Tag Archives: technique

Time Lapse Experiments With Ice

I used to play with time lapses a fair bit.  I would shoot a series of images and use LRTimelapse to process them. However, that software had a license agreement that meant, when they upgraded the software, they required you to update your license and the old version was deactivated.  This was very annoying.  I figured I would be able to keep using the old version but apparently not.  I don’t do it that much to justify the cost and was disinclined to use that software after this experience.

My latest cameras have a time lapse function built into them which I had been meaning to try out.  I had done this on my little M6 but not with the latest bodies.  What to use them on, though.  I figured an experiment doesn’t require me to be original in the subject.  Just try it out and see how it works.  Consequently, I thought melting ice would be good enough.  My first effort was not successful.  I hadn’t given it enough time to record the melting fully.  Second was better but, while the timing was okay, I had focused on the ice cube when it started melting and it slid across the plate as it melted and out of frame.  The mode on the camera sets focus and exposure on the first shot so this meant everything was well out of focus.

This is why you experiment with things.  The last try worked pretty much as intended.  (I should note that I did all of these in the evening, so the lighting didn’t change during the shoot.) I had a long enough time for the ice cube to almost fully melt, it didn’t move, and the lighting was fine.  Watching the ice disappear and the cube gradually sink into the water that is progressively growing was rather fun.  This isn’t some epic revelation of the nature of melting ice, but it did teach me about some functionality of the camera.

Getting Down to the Level of Fungi

Ever since I have had cameras with flip out screens, I have been far more likely to get down to the right level for a photo.  Lying on the ground was something I would only do in the right circumstances.  Walking through the arboretum with Nancy is not the right time to get grubby doing that.  However, now I can let the camera be low down and check the shots from a slightly more comfortable height.  This was the right thing to do when I was taking some shots of some mushrooms.  You get a totally different perspective from ground level!

Which Do You Prefer and Do You Care?

As mentioned in other posts, I have been playing around with lower shutter speeds when photographing planes at Boeing Field.  Getting a blurry background to emphasize the speed of the plane is the goal and it also removes some of the annoying distractions that a cluttered airfield can provide.  I use filters to reduce the light in order to get the shutter speed down without having ridiculous apertures.  Naturally, I end up with a bunch of blurred photos which get deleted but the selection process for the keepers is what this post is about.

I have some photography friends that don’t like the effect that the differential speeds of the parts of the airframe have on sharpness.  A sharp nose might mean a pretty blurry tail since the relative motions as I pan are different.  When I am filtering through the shots, I often “focus” on how the nose looks since it is like having the sharp eyes on a wildlife shot.  I care less about the tail unless it looks terrible.  However, getting the middle of the airframe sharp might result in a sharper overall shot even if the nose is a little blurry.

These are the things I was thinking about with these shots of a 777X landing at Boeing Field.  The reason for the post is to see what matters to other people.  These shots are a mix of which part of the airframe is sharp and which bits are more blurred.  I may spend a fair bit of time deciding on which is best, but I wonder whether anyone looking at them is going to like the same things as me or will even care about it.  Maybe the composition of the image is all that they care about, and the pixel peeping is irrelevant.  I would really appreciate feedback if you have an opinion.

Strange Little Isolated Tree

Sometimes you just don’t have the right gear with you.  I had gone to Juanita Bay after work and was only carrying one camera with the 500mm on it.  Looking down in to the water to one side of me, I was quite taken by a stump in the water that had a new growth of a small tree coming from the top of it.  It was too far away to get a decent shot with the phone so the 500mm was the only option.  I took a sequence of shots to stitch together later on.  I quite like the separation that you get with using such a long lens for a shot like this.  I wonder how large the tree will ultimately grow to be given the limitations of its home!

Clouds in the Mountains

The North Cascades Highway gets snowed in for the winter, so we decided to take a trip up there before the snow arrived.  It was also a good time for fall foliage, so we wanted to see what the mountains had to offer.  The colors in the trees as we drove up were very nice but, the higher you get, the more you are into the evergreens and the foliage becomes sparse.  However, we had something equally attractive awaiting us.

