Friday, June 30, 2017

TWIP Using ND filters for blur

Purpose of an ND filter in photography is a question most people ask when they see the big odd shaped pieces of glass on the front of a camera lens.  These filters can be screw on, square or rectangle.  Various filter types include regular ND filters, graduated ND filters and reverse graduated ND filters.  

The regular type filers stop light from the whole lens that is coming into the camera.  Most of them come in 3,6, or 10 stops.  Stops is the measurement of the amount of light coming into your camera.  For instance, if you are shooting a scene with a shutter speed of 1/60th of a second and decide to add a 3 stop ND filter to the front of your camera, your shutter speed will now be a 1/8th of a second.  You change your 3 stop to a 10 stop, you are now at 16 seconds on your shutter speed.  I have a little handy chart that assist in calculating this in the field.  You can find these anywhere if you just search google.

The graduated filters help the photographer to even out the scene in terms of exposure.  I have found that majority of the time, the sky is about 3 stops brighter than the ground, therefore, on scenes where I am trying to get cloud movement, I put a 3 stop graduated filter in front of the camera as well.  These come with a hard line, for flat horizons, and soft edge for those with lines that aren't so flat.  Reverse grads are what most use for sunsets.  The top is lighter until you get to the horizon line where it is most dense as when shooting the sun, the brightest point is at the middle area of the frame.  

Below is an example of what ND filters can do for your photography.  The top shot is a behind the scenes photo with my iPhone.  You can see the clouds are frozen in time.  This day the wind was blowing about 30 mph and the clouds were really moving.  I placed my 10 stop on the front of the camera and a hard grad filter which is another 3 stops to get this exposure.  Exposure on the bottom two photos were approximately 120 seconds.  I believe the longer exposure gives a little more life to a regular mundane scene.  

Sunday, June 25, 2017

TWIP HDR from the Platte

Last week the cub scout pack my son belongs to, took a den activity to the airboat tours location close to our home.  I had been on boats many times, but never an airboat.  Thought this would be an awesome experience for both of us.  The boat tour was on the Platte River, so I was pretty familiar with what it was like especially growing up around the Niobrara River.  Deep spots with tons of sand bars.  The tour was interesting and the boat ride surprisingly smooth.  I would definitely do it again.  I kept the camera tucked away as I didn't know what to expect in terms of water spray, but if I would have remembered my camera strap, I would have had it out almost the whole time. No splash at all.

We stopped a couple of times for the guide to show us different parts of the river and wildlife along the sides.  We even made a stop on the sand bar so the kids could say they stood and played in the Platte.  Yep, right there in the middle of the river.  40 feet of water on either side, but yet it was 6 inches deep.  Just as I remembered the Niobrara when I was a kid.  The clouds were pretty cool giving way to some great sun rays.  I shot a couple of HDR shots from the boat, which is challenging afterwards to line up.  I even tried a new technique using Raya Pro of which I liked the output, but lining up the images was very tough...still wondering if I did something wrong.  Either way, I'll put it out there to view. 

The top shot was from earlier in the day as we were leaving.  The sun rays kissed the top of the church tower.  

This is a pano done with an iPhone 6 as I didn't want to get my camera out and chance it.

These are the two HDR shots.  The top was done using NIK filters and were taken from 5 separate shots.  The bottom was done using Photoshop and Raya Pro.  As you can see, the tree on the left side doesn't quite line up right, but I tend to like the softer tone of the photo.  Guess I have a little work to do on mastering luminosity masks.

This one lined up a little better.

This is a 6 shot vertical panorama taken and adjusted in Lightroom.  No HDR.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

TWIP After the storm

This week in pictures is after the storm.  We had a rather large storm come through the area producing many tornados and winds that were crazy.  Our area of town was spared some of the worst as the storm weakened slighted as it went through, but quickly intensified again as it went through town.  After the storm had passed, it was perfect timing for the sun to pop from under the clouds and highlight the already very cool looking mammatus clouds.  Here are a couple of the quick shots I was able to get.  The area I was in was filling up quickly with water as it is a collection lake for runoff.  The water rose probably 6 inches from the time we go to the spot until we left.  I did collect one tick as well, which was surprising as I was there less than 15 minutes and the grass was cut very low.  Guess predictions were right that ticks are going to be very bad this year.

