I have been pretty busy for the last few months working on some new projects, the first of these is about ready for public viewing. I am looking for a few volunteers to test out my new iPhoto plugin for exporting images and original movies to SmugMug. If you are interested drop me line or leave a comment and I’ll add you to the list. The plugin has been tested on iPhoto 11 but should work back to iPhoto 08. It is 10.6 (Snow Leopard) only.
Last week on my diploma course was all about night photography so I though I would share a few tips.
- Use a tripod, use remote or timed release to keep everything sharp, mirror lockup if your camera has it.
- Carry a torch and try painting with light.
- Turn on long exposure noise reduction, night exposures can be very long and this can result in noisy images. The long exposure noise reduction will help.
- Shoot RAW to give you more options in post processing.
- Try slow shutter speeds or bulb mode to give interesting effects, from traffic to clouds and stars.
- Use a low ISO to keep the noise levels down.
- Use high ISO to test exposure/composition.
- Use a fast lens with no filters to reduce the exposure time.
- Check your histogram to check your exposure.
- Reflections can add interest to night images, rain and puddles can be great.
A long exposure here lets the car lights create trails through the image.
Painting with a torch can be fun.
With a very long exposure under moonlight the clouds move and blur.
Version 1.4.4 of SmuginProForAperture my Aperture to SmugMug export plugin has just been released with a couple of minor changes:
- The filename of uploaded files will now always be the current version name.
- Location data (lat/long) is now updated when the name/caption is updated.
My free SmuginForAperture plugin has also been updated to version 1.4.3. I have a few interesting things planned over the next few months so watch this space…
Last weeks theme for my diploma course was macro so I thought I would give some quick tips on shooting macro.
- Use a small aperture to give the widest possible depth of field.
- With the small aperture you will need to use a tripod, the shutter speed could be quite long unless you have very string light.
- If you are shooting outside a calm overcast day is best.
- For flowers a water spray can be useful, water droplets can lift an image.
- Using a flash can be good and a ring flash is best.
If you are using a flash you really want to go to manual mode on your camera and if you aren’t using a ring flash then getting the flash off the camera is a good idea; even better if you have high speed sync capability. An example might help show why….
If you use aperture priority mode (since you want to make sure you have the smallest possible aperture) and then use a flash you will get a fixed shutter speed, maybe 1/60s for example. Without the flash this is still a long enough exposure for the ambient light to expose the background.
ISO 3200 f/40 1/60s
Not the most extreme example, it was quite dark when I took this image, but you can see some of the lighter background showing. The flower is a bit past it unfortunately!
However if you move to a manual exposure you can adjust the shutter speed up to the maximum supported by the flash and camera, this might 1/200s or much higher with high speed sync. In this case the ambient light won’t be enough to expose the background and the you end up with a clean black background which can be very good for removing distractions from the image.
ISO 3200 f/40 1/500s
Both these images were taken with off camera flash, the only difference is the shutter speed and as you can see the background hs gone completely dark in the second image, even at ISO3200.
And don’t forget to you still need to compose the image…
These are not rules but some things to try for better landscape photographs. They are in no particular order.
- Use a tripod.
- Try a neutral density (ND) filter – great for waterfalls.
- Use a small aperture but not the smallest, so shoot f/16 not f/22. Your images will be sharper.
- Find a strong foreground, it doesn’t matter how great the sunset is if there is nothing else there.
- If the sky is bright (or the water) try a graduated ND filter to even out the exposure in camera.
- Don’t put the horizon in the centre if the image, remember the rule of thirds.
- Try an HDR, bracket your exposures and merge them later.
- Try portrait orientation rather than landscape just for a change.
- Shoot in the golden hour around sunrise or sunset. Wait a bit longer after sunset for the blue light.
- Watch out for dull skies, if the sky is DFO (dull, flat and ‘orrible) then so is the image.
- Shoot before or after storms, during if it is safe and you can keep your gear dry. Look for the ‘fingers of god light’ coming through the clouds.
Oops that was eleven, don’t forget that breaking the rules can be fun too.