I’ve made it out the last two weekends to do some night photography. This weekend, was more urban night photography, and I had a chance to try out what Tony Sweet was telling us, that you can overlay multiple shots to make a more interesting picture.
Saturday night on I-25
Here we took two pictures and used the lighten blend mode to overlay them. Since it was lightly sprinkling, we had some reflections working for us. The two shots were 25 seconds each, and since I had my iso set to 64, I didn’t need my neutral density filter. It does rely on the fact that you have a good tripod.
Tony had shown us a demo, where in the small town he was photographing in, where you could make a small town look like it had the traffic of the Las Vegas strip. In this case, the traffic on I-25 wasn’t bad either.
Since I was doing urban night shots, we didn’t need a cloudless sky.
In the next picture, I was out at Mt Evans, where I was trying out some software that allowed me to stack star shots and align them automatically.
Stars and Bristlecone pines
Here this was 4 shots that I stacked. I was using Star Stacker Pro to do the alignment. This technique should allow me to use higher iso levels without paying the noise penalty. Thankfully last weekend, the clouds cleared up before nautical twilight. This 4 shots were all shot at 25 seconds each as well.
If you click on this photo, you can see how many stars are in it. I did get a comment on Facebook asking if there were really that many stars.
Mt Evans is still within the Denver light pollution, and later this summer I hope to take pictures on the other side of Rocky Mountain National Park where it will be darker.
Went out this morning with Anne T and her See like a photographer meetup group to the Rino Art District. There’s lots of interesting images that could be made there. I was glad to be part of a group shooting this morning. Since this group was large, Anne broke us up into 3-5 person teams. She gave us some suggestions of what to look for. I choose Roy G Biv, or all the colors of the rainbow. After finding that, I went out to just see what was around. After I finishing cleaning up this image, I thought of Ocean Gypsy by Renaissance.
In this case, I was much more inspired by the color, rather than wanting to shoot this in infrared.
This morning, the folks at the Forney museum held a tripod event for the Front Range Photography Meetup. They had some docents who were kind enough to join us, and were helpful and educational. One of the folks at the meet up had suggested that we might want to consider flash for some these pictures.
This vehicle was built primarily of wood, including the roof. It had been lovingly restored. The docent pointed all this out to me, and was kind enough to allow me to get a good shot.
I went out with the American Photo Treks folks to take pictures of the Cranes at Monte Vista and get a few Milky Way shots. This was a morning to appreciate having a long lens since we couldn’t get that close to Cranes.
Since we were up to take pictures of the Milky Way, it was no problem to get dawn pictures. Here I was using my 80-400mm lens.
Typically the Cranes start their day by going to the water, then afterwards finding food in the prairie, and ending up their day by going back to the water.
All of the photographers were speculating what the cranes must have thought with that line of photographers all pointing their long lenses at them.
When we were staying in Monte Vista, we stayed in a Best Western that had a novel concept. They had a drive in theatre next store, and the rooms all had the names of movie stars associated with them. They had a tie with drive in, where you had an audio feed of the movie and you could listen to the movie and watch from your room.
Last night I took a class from Bill Murphy, Digital Photography Lighting Basics Workshops. He had a mixed group, some folks who had lots of experience and some who were getting started. Bill has a nice instructional style, and while others were concentrating on the lighting, I was also picking up posing tips.
Here we able to slow down the shutter, and since the majority of the light was coming from the strobe allow the hair to fly out while stopping her motion. I was using back button focus, so the camera didn’t go crazy trying to find focus.
I was testing out some gear yesterday, but not in this shot. This is my reliable Nikon 24-70.
I agree with Thom Hogan, being willing to take classes leads to better photography more than just buying new gear. Of course buying new gear can lead you to new capabilities.
Last weekend I went out with a new Meetup group. Oddly enough, I had been tempted to photograph some of the light rail stations and Nancy and Bryan had organized a meet up about this. It was nice to discover others had the same thoughts.
Here someone mentioned that the owner of this building had problems with graffiti until he had the mural painted on his building. Now everyone just wants to look at the artwork. I ended up using my 16-35mm lens here, since I wanted to avoid stepping on the the train track.
In the shot below, I realized that I more interested in the shadow cast by the direction post, than the post itself. My lens wasn’t that happy with me since I ended starring into the Sun for this one.
Last night I went out with Jason Odell in a class about night photography. Jason’s classes are lots of fun, so we ended up at the windmill site outside Liimon, CO, where he encouraged us to shoot star trails and the Milky Way. He came out with a technique for shooting star trails where you don’t have to invest in an external multifunction remote. Of course I have the Nikon MC-36A but his suggestion had less background light, so to my eye it looked better. He suggested shooting 30 second intervals, which most cameras can do with a simple remote and setting the camera to continuous high. Then you will need to import these into a layered workflow. Adobe Photoshop, and On1’s Perfect Photo Suite would work for this. If you want to use Phase One’s Capture One Pro, you are limited to 16 layers so using the multifunction remote would be better. There’s also a new tool Affinity Photo for Mac that can deal with many layers, but I haven’t got much experience with that too.
One of the things I wanted to do last night was experiment with star stacking, so shots of the Milky Way were what I was concentrating on.
Milky Way at Windmill site
If you stack multiple shots, and adjust them for motion of the earth, you can reduce the noise. The key is to mask out the ground, so you don’t get multiple images of the sky. The tool I used here was StarryNightStacker which runs on the Mac. Mike Berensen has another technique that you can use with photoshop by it self, but it takes a bit longer.
Here I took 5 pictures at F/2.8 and 25 seconds. I was using my Rokinon 14 mm manual focus lens. The really nice thing about that lens, is infinity is at the stop, so the problems of focusing in the dark are decreased. Being a wide angle lens, I ran the shots through DXO Optics to remove the geometric distortion.
Sunday I went to the the Denver Chalk Art Festival in Larimer Square. With our recent rains, it’s been a bit of challenge for the artists with some of them redoing their art three times (as of 2 PM on Sunday.) One of the things that intrigues me is how much of their work involves getting chalk on the hands, their clothes, as well as on the pavement.
I have a number of pictures of the artists working on their artwork, but decided to approach some of them directly, explaining that I wanted to photograph their hands. Everyone of the artists who I approached were happy to let me take pictures of their hands. As I said to them, your brain is where the magic happens, but your hands are equally magical.
To paraphrase Brooks Jensen from Lenswork Magazine, no one gets camera shy about getting their hands photographed. And in this case, they all understood what I was after,