Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Sunrise variations

I have been in Florida long enough now that I find myself developing a specific Florida style influenced by the spacious skies, dramatic weather changes, and saturated colors. I have been categorizing my work into several  series: Aqua, Aeris, Flora, and Terra. However, I consider the first two, Aqua and Aeris, to be the most stylistically developed.

The idea for this series was influenced by several painters. Mark Rothko's color field paintings gave me the idea for large neutral areas playing against one another, while Monet's haystack series gave me the idea of recording the rapid and fleeting changes of color effects over time. And I am always indebted to Agnes Martin for her grid-like, minimalist style.

The images below were all taken of ocean sunrises with a Nikon D850 and primarily the Nikon 24-120mm zoom lens. I've been using that camera because I am planning on printing this image series quite large. Many of the images contain motion blur, some of it achieved in camera with a stopped-down lens and a heavy (10-stop) ND filter. Further techniques were applied later in Photoshop through double exposure.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Stacked focus flowers

This week I was experimenting a bit with the focus "Focus Shift Shooting" feature of the new Nikon D850.  I photographed some flowers, both singly and in a group. Below are some of the results.

All images were photographed  using backlit daylight from a large window. I used either a black card background or white scrim, and filled the front with a small reflector. I set the D850 to use a set with of 3 and took between 40 and 50 exposures of each situation depending upon the depth of the arrangement. The final image was assembled using Helicon Focus software.

I found the final color intensity of the images to be too intense so I made a crisp black and white version of each photo. Next, I placed these black and white images as layers on top of the color photos in Photoshop. I then dialed down the opacity of the black and white version until I achieved the muted color effect I had in mind. 

Monday, November 6, 2017

Photographing a full moon with clouds on a Nikon D850

A full moon the other night gave me the opportunity to try out the high resolution capabilities of the new Nikon D850.  Just to make it interesting, there were some clouds in the sky adding a moody look to the scene. Getting a straight shot of the moon was easy, but adding the cloud layer necessitated some Photoshop post-processing.

The moon is a very bright object because it is lit directly from the sun.  I varied my ISO from 64-400 to achieve a high enough shutter speed not to blur the moon. I was using a Nikon 80-400mm zoom with a 1.7x telextender. Not only does this magnify the size of the moon, it also magnifies the motion blur.  The moon is moving much faster than you might imagine, and, since I was not using any tracking devices, it takes somewhere between 1/125 and 1/500 sec. to get a sharp image at the magnification I was using. 

Photographing the night sky with clouds is a completely different exposure extreme. In the photo below at an ISO of 64, a focal length of 400mm, and an aperture of f/5.6 I needed a shutter speed of 1/250 to stop the motion of the moon but a full second to record the clouds in the sky. This meant taking two photos is quick succession, one exposed for the moon and the other exposed for the sky.  Later the two were combined as stacked layers in Photoshop. I used a layer mask to paint the moon as an overlay onto the cloud scene.