Archive for Long exposure

Inspirations – Weerapong Chaipuck

Posted in Inspirations with tags , , , on October 16, 2011 by sabrina

© Weerapong Chaipuck

D300 Sigma 10-20mm at 10mm. F3.5 ISO 800 for 30 secs plus a bit of painting in the foreground

I did multiple shots (about 20-50 shots depending on what you want – long or short trails of the stars). Then I stacked all pictures using freeware startrail.exe. The advantage of this process is that it won’t burn much of your sensor and if you are running out of batteries during the procedure you only lose only one shot compared to one long exposure shot which you will lose entirely and in addition, you get much less noise. The disadvantage of this procedure is that if it is a cloudy night, you will get not so good-looking clouds while a one-long shot obtains a better visual sense of moving clouds.

I also did a bit of blending process in PS to get heads of all the stars. ~ Weeapong Chaipuck

Inspirations – Ratcliffe Power Station Study 5 by Mike Spriggs

Posted in Inspirations with tags , , , on September 21, 2011 by sabrina

© Mike Spriggs

Canon 40D with 17-85mm Lens, Focal Length: 85mm
60 secs @ f/25 ISO 100, Manual Exposure

During the winter months I quite often head out to photograph cooling towers of coal fired power stations. The cloud formation created is always greater during the colder winter months which makes for a much more dramatic image. In England, there are very few coal fired power stations still in commission and I think it’s important to document them whilst they’re still here. More recently I’ve been photographing them a lot more using a 10 stop neutral density filter. I like the calm surreal feel that a long exposure brings to moving cloud. I love the hyperboloid shape of the cooling towers too. It’s fascinating how the light and shadow changes on them at different times of the day. As the sun moves round, one cooling tower might start creating lovely curved shadows across a neighbouring one. These shadows can move quickly, but with patience and observance the resulting photos can be well worth the effort.

With this particular photograph, I opted for a tight crop using all of the available 85mm zoom. The strong afternoon low light played a key part in the visual strength of the final image. In post processing I made a curves adjustment to increase contrast and did a small amount of dodging and burning. ~ Mike Spriggs

Photographer of the Month – Michael Levin

Posted in Photographer of the Month with tags , , , , , , on August 15, 2011 by sabrina

© Michael Levin

Darwin: Congratulations on a fine looking website. I love the elegant, classic and simple design which really accents you spacious and experiential photography. Did you design your website, or did you use a customized template or hire a designer?

Michael: Thank you, I worked closely with a designer and programmer on the site. I had a number of ideas that I wanted incorporated into the site and it was suggested to me that I start from ground up. It’s still a work in progress with some  interesting interactive elements being added soon, including a zoom feature to see the detail.  I think the majority of people that view my work see it on the web and I wanted the viewer to have a more personal experience. I’ve included outtakes and videos of some of my better known images and I think this helps better connect with my audience . What I’m most proud of is the newest video “Ki” that Brad Kremer shot while we were in Japan earlier this year. I think he did a fantastic job  and we’re working together on other projects now.

Darwin: You are also a talented musician. I know several other photographers who are musicians and each one of them has a simplicity and ethereal feel to their work. What is it about  being trained at music that leads photographers to be more personally expressionistic and less documentary?

Michael: “Talented” is a little to generous! I was always interested in rhythm guitar and that’s what initially attracted me to the flamenco guitar. It was the subtleties and dynamic qualities of the music that helped inform me on how to approach photography. When I first picked up the camera in 2003 I realized that capturing simple and sparse imagery would not be as easy as it looked, it would require a commitment  to evoke that same feeling that I enjoyed with music. Just as in music you practice all the time to pull off the one great performance and photography would be the same. Using long exposures also helps transform a scene from the literal into something more and this opens the image up for a more personal expression.

Darwin: Many fine art photographers seem to gravitate to shooting themes or projects yet you cover a variety of topics yet still keep the ‘look’ or ‘style’ of your work consistent. It seems that you work is more about what you feel and less about the subject. Is this ability to capture your emotions the key to developing personal style?

Michael: That’s completely what photography is about for me: being in a given space and capturing the emotion of the scene. Of course I don’t think this way when I’m out shooting, I’m just enjoying the places I visit. I think my images may have a similar look because of the effects of long exposures and I gravitate towards “clean spaces”. It seems my eye just extracts these elements from the scene and as I continue to practice I’m able to find it in more diverse locations.

Darwin: Water, sky and earth feature prominently in your work. Often these elements are simple graphical elements that are reduced to mere line and form. How do you reduce the busy, chaotic real world into such pure forms of expression?

