Here’s a shot I took, erm, a year ago, playing around with ultra long exposures. Or, to be more precisely, simulating an ultra-long exposure by stacking many individual exposures.
On the shooting side, I simply set my camera to manual mode, 30s exposures in continuous drive mode and used a lockable remote release to fire off one shot after another (having disabled the dark-frame subtraction function as missing out 30s between each exposures produces ugly dotted lines rather than smooth trails).
Then, to “merge” the images, there are a fair few programs available. A well working, free and cross-platform one would be StarStaX.
As you can see in the little EXIF table below, this slightly confusing and anything but pretty photo was taken over the course of 11 h, out the back from our bedroom balcony. A bit of math tells you that’s more than 1300 exposures, all in the spirit of experimentation…
Apologies regular readers, it is most unlikely this is going to be of any interest or even use to you, but I just wanted to jot this down for posteriority.
If you are lucky enough to have access to a Photron Fastcam and have run into performance issues, make sure you enable Jumbo Frames on your network interface and in the Fastcam Viewer software (see e.g. here).
However, this recently stopped working for me, and it turned out that although I was setting the Jumbo Frames /Jumbo Packet settings in the Windows control panel as instructed, this was not actually set in the network adapter itself. Only after resorting to some command line action I managed the setting to be actual used, and things worked again with the usual performance.
I meant to write a post about the “Brenizer method” for a fair while now, but never got around doing it. Anyway, what are “Brenizer panoramas” or “bokeh panoramas” as some people like to call it?
The idea is to create an image that would be pretty much impossible to achieve with a real lens. Like the one above, which has the look (according to this calculator) of a 30mm ƒ/0.4 lens. Some say, ƒ/0.5 is the limit of what’s physically possible, so that’s something, hey? Also, since you combine the images, you will get a very high resolution result, which, downscaled, will just be super sharp.
Anyway, such images are produced by shooting with a long focal length and wide open aperture to achieve a super shallow depth of field, but then stitching many such images together to get a wider angle coverage of the subject. You can use a panoramic tripod head if you want to be precise, but for speed you probably have to work handheld. The above shot is the composition of about 60 shots taken with a 135mm lens at ƒ/1.8.
It can be tricky to put the images together, and neither Photoshop CS6′s Photomerge nor PTGui did a good job with this one here (half the shots could not be linked automatically, in particular those with mostly blurry parts). Thankfully, Kolor’s Autopano Pro did a better job, and even if 10 or so images were not automatically linked, I could manually add control points fairly quickly to eventually tie all the images together sufficiently. Then, I exported it as a Panotools file, which I could then load and finish off in PTGui (which I am much more familiar with and have a license of). Here’s what the project looked like before exporting and cropping.
Since bokeh (the out of focus bits) will be very prominent with this technique, you really want to use a lens that is known for good quality bokeh. Also, choose a nicer background than I did for this test (night shots with distant background lights work particularly great).
Here’s one of my last photos from Germany, a bit of night sky. Steffi‘s family home is out in the country side in Germany (me being a city boy), so whenever I go there I just love the silence and clarity of the sky at night.
On our farewell trip back in Winter, when it was about –10°C, I decided to take one last picture of the night sky, since where we were going would show completely different constellations (not than I know much about it) and there’s no harm in risking a cold just before embarking on a big trip…
Lacking any special photo gear, I shot this with my camera and wide angle lens laying on the ground, with a kitchen towel as support. I then used my cellphone to light paint the fence and bushes a little bit for reference, and to get some extra colour into the image beyond the faint orange background glow from Jerichow. By light painting I mean running around like mad man, continuously waving the phone screen in front of my body, at the same time trying to block the camera from seeing the phone light directly (there was a “light leak” though as you can see by the horizontal line in the corner of the fence).
Hoping you like the dense night sky, best wishes from Australia again! This blog is coming a bit full circle now, since I started it right here in Newcastle over six years ago!
We recently drove up to the Hunter Valley, a fairly renown wine growing region less than an hour’s drive away. That’s a great thing to have :-) Countless little wine estates and cellar doors to try wine at a decent enough prices. Good fun!
The tour also took us by this little lookout that offered some lovely views over the valley. Unfortunately, it was a semi-overcast day, and the first version of this shot pretty much just had a grey blob of sky at the top. The small little bits of blue sky didn’t come out at all. Thankfully I packed my polarising filter, which was the first thing I tried out. And wunderbar, it did indeed darken down the blue bits somewhat so they they could actually be identified as such.
But there still was a fairly large difference in brightness between sky and ground. So I put on the second filter I own (and that’s the only two I have): a graduated neutral density filter. It’s designed to be used with the Cokin filter system, but I pretty much only used it free-hand (so just hold the square filter by hand rather than with the filter holder). Much faster that way, and pretty much same result, if you manage to coordinate holding the camera, adjusting the filter and operating the shutter at the same time ;-)
What that filter did was bring down the brightness of the sky a fair bit, but leave the ground untouched. As the name suggests, it’s a filter which is neutral density on one side (so just makes things darker), and clear on the other, with the smooth transition (graduation) in-between so you don’t notice it that much (it’s the first filter in this list). A very handy tool to have in your photo bag!
Sprinkle a ton of “Clarity” during raw development on top and and that’s how I got these fairly dramatic skies from the fairly bland looking light grey blob the sky was at the time.
Here’s part 6 of my panoramic photography tutorial series over on YouTube. It describes one (of the many) methods of finding the no-parallax point of a lens, and what to look out for with fisheye lenses in particular.