Posts Tagged: Words

Cork Street Photographers go to London

A number of Cork street photographers travelled to London on Saturday to photograph the populace of this sprawling metropolis. If you don’t know, Cork is a city in Ireland, home to roughly 400,000 people and served by an international airport where flights to London in the UK take a little over an hour or so.

From left to right, at the back are Rory, me (Donncha), Colm, Pat and Robert. In front is Shahriar and Stela. This group photo was taken in Stansted Airport at the end of a long day when we were all exhausted. Except Pat. He could keep walking for ever!

Proper British Photographers

Proper British Photographers

The idea was originally Pat Falvey’s. Cork Street Photographers went to London for the day the year before (or was it two?) and Pat had been with them. So, early in March I asked some of the Cork Street Photography Meetup Group if any of them were interested in going to London on April 9th. We’d get the first flight out of Cork at 6:25am, and fly home on the last one back at 8:35pm. There was immediate interest!

A few hours later I created a Facebook event, posted a few links there and invited people to go. We used the event page to talk about logistics and planning. I posted some links to street photography in London. We researched our transport options. Stansted Express has a discount if buying four tickets at once which we took advantage of. The Ryanair flights were cheap, from 25 Euro to 37 Euro depending on when they were bought. (Paradoxically, they went down in price after most of us bought our tickets!)

It was somewhat confusing looking up information about Oyster Cards. The visitor ones offered discounts but it turns out they’re more expensive if you’re only going for one day. We eventually bought regular Oyster cards in Liverpool Street Station and topped them up. According to the TFL website our charges would be capped at ¬£7.70 for the day no matter how many journeys we took.

I made out an optimistic schedule two days before leaving, first in a Facebook update, then in a Google spreadsheet. I started a Facebook messenger group chat to get feedback.

CSPGTL

We wanted to visit the Victoria & Albert museum to see the Paul Strand exhibition there but by the time we got there it was sold out. Half the group had stayed outside making photos around the area so those of us inside the museum wandered over to the cafe and were awed at the beautiful room. It was then a quick hop over to the Science Museum where I got a photo of their chunk of Moon rock, Stela took a photo of me with it and we ran back to meet the others.

Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 11.57.12

We left the museums around 5:15pm and found the underground station at East Kensington packed because of a delay. Thankfully it didn’t take long and we soon made it back to Liverpool Street Station, and then back to Stansted Airport.

The schedule was overly optimistic as I knew it would be. We never got to Trafalgar Square, Westminister, or Tower Bridge. In planning I had used the TFL website to plan our journeys and inserted short links to them in the spreadsheet which I could load in the Google Drive app on my phone.

You won’t need much roaming data on the day, so if you can buy a 100MB or 200MB upgrade for a few Euro before leaving that will take care of checking Facebook, or uploading a few (resized) photos.

Trying to keep track of seven photographers was problematic. We have a tendency to wander off when something catches the eye. Trying to get through the crowd near the London Eye is almost impossible, taking a good half hour! ūüôā

It was an eventful day. I thought I had shot more than 880 photos, but Lightroom says it was 859. The vast majority of those will be consigned to the trash can, but I’ve already worked on 25 images I’m happy with and there are lots more to look at yet. It was great being with a group of enthusiastic and friendly photographers too. They really made the trip worth while.

Photo by: Donncha O Caoimh (http://inphotos.org)

I didn’t spend much. I brought ¬£100 with me and came home with ¬£40. That covered buying small gifts for my family, lunch, Oyster card, tips for street performers and an (overpriced) sandwich and bottles of water at Stansted Airport.

I’ll be posting photos from the trip over the next few weeks. You’ll eventually find them all here.

