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3 Landscapes and 1 Hour To Go

Tonight, June 16, 2011 at about 1:30 AM the total lunar eclipse will begin and last till 7AM. According to one blog at about 3-4AM the moon will turn red with the eclipse maximum at 4AM. It will be a long clear night for some photography however the weather bureau is reporting that a low pressure off Palawan is expecting to bring clouds and rain shower. Well, anything can happen over these skies and it is clear as day outside with the bright full moon shinning up high surrounded by twinkling little stars.

Shooting for the past 3 nights has brought beautiful landscape shots. Each of the photos captured on June 15, 14 and 13 respectively. Yes, the 3rd shot isn’t a moon scape but it was too good to pass up. Last nights moon was the most mystical with that halo. Knowing nothing of astronomy only a guess and some googling tells me the moon is reflecting off the suns gases or something to that effect. Anyone shed some light?

Unlike a solar eclipse a lunar eclipse is safe to watch and will not do any damage to a digital camera’s sensor. No filters required, mount DSLR on tripod and just point up at the moon. Set aperture at f/7.1 and shutter speed at 1/125. Adjust shutter speed after test shots and the moon should be pretty evenly exposed. Remember the moon is pretty much like shooting the sun. Use a slow shutter speed and the moon will be over exposed.

We will try to stay up to photograph as much of the lunar eclipse as possible. See you all at breakfast. *yawn*

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A Few Cityscapes

The story started with a Canon EOS 7D and a Sigma 10-20 f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM. Then came along a Nikon D90 and a AF-S DX Nikkor 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR. With the Nikon D300 and Tokina 11-16 f/2.8 ATX 116 finally making its appearance. This round has Canon outnumbered.

The photo outing started off quick as the sun was setting fast with all the purty colors in the sky. But as the sun finally settled and night came there was just too much clouds for star trails. Maybe next time when the typhoon season settles down for some clear night skies again. Until then…

Cityscapes captured in RAW, converted to TIF file and finally to Jpeg in Photoshop CS5.

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A Simple How to Technique

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Photo-realistic High Dynamic Range image do click on the photo for the larger view. A recent post: Subtle HDR-No Whacked Out Colors Here details a how to for a simple HDR. This post will deal mostly with manually blending or stitching 2 sets of HDR’s in Photoshop.

Always have the DSLR on a sturdy tripod and have the remote switch shutter release plugged into the DSLR (after DSLR is on the tripod to avoid tangled up wires). From the top LCD on the DSLR, dial in for AEB (Auto Exposure Bracketing). For Canon shooters that is just 3 exposures: -1, 0, +1. Try -2, 0, +2 for different results and choose high speed shooting mode again from the top menu so the 3 exposures will fire off without a hitch.

Now shoot the heck out of the landscape but on’t take too much time fiddling with the next 3 exposures. When the sun sets into the horizon color ranges vary greatly within a few minutes. Shooting fast can still get you different colors from the first set of exposures but they can be corrected in RAW to get the same tones.

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Shoot 3 exposure of bottom half first as color and light will affect this part of the photo more than the sky. It is also easier to deal with the colors in the sky later on in post if colors do not match the bottom half.

Next, gently adjust your tripod and shift up-this is where live view (EOS 50D, 60D, 7D, 5D) comes in handy. Shoot the next 3 exposures to overlap the first set of exposures. Just include about 10-20% of what is on the horizon to keep as guide when manually stitching later on and for reference to color changes.

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Now that the 2 sets of 3 exposures are finished, grab a cup of coffee, a piece of pie and relax. Take in the beautiful view at hand and remember no 2 sunset scenes are ever alike.

Next put each set of exposures into your favorite HDR processing software (I use either Photomatix or Photoshop CS5) and process the 2 sets separately. Then save them as TIF files to be worked on later. Once the 2 sets of HDR images are ready open them up in Photoshop, stack them in separate layers, add a masking layer (to sky set) and align the sky layer to the bottom layer. The most accurate way to do this is set opacity on the top image at 50% and align using the selection tool (use the horizon/buildings as reference). Zoom in at 100% to make sure the buildings and horizon are aligned.

Once the 2 HDR layers are aligned carefully brush away the part of the horizon on the sky set to show the bottom (city shot) photo. The 2 layers will look seamless if a soft brush preset at 50% preset is used. Brush strokes should start from one end of the image to the next (left to right-right to left). This technique is easy to do once a few trial and error brush strokes are done. Don’t be disappointed by the first try. I had to work my way through this process all on my lonesome in 2007-as evident in the many holes in the wall punched through out of frustration-ok, this part isn’t true but that’s sort of how it felt.

One of the most important features in Photoshop is control Z. This shortcut is an ‘undo’ if a mistake is made.

Capturing the 3 exposures are the easiest part of this exercise. The manual blending brush strokes are the most labor intensive of the process (depending on detail of the horizon). Once you achieve your desired look all it takes is some adjustments in overall color to bring the 2 sets together.

Twilight at 6:30 pm captured on Canon EOS 50D at 24mm, ISO 125, tripod with ball head and Canon RS-80N3 Remote Switch (cheapest of the bunch).

Leading Up to a Full Moon

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The moons from December 13, 15 and 18, 2010.

The news reported a full lunar eclipse on the 20th of December Manila time. As it so happens, we had clear skies but no luck on the eclipse. What transpired was a total full moon at moon rise and the sunset on the other side of the horizon. It was an incredible sight to behold.

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Full Moon on December 22

This scene spotted tonight right after dinner. Quickly grabbed my gear and shot off 4 frames. This is a composite of 2 exposures- 1 for the overall city scene and 1 to expose for the moon. Captured in RAW and processed in Photoshop. The colors were much brighter in 16 bit colors than the 8 bit jpeg here.