TWIP Sunset and God

I do love a good sunset.  Over the last week we have had a couple.  Being a busy dad, there hasn't been much opportunity to get out and shoot a sunset especially this summer with it running into the evening ours and night time routines.  Plus the NBA finals are on, so spending time with my sports loving son is much more important.  

Earlier last week, there was a doozy of a sunset coming our way and I thought it best to make an attempt to photograph it.  It was after all something I really enjoy, even if it is for 10 minutes.  

I stopped by a church in as I thought it would make a great backdrop for the sunset and started snapping away.  Having forgot my tripod, I had to work on my steadiness to make an HDR of this evening.  Filters were not available, so I was just working with the bare lens.  I shot a couple set of HDR with the Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 and then another set with the Canon 17-40mm f/4L just to get a little variety. 

Here are my two final images after running the 5 shot exposures through the now dead in the water Nik filters.  Hopefully I am still able to use these after the recent announcement by Google that they were no longer updating or supporting the filters that are so very popular amount the photography enthusiast.  

Top photo is taken with the Rokinon, bottom with the Canon.  As always, click on the photo to get a larger version.

Everybody Loves a Baby Bump

Everyone loves a baby bump.  I for one, enjoy shooting a baby bump almost as much as I enjoy photographing a baby or kids.  There is always some craziness, especially when it isn't the first bump and sis joins the party.  Here are a couple of my favorites from a recent baby bump shoot.  Since I am a little slow on posting, we have a little lady that has graced this world.  Just wanted to let you enjoy some of the priors.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

TWIP Neale Woods Nature Hike

A photography friend and I took a recent trip to a local nature preserve called Neale Woods north of Omaha.  Ticks were plentiful and flowers were spars.  We did encounter one flower that was pretty plentiful, so I decided to try my focus stacking technique.  I knew that we would more than likely be taking photos of the same flower and in an attempt to be a little bit original, I thought I would do that.    Now the challenging part of the whole focus stacking in the wild, is there is nothing to brace yourself on unless you carried a walking stick or a monopod, the wind was blowing like crazy (which didn't play nice with my suddenly developed allergy), and I didn't want to walk to far into the grass for fear of coming home with a tick attached to every part of my body.  Ticks are plentiful this time of year and walking in a nature preserve by the river is always a wonderful spot to encounter these nice little #$@#$.  So with that, my attempts.  

I had a couple different runs at the same type of flower, but due to the wind, lining them up in photoshop took a lot more work that I was willing to spend. So grabbed one of the shots that I preferred and worked with it.  Below are the results.  I also caught a wild daisy during a slight halt in the wind. 

Next, I had recently purchased a Tiffen VariND filter.  For those who don't know what that is, it is a neutral density filter that you can turn from 2 stops to 8 stops.  For the novice, stops are the amount of light that the camera lets in.  Thus, using this filter along with my Fotodiox 10 stop neutral density filter, I was able to move the light from regular to 12 or up to 18 stops slower.  Why you ask?  There were clouds moving over head for most of the day and at 2pm in the afternoon, you really need to make it dark coming into the camera as possible to get the illusion of movement.  Not wanting to hold up others with us photographing things that day, I did a couple quick shots.  One was 2 minutes and one 90 seconds.  The two minute exposure, I was using the full 18 stops and it wasn't nearly long enough of an exposure.  I adjusted the exposure and stops using the VariND and 90 second brought out all of the shadows in the building and the grass, exposed the sky correctly, but blew out the clouds.  Now that I have an idea, I am going to try this spot again sometime for a more dedicated session.  Below is the photo to go with the story.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

TWIP Verbena

I had some flowers come up in the back yard planted a very long time ago.  They never came up prior to this year, so I was pleased to see them.  Flowers bring an ever present opportunity to do a little photography.  I for one, enjoy photographing flowers, but not like most people.  I prefer to focus stack my photos to give the flower the most detail you can get get, while leaving the background a smooth and creamy look.  A very generous Facebook friend provided me with the name of these lovely little flowers,  Verbena.  

I decided to photograph each bloom's color for this blog.  Who knows, maybe I a nice coffee table book may come out of this idea.  Anyway, here are the shots if you haven't seen them already.  I intend to make a nice simple focus stacking tutorial for anyone who is interest.  I'll link it to this post and future focus stacking posts.