Ultra long exposure photography can be a very fulfilling pursuit and generate etherial images that draw your viewer into them leaving them week in the knees! As a photography master generalist I can tell you that there are a few speciality areas that can really excite me and force my juices to flow!
Specifically they are:
- Ultra High Speed photography: Water Drop Collision Photography, Daytime Lightning Photography & Hummingbird Photography
- Infrared Photography
- Grist Mill Photography
- Ultra Long Exposure Photography.
This post is a tutorial on Ultra Long Exposure photography using the Fuji X-E1 camera with its 18-55mm lens, a 6 stop B+W ND filter and a Sekonic L758DR spot meter.
Fuji X-E1 with its 18-55mm lens
The Fuji X-E1 is my 3rd in the Fuji line. I started with the X100 and moved to the X Pro 1 in order to have interchangeable lenses, then to the X-E1 to take advantage of its Electronic Shutter Release. I have always been a Canon shooter with closets full of L lenses. But due to a spinal operation that went dreadfully wrong I lost 80% use of both hands and arms. No longer able to hold heavy camera equipment I started on a long journey searching for high quality camera system that was small and light weight and produce world class images. A long story shortened, I settled on the Fuji X lineup and their fine quality lenses along with a few CV and Leica M mount lenses.
Now, the Fuji X-E1 with its electronic shutter allows me to hook it up to my water drop machine, Lightning Trigger and Hummingbird control system!
The only lacking item is its short lens lineup. With the introduction of the new 55-210mm lens this spring even that will no longer be a problem for me!
Long exposure has several issues that you must overcome to successfully create the etherial, emotionally charged image.
- Long Shutter Speed: Even in low light you will find it difficult to get a shutter speed at f/8 (sharpest).
- Difficulty Focusing: Darkness you know…
- Unreliable Metering: Especially with an installed ND filter.
- Camera Shake: Requires a STURDY tripod and REMOTE SHUTTER RELEASE.
The Long shutter speeds generally can range from 15 seconds to 20 minutes. These are difficult to reach unless you shoot at night with light from the moon. What I find that I do is shoot at dusk on or just before sunrise to overcome this issue. Usually I will add a Neutral Density Filter (ND) to reduce the total amount of light reaching the image sensor. This will allow you to shoot with more ambient light and generally make this style of photography easier……
See full article on markhilliardatelier.wordpress.com
So, the time came to use my new Fuji X-E1 for the work that it was intended, as some of you know if you read my blog I have recently sold my Nikon DSLR kit and moved to the Fuji X-E1. This was not an easy decision, but having owned and fallen for the fabulous image quality of the Fui X100, I felt I could take a gamble sell the Nikon gear work with the Fuji system. The X-E1 arrived 28th December so I had some time learning the X-E1, it had some new software, menus and setups that needed me to spend some time with the camera. I had an extremely important portrait session of a group of three company directors to a new and chain of Boutique Hotels. So no pressure then !! At the very start of the first few test shots having set up the lighting ready for the head shots I thought Oh no what I have done, I have made a huge mistake I wish I had my D300s in my hand right now and all this worry would disappear ….. Why !. It started with a massive defect visible on the test shots, at first I thought I was picking up a shadow from something in the room, nope, its on the lens then …. Nope ….panic starting to set in …. How did I not see this, I tested with speed-lights in my house, taken dozens of family test shots …why I had I not see this before… Ok it must be the sensor, sure enough taking off the 18-55 lens reveal a large dust particle causing me a minor heart attack 5 mins before some of the most important clients turn up….yeah ok so now your thinking why did I not have a back up camera …. I did it was the Fuji X100 it would have got me through the session but I would have had to make some serious compromises. Ok grabbing my dust blower the offending item was removed, a test shot taken and that warm friendly feeling of relief started to prevent the blood completely draining from my body when the defect had gone from the image…phew! But my worries and woes didn’t stop there… This shoot took place on a building sight ….literally. It was planned for the early evening due to working commitments from me and my clients, therefore but the time we were ready to start taking some “serious shots” it was starting to get dark… ok not normally a worry as I had set up the lighting anyway…but the room was lit only by puny site safety lighting and was very dim and I soon ran into problems with low light focus….Arrrhggg… Not only did the EVF become very grainy due to the dim light it was very difficult to gain focus manually too,thinking quickly I remembered I had thrown in my mains powered continuous ring light into my kit case PHEW stoke of luck…..finding an extension lead I was soon back up and running, but now shooting one handed and partially on the tripod lighting the clients with a combination of speed flash and continuous ring light the other hand in order to nail the auto focus….
“STOP” I hear you shouting are you nuts this is your own entire fault … and yep it is. Thinking why I did I not take a breather at this point, set the ring light on stand in front of me and work with manual focus ….. No reason and that’s exactly what I would do if it happens again but with all the adrenalin running, thinking on my feet and needing to make sure the client was happy I carried on regardless and hey I was making progress, so I just keep going. Its called the swan syndrome and I was in full speed … no one noticed …..
