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Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Caretaker's Concern 8/28/2010

TCC for 8/28/10:

Last night at sunset:

Today's sunrise was not worth photographing. Yesterday evening the Caretaker was about to download the sunset shots to his computer when a call came in from G.G. informing the Caretaker that there will be fireworks tonight. The Caretaker decided that he should make a point to photograph them because he hadn't done any fireworks photos all season. The start time was about an hour away so his first thought was to get his camera set up down on Cocktail Point and then break out his guitar and make some noise for a while, but after strumming a few chords he noticed that the moon was just beginning to come over the horizon. It has also been a long time since the Caretaker took some moonlight shots so he decided to put down his guitar and start taking photos.

To shoot at night requires a long exposure so a tripod is an absolute necessity. If you don't have a remote trigger use the time delay function. For night landscapes a short time delay is fine, this way the camera is not jostled during the exposure when you depress the shutter button. These landscapes are a result of a 1 minute exposure, do not touch the camera, do not hit kick the tripod, and if the tripod is on a platform that can shake, don't move around on the platform or just step off it entirely before the exposure begins.

To shoot the above close up of the moon you have to be quick because the moon is moving and so it doesn't take long for it to move out of the frame. At this magnification if you don't have a remote shutter trigger you will need to use a long time delay, 10 seconds is about right because even after a short time delay the camera can still be moving from depressing the shutter trigger. The above photo is not really a great example of the Caretaker's close-ups of the moon but it does give you an idea.

The photo below has a boat going across, the not so distinct white light going across, boat lights can have an interesting impact on a night shot but it works better if the boat is coming or going, or going diagonally, straight across the horizon doesn't do all that much.

The photo above and the photo below are the exact same shot, both taken with a one minute exposure except that the above shot was taken with no flash, the shot below was taken with a flash. Notice the difference in color overall due to the flash and of course how the foreground is illuminated. Varying the intensity of the flash will vary the impact on the colors and the intensity of the foreground illumination.

The photo above and the photo below are roughly the same shot, the photo below was taken first and then 5 or 10 minutes later the photo above was taken, notice the movement of the moon, and clouds obscuring the moon in the above photo compared to the photo below. In the above photo a low intensity flash was used, in the photo below no flash was used.

If the Caretaker had taken these shots one right after the other he could have then used Photoshop to overlay one photo on to the other, then blended the best elements of each, however, since the camera was moved and then relocated that can't be done for these two shots.

There is a lot of standing around when taking long exposures, sometimes you will need to do a test shot to see what it is you are photographing, first try taking a regularly timed photo using the flash, if the foreground shows up and you can see if you need to adjust the camera then do so and then take the long exposure shot. If the flash doesn't shed any light on the image, pun intended, take a 15 second exposure shot, this time frame usually lets in enough light to let you see if the shot is set up the way you want it. If you're shooting the moon, remember that it is moving so every time you take a long exposure you are "losing" the shot, this is important if you want to blend flash and non-flash shots.

Eventually the fireworks started:

The Caretaker photographs fireworks in a less than traditional way, essentially it is "painting with light". All of these photos were taken using a 1.6 second exposure, while holding the camera in hand and intentionally moving it a bit during the exposure. A shorter or longer exposure can also be used depending on the amount of streaking you want, however, too long an exposure results in a big mass of light that just looks burned out. The camera is zoomed in up close to the fireworks. There is often a lot of hit and miss using this style, due to the exposure time and processing time you will not be able to take a photo of every single firework that goes off. Not to mention there is an awful lot of timing involved, at first you may very well get a lot of blank photos because you missed the explosions. The Caretaker highly suggests at first observing the fireworks in relation to what you want to do--photograph them. Light travels faster than sound, if you go by the boom chances are you already missed the firework's light. Also, fireworks go off at varying heights, which is a bit more difficult to gauge, but they are often set off keeping a trend, high for a while then lower for a while then high again, etc. As far as timing goes, look for the launch flare coming up from the ground, note how long it takes before the explosion, chances are pretty good that the next few fireworks will follow this pattern.

Until you get the hang of it you will need to keep in mind that it is best to stay relaxed and do more observing than shooting, if not you will most likely end up continually being behind the fireworks and taking a lot of blank photos.

The image above was created from the image below, first the photo was cropped to remove the empty black space, it was then rotated a quarter turn. Then the image was duplicated, the copied image was then flipped--not rotated. The canvas for the copy was then doubled in size shifting the image to one side, use a calculator to do an exact doubling of the pixels for enlarging the canvas (i.e. to double the canvas of an image with 500 pixels on either the horizontal or vertical side the canvas would go to 1000 for that particular side, for doubling, just do one side, leave the other as is). Next you will drag the original image into the duplicated image thus depositing a copy of the original into the first copy, this is in Photoshop, the method may vary for other photo editing programs. Line the newly pasted copy up with the other image, close to touching but not all the way. Zoom in close enough to see distinct pixels and match up the pixels to create a perfect mirrored image, if your alignment is way off scroll to the top or bottom, or either side, at the middle and use the corners to line up the images. Below, in the post from 2007, is an example of this mirroring technique only it is done 4 times and the photo is of moonlight on water.

Before there was the blog the Caretaker sent out posts via e-mail, the following is from the Caretaker's second winter on the Island:

IIR 5/3/07

Lake Temp. 45 F
Look closely at this photo.

Not much to report, busy getting ready for opening. Last night was the full moon, the peak of the month for working on my "Moonlight" series. Attached is one of the photos from last night's "session". During a quick review of the night's "work", one of the photos "jumped" out at me and so I did a quick and dirty copy and paste job on it. The attached photo is actually one photo copied 3 times and flipped around 4 ways and put together. It could easily be the cover to a Motorhead album (if you're a Motorhead fan don't flame me for not using the umlaut, I don't know where it is on the keyboard and I don't care).

The photo below is the core image for the photo above, the photo below makes up the top right quarter of the image above.

The method for shooting moon light on water is entirely hit or miss. Very much the same method as what the Caretaker uses for shooting fireworks, exposure time of about a second, sometimes moving the camera, sometimes keeping it steady. The above photo is from a photo session of around 100 shots, there may have been one or two other "keepers" from that session but for the most part you take a lot of photos and get very few worth keeping. In tomorrow's 2007 post there will be an example of the Caretaker's work with photographing LED light on water, same process as shooting moonlight on water only there is more control of the light.

--The Caretaker

P.S. For anyone who is interested in any of the ways the Caretaker takes his photos feel free to ask him any questions you'd like, he is more than happy to share all that he knows, he's not the covetous type and would very much like to see what others can come up with. The world seems to be quite long on acts of destruction and rather short on acts of creation, anything that can be done to reverse this trend is something we should all be striving for.

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