Archivo de la etiqueta: flickr

How I Took This: Spooky Frangipani

I was surprised at the massive response to this photo when I first posted it on flickr back in June 2008. It is still my most viewed photo.

Spooky Frangipani

Click on photo to enlarge

Here’s the technical information:

Camera: Canon EOS 450D

Shutter Speed: 90 sec

Aperture: f/4.5

Focal Length: 10 mm

ISO Speed: 100

Exposure Bias: 0 EV

Date and Time: 2008:06:17 01:13:40

Exposure Program: Manual

Lens: Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM

Equipment: Manfrotto 190XB Tripod, Manfrotto 322RC2 Heavy Duty Grip Ball Head, Canon RC1 Wireless Remote

A sleepless night ended up being a fortuitous event. I was visiting a friend in Townsville. A combination of insomnia and boredom led me outdoors with my tripod and camera. Fortunately, there was a full moon, some interesting cloud cover and a leafless frangipani tree in the front yard.

I decided an ultra-wide angle would give the expansive effect that I wanted to achieve. So, after fitting the lens and mounting on a tripod, I tried several different positions beneath the tree. I angled the camera upwards about 60 degrees – this is where a sturdy tripod and heavy duty ball grip head become very useful for fine control. I experimented with different ISO levels, apertures and shutter speeds. I finally settled upon ISO 100 at f4.5 for 90 seconds. Once again, enable mirror lockup and use a remote shutter release or self-timer to avoid camera shake.

I’ve found through lots of experimentation that trees and other stationary objects seem to take on an ethereal quality if shot at night at long shutter speeds. It seems that the moonlight gives an eerie glow and almost unreal texture.

So don’t be afraid to experiment – a lot. That’s the beauty of digital. You can delete anything that doesn’t work and practice makes perfect.

Slow Water Shots

Today I received a question on one of my flickr photos about how to take photos of blurred water. Here is the shot in question, click on the photo to enlarge:

Surprise Falls

The enquiry was from one of my contacts named kierobau and this was their question:

i like how you blured down the water a little,
so how do you do that?
a bit out of my league i guess . . .as i only have a p&s

My answer was as follows:

Hi kierobau,

As it was around noon that I took this shot, it was really sunny and normally it’s impossible to get a time-lapse shot at that time of day without over-exposing the photo. In this instance, I used a neutral density ND8 filter. This has the effect of blocking out three f/ stops of sunlight coming into the lens. Thus allowing me to take a longer exposure. There are a couple of important things that need to be considered when attempting a shot like this.

1. Amount of light (dawn or dusk or overcast days are best, otherwise use an ND filter).

2. A tripod (or somewhere to rest the camera without touching it) is essential as the slightest movement will wreck the sharpness of the features surrounding the water (which is of course the only thing that you DO want blurred).

3. A remote control or shutter release cable so that you don’t have to touch the camera at all after setting up the shot (framed and focused). If you don’t have one, set the camera for a delayed shutter release (5 or 10 seconds maybe). Most cameras have this feature.

4. Shoot in manual mode. Set your desired aperture and shutter speed. If you are unsure as to how long to set the shutter speed on your camera, use Aperture Priority mode. As you said you only have a point and shoot camera, it shouldn’t be a problem. Most modern point and shoots come with this mode these days. In this mode, all you need to do is to set the aperture. The lower the f/ stop, the smaller the aperture – so try setting your camera to 2 stops above the lowest f/ stop on your camera eg: if the lowest is say f/ 3.5, the next stop might be f/ 4 and then f/ 4.5 – so set the f/ stop to 4.5. An added benefit to this is that two stops above the lowest aperture setting is often the “sweet spot” that will give you the sharpest photo.

I hope all of that made sense. If anyone else has any more tips, that would be great.