Next time:

  1. I’d like to keep the group smaller, or insist that most everyone have roaming data so it’s easier to ping people. It’s cheaper than calling or texting when you can’t find someone. There was one time when three of us were waiting for another three to come. We were watching them looking back from the direction we had just come and shooting photos sporadically. Turns out they were waiting for us but didn’t know we were behind them..
  2. We walked a lot. Rory’s pedometer says 18.25km but I suspect that’s too high. Google Fit on my phone said 6.8km which is way too low, so it was somewhere in-between. Next time we won’t walk so much and we’ll take more breaks. Go to two places rather than four. Try Camden Town and then photograph the tourists in the city centre. Work an area first.
  3. Definitely use online resources. The Facebook event page was very useful in gauging interest. A spreadsheet lets people see in realtime how the plan for the day is evolving.
  4. Check the weather before you go.
  5. and more when I think of it..

Going over to London from Cork and back in one day was exhausting, but well worth it. You should try it, go visit a city you can reach by a short one hour flight. You get bonus points if it’s in another country!

Edit: I used GPSLogger on my phone to track where we walked in London. Lightroom allows you to import GPX files and geo-tag your photos. Here’s where we went in London:

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 15.59.11

Aperture ƒ/8
Camera Canon EOS 6D
Focal length 24mm
ISO 10000
Shutter speed 1/160s

How to develop an underexposed photo in Lightroom

I had fun rescuing this really underexposed landscape photo in Lightroom.

It’s a photo of Kilcrea Friary in Co Cork and I went out there one September evening in 2015 with a few others from Blarney Photography Club to shoot the sunset. I remember the day was somewhat cloudy so I hoped there would be a magnificent backdrop of yellows and oranges to shoot the friary against. It was not to be. It was a solid mass of grey and darker grey. We took a number of photos from this side of the building, but for this shot I was experimenting and completely messed up the settings. It was a 61 second exposure but should have been almost twice that. Luckily I shoot in RAW so there was plenty of data for Lightroom to work with. This short video shows how I developed and rescued the photo.

I posted the photo of Kilcrea Friary last December. Here’s what the finished photo looks like.

kilcrea-friary-at-sunset

This video was shot at the Automattic grand meetup of 2015. This is a gathering of everyone (or nearly everyone) who works at Automattic. All attendees have to give a short talk. Some people love public speaking, but most of us don’t, so this is the hardest part of the meetup for many. The talks are called “flash talks” because they have to be completed within a certain length of time. A few years ago it was five minutes and the limit wasn’t enforced, but because the company is so much bigger now the talk must be four minutes or less, with someone holding up a sign warning when you hit the three minute mark!

This one was filmed in Park City, Utah in the United States at an altitude of around 1,000m so the air is thinner and I hoped I wouldn’t run out of breath like I did the previous year. This time I had forgotten I was due to talk until about 5 minutes before and had to run halfway across the hotel to get my notes, running down stairs, up other stairs, sprinting along corridors and then back, doing the same. Finally seated in the conference room my bottle of water spilled it’s contents on to the carpet, my stress levels were rising and then it was my turn to give a flash talk. That was practically a relief after the hectic activity of the previous few minutes!

A few days later I gave an hour long workshop on Lightroom, sharing tips, tricks and techniques that improve the look and feel of photos. That was fun as I could go more slowly and into more detail explaining the various tools in the app.

More fun with long exposure stacking of photos

A few months ago I experimented with Imagemagick by using it to merge very similar photos of flowing water to give the impression of a longer exposure.

Here are a few more examples.

By merging a series of thirty photos taken two seconds apart I created a pleasing image that looks like a sixty second exposure. The day I took these photo was overcast and dull, but not dark enough to do an actual long exposure like that without the help of some fairly dark filters. I used the intervalometer in Magic Lantern to shoot this so I didn’t even need a remote release. My camera did all the work! This was created using the following Imagemagick command line:

convert *.jpg -average average.jpg

2015-11-27-2608-m

2015-11-27-2637-m

average

I combined 60 long exposure shots of the night sky in the mountains of Utah (during the Automattic Grand Meetup a few weeks ago) to create a single long exposure of the stars moving through the sky. Thanks mkaz for publishing this post on interval shooting where I got this command line:

convert *.jpg -evaluate-sequence max combined.jpg

2015-10-15-9699-m

2015-10-15-9757-m

combined

Finally, another series of sixty shots taken in Utah. The same convert command line was used to process these.

