Innorel

In my article on the Innorel RT85C tripod, I mentioned that I also got the Innorel PW50 table tripod/monopod base with it. At that time I did not write anything about it, as it was not yet delivered. But it arrived a few days later and today I will share my thought on it with you.

Innorel PW50 table tripod & monopod base

The Innorel PW50 can be used as a small tripod, or as a monopod base. It’s well made, build completely from metal with rubber on the end of the feet. It can be collapsed in both directions, so it can be put into a small compact state. There is a 3/8″ to 1/4″ adapter included, but by using it the tripod gets taller.

Innorel PW50 table tripod
Innorel PW50 table tripod

The legs lock into two positions, the lower will make the tripod 9cm in height (when without the adapter) and the taller will be 19cm (also without the adapter). The legs snap into place easily and in both configurations, the tripod feels solid. The manufacturer declares the weight limit at 10kg.

Innorel PW50 table tripod
Innorel PW50 table tripod

I tried it with a smaller and also a bigger camera. In both situations the tripod and also the ball head held fine. There is no slit on the side of the ball head, so you can’t put a camera vertically if you don’t have an L-bracket. This is not really a problem with a DSLR, as it’s big to rotate anyway, but if you want to do a vertical shot with a smaller camera, this is not the tripod for you. You also can’t point the camera up by more than about 45%.

Innorel PW50 table tripod
Innorel PW50 table tripod

The 3/8″ screw is quite long, probably because it’s also used as a monopod base. It makes attaching a plate clamp a bit problematic. For all I have, the screw goes through and mostly obstructs the quick release plate. Of course, you can use the 1/4″ adapter, and then another 1/4″ to 3/8″ adapter on the plate clamp, but that makes the tripod taller and less stable. Luckily for me, if I use the L bracket, the screw is not in the way.

Innorel PW50 table tripod

When you remove the rubber foot from the monopod part of the Innorel RT85C tripod, you can attach the PW50 as a monopod base. It has a rubber foot on it, so you can keep it on even collapsed. It collapses around the monopod, so it does not add much bulk to it. The tripod feels stable when in the fully opened state, as the base of 34cm diameter is quite big.

Innorel PW50 table tripod
Innorel PW50 table tripod

Overall I’m quite pleased. It feels well made, sturdy and stable. I got it mostly to be able to take photos from really low positions and in places where I can’t use the big tripod. And for both this will work for me perfectly. I found only two issues. The long screw can be fixed by using a 3/8″ nut on it, so shortening it. The no side slit can be partially fixed with an L-bracket. But there will be situations where it will be limiting. Still, taking into account the price you can get this for, this is a well-made table tripod for a really good price.

Rain, rain and more rain

My plan for this evening was to go and take new fireworks photos. But it’s been raining the whole day, and the forecast is not good. It’s been raining most of the week and some of the forecasts show the same for the whole next week. Really not good, as I also wanted to go to the rolling fields in souther Moravia this week, which was also not possible. What can you do?

But since I wanted to post a fireworks photo today anyway, here are some 4K wallpapers from different fireworks photos for you.

Don’t forget to check out other available wallpapers:

Fireworks wallpapers in 4K

As always, these are all in 3840x2160px, formatted for 4K, 16:9 displays. You can download them from the 4K wallpapers page.

Fireworks wallpapers in 4K
Fireworks wallpapers in 4K
Fireworks wallpapers in 4K
Fireworks wallpapers in 4K

Taking photos through glass

I almost called this taking photos through windows, but then I realized, even walls can be made of glass :). You probably had this experience. You are at a place with a great view, but there is a glass wall or window in front of you. And all your photos have all these ugly reflections visible in them. I hate those, and I think you too. So what to do? Today I will share with you a few tips on what to do and how to get better photos through glass.