Tall Tripod Tales

A little alliteration goes a long way on a weary Saturday afternoon. Today I thought I would share a cautionary tale with those of you who don’t know this already. The first tripod that I bought was a Manfrotto. As I didn’t know much at all about tripods and photography in general at the time, I assumed that because it had the Manfrotto name, it would be a good tripod. After all, I had paid a massive $189 for it! Ah… that salesman saw me coming from a mile away. It was the best one in the store – a leading white goods and electronics retailer. Hmm thank goodness for hindsight being 20/20. Never again. As I later discovered, $189 was bargain basement price and as the old adage goes, “you get what you pay for”.

So what to look for in a tripod. Some advice that I was given and read along the way was:

A) A good tripod and head are usually NEVER sold together. You’ll probably have to buy both items separately in order to get something decent.

B) Have a budget. I couldn’t afford to spend a lot of money but I knew that going cheap was not an option either. Get what you can afford.

C) What do you want from the tripod body? Would sturdiness or weight be your main consideration. If you won’t both of these considerations in one package then you are looking at big bucks for one made with carbon-fibre material. For me, weight is a much more important consideration (though I don’t want something flimsy either). So I opted for the Manfrotto 190XB Aluminium Tripod which weighs in at 5kg. Not too heavy to carry cross country on my landscape adventures, but sturdy enough not to have to worry about its stability.

D) What kind of tripod head do you need/prefer? My tripod had a flimsy ball head which would either not hold in the place that you put set it, or it would slip under the weight of the camera body and lens. Precise orientation of the camera was limited too and I would spend ages trying to line the camera up. This almost put me off ball heads altogether. Yet I kept reading that “all the pros use them”. So when it came time to bite the bullet, I investigated further and tried a few of them out. See Lesson 2 below. I decided to go with a Manfrotto 322RC2 Joystick Head. It was both firm and flexible and its manoeuvrability can be customised with a “friction” dial to make it either looser or stickier to move.

A couple of lessons learned here:

1) Buy your equipment from a reputable camera retailer. Generic retailers and department stores often have both limited stock and the staff generally have limited knowledge of cameras and camera equipment. You might strike it lucky and find a salesman who knows what he is talking about in one of these stores, but I never have (I would also apply this advice for computers and computer equipment although the chance of finding a geek who knows his stuff at a department store is much better in my experience).

2) If possible, try the equipment out before buying. In the case of a tripod, carry it around the store and get a feel for the weight. Set the tripod up and collapse it again – does it work efficiently and smoothly? Attach the tripod head that you have chosen and try it out as well. Attach your camera. If you haven’t got yours with you, ask the salesman to get your model from the showcase with a comparable lens – ask them to attach the heaviest lens that you have in order to gauge whether the tripod head can support the weight of both the camera and lens, particularly in portrait orientation.

3) Have a healthy bank balance. Be prepared to spend at least $200 on the tripod mount and another $200 on the tripod head.

4) If the salesperson has any problems with the requests and/or actions in Lesson number 2, refer to Lesson number 3. You are spending a lot of money and if the sales staff are not obliging, go spend your money at a store that will accommodate your requests.

So if anybody has any suggestions to add, I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment and share your experience. I am by no means an expert but I like to share the knowledge that has so freely been given to me.

On to my two new photos for today. Here are some shot that I took yesterday on my explorations in Brisbane. Click on the photos to enlarge and have a good weekend.

Live View

Live View is one of the new features on the Canon EOS 450D (aka Canon Digital Rebel XSi) that I underestimated. At first I thought it was a gimmick. However, after experimenting a bit with it, I have discovered that there are some benefits to using it occasionally. The major benefit that I have discovered is that it gives you a totally accurate representation of what the sensor is “seeing”. Thus when using manual focus, I find that I can more accurately judge the sharpness of the focus especially in low-light situations. I will definitely be using this feature more than I thought that I would.

An update to the travel situation… We are currently in Brisbane, waiting until Monday for the van to be fixed. Today is the ANZAC Day public holiday, so the mechanic and just about every other place is shut down for the day. It is also my partner’s and my 14th Anniversary today so it’s a happy day. To celebrate, here are a couple more shots from our recent journeys.