Archivi categoria: creative

How to Turn the Sky Into Pyramids by Rotating Your Camera

My latest photo series, Pyramids In The Sky, was inspired when my wife and I visited the Mayan Ruins of Chacchoben while on a cruise in 2015. I have always been intrigued by ancient civilizations and how they were able to build these massive structures, seeing the pyramids in person was an inspiring experience.

The way the sunlight was coming off the pyramids got my mind racing thinking of how I could create a similar vision using light painting techniques. The next night we were back on the ship and I was sitting on the balcony just after sunset when inspiration hit me. The ship was out to sea so the deep water was dark, the horizon was clean, and the dusk sky had an orange and blue glow to it. Luckily I had brought along my CRT (Camera Rotation Tool) so I set it up and started trying to make a pyramid design using nothing but the available ambient light.

I used the dark water to create the pyramid and the dusk sky provided the rays of light. I was blown away by the result on the back of my camera! The image looked just like a pyramid with rays of light shooting out of the top, it was even better than I had envisioned it. That night started an ongoing addiction to creating Pyramids In The Sky.

The Process

The Pyramids in the Sky photos are all created in real-time and captured to the camera in one single photographic frame. The only light source used to create these images is the ambient light in the sky right at sunset or a little after. This is a form of light painting called kinetic light painting, meaning that the camera is moved to create the design in the frame.

The process for creating these images is fairly simple, I use a custom-made CRT (Camera Rotation Tool) this tool was designed by Alan and Chris Thompson. The CRT allows me to move the camera to any angle during a single exposure.

To create the pyramids, I shoot in bulb mode and use a lens cap to control the light coming into the camera. The first thing I do is I find the angle I where I want to start the exposure. Once I find the right angle I put a cap on the lens and I open the shutter of the camera for a long exposure. With the exposure running I simply remove the cap to let some light in and then replace the cap to block the light.

During a single long exposure I turn the camera to the next angle and repeat the process of removing and replacing the lens cap. I repeat the rotation and capping process until I have an image that looks like a pyramid in the sky that is captured in one photographic frame.

The Gear

Camera: Canon 60D
Len: Tokina 11-16
Tripod: Vanguard Alta Pro 263AB
Other: CRT Camera Rotation Tool
Other: Neewer Intervalometer

The Settings

ISO: 100
Aperture: f/8-f/22
Exposure Time: 18-75 seconds (~40s average)

The Challenges

The most difficult thing was to find a location to create the pyramids. To create them I need a high angle of a clean flat horizon (no city lights) and I needed to have a location where the foreground was darker than the sky. This might sound easy but when you live in South Florida a high angle of a clean horizon is a difficult thing to find.

After some long drives looking for location that didn’t work, I ended shooting most of the series from a lookout tower at Jonathan Dickinson State Park. This spot was perfect and it was just 10 minutes from my house, funny how I drove past it 10 times while looking for the “right” location.

My Favorite Part

My favorite part of shooting these images is all the beautiful sunsets I was blessed to witness. I would talk to people at the tower and most would leave right as the sun dropped below the horizon, the crazy part is that is just when the colors are starting to get good so I would be there alone seeing the most beautiful colorful skies.

I also really love the interesting patterns the clouds add to the images. I started thinking I needed cloudless skies to create the pyramids, but I quickly found that the clouds added some incredible features. For me some of the pyramids have the feeling of a Native American headdress, giving them a deeper and spiritual feeling.


About the author: Jason D. Page is a photographer who specializes in light painting. He’s the founder of LightPaintingPhotography.com and the creator of Light Painting Brushes. You can find more of his work on his website, Facebook, and Instagram.

How to Create a Simple DIY Smoke Effect for Product Shots

This short DIY tutorial by Caleb Pike over at DSLR Video Shooter shows you how to create a great smoke effect for your product shots or B-roll footage—no fancy smoke machine required.