See full article on simonpeckham.wordpress.com
With that background out of the way, let’s look at how the various metering options work, and what typical situations they might best be deployed under. Cameras typically have three options, or some variation upon that. Within these options, it’s also usually possible to fine tune various aspects of the meter’s operation. I’m going to leave out handheld meter operation since this is something that’s almost never encountered today. An important point to note is that all meters can be fooled by situations of uniform luminance, so don’t trust the readout blindly. Remember, meters function by averaging the entire evaluated area out to middle gray; this means if your evaluated area is meant to be black or white, you’re going to need to add or subtract some exposure compensation. For predominantly light/ white scenes, you need to add; for dark scenes, subtract. This holds true for every one of the different metering methods detailed below.
The simplest form of metering evaluates the frame as a whole, and tries to expose it to middle gray – under the assumption that there will be shadows and highlights, but these will average out. Seldom used today because you will almost always require exposure compensation (making it unsuitable for the point and shoot crowd which constitutes most of the global camera market), but has the one enormous advantage of behaving predictably under every situation.
The simplest form of meter is the spot meter. This evaluates luminosity at the desired point only, ignoring everything else in the frame. There are two important things to be aware of with a spot meter: the location and size of the spot. The metering spot’s location is either in the center of the frame, or tied to the selected or active autofocus point; the logic there is that you would typically want to ensure your subject is both in focus and properly exposed. Variations on the spot meter include types that are biased for highlights or shadows – i.e. you meter a shadow or highlight and it doesn’t turn out over or underexposed. Don’t forget to add appropriate exposure compensation
See full article on blog.mingthein.com
One of the more important – yet almost always overlooked – aspects of camera operation is metering. Simply put, the meter determines what your final exposure is, and how bright or dark your image looks relative to the scene. Unless you are shooting manual – and even then – the camera’s exposure is determined by the meter. Add the fact that the eyes of a viewer tend to go to the brightest and/ or highest contrast portions of an image first (i.e. this should be your subject) – and it’s clear to see why it’s absolutely critical to understand both how metering works as a fundamental concept and any camera-specific peccadilloes that might exist. The last thing you want is to find that your camera drastically underexposed a once-in-a-lifetime shot of some critically important event because you didn’t know (or forgot) that the meter was extremely affected by point light sources….
How meters work
Depending on which exposure mode your camera is in, the meter will try to find a combination of settings that creates an image that averages out to middle gray in luminance, i.e. the histogram average is around level 127 or thereabouts. There are three exposure parameters the camera can use to control the amount of light reaching the image processor – note that the sensor is also now involved in the process – shutter speed, aperture and digital gain, i.e. ISO. If you fix any one of these variables manually – say by shooting aperture priority at a set ISO – then the camera varies the remaining parameters according to a set of rules in order to achieve the ‘correct’ exposure. If the correct exposure is out of adjustment range – e.g. the required shutter speed for a given aperture is too high – then you’re going to land up with an over or underexposed image. In program mode, the camera controls both aperture and shutter values depending on its preset program; the photographer can usually shift the program to a different combination of values which still yield the same net amount of light hitting the sensor. In shutter priority, the user fixes the shutter value manually, so the camera alters the aperture. In aperture priority, it’s the other way around. In manual mode, the user fixes both values – the only thing the meter can do is display how far off the manually chosen exposure is from the correct exposure, or alter the ISO or flash. If auto-ISO is activated, then the camera will always default to the lowest possible ISO within the specified range in order to keep the shutter speed at or above a certain value – either user selected or 1/ focal length in second. (Note that for some cameras, using manual shutter and aperture values will cause the camera to shift the ISO rather than display the variance from correct exposure.)
See full article on blog.mingthein.com
Most techniques for photographing fireworks typically involves the mounting of the camera on a tripod and setting a slow shutter speed to capture the streaks of light. With the Xpro-1 and 35mm 1.4, I decided to try something different, setting the ISO to 5000, and aperture to F7 and shutter to 125. I attempt to capture the new year fireworks at Marina Bay in Singapore hand holding the camera. That’s right, no tripod or slow shutter speed, handheld shots this time round….
See on lucpher.wordpress.com
To date Adobe Software hasn’t come up with reasonable raw processing for the Fuji X-trans sensor. The way the new sensor captures and processes light requires new thinking on their part and as yet Adobe has been satisfied to rework their current formula to produce acceptable, but not outstanding images. The jpeg processing in the Fuji camera can do it, SilkyPix can do it (albeit through a rather arcane user interface), and Phase 1in the beta release of their raw processor – Capture 1 – has apparently been able to do it. I gave a beta version of Capture 1 (which includes updated processing for the X-trans sensor and Fuji X series camera profiles) a test run. If it works as well as touted, I’ll have to think long and hard about switching from Lightroom which for me so far has been OK …. just. To have two different cataloging systems – for Lightroom and for Capture 1 – is a bit daunting for me.
Now onto the XP1 and the 18-55 zoom lens. I was out on the streets in New York City yesterday with the intention of shooting most of my images at the 55mm setting with OIS (Optical Image Stabilization) turned on. Previous to my outing yesterday, I discovered information about how the OIS works between the camera and lens, and understanding how to use it affects both image quality and battery life. There is a new setting in Shooting Menu 5 called ‘IS Mode’ for which there are two settings with descriptive names of IS1 and IS2 – oh so helpful. In the IS1 option OIS is on and running continuously whenever the camera is turned on and a lens which has the OIS functionality is mounted and the function on the lens is acctivated. In the IS2 option OIS is activated only when the shutter is depressed half way before shooting.
