Red hair

posted in Bratislava, Slovakia on with No Comments

Little downtime

Some of you maybe noticed that for the last few hours, the blog was not accessible. I’m very sorry for that, and I still don’t know what happened, but it’s all back up now, and hopefully it stays that way.

Blog tweaks

Some of you maybe also noticed, that there have been few changes to the look of the blog recently. As I mentioned few times before, I keep updating it almost constantly, and trying to find the best look for it. So this time, I removed few not needed decorative elements and background, to make it more bright and modern. I hope you will like the change :)

Red hair

When I posted a photo of Alexandra some time ago, I mentioned, that I still have few more that I want to share with you. And here is another one. It’s very strange for me to use a flash in my photos. You almost never use one for landscapes. For this photo, I went mostly with natural light, but I also used a weaker fill in flash, with a small diffuser on it, so I avoid unwanted shadows.

This is a single exposure, edited in Lightroom and Photoshop.
Red hair

Watermarks: Yes or No?

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This is one of those questions I give to myself over and over. Should I or should I not use watermarks in my photos. It’s a hard question, and one that every photographer has to answer for him/herself. But to give you something to think about, here are some of my thoughts on this.
Lamp on the bridge

Why yes?

  • You put your mark on the photo, showing that you are the author.
  • It will discourage some (mostly unskilled) thief’s from using you photo.
  • In some countries, the removal of a watermark is against the law and its then easier if you want to sue someone.
  • It’s easier to find you from any of your photos. Of course that can also be done through search engines, just by searching for a photo, but having the info already there, make it much easier.
  • You are always credited for every use, as the credit is just there

Why no?

  • It can be a really big distraction. You would think that a small watermark on the bottom, or a partially transparent one would not be, but it is. Especially in photos with less detail, or the ones that try to convey a certain mood. Once the eye sees the watermark, you will always notice it.
  • It can degrade the photo, taking away part of the artistic value.

What to do

  • It’s hard to suggest what to do, as everyone has a little different view of this. I would suggest finding yourself a discrete way how to add watermarks to your photos. You can try either, as also I do, to just add your name and a web address to the corner. Or you can bee more elaborate, and be inspired by Klause Herman’s photos where he blends the watermarks directly into the photo.
  • The best way to protect published images, is just not to post a big version. A small photo can’t be really used for much. Of course it takes a little experimenting before one finds a size one is comfortable with. One that is big enough to represent a photo, but small enough so it’s worthless to anyone but you.
  • Try thinking about starting using CC license. You give away some rights, but you have less people to chase because of photo usage. Especially social media shares are a great example here.
  • And in the end, if you are really scared that someone will steal your photos, and really want to prevent that, just stop sharing them. What’s not online, can’t be stolen. For instance, show only prints, never the photos.

Watermark

What not to do

  • Don’t just put a huge watermark over you photo. Just don’t. Once the watermarks becomes more dominant than the photo behind it, the photo has lost all meaning. It’s a little interesting, that I seen this mostly on photos of beginners, which were not always of a very high quality. If you do this, you don’t even respect your own work at that moment.
  • Also don’t bother with blocking right click on webpages. You just making a visit to your page more frustrating and print-screen makes the whole thing worthless anyway. Once you publish a photo on the web, there is no way you can stop people from downloading it.
  • Don’t be crazy protective about your photos. There is such thing as fans, and they share your photos because they like them. They make no profit on it, and they just wan’t for more people to see your work. Attacking them will bring you nothing.

Why I use watermarks

For a long time I haven’t used watermarks. I even started sharing bigger images in that time, as HDR’s just looks better bigger. But around two years ago, there started appearing people, who shared the photos without credit, and even added their own watermark to them. I usually just look the other way when no credit is given (I would have to send many emails every day to notify everyone, and I’m in no mood to do that), but the adding of watermarks just insults me. How can someone think that adding their logo to a photo they didn’t take is OK. So I added my own watermark to my photos, and even that you could actually remove it quite easily, most of these people stopped taking them. Their skill in Photoshop was probably really minimal.

Actually, somewhere there is the line  for me, when it goes for photo usage. Once someone starts modifying them or making profit on them, they better have a bought licence from me :)

Minutes after sunset

posted in Bratislava, Slovakia on with No Comments

5DayDeal

5DayDeal

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Minutes after sunset

The sunset yesterday looked very promising, so at the last moment I decided to go out and take some photos. In these last minute situations, I like to go to the Kuchajda lake in Bratislava, as it’s very close to where I live, and it’s almost always perfectly calm, just perfect for great reflections.

In the end, the sunset wasn’t that great, but at least I got few shots from the blue hour. And this is one of them. This is a HDR from 5 exposures, created in Oloneo Photoengine, finished in Photoshop.
Minutes after sunset

Shaded sunset

posted in Switzerland, Zermatt on with No Comments

Thoughts & Tips

As I keep adding more articles to the blog, the list under Thoughts & Tips keeps on growing nicely. It’s more tips than thoughts right now, but I will try to get it more balanced over time :) Feel free to check out all the articles, either in the menu to the right, or at the Thoughts & Tips page.

