Archivi categoria: Tutorial

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.

7 Tips for Making Lightroom Run Faster

Not happy with Lightroom’s sluggish performance on your computer? Here’s a helpful 15-minute video in which photographer and instructor Anthony Morganti shares a number of helpful tips for optimizing your Lightroom’s performance.

The tips are various settings you can adjust and tools you can run inside Lightroom, from Catalog Settings to Preferences and more. Since photographers have different workflows and needs, customizing how Lightroom runs can help make it run faster for your own purposes.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the main performance optimization tips discussed in-depth in the video:

#1. Build 1:1 Previews: Make Lightroom create a 1:1 preview of your photo files, trading extra disk space and slower importing for faster performance while working with your photos.

#2: Discard Previews: Have Lightroom automatically discard your 1:1 previews after a certain number of days to free up disk space.

#3: Preview Size and Quality: Make sure your preview size and quality and set to appropriate settings for your monitor.

#4: Camera Raw Cache Settings: Increase your cache size as large as you can from the default of 1GB.

#5: Use Graphics Professor: Try enabling or disabling the use of your graphics processor to see if that improves performance.

#6: Smart Previews: You can give up disk space and editing quality by using Smart Previews for faster performance.

#7: Optimize Catalog: Use the built-in optimization tool to keep things humming along over time.

Watch the video at the top of the post for a more detailed look at how you can make these adjustments and what they can do for you.

The video is episode #92 in Morganti’s helpful Lightroom Quick Tips video series. You can find his entire collection of videos on his YouTube channel.

(via Anthony Morganti via Fstoppers)

5 Simple Tips for Shooting Better Interior Photography

Whether you’re interested in lifestyle photography, real estate imagery, or something in between, knowing how to capture great photos of interiors is a skill all beginners should master. Here are 5 quick tips that’ll help up your interior photography game.

This tutorial was put together by Daniel and Rachel of Mango Street Lab, and like most “tips” videos, these are more like… guidelines. Depending on the mood you’re going for, the client brief, and your own stylistic preferences, you’ll want to adjust these tips accordingly. That said, these 5 guidelines offer a great place to start.

1. Shoot from waist level

Shooting from a standing position will have you looking down on most interior scenes, especially if you’re emphasizing furniture and decor. Shoot from waist level, and use a tripod to make sure you get rock-steady shots from the perfect perspective.

2. Choose your subject and compose accordingly

Many (if not most) interior shoots will feature decor over people, so pick a subject and then compose your shot accordingly. Don’t be afraid to move things around, remove distracting elements, and add (appropriate) touches like books, plants, and/or blankets.

3. Use a wide-angle lens for most shots, and a normal lens for details

This one depends a lot on the client brief or specific shot you’re taking, but most interior shots will be captured with a wide-angle lens (24mm equivalent-ish or wider). The exception is detail shots, which require a closer crop and will be better served by, say, a 50mm equivalent.

4. Use natural light, turn off interior lights, and use a reflector or LED panels for fill

The lighting tips in the video are more specific to Mango Street’s own style. They shoot natural light (usually during the brightest parts of the day) augmented by LED panels or some reflectors to fill in shadows. They also suggest you turn off all of the artificial lights to avoid white balance issues, unless, of course, you need to show off those lighting fixtures.

5. Shoot with a smaller (f/5.6-f/11) aperture to keep everything in focus

Shooting wide open and getting that bokehlicious look is all good and well, but if your goal is to show off a whole room, you’ll want to keep the whole room in focus. Stop down unless you’re shooting detail shots where you want to isolate a smaller subject.


And that’s it. The tips aren’t ground-breaking, but they’ll definitely keep beginners from making some common mistakes, and they can help make interior snapshots look a lot more polished. Check out the video up top to elaborate on each tip, and then head over to the Mango Street Lab YouTube channel for more tutorials and tips videos like this one.

Tips I’ve Learned from Photographing Lightning in South Florida

My name is Alex Brock, and I’m a photo enthusiast living in South Florida. I spent many nights last summer chasing storms through swamps and along the beach attempting to learn to shoot lightning, and I’d like to share some things I learned to help others who are starting out.

I’m a simple hobbyist, so please take these suggestions with a grain of salt or at face value… or whatever — you know what I mean.

Settings usually depend on a few factors: ambient light (dusk, evening, dark night, etc), the distance you are from the storm, and the size of the lighting the storms are putting down.

Example 1: Dusk Lightning

Settings: 6s, f/16, ISO 100
Lens: Tokina 11-16mm

Since this was shot during dusk and I was, by my own admission, entirely too close to this storm, I had shorten the exposure quite a bit and narrow the aperture and keep my ISO at the base. Shutter release cable really comes in handy here, especially for these shorter exposure times.

Example 2: Beach Lightning

Settings: 10s, f/4, ISO 400
Lens: Tokina 11-16mm

Taken at night and the storm was drifting further offshore so I had use a pretty wide aperture and bump the ISO a bit. Obviously you wanna be careful with this because too much and you’ll blow it out but you’ll get a handle on the balance after a while. I try and keep exposure times down below 20 seconds because I feel like I get better detail from the bolt. There’s not much backing that up… just some weird prejudice I have.