2015-10-15-9758-m

2015-10-15-9817-m

combined

In the image above I should have cloned out the wires in the bottom left of the image. Lightroom makes it easy to make the same modifications to every image. Work on one image, then select all the ones you need and click “Sync Settings”.

It can be frustrating taking these types of photos as your camera is shooting a long series of very ordinary shots, and the final result can’t be seen until the images are processed correctly but it’s certainly worth it.

Update on December 1st: here’s one that didn’t work out so well. It was so windy the camera shook the whole time.

combined photo

Aperture ƒ/8
Camera Canon EOS 6D
Focal length 24mm
ISO 100
Shutter speed 1/50s

Lightroom Tips and Videos

At the recent Automattic Grand Meetup in Utah I presented a Lightroom tutorial. During the course of the tutorial I went through the various Develop panels explaining what (most of) the sliders did, offering some advice sometimes on how to use them.

Here’s a few tips from the night and links you’ll find useful:

  • Use ALT/OPTION to tune the white and black sliders to see how much the highlights are blown or shadows totally black.
  • Hold down SHIFT and double click the white and black slider titles to auto set them. Be warned that Lightroom will stretch the histogram to do this and avoid losing data but that might not be what you want to do.
  • Use the Upright tool (lens correction) to correct distortions and horizons.
  • Don’t overdo “clarity”. It’ll introduce halos.

When editing a photo it’s useful to begin by setting highlights to -100, shadows to +100, and adjust the whites/blacks using one of the techniques above. Pull back the highlights and shadows to suit your taste, and increase the contrast.

Lightroom Basic Panel

Serge Ramelli has a great Youtube channel. He has an over abundance of “subscribe to my newsletter” and “buy my course” notifications but his videos are still worth watching. If you want to download the RAW files he uses you’ll find them here. I enjoy his sunset tutorials and videos:

And I love what he did with this:

I think I discovered his channel first by searching for black and white tutorial videos. This one got me hooked:

Also check out Anthony Morganti’s channel. His video on sharpening and noise reduction is excellent.

Use Back Button Focus to Pre Focus

Sometimes it’s useful if the shutter button doesn’t focus. Instead you press another button to focus. I’ve used it in the past when shooting street photography (focus on the ground and I know anything a metre away will be in focus), and at night on a tripod when taking long exposure shots of moving lights.

Back button focus is when you don’t use your shutter button to focus the camera. Instead you’ll use a button on the back of your camera. Not every camera can do it but check your manual or use Google to search for your camera name and “back button focus”. Here are two good videos describing why it’s good for sports photography:

Here’s a video I found to get it working on the Canon 6D using the AF-On button. I usually use the Q menu now to disable focusing on the shutter button.

The beauty of back button focusing is that you can focus your camera before the proper shoot and then take as many photographs as you want of the scene, often when the lighting has changed and focusing is impossible. This is especially important at night, but it also lets you shoot faster as the lens is already focused. This may just mean the difference between a great street photo and a missed opportunity.

Finally, here’s a photo I shot last night using back button focus to set up the shot. I could as easily have manually focused the lens but this worked just as well.

Light Trails

Aperture ƒ/4.5
Camera Canon EOS 6D
Focal length 17mm
ISO 100
Shutter speed 10s

How to clean your camera sensor

One of the horrors of owning a DSLR and using multiple lenses is the dread of getting dust on the camera sensor. In small amounts it’s visible whenever you shoot using a small aperture like f/22 but if you leave it go too long you’ll see round smudges show up on your every day snaps at f/8 or f/4 too.

This video describes part of the process I go through when I clean my camera lens. A Nikon body is used in the video but the method is similar for Canon and other manufacturers. I only have a blower and soft brush but they have served me well over the course of the last decade.

