Tag: star

Night Photography Essentials: Part Three – Special Scenarios

Previously, we discussed what is the right time of night for photography, and how to do it generally (from a technical aspect). Now we will focus on some of the most used scenarios and how to tackle them directly. Of course, you can mix and match the following techniques, and they should serve as a guide. After a couple attempts, you’ll surely make some modifications which work best for you, which is how it should be done. Don’t be afraid to experiment, and don’t be afraid to fail – that is how one learns. At the end of the day, you’ll need to find your own flow.

Night Photography Scenarios

Light Trails

In order to capture light trails (this works for star trails as well, but longer exposures are necessary) you’ll need to use long shutter speeds. In order to guesstimate how long the shutter speeds need to be, you can take some measurements. Using the stopwatch and live view, measure the time a car takes to pass through your frame. Add around 5 to 10 seconds on that value and you are set. Those 5-10 seconds are the buffer you’ll need to activate the camera before the car enters the frame, and to have time to exit the frame if the car drives slightly slower. If you want more light trails on a street that isn’t that busy, photograph several separate cars, one where the surrounding area isn’t well exposed, and one base image where the surrounding area is exposed half a stop under. Then merge them all in Photoshop using “lighten” blending mode.

Big City Lights by Ѕвонко Петровски on 500px.com
Photo by Dzvonko Petrovski

Stars

To photograph stars you’ll need to be outside of any area that has lights. That means, get out of the city. Avoid any light pollution since it will mask the stars. Also, you’ll need to pick a clear day (overcast means no stars) that has no Moon. Other than that, you’ll need a fast wide angle lens, and usually, f/2.8 does the job. Following the “500 rule,” the shutter speed needs to be 500/lens focal length = seconds of exposure. Bear in mind that if you are using a crop sensor camera, you’ll need to multiply the focal length by 1.6 for canon, 1.5 for Nikon, and 2.0 for micro four thirds cameras. So if you are using an 18mm lens on a crop sensor camera the equation would be 500/(18*1.6)= 17.3 seconds, and you round that up to the shorter value that the camera goes to (in this case 15 seconds). The aperture is wide open, and you compensate the rest with ISO. Usually, when I photograph stars with my 7D Mark II, the settings range from something like this: 18mm at f/1.8 and ISO 6400. The 500 rule is there to avoid star trails since stars move relative to the Earth (it is the other way around really, but since we perceive the Earth as stationary, they seem to move).

Photo by Dzvonko Petrovski.
Photo by Dzvonko Petrovski.

Moonlight Landscapes

There is no science fiction here, you can use the moonlight to capture landscapes similarly as you would use the sunlight. The only difference is that the Moon produces a mere fraction of the light that the Sun does (in reality it just bounces the Sunlight since the surface of the Moon is quite reflective and it has no atmosphere). Given the fact that it is actually sunlight being reflected off of the surface of the Moon, there are wavelengths of the light lost or subdued in the process. You’ll notice that there won’t be much red and yellow; rather it will shift highly towards the blue tones. Trying to correct that in post process will result in weird looking colors. Embrace the type of light and use it to your advantage. The Moon is white, so calibrate the white balance accordingly and go for it.

Photo by Dzvonko Petrovski.
Photo by Dzvonko Petrovski.

City Lights At Dawn

In order to have the city lit up with all the lights, it has while there is still some remnant of the sunset (after the sun has set of course) you’ll need to do some trickery. First, take the shot without the city lights (a tripod is necessary here), as if you would shoot it normally. Then, wait for the lights to turn on, and photograph it again. Merge the two shots in Photoshop afterward using the “Lighten” blending mode and some selective blending done via masking.

U73A9101
Photo by Dzvonko Petrovski.

Night Time Portraiture

You’ll need to be quite smart about this scenario. You’ll either need to use high ISO to have fast enough shutter speed, or you’ll have to use artificial light to compensate for its natural lack. You can do so by using flashes, or you can use lights available around the city. The trick is to find a middle ground between the slowest shutter speed you can use without any issues, and the lowest ISO you can use to have enough light to do so. Aperture is wide open in this scenario since you need the maximum amount of light passing through the lens.

Photo by Dzvonko Petrovski.
Photo by Dzvonko Petrovski.

Summary

This set of three articles should serve as a great tool to get you started in some basic and some advanced night photography. If you have any questions regarding this topic, feel free to ask in the comments below.