Shaded sunset

A sunset in between mountains is quite interesting. You can see the sun on one side, while already being completely in the shade. It’s same for Zermatt, as it is placed right in between two mountain ranges.

For this photo, I actually took 6 exposures, as the sun was very bright compared to the foreground. That’s what I almost always do when shooting into or close to the sun. Take the -3Ev just to be sure I have it :) This is a HDR created in Oloneo Photoengine, finished in Photoshop.
Shaded sunset

How to take long exposure photos

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One of the great things about photography, is the ability to influence time. Just by changing the exposure time, you can freeze motion, or blur all the moment into a soft blur. And a special part of this is long exposure photography with the use of an ND filter. And that’s what I will be looking at in this post.

ND filter

What is a ND filter

A ND filter is very dark piece of glass. The purpose of it, is to block a certain amount of light to enter the cameras lens. There are different types of filters with different strengths. They can range from filters that block 50% of light up to filters that block 99.9% of light.

All the filters are named based on how much stops of light they block. So you have a ND1 filter, that blocks 50% of light. That means you will have to use an exposure that is twice as long, so it’s one stop of light blocked. The ND2 filter, will block 75% of light and you will have to use a 4 times longer exposure , and so on  until ND10 (ore even more). Sometimes the filters are not named based on the stops, but on how much they multiply a 1s shot (at least I think that it :)). So you have a ND1, ND2, ND4, ND8, ND16 until ND512, ND1000 (should be 1024) and similar. But when you buy a new ND filter, always check how many stops it blocks, as that’s the important information.

Marina reflection

There are different qualities of ND filters, and the two most important parameters are, if they introduce a color tint and if they create additional chromatic aberrations. The priciest ones out there create almost none in both cases. The cheap ones on the other hand, will usually create a strong green or purple tint, which needs to be removed in post-processing.

How to take a long exposure photo

Using lighter ND filters, like the ND2, ND4, ND8 is quite simple. You just put the filter on the lens and take the photo. They make for a longer exposure, but the difference is not so big, and you can usually fit the shot under the 30s that every camera allows. It get’s a little more complicated by the darker ND filter, especially by the 9-stop and higher. With a filter like that on your camera, you will not see anything through the viewfinder, and mostly not even through the live view (depends on the camera). So what to do then?

The process is simple, but of course a tripod and a shutter release remote here are mandatory. The steps are:
1. Frame the shot without the filter
2. Focus, either manually, or use auto-focus and turn the auto-focus off after that.
3. Go to the Manual (M) mode
4. Set your ISO and aperture that you want to use
5. Meter the exposure by half pressing the shutter button (remember it :))
6. Switch the camera to Bulb (B) mode, make sure the ISO and aperture are set the same
7. Put on the filter.
8. Calculate the needed exposure time
9. Take the shot by holding the shutter button (preferably on the remote) pressed for the required amount of time.

Let’s look at step 8 now, how to calculate the exposure time. You can either do it your self, by multiplying the exposure time you metered before you put on the ND filter. Fore each stop of the ND filter, you multiply it by 2. So if you have a 1s exposure and a ND9 filter, you mulltiply it as 1*2*2*2*2*2*2*2*2*2 so 9 times, which gives you 512 seconds. Of course that is quite simple by 1s exposures, but what if you exposure was 1/400s? That makes it a little harder to calculate. But since everyone caries a phone these days, you can help yourself with any of the available apps that do this for you. You just need to download one of the available ND calculators, and enter the starting exposure and the ND filter stops and it will give you the result right away. Here is one of those apps for Android and one for Windows phone, there are many more, of course also for iOS.

NDsND filter calc for Android
NDND converter for Windows Phone

Also, regarding the remote, you should use one that allows to lock the shutter button, so you don’t have to hold it for the whole time. By 30s this is still manageable, but by a 5 minute one, you will no longer  feel your fingers after you are done :)
White fluffy clouds

Making it easier with Promote remote or Magic lantern

If you have a Promote remote, or other programmable remote, you can make it easier for yourself, as you can just program the desired time through the remote. You then don’t have to check the time on the camera, as it will do that for you.

With the Magic lantern firmware, you can do it even easier, as you can set up the exposure time even directly in the camera. It also boosts the brightnes in live view, so making it easier to focus even with the filter on. And it also removes the 30s limit for HDR brakceting, so you can do a HDR exposure series even with the filter. If you don’t know how to take a long exposure photo with Magic lantern, check my video on it. You can find it at the end of the How to take multiple exposures video on my Videos page.

That’s all for this post. Feel free to ask any questions, and btw. the two photos included were of course taken with a 9 stop Hoan ND400 filter.