Posts Tagged ‘dusk’
Nikon D800 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII | 1/2 sec, f/2.8, ISO 100
The moon passed awfully close to the Earth over the weekend, and we found ourselves over 200 miles north of home on a gig the night we saw it rise over the horizon, bigger and brighter than I’ve ever seen it before. As the sun set and the sky darkened, we quickly looked for a place to pull over and nab a few frames.
The problem, however, was that there was a beautiful sunset over a mountain range to the west, but the moon was rising to the east. At this point, the rock was all by itself in the sky and any shot of it lacked context, so I thought I’d cheat a little. I turned on the D800‘s double exposure mode, spot metered on the moon, took one exposure. Spun the camera around, flipped back to matrix, second exposure of the hills and sun setting sky. The camera combined the two, and the result was pretty cool. I’d love to do this over San Francisco next time…
Nikon D800 + Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G | 6 sec, f/8, ISO 100
Bridget and I made a brief drive out to one of our favorite spots to view the Golden Gate after work tonight. Well, she drove. I was busy unboxing the D800 I received only a couple hours earlier. I set it up the best I could in the car, and as soon as we arrived, took a few frames of the bridge during dusk. Hoo boy does this thing bring on the pixels.
More impressions to come…
Alright, I finally did it. I broke down and gave HDR a try (click image above for large version). Creating a HDR or high dynamic range image involves blending multiple exposures together in order to display detail in the final image that would otherwise be lost in a single exposure. Our eyes are capable of looking at a scene with bright highlights and dark shadows and still see an immense amount of detail. Cameras simply don’t have that kind of ability, which is why blending exposures is useful when a scene contains very bright and very dark elements at the same time.
I set my D300s to automatically bracket a series of photos for me at 1 stop increments, and here’s what I got out of the camera:
Notice that if the sky looks good, the beach looks too dark. Conversely, if the sand looks detailed, the sky is blown out. There’s simply too much range for the camera to pick up detail in all areas of the frame. Yes, I suppose I could have used a split neutral density filter to even things out, but the purpose of this shoot was to experiment with HDR.
Exposure blending used to be extremely difficult, requiring the use of multiple layers, masks, and a whole lot of brush strokes to manually bring out detail in the HDR image. Nowadays, it’s dead simple. Photoshop has a “merge to HDR” feature built-in, but it’s not quite as good as standalone software like Photomatix Pro, which I used to merge this HDR image. All I had to do was drag the four bracketed images above straight from Lightroom 3 Beta 2 into Photomatix Pro, specify a few parameters, and POOF! It spit out an HDR image. Of course, what you see at the top of this post is not what you get right after the merge in Photomatix. I still had to tone map the HDR, then export it as a standard image file back into Lightroom for post-processing before it looked satisfactory.
I’m pretty excited about how easy the process was. My goal was to try to convey the scene the way my own eyes saw it, and I have to say that the final result looks very close to what I experienced that evening. Overall, I’m glad that I decided to give HDR a try, and I look forward using this photographic tool again.
Camera Specs: Nikon D300s + Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 VC at f/13 ISO200, various shutter speeds.
Nikon D300s + Nikkor 35mm f/1.8
We’ve seen a ton of rainfall over the last week in San Francisco. While in some ways, rain can be a photographic bummer, it does open lots of other opportunities to make nice images. At night, the wet ground reflects light and adds drama to your photography, as shown above. Suki doesn’t like getting wet, but she loves walking enough to make the compromise.
Rain or shine, the camera stays with me!
Between the several storms that hit the city recently, beautiful clouds not typical of our area appeared. Of course, I was at work every time these sorts of formations showed up (sigh). I took this shot during lunch before heading back to the office. There were no other angles other than through a cyclone fence.
Nikon D300s + Tokina 50-135mm f/2.8
After a storm passes, the air in the city is amazingly clear and clean, allowing for great city scape photography. This image has a cooler white balance applied to it than the original that I posted to Flickr.
I’m not really a stickler when it comes to distortion in my images, but a flickr buddy of mine recommended PTLens to me a couple weeks go, and after giving it a try tonight, I decided to purchase it. For a mere $25, you get a program that will correct lens pincushion/barrel distortion, vignetting, chromatic aberration, and perspective. You can technically achieve the same results in Photoshop, but what makes PTLens so special is how incredibly easy it is to correct an image. The first image above (top) is the corrected file from PTLens, and the second image is the original file. Notice the pretty apparent barrel distortion in the second image (vertical lines aren’t vertical), along with the perspective issues (the tops of the buildings seem to be leaning away from the camera), and how well these problems were fixed in the image above.
Here’s what the software looks like in action. PTLens has profiles set up for dozens of cameras and lenses (even for my Panasonic LX3!). It automatically pulls the camera and lens information from the image EXIF data, and based upon the lens’ unique distortion characteristics, applies the right amount of correction to barrel or pincushion distortion. I then manually dialed in a little vertical perspective correction, and that’s it! In seconds, I had corrected the image to my liking. I’m really excited about this new software, and plan to use it a whole lot for my photos, especially the ones that include architecture.
Nikon D300s + Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 VC at 40mm f/16, ISO 200 15.0 Seconds
Today, northern California was pounded by a powerful tropical storm that came from Japan, wreaking havoc on the morning commute in the city, knocking out power in several areas, and causing some flooding problems. As I write this the rain has stopped. But over the course of the day, winds of up to 55 mph and heavy rainfall battered the city.
I took the shot above at Baker Beach last night. The clouds were dark and dramatic, and diffused the dusky light from the sky, allowing me to take some long exposures shortly after sunset. It was a long walk down the beach and back with all my gear, but the trek was well worth it.
I realized after shooting here last night that I haven’t actually been to Baker Beach in a long time. In fact, the last time I was here was nearly six years ago. Not too far from the spot where I took this shot is where I proposed to my wife of five years, and that is the last memory I have of this beach.
After getting some great images out on the Beach, I headed to the Palace of Fine Arts on my way home for a few more photos. I’m still tired from all of it!
I took this photo this morning, after deciding to roll out of bed at 4:30am to catch the magic hour before dawn here in San Francisco. This is the black and white version of the same photo I’ll be posting on my flickr page. I set up out here at about 6:15am and waited for the sky to start changing color, which happened very suddenly at about 6:35am. I really wanted to stay longer, but I was parked at a metered parking spot that started at 7am. I also had to be at work by 8am, so I was long gone before the sun moved passed the eastern horizon. I really love shooting at dawn. It’s so peaceful and serene in the city before rush hour.