Example 3: Ocean Lightning

Settings: 20s, f/10, ISO 400
Lens: EF-S 18-135mm (shot at 45mm)

This one was shot a bit differently because as this cell was moving offshore I used my stock zoom lens to get tighter on the part of the cell putting down lightning. Narrowed the aperture a bit and it seemed to work out pretty well. I got lucky because it’s tough to get real tight on a cell and get a strike in the frame.

Example 4: Okeechobee Lightning

Settings: 10s, f/10, ISO 200
Lens: Tokina 11-16mm

This strike was huge. This storm was drifting away from me and by this time it was quite far and I wasn’t expecting to get anything else out of it but it put down one last major bolt. Wish I had been closer (maybe) but somehow the settings worked out in my favor as I had left them on what they were set for when the cell was closer to me. It was pretty dark and had a narrow app and low ISO but the strike was so huge and bright it came out okay.

In terms of gear (I shoot on a Rebel T5i) I usually use my 11-16mm or my 17-50mm. The most important piece to me, beyond the obvious, is a shutter release cable. This allows me to set my exposure and lock in the shutter release and let the camera roll. You end up with a ton of shots, but you’re almost guaranteed to get the strike (if you’ve framed it right). You just need to go through and delete like 98% of the unsuccessful shots, but it’s worth it.


About the author: Alex H. Brock is a photography enthusiast based in South Florida. He loves shooting, rocket launches from Cape Canaveral, and the Milky Way. You can find more of his work on Instagram. This article was also published here.

How to Make a DIY Light Painting Brush for Cool Still Life Effects

A couple of weekends ago I was playing about with some ideas for a new portfolio shot involving a wall clock. Now, this clock happens to look a bit like a pocket watch, and a pocket watch normally has a chain (see where I’m going with this?). So I figured: “what if instead of a chain, I use some wispy light trails?”

After a bit of trial and error, this is the shot I ended up with. This post isn’t really about the finished shot though, It’s about the tool (and I use that word loosely) that I used to create the light streaks.

Of course, these days you can easily buy ready made light brushes, sticks, and a plethora of other modifiers aimed at the avid light painter; but seriously, where’s the fun in that?! In true Blue Peter fashion, I knocked together a DIY light painting brush.

It won’t win any awards for style—in fact, it’s about as aesthetically pleasing as tooth decay—but it did give me the effect I was looking for and it’s super simple and cheap to make. So I thought I’d quickly show you how I put it together and maybe it will help someone who is looking to do something similar.

Here’s the list of parts you’ll need:

  • 1 x £2.99 LED Tourch
  • 1 x Coke Bottle (empty)
  • 1 x Off Cut of Black Card
  • 1 x Snoot Grid
  • 1 x Colour Gel (colour optional)
  • 1 x Roll of Sticky Tape

Honestly gaffer tape would be much better but I couldn’t find any (it’s probably on the floor somewhere) so sticky tape had to do.

Assembly was extremely complex and involved several CAD drawings and a team of engineers. Fortunately though I am now able to present you with a simplified process ;)

Stick The Bottle To The Torch

Adding the bottle to the torch diffuses and scatters the light, helping to create a softer light trail with different brightness levels within it. It almost gives the light a textured appearance, rather than just a solid beam.

Next I cut a piece of black card, made a tube, and taped it around the bottle. It’s basically acting as a snoot, focusing the light at the bottom of the bottle and preventing it from spilling out all over the show. You can, of course, dispense with the snoot, but you’ll find that it gives a different effect and it wasn’t what I was looking for in this particular case.

Wrap black card around the bottle and watch out for light leaks!

I should have made the card longer so it extended all the way over the bottle and blocked up the end. Leaving it short like this meant unfiltered light leaked out and was captured along with the blue light, you can see this in the right hand image above.

(By the way that’s my daughter waving the light stick, if you look closely you can just about see her leopard print pajamas!)

In the end I just wrapped a cloth around the bottom part to block that unwanted light from view.

Next I stuck a blue gel over a grid, it’s the type normally used in a snoot. As luck would have it the little grid is almost exactly the same size as the end of the cardboard tube. Result! So it was simply a matter of fitting the grid into the tube and securing with a little tape.

I wanted a blue light, so the reason for the gel is pretty obvious. The grid was added to reduce the light output (filter helped with that also) and narrow the beam. Without the grid the light was too bright even if I stopped down, and I was getting way too much flare.

And that’s it!

One light painting brush/torch/wand/stick (whatever!) complete. It did the job. The fact that it looks like something a 3 year old made in art class and that it will almost certainly fall apart doesn’t really matter to me. It was the right tool, at the right time. Low cost and low effort.

Here are a few examples of the effect achieved with this DIY light painting brush. These three images are pretty much straight out of camera, they have just had black/white adjustments in Lightroom and the clarity bumped up a bit.


About the author: Darren Turner is a Northern Ireland-based product and still life photographer. You can find more of his work on his website, or by following him on Facebook and Instagram. This post was also published here.