Cleaning the sensor is risky. It’s a sensitive piece of electronics but there’s an infrared filter in front of it and that’s what you’re really cleaning. It’s sturdy and tough but if you pushed too hard on it you will scratch it. I’ve never scratched the sensors of any of my cameras though so I don’t worry too much about it as long as I’m careful.

After blowing and wiping the dust away you should do the same with the inside glass of your lens. It’s likely that’s where the dust came from in the first place.

Once I’ve rebooted my camera I’ll test the sensor by doing the following:

  • Grab a sheet of clean white paper.
  • Set the lens to manual focus, the camera to shoot RAW, and change it to aV (or A) mode to change the aperture to f/22. If you use any exotic shooting styles reset them to standard.
  • Prop the paper on a shelf in clear light.
  • Shoot the paper. You don’t have to worry about it being a long exposure and camera shake. The dust on the camera sensor won’t move!
  • Examine the picture on the camera LCD, zoom in and you’ll see any remaining dust particles as black dots. They’ll look like the images below.
  • Repeat the “mirror lockup, clean, check” cycle until you’re happy with how much dust is left.

dust on the sensor

dust on the sensor

Aperture ƒ/22
Camera Canon EOS 6D
Focal length 24mm
ISO 100
Shutter speed 1.3s

Long Exposure Photography through Stacking

The usual way of taking long exposure photos is by leaving the shutter open for a long time. This requires either a dark location or ND filters of some sort on the end of your lens. There is another way and that’s called image stacking.

In a nutshell, you take a series of well exposed photos of short exposure for the same duration you’d use for a long exposure shot. Then in development you create a number of images files which are then merged together to create a final “averaged” image. You can use Photoshop, GIMP, Imagemagick or I presume many other apps to create this image. I used Imagemagick here as I don’t have Photoshop and didn’t want to load all those images into GIMP and I had read that “convert” would do a good job.

Here’s one I created earlier today in the slightly shady but bright gardens of Blarney Castle:

average-3

The images that went into creating that image all look like this. They were shot at f/4, mostly shot at 1/80 of a second and ISO 100. I wanted fast images with minimal noise and the scene is mostly flat so I wasn’t too worried about depth of field.

2015-06-19-4106-gp-2

To make this image I took 27 photos of the scene. I imported them into Lightroom (didn’t do much apart from applying my default settings) and exported Jpeg files. In the directory where I exported them I ran the convert programme from ImageMagick like this:

convert *.jpg -average average.jpg

That command was used by Luis Argerich, the author of this post who created a simulated 4 hour exposure of the sky and went on to say:

Averaging can be used in static scenes to create a new photo with less noise. Noise is reduced in the function of the square root of the number of images. So if you average 25 shots you have 5 times less noise than in a single image.
Averaging can also be used in non-static scenes to simulate a long exposure.

Patrick David in this post suggests a slightly different command which I tried and it created a similar photo.

If your exposure somehow went wildly different with some images bright, some dark, use the “Match Total Exposures” feature in Lightroom to pull them back.

ImageMagick is fairly easy to install. If you are using Linux you probably already have it installed. You can download it from this site or if you use Mac OS X, install Homebrew and then it’s as simple as this to install:

brew install imagemagick

Here are a few more examples:

average

This one didn’t work out. I was trying to capture the swirling of the bubbles on the water.

average

This one works better. The source photos are all around 1/25th of a second which is certainly not fast enough to freeze the water.

average

Almost happy with this one. The source photos go from 1/60th to 1/100th of a second.

average

I like this. It was created from ten photos shot at f/4, 1/60th sec, ISO 100.

I didn’t try very hard to make the images here pretty. They’re purely experimental and done with minimal effort but I’m very happy with most of the results. In shaded daylight I was able to take the equivalent of five to ten second exposures without ND filters or reducing the size of the aperture. It would have been easier to make the aperture smaller and add an ND filter but that’s not the point of this exercise.