It was an overcast day as we drove up with any hints of sun from the lower levels gone as we got higher.  There were some really cool bands of clouds to see as we drove.  At one point we had the valley in sight and the tops of the mountains but a band of cloud in the middle.  It was while on a stretch of road with nowhere to stop so no shots of that.  However, as we got up to Diablo Lake and then Washington Pass, we got plenty of mountain tops in and out of the clouds.

I experimented with both normal shots and HDR.  With the shadow of the valleys and the brightness of the clouds, the dynamic range was pretty wide, and I thought HDR might give me some more processing options.  I was glad I made that choice as it really helped to get detail in all parts of the images.  That will be our last trip up there this year.  The snows will be getting heavy before too long and then it will be a waiting game until the pass is cleared in the spring.

Focus Stacking the Lily Pond

A walk in Washington Park Arboretum in Seattle took us by one of the ponds that is covered in lilies.  Unlike when I was in Juanita Bay, this pond allowed me to get down to water level.  This provided a far more interesting perspective across the pond to the trees behind.  It did put me very close to the foreground elements so I focused stacked some shots to provide a deeper focused range across the shot.  I far prefer the lower angle as it really emphasizes the foreground elements in a way that isn’t possible when higher up.

Beetle on the Acer

Walking through the backyard, I noticed a colorful looking beetle on one of the branches of our Japanese maple.  Did I shoo it off?  Of course not.  I ran to get the camera instead.  The bug flipped around the branch as I returned and was showing its underside instead which was not what I wanted.  I got a shot or two just in case and then waited to see if it would turn over again.  Thankfully, it did and I was able to get something closer to the shot that I had originally envisaged.

Red Bark

The arboretum in Seattle is unsurprisingly home to many interesting varieties of trees and plants.  One tree that caught my eye was (perhaps) a type of willow that had bark that peeled to reveal an intense red coloration beneath.  Sometimes these colors don’t seem to show up as well in an image but I fortunately had a polarizer with me and that took out some of the reflection and glare and allowed the color to show up well.  Cropping in tighter seemed to make more sense, too.

Almost Directly Under the Approach

Photographing airliners can be a little “samey” since there are lots of very similar jets and getting a shot of them from the side looks much like any other shot unless the aircraft is specially painted or the lighting is particularly unusual.  Consequently, every once in a while, it is fun to try and shoot from a different angle.  The approach to SEA when the planes are on a southerly flow brings them in over a part of Burien where you can get yourself pretty much under the flightpath.

It won’t take too long before you are again getting a sequence of repetitive images, so it isn’t going to be useful for much time, but it is a chance to do something a little different.  Head on shots from a distance are possible.  Then you can get the shot looking up from the underside.  This might be a tight shot of a part of the airframe, or a wide angle shot of the whole thing.  An opportunity to do something a little different when you are photographing aircraft that are not ones where you care about missing the shot as you might when something special is coming in.

Playing With the Bizjets to Experiment

I have been messing around with low shutter speeds for traffic at Boeing Field a lot this year.  Some of those shots have made their way into posts on here.  One sunny afternoon, I was at the field and there was a lot of business jet traffic but nothing terribly special.  This provides a good opportunity to try different things.  I had the polarizer and a neutral density filter.  The polarizer is good on sunny days for taking down the glare and it also cuts the light.  However, the neutral density can really pull the shutter speed down.

Since I didn’t care if the shots were a failure, I was willing to just keep bringing the shutter speed down and down.  I compensated by cranking up the frame rate in order to increase the probability of getting a sharp one.  This is an interesting challenge.  Normally I spend a bit of time culling out shots that just aren’t sharp but, when playing with silly shutter speeds, you need to re-calibrate just how sharp things should be.  What is a little off when zoomed in might be of no concern when looking at the full image.  That is not an excuse to let plainly bad shots through though.

Here are some of the results that weren’t too bad.  Even an average Challenger can look a little more interesting with a very blurry background!