Michael: Photography is a great way to see a country and I prefer the smaller villages and quiet moments, it’s here where I think my best images come from. Setting up a large format camera requires that you slow down and really consider the scene and I tend to have the most clarity at this point.  Having grown up on the Prairies I have an affinity for open spaces and that idea of space has always played a role in my images.  The challenge is making a singular object balance with the sky and water and it happens much less than I’d like.

Darwin: Of course because photographers are so tool-centric, we all want to know what your ‘brushes’ of choice are; what camera and medium do you use to create your work?

Michael: My camera gear has really been all over the place these last couple of years. I started out with medium format and then moved to 4×5 and 8×10. I scan everything on a Imacon 848 scanner and have the 8×10 negs drummed scanned. At the beginning of 2011 I finally went digital with the Hasselblad H4D. I do all my printing in my studio on the Epson 11880 and primarily use Epson/Hahnemuhle papers.

To see more of Michael Levin’s work, please visit his website. In October, Michael is teaching a “Art of Black and White Landscape” Master Series Workshop in Victoria, BC. There are still a few spots left!

© Michael Levin

© Michael Levin

© Michael Levin

© Michael Levin

© Michael Levin

© Michael Levin

© Michael Levin

© Michael Levin

© Michael Levin

© Michael Levin

© Michael Levin

Inspirations – Polaris by Jacob Lucas

Posted in Inspirations with tags , , , on August 14, 2011 by sabrina

© Jacob Lucas

24mm @ f/8 ISO 800 for 1128.2 seconds (approximately 19 minutes)

Before travelling to Cannon Beach, I’d seen many, many images of Haystack Rock and the coastline and I thought to myself, I want to come up with some different but equally as beautiful as everything I’d seen from the area. I thought, if there were a clear night sky, I may be able to capture the North Star (Polaris) with some star trails above Haystack Rock. I knew I needed to be south of the rock looking North and that if I pulled it off, the movement of the star trails would lead the viewer’s eye from Polaris, down to Haystack Rock and back up again. So, I waited for the cover of darkness on the beach, watched the sun set and visualised my shot. It as a beautifully clear evening with stunning colours in the sky. When the sky was dark enough (at the time I took this image it was nearly pitch black dark with small amounts of light over the horizon from the setting sun) I set up my tripod and composed my shot. After a couple of test exposures to get a feel for the light, I extrapolated out what settings I would need for an exposure of approximately 20 minutes… and this is the result.

I think one of the key points to remember about photographing the stars in the sky is that they are also landscape images, much like their daytime counterparts. They deserve as much thought into composition and subject placement as any other landscape photograph.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Darwin for featuring my image of Cannon Beach on his blog. It’s a true honour to have my work posted alongside the company he keeps here. ~ Jacob Lucas

Inspirations – Paul Souders

Posted in Inspirations with tags , , , , , on July 13, 2011 by sabrina

© Paul Souders

1Ds Mark II, 16-35mm f/2.8 at f/4.5, 1.3 seconds, ISO 400

Although I almost never work with captive animals, there are some images you really can’t do in the wild, at least not without breaking the law as well as harassing or stressing an animal.

During a road trip in Southern Africa, I was shooting landscapes of the Kokerboom (Quivertree) Forest outside the town of Keetmanshoop in Namibia. The farm’s owners also maintain a small sanctuary for orphaned cheetahs. I’d always wanted to shoot low and wide of a cheetah striding across the savanna. Here was one setting where, with a bit of sweet talking, I was able to walk beside the habituated animal. She wasn’t entirely pleased with my presence, and kept moving back and forth across her fenced perimeter. I laid nearly flat on the ground and waited as she passed, firing my flash and panning in the dusk as she strode past. I used a long exposure to capture the twilight and create that sense of motion and energy. ~ Paul Souders

Inspirations – Paul Zizka

Posted in Inspirations with tags , , , , , on May 29, 2011 by sabrina

© Paul Zizka

Canon EOS 5D, 17-40mm f/4L at 17mm, ISO 600, f/4, 30 seconds

This shot was taken on a recent ski mountaineering trip to the Wapta Icefield in Banff and Yoho National Parks. Despite the obvious downsides of carrying a 7-pound tripod and ballhead up to such locations, the Manfrotto setup has become part of the standard overnight gear should an opportunity like this present itself. For me, there is nothing like the serenity of a clear, starry sky, high up in the wilderness. Carrying a tripod into the alpine environment allows for fantastic low-light photo opportunities. For this particular image, I decided to restrict the exposure time to 30 seconds to minimize star movement. I shot wide open and at an ISO that would allow enough light to be recorded in the foreground snow. It was then a matter of asking my trip partners to light up the tents from the insides with their headlamps. They are used to such requests! The moon was actually less than half-full that night. It is the 30-second exposure that gave it a circular appearance. ~ Paul Zizka

