Long exposure Dresden

posted in Dresden, Germany on with No Comments

400k

Statistics are not everything, but it’s always nice when one get’s to a new milestone :) And the one for today, is that my portfolio site (www.hdrshooter.net) counted for the first time over 400 000 photo views in a month. This counts almost all the photos viewed on the blog and on the portfolio :)
400k

Long exposure Dresden

Usually when the weather is just ugly, I tend to get out my ND filter, to at lease make the photos a little more interesting. It does not help with the weather, but if one blurs the water and the sky, it usually fits better the mood of the weather. I did the same with this shot from Dresden. The weather was boring, with some rain and only few clouds. But the long exposure created such a nice glass like water, great for a reflection.

This is a HDR from 5 exposures, created in Oloneo Photoengine, finished in Photoshop.
Long exposure Dresden

The side walkway

posted in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on with No Comments

Photoshop really scared me for a moment, when it crashed while I was editing this photo. It’s been perfectly stable for so long now (I still use CS6, as I feel the CC version is slower) and this was only the second crash I can remember. If you are curious, the first one was when I tried to edit a 200+ Mpix panorama :). But as it has been so stable for so long, I always forget to save files regularly. Luckily, Photoshop does, and after the recovery I only was missing a single curves layer.

But to the photo, this is taken at the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, right around the sunset. The sun was shining form the right, as is still visible on the pillars. That’s why I also left the colors a little warmer, to fit more with the light that was at that time. This is a HDR from 5 exposures, created in Oloneo Photoengine and finished in Photoshop.
The side walkway

Determining the position of the Sun

posted in Other on with No Comments

The position of the sun is very important to photographers. You may be wondering why, so we will take a look at it in this post, together with ways of determining the location for a specific place. Btw. most of this is also applicable for the moon :)

The setting sun in Bratislava

Why you should know where the sun is?

There are many reasons for this, and here are a few of them:

1. To include it in your composition

Having sun in the photo makes for a little more complicated edit (the dynamic range of the scene is much bigger), but it also makes for a very interesting photo. You all know the shots where the sun peaks from behind the hills or from between buildings. You can get shots like that during sunrise and also sunset. The exact position is very important for this, as you need to know where to stand and where the sun will from that position.

2. To know where the sunset/sunrise is

The best colors of the clouds are usually towards the sunrise/sunset, so knowing where it will be is very important. For instance, while shooting from the Eiffel tower, you need to be there earlier to get your spot, without knowing where the sunset will be, you don’t know where to stand at all :)
A sunset lighthouse

3. To capture the golden light

The hour before sunset/after sunrise is called the Golden hour. During this time, the sun can shine with a wonderful golden light (is not every day, depends on the atmospheric condition). It can give a very nice yellow glow to a landscape, and to capture it, you need to know from where the sun will shine from.

4. To get/avoid a specific shadow

If you like to get a specific shadow in you photo, or really avoid one, knowing from where the sun will whine at the time can help. For instance if you are shooting from a high building, that can create an ugly shadow through your photo, just check from where the sun will shine before going there.

5. To get the most from a polarizing filter

If you ever used a polarizing filter, you know that it works best 90 degree from the sun position (so you have the sun on your right or left side). If you want to get a nice blue sky, check the location first.

How to find the position?

As there are many devices you can use, and which you may have handy, let’s look at almost all of them.

On your PC/MAC

My favorite on the PC is the website www.suncalc.net. It’s an overlay on google maps data, is very easy to use and very fast. If one only wants a quick location check on the sun, this is the fastest way to get it.

There was a dedicated desktop app The Photographers ephemeris, which is being retired in a month, but you can still use the WebApp version from your browser. It gives a little more info than Suncalc, but in my experience it’s slower most of the times. Of course if one wants to use the same thing on every platform, this is the best solution, as they also provide a iOS and Android app.

On Windows 8 you can also use an app like the Golden Hour, which looks nice and simple, but it can only show the sunset/sunrise position, so the usefulness is limited.

SunCalc
SunCalc
The Photographers Ephemeris
The Photographer’s Ephemeris
Golden Hour
Golden Hour

On Windows Phone

I currently use a Windows Phone based phone, and the App for sun position I use is the Sun Tracker. It gives you the position of the sun, together with a lot of photography specific information, like the blue hour times. It also provides a augmented reality filter, where you can follow the position of the sun on the sky.

