So I have been in Bangkok now for 3 weeks. Got over the jet lag, travellers diarrhoea, and learnt how to order some basic food. I have now also managed to get a few decent shot in and around BangkokRead More
One of the huge perks of living in the coastal city of Durban in South Africa, is that we get quite a lot of summer thunderstorms. I'm a hug fan of thunderstorms, generally the closer I am, and the more violent the thunderstorm, the bigger the grin on my face.
We recently had one of these thunderstorms just off the coast of Durban. I was at work when it started fairly late in the afternoon/early evening. I stuck around to see how close it got, and it turned out to be one of the more impressive thunderstorms of the year so far.
I take my camera everywhere I go, so naturally I took some photos. This was the prize of the photos I took that night.
So, how did I do it?
This is by no means the best, or only way to do it. This is just the method that makes the most sense to me.
First of all, you have to be in manual mode, then set your shutter speed to "bulb". What this mode does is keeps your shutter open, for as long as you have the shutter release pressed. As soon as you release the button, the shutter will close. Alternatively, if you have a remote, set your camera to remote trigger, and the shutter speed to "time". This will leave the shutter open until you press the remote trigger a second time.
Next you want to have your ISO set to as low as possible. This will keep the image free of noise, and keep your exposure levels down.
The next setting you need to change is the aperture. This is a bit of a tricky one, as it depends on what kind of lens you are using, how frequent the lightning is, and what time of day it is. You will get nicer results with a wider aperture, the lightning bolts will be a lot brighter and stand out more. You will however be letting in more light, so if its daylight hours still, you will be limited as to how long you can leave the shutter open.
If you want long exposure shots, with lots of lightning strikes using a wide angle lens for example, ideally you want to set the aperture quite high. Start around f11, and do some experimenting. If you are just trying to get single strikes, with a fairly tight lens, you can open up the shutter a bit more, and use shorter exposure times. This method does require a bit of luck, you have to be aiming your camera in the right direction, hoping the lightning will strike in your frame.
Once the lightning has done its thing, and struck where you are pointing your camera, the lightning will act the same as a flash, leaving a nice sharp (provided its in focus) bolt, you can then release the shutter and do another shot. If its dark and there isn't much detail in the landscape, you can get away with not using a tripod. (The shot below was taken without a tripod.)
I highly recommend turning off all noise reduction on your camera, in particular, the long exposure noise reduction. If you leave it on, and take a 30 second exposure, you will have to wait another 30 seconds while the camera goes through its noise reduction procedures, and you might miss the best lightning bolt of the storm.
For those of you that know about EXIF data, you can find it in my image details on 500px.
In a previous life (about three years ago), I used to be a video editor for a small sports video porduction company in Durban, South africa. They mostly focus on mountain biking events, and do some good work for our local sports broadcaster, Supersport. Go Boy Productions is the name they go by, they are the same company that brought you the viral youtube video of the cyclist being rugby tackled by a hartebees.
During the course of my stay at Go Boy, I used to do a fair amount of graphics for the edits that I did, some of these graphics included basic 3D graphics, text, logos, and once a 3D butterfly. (Which I am quite proud of.)
Quite recently, I did a freelance job for Go Boy, and tried my hand at 3D compositing. I'd say I did an alright job, all I did was create some 3D text, matched it too camera movement, and try get it to cast shadows in the video footage. I succeded for the most part. (You can see the video here)
Now, to the point of this post, during my travels on Twitter, which consists mainly of glancing at the twitter app for mac every few minutes, a particular post stuck out.It read, "Very cool video showcasing software developed by students which allow 3D objects to be inserted into photographs"
Now, being a photographer, and past ametuer 3D artist type person, this intruiged me. I watched the video, and subsequently had my mind blown. If this type of technology makes it way into video, which I imagine it will in a few year, batteling hours and hours for days on end trying to composite 3D objects in real footage, is going to be a thing of the past. We could see major changes in the movie industry, and particulary in the smaller production companies, who would be able to start to incorporate 3D graphics into thier productions, with out major cost/time implications.
Exciting times ahead indeed...
I subscribe to a number of photography resources on the net. Every Now and then I come across some really helpful/insightful gems of information.
As I try and make my transition from part time, hobbyist photographer, to full time professional; one of the big challenges is figuring out how much to charge. There are a lot of considerations to take into account when working out pricing, most of which are overlooked by startups, whether they be photographers, freelancers or any-one running their own small business.
This video I came across, by Mark Wallace of Snapfactory, covers the basics of how to work out your daily rate.
I recently started gaining an interest in Portrait photography. I have never been much of a people person, so this is quite a difficult photographic genre for me.
Thankfully I have a patient girlfriend that was willing to sit quietly while I move things around her and bark orders on how to sit.
This was the result of that sitting, and a whole bunch of photoshop. She is by no means a goth, nor does she wear this much make-up, I added it in photoshop with the help of layers and blend modes.
If you are interested, there are heaps of 'HOW TO's floating around the net and on youtube. Just look for Digital Make-up.
This blog comes after a commercial shoot I did a few weeks ago. I finally only recently got the time, (and computer back from the shop) to go through the photos properly.
I noticed that a lot of them were out of focus on the points that I was focusing on. For the shoot I predominantly used the stock standard 18-55mm f4.5 - 5.6 Nikon AFS lens, on a Nikon D60. The problem with this camera is the limited 3 focus points on it.
ANyway, back to problem at hand. Using auto focus, the photos still seemed to come out a bit soft in the critical areas that I WANTED sharp focus.
I tried adjusting the diopter, but that was all good. (Thankfully my eyes aren't as bad as I thought)
This got me looking into all sorts of funny solutions, including focusing screens. Which are a bit unnecessary for a cheap D60, doing menial jobs in my opinion.
Next idea. Test the rangefinder, and see where it says the pocus point is in focus, and check the photo to see if its correct.
ALAS. Its actually not focusing on the focus point, it seems to focus on a range that is fraction south of the centre focus point.
Now, armed with this knowledge, I can focus on this new area, and then re-frame and get perfect in focus shots.
This of course shouldn't be a problem in a camera with 30+ focus points. But hey, I don't have that luxury yet. :)
With the daunting first blog out of the way, I just need to keep writing. Writing was never really my strong point, particularly writing about fact, and writing about myself, well, I'd consider myself to be a tad inept at best. Just take a look at my CV, I challenge you to find a paragraph about myself longer than 2 sentences. Something I need to look into. I'll put it on my list.
Luckily, I'm not out to become a world famous writer...
If I can travel, take photos and make a bit of money to eat, I'll be happy. I do still have a lot to learn, but I am getting there slowly. The biggest problem is that there is just so much stuff I want to learn, but its just not possible to learn all of it at the same time.
Not only do I want to be a bloody marvelous photographer, I want to be able to incorporate design with photography, and design isn't exactly a narrow field.
Coming from the video industry, I also have a bit of a background motion graphics, which was the part I enjoyed most about editing. Experimenting, trying new effects and techniques. This habit of always looking for something new to try and test has seeped through into my photography.
"What now?" you ask...
Learn more, try more, do more, until I find something that I can sell as being MY "style". Brand means a lot in these times, and if you have a style that goes along with your brand, it will make you more recognisable.