Smoke is an intriguing component of photography, but it’s difficult to produce conveniently and photograph correctly. The direction and thickness of the smoke is never fully under your control and that makes photographing it a challenge. Fortunately, this little DIY technique helps you reign that pesky smoke in.

To do this at home, you’ll need a simple bulb syringe and a smoke-creating vape device made up of a battery and a tank. In Caleb’s case, he used an Eleaf iStick 50W battery attached to a Nautilus Atlantis tank, that he then filled with some kind of vaping liquid.

(Note: Caleb does NOT use liquid that contains nicotine. Nobody is encouraging smoking. Everyone’s lungs are okay. No baby seals were hurt in the making of this video.)

From that point on it’s pretty simple. You press a button on the vaping device to create the vapor, use the bulb syringe to draw it out (sparing your lungs in the process) and then apply that smoke wherever you might need it.

This simple setup is a great way to create and disperse small amounts of smoke exactly where you want it. It’s particularly useful where a big smoke machine would be overkill, filling up the room and ruining your images.

To see the simple idea in action, check out the video above. And if you like this simple tutorial, head over to the DSLR Video Shooter channel for more like it.

(via ISO 1200)

This Shutter Speed Chart is a Simple Photography Cheat Sheet

When we talk about the Shutter Speed in photography, the first thing that comes to mind is its relationship to Exposure. Shutter speed is an essential part of Exposure Triangle (Aperture, ISO, Shutter Speed) and it helps photographers to get perfectly exposed photos.

But my belief is that to understand and to master Shutter Speed for taking the perfectly exposed images is the easiest part of the equation. The more exciting, but at the same time more challenging, part is to learn how to use Shutter Speed as the artistic tool in our photography. By using different settings of Shutter Speed we can achieve some interesting effects.

The goal of Shutter Speed Chart is to summarize and illustrate the different aspects of Shutter Speed to help photographers to master Shutter Speed to get well-exposed photos and to embrace it as an artistic tool. You can download the full PDF version here.

Full Stop, 1/2 Stop, 1/3 Stop

We all know that together with the Aperture and ISO, the Shutter Speed controls the exposure of your image.

And for a long time, it was a pretty simple and straightforward equation, by changing the shutter speed from 1/200s to 1/100s we double the amount of light (1 stop) that reaches the film or sensor. You keep shutter open twice longer you get twice the amount of light.

But with the introduction of digital cameras, we are not restricted to changing the shutter speed by one stop only. Some cameras allow us to change the shutter speed by half (1/2 stop) and some cameras by third (1/3 stop).

The shutter speed chart helps us to do exposure estimations and calculations easier.

Safe Shutter Speed

When you have moving objects in your composition, it is paramount to use the right shutter speed in order to get sharp photos. The Safe Shutter Speed illustration let us visualize that by using the shutter speed slower than 1/100s we enter the potentially unsafe area with the regards to sharp photos goal.
 

Light

This is a simple illustration of correlation between shutter speed values and the amount the light reaching the camera’s sensor. The faster the shutter speed, the less light gets in; the longer the shutter speed, the more light gets in.
 
 
 

Shutter Speed Chart and Types of Shooting

This is what I call a Shutter Speed Cheat Sheet that helps photographers to use a shutter speed as the creative tool.

Birds in Flight 1/2000

When wildlife photographers track and photograph a bird in flight, it requires an extreme shutter speed of 1/2000s to get the bird perfectly sharp. The variation of this technique is to reduce the shutter speed to 1/400s will result in a sharp body of the bird but blurry wings. This is a more creative approach wildlife photography.

Action Sports 1/500s – 1/1000s

You probably do not need an extreme shutter speed when photographing a golfer putting on the green, but any sports that involve fast movements and actions will need special attention to shutter speed value. Photographing professional football game or your kids playing soccer will require shutter speed between 1/500s and 1/1000 to freeze the action and get sharp photos.

Street Photography 1/250 – 1/500

In general, when photographing street scenes, that scene is in constant motion. You have people walking towards you or crossing the street, cars moving and stopping, birds, bicycles, and more. The proper shutter speed is paramount, not only for getting the right exposure, but also for avoiding blurry or soft images.