Ah me, there’s always trade-offs in life, and especially in photography.
If IS1 is selected, the OIS runs continuously which creates a serious drain of battery power. But it also means that the teeny weeny gyroscopes in the lens are always engaged, running, and ready to stabilize without the slightest delay. This, not surprisingly, results in a very large percentage of the images shot in this mode being completely unaffected by lens motion or shake at slow shutter speeds.
If IS2 is selected, the OIS kicks in only when the shutter is depressed half way. So power from the battery for the OIS is used only at that time which, of course, results in a significant saving of battery power. However, in the time it takes for the battery to get the gyros up and running, and to stabilize the image the camera can still fire the shutter if the button is depressed quickly in one continuous motion. This resulted in a significant number of images shot on Friday (in this mode) being not optimal.
Sometimes the story or the expression of the person in an image is significant enough that I process and post it even with its technical shortcomings. So here’s what I got from my outing on Friday. The first was shot at 55mm and, with the OIS set to IS2, was one of the few at that focal length that were spot on…..
See full article on genelowinger.blogspot.com
One of the most popular questions I get asked is “What is the best camera for low light?”. As with most photography related subjects, this question is entirely dependent on what it is that you are trying to photograph. The answer also depends heavily on the equipment you are working with.
Photography requires a combination of three elements that determine exposure – aperture, shutter speed and ISO. In low light situations, the weakest link here is the ISO sensitivity. ISO is a measurement of how sensitive the capture medium is. This applies to film as well as digital camera sensors. Both of these mediums work in very different ways, but on the same principal and measurement. Film is material sensitive (for a later chemical application) and digital sensors record light electronically – but they both work with the same sensitivity measurements. Both mediums also see the best image quality at lower ISO ratings, but as we move into the 21st century, digital cameras are receiving an incredible amount of research and development making higher ISO ratings better every year. Lets look at the technical aspects of these applications…..
See full article on theartofphotography.tv
As many of you know that owned the Fuji X-Pro 1 almost the day the camera arrived to the shelves of any camera store. I’m still amazed at how well the camera performs against any DSLR (I even sold my 5D MKII as the files were inferior to the X-pro files), but there is the ever struggles with the RAF RAW files from the X-pro that no RAW editor can convert the files properly. Capture One is saying that C1 7 will be fully taking advantage of the sensor shortly, but in the mean time I still use Adobe Lightroom to convert my files.
Here is a great example of how much highlight recovery the X-pro has in terms of it’s dynamic range. I’ve heard that the X-pro was better as recovering highlight vs pushing shadows. So I thought lets test this out at the mall with a skylight rooftop. I’ve shot the image at with the 35mm, f/4, and 800 ISO. From Lightroom you can see that I’ve blown out more than 50% of the roof top and parts of the walls. After working on the image in Lightroom you can see in the before after picture how much you can pull from the blown highlights. I’ll say again and again to anyone looking to purchase this camera, the images that you get are truly rewarding!
See on www.hfortysixit.com
Finally here’s part 1 of this new series of video tutorial on my B&W post production techniques.
Part 1 is a general introduction to my B&W workflow applied on the easiest type of subjects: seascapes:)
Part 2 will follow within a week and will go into detail how I apply these techniques to architectural subjects. Learn how to create those single spear like single clouds yourself and how to create rich silvery tones.
Part 3 is all about complex Selective Gradient Masking techniques applied to complex subjects like automobiles.
For now, here\s part 1. Unfortunately the sound isn’t too good, I’ll be using a new professional microphone for part 2, just so you know! Note that this part 1 will be available to anyone but part 2 and further will only be available to people who have attended one of my workshops.
See on vimeo.com
Summary: When I come back from a reportage or an exploration, there is a crucial process to begin in organizing my work as a documentary photographer. I must recover my digital photographs, install them on multiples hard drives, store and organize the management of the files and metadatas (captions, keywords, ©) and to optimize and tone my images before showing them to the world.In most case, we have learned this workflow with a lot of mistakes. One of us had the brilliant idea to produce a wonderful piece of work where he explain all his workflow in a clear and digestible format.
Gavin Gough, a professional travel photographer has just made available a magnificent learning product in a pdf, but also supplementing the book with Lightroom Presets, links to video teaching and more to make all this an easy and comprehensible process. From all the books I have read, and there was many, believe me, none where that well made and designed. If that book had been around, I know a girlfriend who would have spent much less time watching me learn all this from scratches.
“The photographer’s Workflow” has 130 pages of clear and easy to understand informations on the post-production work of a professional photographer. It is available to download from the links down here, for 30$. And for those that will order it on december 6 and 7 and will use the coupon code photowork20, will benefit an instant bonus and will have it for an introductory rate of 20$.
You can order it from this links
See Marc-André’s article on waseyaimages.net