Adobe Lightroom’s Rating System Guide for Beginners

When you have hundreds, maybe even thousands of images you need a way to sort through them that’s both quick in practice and set-up. Lightroom gives the photographer several methods of tagging / attributing images ready to be put into collections and you may find you have a preferred method or actually find them all useful. Whatever the outcome, this Lightroom’s Rating System tutorial will talk you through the various tagging methods as well as give you tips on why rating your images is important.Lightroom offers three different rating systems – star ratings, flags and colors. Star ratings are usually used to record the quality or value of the photo, with 1-star photos being poor, and 5-star photos being the best you’ve ever taken. Grading the photos gives you more information to help you find the best photos again later. The downside is if you’re indecisive, you could spend ages trying to figure out whether a photo deserves 2 stars or 3, and as your photography improves, your older 3-star photos might only count as 2-star photos now. But, you can always change the rating on a photograph, so you don’t have to worry about it much, now. Flags are much simpler, having just 3 states – flagged, unflagged or rejected. It’s quicker to decide whether you like the photo or not, so if you find yourself dithering between 2 and 3 stars, flags might be the ideal system for you.Colors are kind of open to interpretation. This gives you a lot of flexibility, but it also means that in order to get the most out of color labels you will need to develop your own system. For example, when you are finished with a photo and it is ready to export you could mark it as green. When there is a photo that you know you want to print you could mark it as red. Photos that need more work could be set to yellow. The colors can mean whatever you want them to mean, you just need to decide on the system that will work for you.These three options are collectively referred to as “Image Attributes”.

Why would you need this feature?

The answer to this question is simple. You need to use these features too:

  1. Keep your workspace organised.
  2. Easily sort through your library.
  3. Save a lot of time.
  4. Make your work a lot more friendly, neat and easy.
  5. Easily separate and tell the difference between specific shots in various ways.

How do you effectively use this feature?

First you have to install the Lightroom preset.  When you are in the library module of Lightroom presets, if you look near the bottom of the screen you should see the controls for flags, stars, and colors.Screenshot_2

Star Rating in Lightroom

Like I said before, an image can be given a star rating ranging from 0-5, with 0 being the worst and 5 being the best. It’s best to apply the theory that the more stars an image have the better you believe it is. This will speed up your work-flow and stop things becoming confusing when you’re looking back through your images. Rating stars can be set or displayed in any view of the Library module (Grid view, Loupe view or Survey view). There are multiple ways to provide star rating to your image(s):

  1. Select the photo that you want to rate, then choose Photo > Set rating and select a number from the drop-down list.  
  2. Alternatively, select the image you wish to rate and press a number from 1 – 5 on your keyboard to rate the picture.
  3. Hover your mouse cursor over a thumbnail and to the bottom left you will see 5 dots appear. Clicking on these allows you to apply a number of stars to the image. But please note that this method works only in the Grid View.

Tip 1: You can select photos and press ] to increase the rating or press [ to decrease the rating.Tip 2: You may find the Compare View useful when applying stars as this will allow you to compare two similar shots side-by-side so you can decide which one deserves the higher score.

How to Flag Photos in Lightroom

The main purpose of flagging photos is to help you know which ones to keep and which ones to reject. When it comes to flags each photo will be in one of three states: it can be marked to keep, marked to reject, or unmarked.

  1. The quickest way to pick or reject an image is to use the keyboard shortcuts:
    P – to pick an image.
    X – to reject an image.
    U – to mark an image as unflagged.
  2. Alternatively, you can select an image in Grid view or Loupe view, and mark it as any of the three ( Flagged, Rejected or Unflagged). Choose Photo > Set Flag > Choose any of the options from the drop-down list. This method works in any of the views (Grid, Loupe or Survey)

Note: Marking a photo as “Reject” will not remove it from the Library. They will simply be grouped as rejected photographs.

A flagged image.

 

A rejected image would have a flag icon with a cross over it. (top left of the cell)

Colour Labelling

Labeling photos with a certain color is a flexible way to quickly mark a large number of photos. Like I mentioned before, colours are open to interpretation. They can mean whatever you want them to mean, and you just have to identify a system that works best for you. Like the other two attributes, the colour rating can be done in a number of methods:

  1. Select the photograph that you want to rate, choose Photo > Set colour rating and choose a colour from the drop-down menu.
  2. Alternatively, you can also use the keys 6-9 to select a particular colour.
    the “6” key for red
    the “7” key for yellow
    the “8” key for green
    the “9” key for blue

Unfortunately, the colour purple does not have a keyboard shortcut. Press the same number key again to remove the colour rating. Once applied, the colours will be visible around the images.

An example of what a colour-rated cell would look like.

That covers three of Lightroom’s most powerful features for keeping your photos organized. The key is to decide on your own system and then actually use it by tagging your photos.

We hope this article is helpful in guiding you to maintain a clean and organized workspace. Leave a comment below and let us know about your experience. And if you’re interested about lightroom’s features, check our post about Lightroom Masterclass in Clarity.