One of the spots I like to go shoot is about 1 hour drive from my house. I drive by this place just about once a week as part of my daytime job, so I can kind of keep an eye on whats going on there. It’s the Duchesney Falls in North Bay, Ontario. Being visible from the highway, it’s fairly easy to determine if there’s too much water going down or too little. Too much water, and you wont get the small interesting trickles or mini falls over or between the rocks – those are the ones I like to shot, it’s also a bit tougher and of course very dangerous to get to close to the falls. Too little water is just as bad.
Nevertheless, it’s still a great place to practice photographing water falls all year round.
The shot above could be an example on why it’s not such a good idea shooting water falls in direct sunlight. The foaming white water, the wet highlights are instant blinkies even at fast shutter speeds, and remember fast shutter speeds will not give you the silky look. This is shot with my new Nikkor 16-35 mm f/4 lens, and I did not have a 77 mm polarizer or ND filter to put on, so I decided to try some bracketing on this location. In Photomatix, I made 2 tone maps. 1 for the overall scene and then a shadow map for some contrast (see Rob Hanson’s blog for this very cool technique ). In Photoshop I combined the overall tone map with the shadow map, and masked in the water from exposure that looked the best.
To me, one of the coolest things in photographs are when there is a sense of movement, there is an energy or a power in the shot. Examples of that could be lightning, storm clouds, streaking cars or trains. Water does the trick for me. I love shooting running water and by playing around with long exposures you get some pretty neat effects. To me, a tag sharp image of water falling or running is less interesting than if there is a blur to the water. Water in rivers and creeks moves, sometimes fast, sometimes slowly usually depending on the time of year and to me that movement needs to be in a shot of, lets say, a waterfall. In order to get the sense of flowing water or that cool silky look, the shutter speed needs to be slowed down – way down.
Here are a few tips on how to achieve that look.
- Use a good solid tripod.
- Use a cable release or use the timer on the camera.
- Keep ISO low.
- Use aperture mode and choose a small aperture like f/16 or f/22
- Shoot at dawn or dusk, or on an over cast day.
- To cut even more light use a polarizer, which not only remove reflections and boost colors, but also eats at least one stop of light – slowing down the shutter speed even more..
- Or you can use a ND filter also called natural density filter. The will usually reduce the light between 1 and 10 stops depending on which one you buy.
- Your goal is to end up with a shutter speed at around 1/10 sec or slower. It depends on how fast the water moves of course, but generally at that shutter speed the magic starts to happen and you get that silky smooth feel of water running.
Try it out next time you are out shooting running water, it’s very rewarding. Btw, the shot above is from Moose Creek, Levack, Ontario.
I was out doing a bit of Geocaching just outside of town, around mid May this year, there where still no leaves on the trees. One cache took me to the top of one of the peaks – about 985 ft ~ 300 meters above sea level. Great look from there over one of the lakes. While I was logging the cache, the skies just got really dark to the right on the image, which is roughly over the down town area and you could see the rain coming down – probably pretty hard. At the same time, the sun was shining through a thin layer of clouds to the left of the image. I had to shoot it because it started to look really cool and dramatic. I was kind of hoping that the B/W conversion would convey that.
The skies here in Northern Ontario are usually one of two things. Grey skies, or no skies at all. Occasionally we get lucky and get some pretty spectacular stuff but that is rare. I wish we would get something like this or this - both shot by Scott Ackerman. Another great cloud shot is this one by Mike Olbinski – amazing stuff. Well, I got to work with what we get up here, so the next couple of posts will be feature skies and clouds from my neck of the woods.
We took a walk friday night after a small rain storm had passed. As the dark clouds were moving on leaving just blue sky behind, the sun all of a sudden peeped out beneath the cloud cover. A quick shot at f/22 to get the star burst effect. In LR a gradient adjustment to lighten the sky at the top of the image. My vantage point was not the best but I’m glad I at least had my camera with me.
Today’s image is not really spectacular in itself, just a view from a hill in Denmark, and frankly, it looks like I could have shot this with almost any wide-angle lens. However, this image is a 17 frame panorama stitched together in Photoshop. A bottom row of 8 and a top row of 9 images (don’t ask why the odd number…). I shot two rows to get some more sky in the shot. Every time I make a panorama, it always amazes me, just how well PS photomerge works. Very rarely do I have to do anything at all after Photoshop is done merging the images.
Anyway, after the rendering, the image was cropped, a bit of color contrast enhancement was added and then I desaturated a few selected colors. Mostly the blue and green which was got a bit too hot after the contrast adjustment. Back into LR where I fixed a few highlights.