Landscapes 1/125 – 1/4

It’s hard to pinpoint the shutter speed range for landscapes because the techniques and the setting you use will vary greatly depending on if you’re shoot hand-held or on a tripod. The slower shutter speed of 1/8 or 1/4 is totally acceptable when using a tripod, but if you shoot hand-held, you need to reduce the value to get sharp photos.

Panning Cars 1/15 – 1/60

Planning is one of the most interesting creative techniques, and you need to know your shutter speed to do it. Using a longer shutter speed (1/15 -1/60) and tracking the moving object (car) when the shutter is open lets us create an effect where the main object is in focus while the environment around it is blurred.

Waterfalls or Fast Running Water 1/8 – 2 sec

Here we are entering a more creative approach to photography in general, and shutter speed in particular. Photographing a fast running water with a longer shutter speed allows us to create a visual effect that does not exist in real life. You open up the shutter speed for a longer period of time and let moving water to create motion blur.

Blurring Water 0.5 – 5 sec

Blurring the water is a staple in seascape photography. Nothing makes a seascape look dreamier than a long exposure effect in the water. When photographing ‘the ocean, sea, lakes, and rivers where movement in the water is not very fast, you need a slower shutter speed value (compared to shooting the waterfalls) in order to create this silky and smooth effect in the water.

Fireworks 2-4 sec

It is not easy to photograph fireworks—you’re shooting at night, in the dark, with bright lights popping up randomly all over the place. The logic here is to open the shutter speed long enough to capture the entire lifespan of the shoot, but be careful.

If you use a fast shutter speed and you will get a tiny unimpressive light in the vastness of the dark sky; if you use a shutter speed that’s too long, you will achieve only an overexposed, blurry, and unnatural effect. I find a shutter speed between 3 and 4 seconds works the best.

Stars (Astrophotography) 15-25 sec

Shooting astrophotography allows us to capture things that are not visible to naked eye. By opening the shutter for a long period of time, we can amplify the dim lights of the stars into a full-blown celestial light show… but you need to strike a right balance.

If you use a fast shutter speed, the stars will be tiny and dim; but if you use a speed longer than 30 seconds, you’ll start to get a star trail effect thanks to the movement of Earth. A shutter value between 15 and 25 seconds will produce stars that are both sharp and bright.

Star Trails – One shot at 15 minutes, or multiple shots at 30 seconds

This technique enables us to take advantage of steadily spinning Earth. If you open the shutter long enough, you can capture the trailing effect of the stars.

The traditional technique requires the shutter speed value of 15 minutes and longer. But with the digital workflow you can simulate the same trailing effect by taking series of photos, let say 120 of them, with 30 sec exposure and blending them together in Photoshop. In this way, you can create the effect of 60 min exposure without the noise this would otherwise create.


About the author: Viktor Elizarov is a travel photographer based in Montreal, Canada. He’s also the man behind PhotoTraces, a travel photography blog and community of over 60,000 photographers. Visit Tutorials section of his blog for free tutorials and free Lightroom presets. This post was also published here.


Image credits: Header image by Neurovelho.

The Seven-Camera GIF Rig: Taking Wedding Photography to a New Level

In the summer of 2016, I experimented with creating animated GIFs using multiple cameras. I wanted to animate a moment, frozen in time, from several angles.

It wasn’t my first experience with animated sequences of images, for years I’ve been incorporating animated GIFs in my wedding, engagement, and portrait work. They have been a big hit with my clients. I created the animations below using bursts of still shots from a single camera (other photographers are making cinemagraphs from video, but I preferred the stop-motion look of a group of still).

After several years thinking of this project, I finally decided to build a multi-camera rig.

I considered many different cameras. Originally I was going to use Canon 1D MK II bodies because I owned three of them, but the portability of this setup wasn’t so good. I considered Canon’s digital Rebels with their kit lens but thought a prime and fixed lens setup might be better to eliminate possible variance in focal length.