Taking photos through glass

Get better photos through glass

  • Clean the glass – As a photographer, you probably carry a microfiber cloth with you anyway. So why not use it and clean the glass in front of your camera to get rid of fingerprints and other dirt from it. The cleaner the glass, the cleaner the photo.
  • Use a bigger aperture – If you use a bigger aperture (smaller F-number), focus on something in the distance. Keep the camera close to the glass and the whole area of the glass will be completely out of focus. And that’s what you want. You don’t want to see the fingerprints or scratches in the photos. Like this, they will completely disappear.
  • Put the lens right against the glass – The closer you have your camera to the glass, the less it will be visible in the photo. So try putting the lens right onto the glass wall or window (but first make sure your lens has a flat front, don’t try this with a fisheye). Like this, not only the glass will be out of focus, but you are blocking all reflections from the side of the lens.
  • Turn off all the lights inside – If you can, especially in the evening and at night, turn off all lights. If it’s darker inside that it’s outside, you will get rid of most of the reflections. This is of course not possible if you are at a lookout platform or something similar.
  • Shade the camera with a piece of clothing – To get rid of reflections, you can try to shade your camera with your jacket or other pieces of clothing. Just put the camera as close as you can to the glass, and then hold the jacket over it. Take a test shot and you will quickly see if it worked.
  • Use a dedicated shade – If you tend to take many photos through the glass, I would suggest getting a dedicated shade, like the Lenskirt. I use it and it just makes the whole process very easy. Check out my review of the Lenskirt for more on this one.

If the window or wall is double glass, with space between, you are mostly out of luck. A lot of things just don’t work in that case. You can try all these tips then.  But if there is a gap between the glass, there will always be a reflection there. Turning off lights and shading as many areas as you can works the best here, but don’t expect great results.

Btw. the photos in this post were taken through glass walls, both with the help of the Lenskirt.

Taking photos through glass

Luminosity selections and masks

Over the last few weeks, I have been posting about Luminosity selections and masks. Today I will expand on the topic again, but going into how to blend images using luminosity selections. If you understood the previous articles on this, you should be able to understand how it works really quickly and be able to use it right away.

But before I start, I will presume that you have checked out the previous articles on luminosity selections and are familiar with what they are and how to create them. I will not be going into the things I already explained there.

Blending photos using Luminosity selections

The process here is almost exactly the same as when you are editing photos using luminosity selections. So as in the last article let’s take an example to show you how it’s done. I will be blending these three exposures here.

We will start again with a photo, for which we created the Bright 1 to 4 selections and Dark 1 to 4 selections. Additionally to that, I will put the brighter exposure and darker exposure on separate layers, both hidden (they have to be hidden when you create the luminosity selections, or else they will be made from them not the base image).

So what’s our goal here? If you look at the image, you will see some areas that are too bright and some that are too dark. The goal here is to brighten the dark areas by using the overexposed photo and darken the bright areas using the underexposed photo. You could look at it as if you cut up the photo into puzzle pieces and then put together a new one using all the best pieces from all the exposures. Let’s start.

Blending in the dark areas

  1. Make the brighter layer visible, and add a black mask to it (hold down Alt and click on the add mask button). This will again make the layer invisible.
  2. Go into the Channels window and with Ctrl+click select one of the Dark selections. The best process is to select each one going from 1 up until you see the selections that best matches the area you want to blend. Just look at the marching ants that show the selection. Usually having a selection that’s a bit bigger than what you want to select here, works the best. For this photo, I will choose the Dark 3 selection
  3. Go back into the layers window. Click on the mask next to the brighter layer to select it. Choose the brush tool, white color, 0% hardness, 50% opacity. Hide the selection by pressing Ctrl+H. It is still there just not visible.
  4. Now that all is prepared, you can start painting into the mask. Everywhere you paint, you are painting with the brighter layer into the base layer. To get more brightness in, paint over the same spot multiple times.
  5. Continue doing this until all the areas are brightened as much as you want them to be. If you feel you overdone it, just switch to a black color and paint over the same spot to remove the blend.
Create selection
Paint it in
Finished mask

Blending in the bright areas

  1. Fist deselect the selection you already have, with Ctrl+D. You don’t see it as it’s hidden, but it’s there. Same as before, make the darker layer visible and add a black mask to it.
  2. Go into the Channels window, and choose one of the selections, based on which one fits the photo the best. Again, go through all the bright selection starting from 1, and choose the one that selects the area you need to edit the best. Again, bo with a bit bigger selection to what you need. That results in a better blend. Here I have chosen the Bright 2 one.
  3. Return to the layers, select the mask on the darker layer, and start painting with the white brush on it, until you recover all the bright areas.
Create selection
Paint it in
Finished mask

Blended photo

And we end up with a photo that has the dark areas brightened and the bright areas darkened. Of course, this is not the finished photo. There are still thing one would have to correct, mostly the contrast. As I mentioned with the other edits, contrast is lost anytime you work with bright and dark areas of a photo.