Btw, to shoot a panorama:
- Hold the camera in portrait mode, your image will be higher after the final crop, you may have to shot more frames to get the scene you want.
- Make sure your exposure is locked so it’s the same throughout the scene.
- Make sure your white balance is locked in as well.
- Focus on the main subject in the scene, switch to manual focusing or use your AF-L button to lock focus, reposition for the first frame and shot.
- If you use a tripod, make sure it’s perfectly level, as well as your camera otherwise you will have to crop out a lot of good pixels in post.
- If you shoot hand hold, get a solid stance with your feet pointing in the direction of the first shot. Take a few shots and re-position your body and feet and shoot again. Don’t over twist your body, because that will actually mimic an un-level tripod. Basically as you move through the scene, your camera will get lower and lower the more you twist your body, and you lose good pixels when you crop.
- Make sure you overlap each frame by min. 20%.
…and let me tell you a story. Just kidding.
Last week, Scott Wood had a blog post about keeping old shots that did not make the cut the first time around. It’s an interesting discussion because if you shot a lot, like I would expect a guy like Scott Wood do, you will in the end up with countless of gigabytes of images that will never be edited or printed. And what will you do? Delete or buy more storage? I am afraid I’m one of those guys who just store images. I do of course delete total miss shots, like camera shakes, out of focus etc. But the rest I tend to keep. After reading Scott’s post, it made me think about my collection of images and I decided then that today’s post would be an image that originally wasn’t flagged, rated or had been edited in any way. Just one of those I keep. Turned out to be a fun exercise.
About the image.
Any one familiar with Hans Christian Andersen? Well, he was a Danish poet, writer, a story-teller and famous world-wide for his fairy tales. Had he lived today, he would be 206 years old. His work is published in more that 150 languages. Quite a feat if you ask me.
The images above and below are shot in Odense, Denmark. The place of his birth. You can tell the city is proud of him. There are many references to this guy all over this city. His characteristic silhouette is even featured as the stop/walking guy on the cross walk signs.
As I went through the files from that day, I discovered I had bracket the bench shot so I chose to run with it.
This bench is out side one of the buildings dedicated to H. C. Andersen, and I think it is a part of the statue you see below. It’s like he invites you to sit either next to him or on the bench (above) that would be to his left and slightly in front of him, and listen to one of his many stories.
His fairy tales usually had a moral ending to it – this experience makes me think that I wont start thinning out my collection of images anytime soon. I’ll buy a bigger hard drive first.
You don’t buy that do you? I probably have about 20 versions of this image, and I have wanted to post one of them for a long time – well at least since I started this blog. Most of my versions are B/W with different levels of blurred back ground. Then the other day I was playing with this image again, I moved the temperature slider in LR3 by mistake instead of the Exposure slider, and I really liked what the blue cast did to the image, sort of like a moon beam hitting the rocks in the lake, so explored that a bit more from there, and this is what I came up with. I like this image a lot, and it’s probably one of those shots I going to make a 18×12 print of and hang in one of my bed rooms. I’m just not totally sure if I’m finished with it.
Your input and advice is always appreciated.
Mike Olbinski announced yesterday that he is organizing a Photo walk in downtown Phoenix, AZ on June 10th. Man I wish I could go. Judging from the pictures on the blogs I frequent, Arizona certainly has a few gems, just waiting to be photographed.
A couple of days ago, Brad announced on Scott Kelby’s blog that the 3rd annual World Wide Photo walk will take place on October 1st & 2nd 2011 So with all the talk about photo walks, I thought I make a post about it. I have participated in both SK WWPW, and as it happened both took place while I was on vacation back in Denmark, so I joined the city that was closest to my hometown. You might already have seen a shot from the first Photo walk on my blog, it’s the post here, from Odense, Denmark. I did not submit that one though, I just like the shot, and I had a great time walking around with the other shooters. Last year was in Aarhus, Denmark, and I had the honor to make it to the final 1112. True story, – I still can’t believe it. Anyway, it’s the shot you see above. Just a guy sitting by the harbor front doing a little fishing.
Todays image was shot last year in late July while on vacation. It is one of two old identical front doors to the Aarhus Theater, located in Aarhus, Denmark. I wish I have had the time to stay after dark when the building just comes to life as the light inside shines through the painted glass panes. Looks pretty amazing I tell ya.
The title of the image is part of a rough translation from a slogan used by the Royal Theater in Copenhagen. Actually the real slogan would be “Not Just For Fun” but I had fun processing this one, so I cropped out the “Not”. Usually the slogan will be accompanied by two masks one sporting a smiley face and one a sad face. Sort of like a global theater logo.