The release of Fujifilm’s tiny X70 mirrorless camera made me finally pull the trigger.

The Rig

It was built to be as small as possible while holding seven Fujifilm X70s and fitting in the back of my Chevy Volt. The backbone of the rig is just a wooden board, painted black, with L-Shape flash brackets bolted to it. There are 7 L-Shape flash brackets pointing up with quick release plates for the cameras and two brackets pointing down for connecting to a pair of sturdy Manfrotto 055 tripods.

Triggering

I tried two different triggering methods. The first was JJC JM-N(II) radio frequency wireless shutter remote controls. My later setup involved tearing apart and wiring together seven corded camera releases. Both methods worked and both failed… (more on that later)

The Results

Final Thoughts

In some of the GIFs there is unwanted subject movement which ruins the “Bullet Time” effect. I made sure all seven cameras were set to have all the same settings. I tried different shutter speeds. I tried different methods of turning the cameras on. I made sure all cameras were in manual focus mode too.
Nothing I tried could overcome the slight variances in when each camera would fire.

Often 4-5 of the seven were on time and 2-3 were ahead or behind the rest.

It wasn’t the same cameras out of sync in every shot either. Switching from RF to wired triggering didn’t help. The design of the X70 camera itself might be the cause of the timing errors.

The other problem was just how long it took to set this whole thing up…

I’ve since sold all the X70’s. I had a ton of fun with this project and I’m glad I went after it even though it didn’t quite work as I had hoped. I still love animated GIFs and will continue to experiment with new ways to make them.

What was the initial reactions of people when they saw the rig?

The 7-camera rig definitely caused confusion. My subjects often replied, “Wait, what?” after I explained the idea. It didn’t help that setting up the rig took about ten minutes.

I’ve gotten very fast & efficient setting up and capturing the single-camera GIFs. Getting the correct aim, focus, and exposure across seven cameras was daunting. Not to mention the size and weight of all the pieces. Ultimately, I let go of the seven X70’s and shelved the multi camera rig due to the previously mentioned issues and the inconsistencies in firing timing.

I’m still very interested in the idea and will likely build another with different cameras.

Do you think that video and animations are the future of how we consume content?

I think we’ll continue to see stills, video, and digital effects mashed up in new ways. Many of these new mashups are user friendly apps like Boomerang, making it easier for anyone to create little animations. I don’t think GIFs, cinemagraphs, animations, and video clips will replace still photographs. I think they’re a wonderful accompaniment.

Where can we see more of your work?

You can view my work on my website, discover a lot more of my animated GIFs on Tumblr, follow me on Instagram @jlbwedding or on my Facebook page. I’m available for work across the USA, so feel free to contact me.


About the author: Jeffrey L Bennett is a Detroit, MI area wedding photographer, fuji convert, and animated GIF creator. You can find more of his work on his website or by following him on Facebook and Instagram. This article was also published here.

These Folding Landscape Photos Will Mess With Your Brain

Photographer Aydın Büyüktaş has published a new series of photos as part of his delightful Flatland series, which shows landscapes folding upon themselves like something out of the movie Inception.

Büyüktaş says he was originally inspired to create the series after reading the book Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions by Edwin Abbat.

His latest photos were captured in various places across the United States, including sites in Arizona, Texas, California and New Mexico.

Büyüktaş searches for locations using Google Earth, and planning his shots took about 2 months.

After coming up with a list of places to visit, Büyüktaş spent a month on a road, traveling about 10,000 miles to create the images.

At each of the locations, Büyüktaş used a drone and captured about 18 to 20 photos, which he then stitched together to create each bended landscape.

You can find previous photos in the series in our post from 2016. You can also follow along with Büyüktaş’s work on Facebook and Instagram.


Image credits: Photographs by Aydın Büyüktaş and used with permission

This is What Horses Look Like from Below

Everyone knows what a horse looks like, but have you ever looked up at a horse from below? Photographer Andrius Burba wants to show you what this unusual perspective looks like through his latest project, titled Under-Horse.