Inspirations – Dreamscape by Rui Vieira

Posted in Inspirations with tags , , , , on April 20, 2011 by sabrina

© Rui Vieira

Canon 5D Mark Canon 24-105 f/4 L at 80mm 93 sec f/6.3 ISO: 200

This shot was made at Pico island (Azores) near Pico Mountain, the highest mountain in Portugal. This was one of the most amazing scenarios that I was ever presented with. It was made during a full moon night while hiking to shoot the sunrise and I was amazed by this view. The conditions were unique! The bright light from the full moon illuminated the fast moving clouds below the Pico Mountain. I used a 93 seconds exposure to blur the fast moving clouds and register this surreal atmosphere that I call “Dreamscape”. ~ Rui Vieira

Inspirations – Michael James

Posted in Inspirations with tags , , , on March 30, 2011 by sabrina

© Michael James

Nikon D700 with Nikon 16-35mm f4.0 lens
7 shots at 19mm f/11 ISO 200

My favourite images are always the ones that have a story or surprise inside of them – this one has both. I’d driven by this old homestead many times on my way to visit my family in Camrose, Alberta. It was a good subject for many of the old run-down houses I love to shoot so I figured I needed to visit sometime to take it’s picture. Throughout the summer, I would drive by and each time say, “I need to get back here!” but had not returned.

Finally, in December of 2010, a friend and fellow photographer wanted to head out to get some shots outside of Edmonton and this place jumped to mind. I was going to wait until spring, but there hadn’t been much snow (yet) and I thought it would be a great subject. We drove out expecting to photograph it at sunset and get some warm light on the front – as luck would have it, it became overcast right when the light was starting to warm up.

Remember the words of many photographers before me, I kept shooting. Even if the light isn’t cooperating, always keep shooting – there’s a reason this place spoke to me and I needed to find it. I noticed many compositions had a ton of variations in contrast so I decided to use high dynamic range imaging to tame the contrast in post-production. I mean, who really cares if I have 7 times the images – it’s digital and I can always just take the one I like best and trash the rest if HDR isn’t needed. So we explored the area and both thought we might have one or two keepers, but decided we needed to visit this place in the spring or summer for some better opportunities. I was wrong. Little did I know that I had taken one of my most favourite photos.

When I got home, I started processing the images – this one was the second of two similar compositions that really spoke to me. I was amazed at the textures the HDR technique brought out and how well they translated into black and white. Whenever you have one of those shots that just doesn’t work in colour, always try it in black and white – especially if it has a lot of texture. The textures in the wood and sky just made this image pop! Many people tell me that it looks like a painting – I never really knew how to take that comment, but I think I’ve decided it’s a positive thing – I mean, it’s a comment that, for some, moves your work from a picture to a piece of art. ~ Michael James

Inspirations – Stefen Chow

Posted in Inspirations with tags , , on March 23, 2011 by sabrina

© Stefen Chow

Nikon F80, Tamron 24 – 135mm, Fuji Velvia 50 
 f5.6, 5 minute exposure

This was photographed at the Base Camp of Mount Everest. I was attempting to climb the mountain in the Spring season of 2005, and I arrived at the Base Camp on a full moon night. I remember the moraine was lit in a surreal manner. As the nights passed, the Base Camp would be pitch dark, so I planned for a full month before I took this shot. I was facing our communal tent, and you can see the infamous Khumbu Icefall in the background. I exposed the shot for 5 minutes, and during this time one of my team mates walked passed with his headlamp. It turned out to be a beautiful mistake that brought something else into the picture. ~Stefen Chow

Photographer of the Month – Cole Thompson

Posted in Artistic Development, Image Processing and Software, Inspirations, Photographer of the Month, Photography Gear, TCBlog, Techniques with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 23, 2010 by Darwin

I first became aware of Cole Thompson’s work from an image I saw published in Photo Life magazine in 2006 (the first image below). I was blown away by the creativity and mood in the photo. That image has stuck with my to this day. In the meantime I have seen Cole’s fine art B+W work in numerous publications including B+W magazine, American Photo and LensWork to name a few. I wanted to share with you Cole’s work just in case he is not known to you. I asked Cole a few questions about his work and here are his responses:

Darwin: Why do you think B+W captures “the feelings that lie beneath the surface” where colour photography can not?  Further to this why does fine art photography almost always take the form of B+W? Can colour photography ever seriously be considered art?