This explains the basics of blending. If you need to blend more exposures, you do the exact same thing. You choose the base you want to work with and blend other exposures into it as I showed here. The only difference is, that you have to recreate your selections. As they are created from the base layer, once you blended in something into the base layer, they will no longer be as accurate as you need them to be.

So if I had a photo taken at 0EV, and I blend in a -1EV exposures to darken the highlights, I would have to create new selections if I wanted to blend in the -2EV photo to darken them even more. This is where Photoshop extensions like Raya pro and TK actions make the whole process much easier.

This was supposed to be the last article on Luminosity selections, but I will do one more, on the concept of matching exposures. Stay tuned :)

Taking photos

I take at least 95% of my photos with a tripod. Over time I just got so used to be able to use any exposure I need, just by having one. The resulting photos are so much better, and since I’m also forced to set up the tripod, I tend to get better composition in the end. But there are of course instances where this is not possible. There are more and more places where one can no longer use a tripod. Or you don’t have one available. Maybe it’s because the airline lost your luggage (like happened to me) or something similar.

So how does one get a nice photo in those occasions, where you just have to shoot handheld. Today I will share with you few tips for that. Also, if you have a steel grip, and you can hold a few second shot handheld without problems, this is not for you :)

Taking photos without a tripod

  • Place the camera on something – If you can, put your camera on something, a bench, wall, pillar, anything with a flat top. Then push your camera down so it stays firmly in place when you are taking the photo.
  • Brace yourself against something – If you can not place the camera on anything, try bracing yourself against something. Lean on a railing, pillar, sit on a bench, on the floor. The less your body is moving, the more stable will you be able to hold the camera.
  • Hold your camera close to your body – Your body is always moving, holding the camera away form the body will transfer much more movement to it. Hold it close to you, so minimizing this movements.
  • Use a timer – Pressing the shutter button will move your camera. Even on a tripod this can cause movement. Set your camera to a two second timer, so it takes the shot automatically. The less movement the better.
  • Underexpose your photo – If you shoot in a RAW format, you can easily underexpose all you photos by 1 to 3 stops (depending on your camera) and still get a good photo. You just overexpose it later in post-processing. Each stop down splits in half the time needed to take the photo, so one stop down is 1/2 the time, two stops is 1/4 of the time needed and 3 stops is 1/8 of the time needed. So for instance, if you need a 1s exposure taken handheld, just by underexposing by 3 stops, you shorten this to 1/8th of a second.
  • Set minimum exposure time – On some cameras you can set up the ISO speed settings. This is an option where you can set the longest exposure time the camera uses in automatic modes. So if you see that you just can’t hold a 1/25s or 1/50s steady enough, you can set you camera to always use a shutter speed shorter than 1/125 or 1/250 and similar. You of course limit this by the max ISO you set in the camera. If you set this up, you can be sure that you camera stays in faster shutter speeds, so you have better chance of sharp photos.
  • Take multiple shots with the same settings – Don’t take just one photo, take multiple photos with the same settings. You can put your camera into burst mode, and just hold the shutter down. If you take multiple photos, there is a bigger chance one of them will be good. If you take only one, you just have to be lucky.
  • Forget about bracketing – Bracketing exposures in pointless when shooting handheld anyway. I know photographers that do it, but I personally never been able to get a really good result by doing so. Even in very bright situations. The shots never align anyway. Rather, take multiple same exposures, or underexpose the shot. By using RAW you will get enough information most of the time anyway.

This one is one of the very few photos I took without a tripod. Here I pout the camera on wall, and hold it down to keep steady.

Taking photos without a tripod
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