Thursday, 30 July 2015

Time Lapse Part 1

Now I have a decent view from my office window it's time for some Time Lapse photography. Something I have been contemplating for a while.
This basic example is my first real go at the subject and I'm using it as a test case, including pre and post processing in Adobe After Effects.

So watch this space as I will be spending the next couple of weeks cruising around looking for a good location where I can set my gear up and leave it un-attended ...well for a short time at least.

Train Station - Early morning

...OK another quick go which certainly proved to be a little more fruitful this time.
I realised afterwards I had done a few things incorrectly but nothing major. My biggest mistake was the focus. I decided to re-locate the camera after a few test shots. During which I forgot to reset the focal point.
Another tip is to ensure that you do not use Auto focus and look to lock your exposure and F stop to a single value.

Much happier with this test mainly because the subject matter was a lot more interesting.
Gives me plenty more to contemplate and I will certainly revisit this little spot and look to capture a lot more activity next week, weather pending :)

Total images capture 450 capturing at every 3 seconds.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Digital Wizardry 3

I have been contemplating the option to photograph one of our passenger trains for a while, but a few months ago I got escorted from one station after a Security guard said I wasn’t allowed to take photos. I raised the point that just about everyone on this platform had a camera (Smart Phone) and if you looked at it that way then there are over 100 photographers...

….He didn’t care much for my comment and kindly asked me to leave.
This morning I decided I would try my luck at another train station, but this time I had a good look around for any signs suggesting photography wasn’t allowed.
After a few minutes searching I gave myself the green light and knowing full well that a camera on a tripod would most likely alert the security chaps in the CCTV room, I made sure my position was safe, and out of the way of the immediate passengers.

My objective was to capture enough images for me to use in a digital composition represented motion.
So what did I do?

First up I set my camera to take 3 consecutive shots using the Bracketing mode.  I observed the first train so that I could gauge speed, and adjust my positioning and angle, after a quick review of the images in camera,  the next rain arrived shortly afterwards.
I quickly setup the exposure range and started to fire of the first set of shots. Then within a few seconds I increased the exposure range slightly and clicked away.
Over a 30 second time period I captured enough images to cover a range from as low as -2 upto  +2

Back at the office, and with a hot cup of coffee, I reviewed my images and selected the following.

f4.5, ISO100, 28mm  (exposure 1/30, 0.3, 0.4)
There is not too much difference and I’m happy I captured a good range of motion blur.
The top left image is my stationary image focusing on the logo.
Within Adobe Bridge I loaded my 4 raw images directly into Photoshop as layers. I then labelled each layer using their exposure values for easy identification when processing.

The Photo containing the logo was set as the top most layer and I manually aligned it by setting the layer opacity to 30% and using the transformation tool.
I then took the darkest image and placed this at the bottom of the layer and set my two mid/highlight images to Luminosity.
Within the Midtone layer I added an adjustment curve with a gradient fill mask, this way the lower part would be adjusted and leave the top part as is.
Then popping back to the logo layer, I created another mask layer and brushed out all except the logo. I used a variety of brush sizes and strength ranging between 25% to 75% flow. This way I reduced the chances of any hard edges showing and kept some motion blur inside the logo.

Finally I merged the exposure layers with the logo layer and tweaked further through the use of some dodge, burn and sharpen.  The one last final layer merge followed by a colour tweak across the blues and yellow.
Digital Composition (4 images blended)
Not having my Wacom tablet at work makes life a tad hard when fine tuning but when I have some more time I might re-work this image again.

Friday, 17 July 2015

Night out on the Town

To look at the weather today, you would not have believed how nice and cool and clear it was last night. As they say Calm before the storm.
Myself and Will Mays headed out into the city to locate a few hot spots which provide good vantage points for capturing our city at night.
As mentioned the weather conditions could not have been better, although we did need to wrap up as the temperature dropped to 8c around 11:00pm.

So rather than spend to much time on building up the story lets get straight into the photos.

Camera Gear
Canon 7D, Tripod (a must), Sigma 17-50mm 2.8 Lens, gloves, Woolly hat and thermal shirt.

Tripod is a must for night shooting or any low light photography, mainly because the bulk of the exposure times exceeded 20 seconds. 
I also opted to go with AEB (Bracketing) shots so that I could capture a wide range of colours and lights.
As I only have the 7D mark I, you only get 3 per shot.
I tended to go mainly with  +/-2 to provide a good range.

First up North Shore looking back to the city (our special spot must remain a secret), as it took us a good 15minutes and a few wrong turns before we found our sweet spot :)

In terms of focusing this is all Manual. I used the Live view to provide me with feedback and zoomed inn (x10) to a specific area and manually focused until I got a decent result.

First shot 3 images (-2, -1,0) Focal range at 17mm with using F7. Exposure time 22 seconds.
f7, 17mm 20sec, (3 shots)
Just a small amount of Photoshop work to adjust a few highlights then used Luminosity layer blends between the images with an adjustment layer across the main area of the city for minor tweaks.
Otherwise pretty much straight from the camera.

Next another shot following pretty much the same process

Auckland City
and lastly the Harbour Bridge and Westhaven Marina.
Again bracketing shots but using a much wider spread -3, 0 , +3.
It was a great evening and very enjoyable, and I hope to get out again when the weather clears to refine and improve my night photography.
f11, 30mm, (3 shots)
Auckland Harbour Bridge

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Street Photography RAW - Part 2

After enjoying my city outing last month I thought I'd try the raw photography approach again. I know this might not be to everyone's cup of tea, but as I work through my images I'm actually getting a good sense of achievement.