Sun Tracker
SunTracker
Sun Tracker
SunTracker

On Android/iOS

For Android and iOS you can go with the same software as on a desktop, the Photographers ephemeris, or you can try a different software, like the SunDroid (on Android). I personally prefer SunDroid, as it gives more information and also includes very nice widgets. Specific for the iPad I also see the LightTrac being quite nice, even if I haven’t used it as I currently don’t use any iOS devices.

I’m not including any links here, as there are different for country app stores, just search for the name and you will find the apps :)

Sundroid
Sundroid
The Photographers Ephemeris
The Photographer’s Ephemeris

So the decision on what to use is your own, the best coherent experience can be found using The Photographers ephemeris, my personal favorite is currently Suncalc.net. I hope some of you will find this useful and if there any questions, feel free to ask.

And one few more photos with the sun in it for you :)
Golden sunset
Sunset at the Neusiedlersee
A Castle Sunset
Sunny side of Paris

How the week passed quickly :) And since it’s Monday again, it’s time for another process post. This time it’s a vertorama, so get ready for a little longer one today. So let’s start with a look at the finished photo. It’s a shot of one of the churches in the Open Air museum in Bardejovske Kupele in Eastern Slovakia. I used a vertorama, as I wanted to have the whole church, without having a very strong distortion in the photo.

A stubborn vertorama

Overall I took 12 shots, 2 series of 6 brackets. In the end I didn’t use the brightest exposures. I took them as parts of the church were in a shadow, but I had no need for them. As always I started in Lightroom, where I removed lens distortion, vignetting and chromatic abberations.

A stubborn vertorama
A stubborn vertorama

 
Here you can see the original 0EV exposures

A stubborn vertorama
A stubborn vertorama

 
Then I continued in PTgui, where I created the blended planes (the whole process is described in this tutorial). I had few issues, as PTgui refused to blend the shots correctly. The repeating areas confused it, and it always created a bad transition. Even when I manually created more alignment points, it still was not properly blended. So in the end, using the masking in PTGUI, I removed most of the upper shot, to force the blend to be in a more diverse area. This really helped and I got my result. Here you can see a screenshot from PTGUI, with the mask applied. This also removed all the people from the finished panorama.

PTGUI
 
From there I got 5 blended planes as a result. I loaded them all into Oloneo Photoengine, to create a HDR. As usually, I only changed the strength and contrast to get to the result I wanted.

A stubborn vertorama
A stubborn vertorama

 
After that I continued into Photoshop. I loaded all the blended planes and the HDR into separate layers. I then cropped the empty areas out, and only left a little, which I could correct with retouching. Then I did the following edits (layers numbered from bottom up)

1. Oloneo Photoengine result
2+3+4. The sky replaced from the -1EV exposures blend. It has been brightened with an exposure layer and had saturation added to it, to fit the HDR.
5. Movement in the trees removed using the 0EV exposures
6. A merged layers, on which I removed few dust spots and corrected small missing areas, that were empty after the vertorama blending.
7. Color Efex Pro contrast filter, to get more detail and local contrast in the photo.
8+9. Color balance and Hue/Saturation to tone down the green of the grass.
10. Few more corrections from the +1Ev exposure, to tone down the colors of the walls.
11+12. More overall contrast to the whole photo
13. TK actions saturation mask, used to tone down oversaturated ares.
14. A little bit noise reduction on the photo.

Here you can see the screenshot from Photoshop, and also a screenshot of the saturation mask.

A stubborn vertorama
A stubborn vertorama

 
And that’s all I did with this image. To find out more on how I edit, check out the guides and before after categories on this blog, or check out my video tutorial series here:
banner-master

Sunset at the lighthouse

posted in Austria on with No Comments

treybanner

New tutorial videos from Trey Ratcliff

I just noticed today, that Trey Ratcliff released new tutorial videos, focusing this time on the use of Lightroom. Even if I don’t really agree with the recent direction of Treys post-processing (he relies too much on filters and presets), Trey has always been a big inspiration for me, and also a big influence on my HDR beginnings. So the new videos are on my to watch list, and once I get to them, I will write up a short review, of what I think about them. For now, you can find more about the videos here.

Sunset at the lighthouse

I usually don’t remove bigger things from my photos, but in this case, there was a ship right next to the lighthouse, which really bothered me. And since this was a long exposure, it was just a blurry mess. So a lot of clone stamping, and it was gone :)

This is a HDR from 5 exposures, created in Oloneo Photoengine, finished in Photoshop. I used a 10-stop ND filter for this photo.
Sunset at the lighthouse