Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Multiple exposure for mood

Yesterday we were experimenting in the studio with creating cloudy backgrounds by swirling food coloring in water. Later I combined one of these images with two photographs of a model, one a portrait, the other a full silhouette of her walking. The idea was to create a moody background image.

The photos of the model were done against a white seamless and layered over the color swirls with their layer modes changed to "Light" in Photoshop. This resulted in the white areas blocking the layer beneath while the darker areas would allow the colors to pass through.

Friday, August 19, 2016

New York night time aerials - balancing the light

Photographing a city at night from a helicopter will often challenge a digital camera's ability to hold onto detail in both the shadows and highlights. With a city, like New York, the timing of the shoot is critical and generally should be done early in twilight time. In New York civil twilight lasts for about 30 minutes after the sun drops below the  horizon. When photographing the extreme bright city lights of Broadway, it is best to begin as soon as the sun goes down to maintain a light balance that contains detail in both the artificial lights and the sky.

Last night I had planned a 30 minute helicopter trip that would begin right after sunset -- the timing chosen to provide a good dynamic range at the beginning of the shoot, and drop down to harder contrast for drama at the end. Unfortunately, our flight was delayed by a critical 10-15 minutes and we ended up photographing the end of twilight into the actual night time. I knew from experience that the highlights were going to blow out under these circumstances so to protect myself I set my cameras -  I had two cameras with wide lenses -- to bracket the exposure. At first I set them for a 3-frame bracket, and as the twilight transitioned into night I changed that to a 5-frame bracket each one stop apart. This provided me with at least one exposure where the lights did not completely burn out and I could still pull out some detail in post-processing from the shadows.

For this photo and the one below I had to rely on one of the darker bracketed shots to maintain detail in the bright highlights. They were completely blown out in the "normal" exposure of the scene. 

Here is an example of where a bracketed exposure helped me balance out the dynamic range of the scene that included the extremely bright lights of Broadway signage.

The city looking south with Broadway lit up on the right. By the time I took this photo including the Broadway lights it was already night time. Detail in the brightest Broadway signs were impossible to balance with the ambient tone.

For anyone interested in doing a doors-off, exciting experience of helicopter check out FLYNYON. It is one of the most exciting ways to photograph New York, day or night. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Lightning storm over Manhattan

For the past week or so we've been treated to late afternoon and evening thunderstorms with dramatic cloud formations often accompanied by lightning strikes. Last night we had a dry storm with lightning. I set up my X-Pro2 on a tripod to try to capture some of the strikes. With an aperture of f/11 and ISO 200 (This is when I wish Fuji had a lower 100 as the base ISO.) I ended up with a shutter speed of 4 seconds. When photographing lightning you need to keep snapping away with a slow shutter speed. In this case, I was using a 4 second exposure. I usually time my exposures by waiting several seconds after a strike and then opening the shutter for a time exposure. Then you've got to be lucky.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

One thing leads to another

One of my favorite things in photography is stumbling into something I hadn't expected to do. This morning, while on a bike ride to lower Manhattan, I came across a scene with buildings juxtaposed against an interesting, milky sky. I had my X-Pro2 with me with the 18-135mm zoom and grabbed some abstract compositions of building patterns. Some I wanted for their own sake, while I intended to use others as combination images for my Metropolis project, or to combine with some model shots to create conceptual multiple exposures.

Below are a few of the single images I took followed by one I used to create a conceptual multiple exposure.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Sunset and storm clouds over the Hudson River

With the heat wave in New York, we've been getting hit by daily late afternoon thunderstorms, which often makes for some beautiful cloud formations, especially when they occur around sunset, as they did last night. I was on a boat in the Hudson River when the storm passed through to the north of us. I had my Fuji X-Pro2 and the ubiquitous 18-135mm lens, the lens I usually take when I only want to carry one and don't have any specific plans for photography.

My 18mm lens wasn't wide enough to capture this entire sky so I panned the camera and took four horizontal photos, which I later combined using PTGui.. 

This long horizontal is stitched from three horizontal photos. A tiny jet plane is off to the left on its final approach to Newark Airport.

Blur motion shot of the Hudson River as the setting sun broke through the storm clouds.

Raindrops falling on the churning water of the Hudson River. 

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Hudson Valley, Part II - The Primeval Forest

This is my second interpretation of the dense woodland forests of the Hudson Valley. All images were taken with the Fuji X-Pro2 and 14mm f/2.8 lens. Images were processed as Acros with a green filter and later given my platinum treatment in Photoshop.

Monday, August 8, 2016

The Hudson Valley with a Fuji X-Pro2 and 14mm lens

This past weekend I was visiting a friend who has a home surrounded by forest in the Hudson Valley. For me this is the perfect equation to do some nature photography. I had several camera systems with me to do stills, videos, and even 360º virtual reality panoramas. Here are some of color impressions I did of the surrounding forests at sunset with the Fuji 14mm f/2.8 lens on an X-Pro2. The blurs were done in camera with a low shutter speed.

In my next post I will show some of the monochrome interpretations I did of the same area.