One issue that may bite you is the speed of your media. My camera quite often flashed a “busy” notice because it was writing to the SD card. Then again, I was shooting 20MP images and my card says it’s rated at 30MB/second which is a problem as each image is around 20MB. As they’ll only ever be viewed online that’s probably not really needed. I might try the half-size option next time.

One nice bonus to this method is that Google Photos will generate nice animated GIFs from your image stack. I posted mine here. I won’t embed them as the files are huge!

I’m definitely trying this out again!

Aperture ƒ/4
Camera Canon EOS 6D
Focal length 24mm
ISO 100
Shutter speed 1/60s

Use Lightroom Collections to Publish Photos

Since I started posting photos online I’ve always created two images:

  1. A web sized version to go online.
  2. A full size version for my archive.

This has served me well as I have from time to time changed the software I use to develop photos. Otherwise, I might have the web version and not be able to recreate a full size version for printing or other uses.

Up until very recently after I worked on an image I would add it to an “inphotos” default collection (press B), then right-click and export twice.¬†Once for web, once for full size. I had to do this for each image.¬†Sometimes I could select a bunch of them and export if I knew I¬†had a number of “keepers” from a shoot but otherwise it was tiresome.

Collections

I’m now experimenting with smart collections in a Hard Drive Publish Service. I still have an inphotos.org collection, but I added another one called, “Published inphotos”. That’s a smart folder that contains all the published photos that have already gone up on the site. That folder contains every image that comes from the inphotos.org collection and¬†is labelled¬†Yellow.

Aside: I also added a “Potential” smart folder for photos I’d like to work on. Labelling a photo RED will put it in this folder.

Lightroom_collections

Obviously I haven’t added every published photo to it and I probably won’t. I don’t have time to, but I will fill in older photos when I have a spare moment.

If you’re not familiar with collections here are two videos from Adobe on ordinary collections and smart collections that are worth watching:

 

Publish Services

I then created two publish services. One for full size images, the other for web images.

Lightroom_publish_services

The 00-inphotos and 00-Large smart folders initially contained every image that is in the inphotos.org collection. I soon realised I’d have a problem with the web sized 00-inphotos folder. If I published a photo how would I remember that event easily? In the past I moved the file into a different physical folder, but I wanted Lightroom to track this. To do this I decided to add a yellow label to every photo I published. I created a new “00-published” smart folder. This folder collects every image that is labelled Yellow from the inphotos.org collection.inphotos_published_smart_folder_settingsI modified the 00-inphotos smart folder so it contained every image except¬†those labelled Yellow.inphotos_smart_folder_settings

So, when I published an image I went into the inphotos.org collection in Lightroom and labelled¬†the image yellow by pressing “7”. This would cause the 00-inphotos smart collection to delete the image, and the image would be added to the 00-published smart collection. I just had to hit Publish on each of them and the file would be “moved” from one physical folder to the other.

It’s early days yet and I’ve only posted a few photos using this method but it works well. Editing photos and adding them to the inphotos.org collection is a breeze but this is a process that’s not set in stone and will be refined with time. If it’s too awkward¬†I’ll move on to something else.

I use the WordPress “new post” interface to make new posts, or if I have time to do so, I’ll schedule a number of posts¬†using Postbot.

How do you use Lightroom to post to your blog or social media site?

The Brenizer Method – shallow DOF and wide angle

I love shallow depth of field and the Brenizer Method (or bokeh panorama) is an intriguing way of achieving that in a wide angle shot.

Basically, with your lens zoomed in you take many overlapping photos of your scene like you would a panorama but you don’t go for the traditional 360 degree image. It’s more like 50-90 degrees, or what a “normal” lens would see. The beauty of the technique is achieving a very shallow depth of field because your lens is zoomed in and the DOF is shallower still than it would be wide open, or so I’ve read. I haven’t managed to take such a photo yet!

Here’s a great video showing how to do it with Photoshop, but you could use Hugin or Microsoft Ice as well.

Take a look at the stunning photos here, here and here. Beautiful.