shot I used my 70-200 at my biggest aperture f/4. Focused on the eye. For 1:1 preview click on the image.

This is the first shot I made with the tripod. Some EXIF is in the caption. Even with f/4 the glass is quite sharp and I’d like to know how it will perform in the field. To be honest I hope to find it out this weekend or during winter holiday.

I also didn’t have anything better to focus on so I used my “Lion” and focused on the eye. Quite good result.


This time I used f/11 setting on my lens and got really nice sharp shot. The tripod was really worth the money.

OK, same setup. Except this time I used f/11 so I got really nice sharp shot and again I focused on the eye of “Lion”.


The final test image this time with my 28-70 and f/11. Very sharp lens on very stable tripod. Great combination and I’m really looking forward to try it out in the field this weekend. Click for 1:1 preview.

Third and final image from this “quick test” of stability. Just changed lens to my trusty 28-70 and shot at very sharp aperture f/11. With it I got a supersharp image. I also used Mirror Lock-Up setting and fired the camera using my cable release.