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TODAY: THE 15th DAY ON THE 8th MONTH IN THE YEAR OF THE TIGER OF THE CHINESE LUNAR CALENDAR

MacDy_MAF_tm01-HAPPY MID-AUTUMN FESTIVAL

中秋節 (Zhongqiu Jie) literally translates to “Mid-Autumn Festival” in Mandarin Chinese.

Above image captured yesterday with Canon EOS 50D+EF-S17-85mm f/4-5.6. RAW and converted in DPP and further processed in Photoshop.

The Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋節), also known as the Moon Festival, is a popular East Asian tradition of Chinese origin, dating back over 3,000 years to moon worship in China’s Shang Dynasty, that spread to neighbouring cultures like Japan. It was first called Mid-Autumn festival in the Zhou Dynasty. In Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan and the Philippines it is also sometimes referred to as the Lantern Festival or Mooncake Festival. The Chinese Lantern Festival is held on the 15 day of the first lunar month.

The Mid-Autumn Festival is one of the two most important holidays in the Chinese calendar (the other being the Chinese Lunar New Year), and is a legal holiday in several countries. Farmers celebrate the end of the summer harvesting season on this date. Traditionally, on this day, Chinese family members and friends will gather to admire the bright mid-autumn harvest moon, and eat moon cakes and pomeloes together. Accompanying the celebration, there are other additional cultural or regional customs.

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Above image captured September 15, 2008 with Canon Powershot G7 point & shoot. Jpg file further post processed in Photoshop.

in the spirit of mid autumn festival (中秋節) here’s a chinese legend…

Chang’e, Ch’ang-O or Chang-Ngo (Chinese: 嫦娥; pinyin: Cháng’é), also known as Heng-E or Heng-O (姮娥; Héng’é), is the Chinese goddess of the moon. Unlike many lunar deities in other cultures who personify the moon, Chang’e only lives on the moon. As the “woman on the Moon”, Chang’e could be considered the Chinese complement to the Western notion of a man in the moon. The lunar crater Chang-Ngo is named after her.

but, i like this next one much much better…

In Chinese mythology, a rabbit lives on the moon where it makes herbal medicine. The rabbit is also mentioned in the novel Journey to the West. According to Korean and Japanese myths, a rabbit lives on the moon making rice cakes (Thuck – the Korean word for rice cakes in general, and mochi, a different type of a rice cake with red bean filling, in the Japanese myth).” quotes from Wikipedia

A happy Mid-Autumn Festival to all.

Sometimes we got to stop yappin’ and start shootin’…

TWILIGHT IN BLACK & WHITE

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SUNSET IN COLOR

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SHOOTING A SUNSET AT LOW TIDE

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So, it’s low tide, I mean really low tide. Where I stood at sunset during the day it’s about a few feet of water.

Don’t be afraid to get the tripod wet. Just clean it up after with bottled water and a clean soft rag. To get rid of the salt that is already on your gear from both the air and water spray. Having those rubber air blowers will come in very handy as well to get small particles of sand off the camera and lens before you wipe.

Use aperture priority and play with the numbers from f/11-f/20 and shoot until you are satisfied with the photo. On aperture priority you manually set the f-stop (lens opening) and the camera sets the shutter speed. More importantly do wait for the sun to sink into the horizon first. A big no no though, is flash-either shut if off or throw it into the water. Shoot a series of photos with varying apertures.

After downloading photos into the computer study the photos and compare the 3 triumvirate of photography-aperture, shutter speed and ISO. Compare the effects that each has on the sunset shot. The exif of photo above: EOS 50D, 35mm, f/16, 0.4 sec, ISO 100, RAW.

Gear you will need for a proper sunset landscape photograph:

  • DSLR
  • Any wide angle lens. Yes, even kit lens (Canon EF-S 18-55mm)
  • Sturdy tripod-any brand will do. I suggest getting one with a price point of no less than US$100 or PHP4,500. Don’t go el cheapo on this one. Remember it’s support of your DSLR and you’d want one to keep it off the beach.
  • Remote for steady shooting
  • Rubber air blower-available in camera accessory shops
  • A dark cloth to cover up viewfinder for long exposures
  • A bubble leveler to go on the hot shoe
  • Bottled water/snack
  • Flashlight to use so you can stay til dark
  • A good bag to hold everything in

And most of all, have fun.
PS- if lens have IS (Image Stabilizer) turn it off. Don’t need it with a tripod.

JANUARY 15, 2009

The photographs were to be posted earlier this month but work load and time just did not permit. Finally here it is.

An eclipse during sunset is a rare event and would be a good viewing opportunity for the public, especially over Manila Bay, said Frederick Gabriana, a professor at the Rizal Technological University’s astronomy department, the only one in the country. According to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), the eclipse will start at 3:49 p.m. The peak of the eclipse will occur at 4:53 p.m. and end at 5:51 p.m.- newsinfo.inquirer.net

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Well, if only the weather allowed for a clear view. But like many a situation, Mr. Murphy hung around and held the dreary dark cloud cover in place.

The 30 minutes was a waiting game-either the clouds would move out of the way with the winds or wait for the sun to set just perfectly showing itself in the little space provided that was not covered.

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Finally the opportunity to shoot was there. The sun was right smack in the tiny little space in the cloudless sky.As the photo proves, it was, a really really partial eclipse. Looks like a cookie that my son took a bite out of. But the best thing to come out of this cloudy situation was the view right after the sunset.

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Featured Posts From the Past:

Total Lunar Eclipse: June 16, 2011

Total Lunar Eclipse: June 16, 2011

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Mac_3482x Mt Pinatubo Crater Lake

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