Cobh at sunset

The tide is out in Cobh, Co. Cork while the sun sets in the west casting an orange glow over the water and boats in the harbour.

This required some work to expose properly. The sky is bright while the harbour, houses and landscape are in shadow. Out with the layers, top layer for the sky was darkened and the opposite was done for the ground.
Then it’s the simple task of adding a layer mask to the top layer and rubbing out the dark bits to expose the brightened landscape.
When using a layer mask, never paint with an opacity of 100%, try 30% or even 5%. Don’t be afraid to do a rough job of exposing the bottom layer because with a layer mask you can always reverse the procedure by swapping the colour of your brush with an opposite colour!

Thank you all for the comments on yesterday’s post, The Lonely Swan, it’s great to get feedback and I’m glad when people get something out of my methods when I describe them. See what you’ve done? I did it again!

The lonely swan

A solitary swan swims on the calm waters of The Lough as the sun disappears at the end of the day.

Believe it or not, this is a 10 second exposure that turned out much better than I could have hoped! I balanced my camera on the edge of the Lough, set it to Aperture priority mode at f/11, dialed the exposure down two stops, flipped up the camera flash and took the shot.

How does this work?

  • By setting the aperture to a fairly high value little light is let into the camera sensor.
  • By setting the exposure down two stops the whole scene will be underexposed but bright areas will be exposed mostly correctly.
  • Given the above settings, any dark moving objects will be completely invisible so when the flash fired it picked out the swan swimming past and even created a nice reflection in the water.

Hope that helps!

Bay Bridge Reflections

Light from the Bay Bridge in San Francsico shimmers in the waters of the harbour. To the left one of the fire fighting boats of the SF Fire Department can be seen.

Posting this landmark of San Francisco today as most of the rest of Automattic make their way to Mexico. Here’s another shot from another night near the bridge.

The swans they are a coming

Swans rush to the bank of the Lough looking for bread from the crazy guy hanging over the water with a large black object…

This shows off one of my favourite night-time techniques. Long exposure with a flash. The long exposure captures the background while the flash illuminates the foreground objects, along with some nice movement blur.
It works really well at parties when people are dancing, especially if you’re lucky to capture a laughing face while the body is in motion.

The Moonlit Shipyards

The shipyards in Rushbrooke, just outside Cobh are still active although much quieter now than during their heyday. The cranes make for great photography against the moonlit sky.

This was shot from across the River Lee in Passage last November.

FRLinux asked about settings so here they are, including post-processing:

Flickr’s exif data for this is a bit wrong – gthumb says the exposure was for 5 seconds, aperture was wide open at f4.5, and lens set at 28mm, which you can probably multiply by 1.6 for the crop factor. ISO was 100.

Post Processing was done in the GIMP using 3 layers:
1. Top layer is transparent with a black gradient at the bottom. Layer mode is Overlay.
2. Middle layer is black and white, and blurred and with added noise. It’s set to screen mode, and opacity of 51%.
3. Bottom layer is the colour image, slightly saturated and darker.

Hope that helps!

Panoramic Traffic Lights

Traffic along the Mallow Road hurries past on a cold and foggy December night. This was taken from the bridge near Rathpeacon and Killeens.

The bridge itself as you can see from the map above is much wider than the one in this picture but I wasn’t going to stand in the middle of a dark road at risk of being knocked over for my art. At least not this time anyway!

Traffic from the right is coming from Cork, while traffic from the left is coming from the direction of Mallow or Blarney.

PS. Nominations for the Irish Blog Awards are now open. There are several categories and you can nominate your favourite Irish blog in whichever one fits. In Photos won Best Photoblog last year but this is the only time I’ll mention the awards here unlike last year when I did the dog on it a bit! (Not that I wouldn’t mind winning again of course!)

I like these: Snow Squalls! and Palm House – I wish more photoblog software understood trackbacks and pings. It’s hard to start a conversation with them.

Leading lines and bright lights

Studs on the ground lead down to the traffic lights on the South Mall, Cork.

In this long exposure shot a couple of cars passed by providing a nice light trail in the background. The twinkling of the street lighting is from the narrow aperture. Setting the aperture as small as possible is definitely the best thing you can do when making long exposure shots at night.

This was taken while out with Mallow Camera Club last December. More to come from that night too!