Cole: Why B&W? That’s a question I often ask myself and others. I think there a lot of “answers” but I only know what I “feel.”. Even as a boy, I would look at the b&w images of the great masters (Adams, Weston, Capinigro, Bullock, Cunningham and others) and I would experience a physical reaction. It’s something I don’t have the capability to put into words, but I’m not sure that’s important; I just love black and white.

I think that it’s simply a matter of preference with some appreciating black and white while others love color. Is color photography considered serious art? I would never judge what art is and what is not, I wouldn’t even try to define what art is!

Darwin: Can you talk about what project you are currently working on? Is it a portfolio with a theme? Do you enjoy working more as a grazer (your words) or under the constraints of producing themed work in a portfolio?

Cole: I’m currently working on two projects, Harbinger and The Fountainhead.

The Harbinger series was started by accident when I created Harbinger No. 1 in 2008. I had been photographing the hills in Utah and was heading back to the car when I saw this solitary cloud moving rapidly over the hills. I instantly knew that in a few seconds it was going to be perfectly placed over the hill I was just photographing. I ran back up the hill, quickly unpacked my gear and just barely had time to create this one perfect image. When I name a series the name is usually my instinctive first choice and for me this cloud was a harbinger.

Initially I never thought that I’d have much chance to find other Harbingers, but the more I became aware of them , the more I began to find. I have a small collection of them and am hoping to finish them in the short term.

I’m often asked what does Harbinger mean? I’m not one to tell others what my images mean and so simply give this definition:

Harbinger: \ˈhär-bən-jər\ noun

1. one that goes ahead and makes known the approach of another; herald.

2. anything that foreshadows a future event; omen; sign.

The other series I’m actively working on is The Fountainhead, the title inspired by the novel of the same name by Ayn Rand. It is the story of a rogue architect, an individualist named Howard Roarke who refuses to conform to the ideas of society. My favorite lines and currently my artist statement for the series is:

Ellsworth M. Tooey: My dear fellow, who will let you?

Howard Roarke: That’s not the point. The point is, who will stop me?

This series combines two of the loves in my life; architecture and photography. It is a modern and abstract interpretation of architecture with the affects created in-camera using “old school” techniques. For now my techniques are a closely guarded secret!

You asked if I still enjoyed “photographic grazing” which is the name I gave to my wanderings as I searched for “one-hit wonders.” No, I no longer create this way. Once I started working on portfolios or cohesive bodies of work, I find it difficult to work in any other manner. Portfolios give me purpose and focus.

I’ve also worked a great deal with long exposures, initially creating “fluid water” images and then moving onto people after seeing the work of Alexey Titarenko. His influence led me a once in a lifetime opportunity to photograph the death camps in a very different way that I had seen them portrayed before. The series “The Ghosts of Auschwitz and Birkenau” is perhaps the work I am most proud of.

Darwin: From a practical point-of view, how do you do your long exposures, with filters, waiting for dim light, a combination of both?

Cole: My long exposures are created using 13 stops of neutral density filters. I use a fixed 5 stop ND filter and then stack a second filter on that, a Singh-Ray Vari-ND variable filter which gives me up to an additional 8 stops of neutral density. Using these two filters I am able to obtain 30 second exposures in full daylight. Most all of my long exposures are created in daylight even though many have the appearance of being created at night.

I have used the long exposure most recently in my series “The Lone Man” which combines my love of water with people. It explores the contemplative nature that overcome people as they ponder the enormity of the sea and the smallness of self.

Darwin: Finally, do you shoot with a digital camera in colour and then change to B+W in post-production, or do you capture your images in monochrome in camera?

Cole: I create in digital using monochrome mode and in RAW. This does two things; first it displays the image on the preview screen in B&W and second it keeps the digital file in color so that I can convert it to B&W myself. I don’t want the camera converting the image for me and I use the Photoshop supplied B&W converter, often tweaking the color channels drastically.

My workflow is simple and my digital techniques often mimic my darkroom techniques, making extensive use of dodging and burning. My primary philosophy is to use simple procedures that do not distract from my primary purpose of creating a visual expression of my vision.

To see more of Cole Thompson’s work go to his website and also be sure to stop by his blog

©Cole Thompson

©Cole Thompson

©Cole Thompson

©Cole Thompson

©Cole Thompson

©Cole Thompson

©Cole Thompson

©Cole Thompson

©Cole Thompson

©Cole Thompson