Yes they are RAW,
Yes they are un-composed, and yes most of the time blurry but hey that's what I like about the results. It reminds me of the good old days well before any digital computer controlled automation and I'm of the opinion that this approach to photography provides a more real feel especially when you reveal strong motion blur or perhaps a un-usual angle.

Camera Settings
I set my camera to Manual, whereby I fixed the focal length to 50mm (my lens has a locking mechanism). The ISO I set to 200 which might have been a bit on the low side considering most are taken around 7:30am in the morning so the light is only just starting to get through.
I turned IS  (Stabiliser) off on my lens, and then set my white balance to custom.
The shutter speed varied a little but mainly sat around 1/60 - 1/80. Tuff considering I'm walking up and down the street without IS, but that is the appeal for me, very little control and shooting from the hip.

The only post editing I did was to add a sepia wash to some and a basic black and white conversion. Otherwise everything is RAW.


Saturday, 11 July 2015

July Photo Challenge - part 2

Man it was cold this morning!!!, got up and headed out of the house at 7:30am only to be met with a crystal clear sky but a temperature of 4c.
I did my usual walk around my local area hoping to find some surface ice to perhaps catch a few reflections of the early morning sun, but alas it wasn't that cold and the water flow was freely moving which was a shame.
At least the walk woke me up and my morning coffee went down a treat.

So as the morning warmed up and I finished my chores, I decided to go back to one of my favourite places. Ardmore airfield has some great photo opportunities if you catch the day right, and I'm happy to report today was one of them.

A few of the war birds where out, along with the older Tiger moths and the Spearman painted in US Navy livery.
However my mission was to capture a lovely old bird which sadly is not in flying condition. A few of the locals actually said they are working towards repairing it but will most likely be a static display.

..So what better way than to photograph a lovely retired bird for posterity :)

All images as per our challenge rules are only to receive colour adjustments in ACR or Lightroom, no Photoshop wizardry work except the placement of my Water mark.

My first one is a play on the theme Re-Tired :), not sure which vehicle or plane these are for.

f6.5, ISO 100 1/160 28mm (BW, Cropped)

f6.0 ISO100 1/120 160mm (Vignette)

f5, ISO100, 1/120, 75mm (Cropped)
This photo perhaps not entirely legit as I had to combined 2 images together, however all colour corrections are all done in ACR so should pass the scrutiny crew. This was shot with my 28-300mm.
f6.3, ISO100, 1/60, 28mm (2 Images Merged, Cropped. Sepia)

Saturday, 4 July 2015

July Photo Challenge- Part 1

Ok here are a few from todays outing into Auckland City.
First up Reflections. Plenty on offer regarding building reflections so this pretty much populated most of my initial shots. I will however over the coming weeks look to expand on this subject.
Weather was good, albeit a tad cold with the wind whipping through the central city but plenty of walking was involved so easy to keep warm.


The first one was a multi reflection on a high rise with several surrounding buildings on display.

f4, ISO100, 1/600, -1 exp, 18mm (Cropped)
Next a reflection of a construction site into a neighbouring building. This one I had to crop rather tight as there was a lot of rubbish around the outside. If I get the chance again I might consider a better approach.
f4, ISO100, 1/200, 30mm (Cropped Heavily)

This one I actually like, shame the metal around the outside wasn't a bit larger as I think the distortion of the cars parked opposite would have added a bit more depth. If I could Photoshop this image I would most likely dodge and burn  to create a lot more contrast/dirty look. (Will said it was a door to a well known strip joint, don't ask me how he knew??)
f5, ISO100, 1/60, 20mm

This shot was an opportunistic shot while I waited for Will to cross the road. I like the fact that A) it's middle of winter, and B) this chap found a ray of sunlight coming through the surrounding buildings to enjoy his lunch. Needed to move quick on this as I was standing in the middle of the road.
My only gripe is that I should have used at least f5 or 6 to gain a little more depth of field.

f2.8, ISO100, 1/100, 50mm
Fast and the Furious
This one is perhaps my favourite of the day. I tracked these skateboarders as  the rain started to come down. They left the road favouring the pavement. A few I seconds later an Audi drove past I instantly thought "Fast and the Furious". Not sure who is furious but as luck has it I also captured reflections in the shop windows. Bonus, two birds with one stone!!!

f4, ISO 100, 1/100 17mm (Converted to Black and White)

Notes to self, take 28-300mm Lens and sort my f-stop out :)

Last one, a shot from inside one of the derelict buildings. Although I had my head torch wasn't keen to go to far inside as the wooden floors heading up were rather dodgy, and I did not want to leave Will on his own down some dark dank alley way :)
But next time I will be better prepared as I think there are some cool photo opportunities to had here.
f4, ISO 400, 1/60 , 20mm (Cropped, Blend)

July Photo Challenge

It's official the gauntlet has been laid down between 4 budding photographers to go out and capture a few images based around 4 specific topics.
After a week of emails and general discussion the topics have been agreed as follows;

1- Reflection
Pretty straight forward or is it???

2- Fast and the Furious
This one met with a few hum's and arrr's but good all the same

3- Retired
Should be easy plenty of us old folks running around.

4- warm
Well it is winter so should be able to find a subject to warm the souls.

The rules are easy, no Photoshop work. Only Light room or ACR edits for general tweaks such as exposure, highlights, shadows etc,  and of course cropping.

The more you can do in camera the better.

So off you go lads, and for those interested in following you will be able to see my results here and the others at the following websites.

Mark -
Will -
Rob -

Challenge ends 31st July 2015...tick tock, tick tock