The Lithuanian photographer had previously done a similar concept with cats, titled Under-Cats, but as you might expect, photographing horses in this manner requires a lot more planning (two months of it), work, and coordination (over 40 people were involved).

“It’s the most difficult photo shoot I’ve ever had,” Burba says. His makeshift photo studio was created by digging a large hold 3 meters (nearly 10 feet) into the ground.

He then placed his camera in the hole and covered it with a giant 400kg (~900lb), 3×1.75m (9.8×5.7ft) pane of ultra-strong glass.

The 600kg (~1,300lb) horses were wearing custom rubber horseshoes to prevent scratching on the glass.

Equipment-wise, Burba used a Nikon D810, Nikon 35mm f/1.4, and 4 Profoto Prohead Plus flashes. Here are more of the photos Burba made:

Here’s a behind-the-scenes video showing how the project was done:

You can find more of Burba’s work on his website and Facebook. You can also purchase limited edition prints of these photos here.

This Bookstore’s Creative Photo Series Matches Customers with Book Covers

Independent French bookstore Librairie Mollat is going viral, but not because of anything particularly literary. No, this publicity boost is because they’ve gotten really creative with their Instagram account.

Peppered throughout the usual photos of book covers and store shelves on their Instagram account, the Bordeaux-based bookseller has been creating fun and silly forced perspective photos by pairing customers and employees with matching book covers.

The results are surprisingly (sometimes shockingly) good, perfectly matching where a person’s face ends and the portrait on the cover of a book begins. Scroll down to see some of our favorites so far:

The creative advertising technique has worked like gangbusters. The photos have been spreading across the Internet like wildfire, earning the bookstore over 24 thousand followers on the social network—a few more than your typical indie bookseller.

To check them out for yourself, head over to the Mollat website or give them a follow on Instagram.

(via Laughing Squid)

Perfectionism vs Creativity: Letting Go of the Need to Conform

“Perfect photographs do not move the heart.”
– David DuChemin, The Vision Driven Photographer

This is one of my favourite photography quotes, in fact one of my favourite quotes generally.

Now I’m not for one moment saying that this photograph will move anyone’s heart. But I am saying that it’s not perfect. It’s hazy and it’s soft, I’m not sure that any of it is in focus. Technically it’s really not good.

Some people will hate it but I’m okay with that.

Or at least I’m fairly okay with that. I took this photo for no-one other than myself. There’s no paying client, no need for me to conform to any so called “rules” of photography. It’s more or less what I was aiming to create. I say more or less because I only ever have a vague idea in my mind so nothing can be exactly what I aimed for—but soft, hazy, blurred, haunting were all words carried in my mind at the time.

Still, there’s a tiny doubt in my mind that stops me sharing this image on the day it was created. It needs to sit a while, I need to come back and look at it several times. I need to stop looking at it. Then I need to come back a few days later and look again. And maybe then I’ll be ready to share. Maybe then I will have decided that I’m happy enough with it not to really care whether it’s well-received or not.

Because I know some people will hate this photo. They won’t like that it’s not in focus, they will wonder why I’m happy to lose all the shadow detail, they’ll be dying to point out that there aren’t really any catch lights in the eyes and don’t I know that the light bit on the background wall is distracting.

So today I’m finally ready to say I don’t care. I know the rules. I know where I’ve broken the rules. But I don’t care. I can play by the rules but sometimes I just don’t want to.

How did a creative art form end up so bound up in its own rules that we all feel an ingrained need to comply with them? How did we come to value perfectionism above creative expression?

I have a question for you…

What if you let go of the need to conform, what if you didn’t worry about blown highlights, shadows that are too dark, images that aren’t pin sharp zoomed right in? What if all the rules no longer applied and you were free to express yourself without constraint?

What would you create?


About the author: Janet Broughton is a UK-based photographer, blogger, and copywriter. You can find more of her work on her website, or by following her on Facebook and Instagram. This post was also published here.