I took this image on Saturday before last. Near the end of this year’s winter. But starting in the beginning.
Friday night two weeks ago we got severe ice-rain. For a week we had temperatures below 0°C. So, the ground was frozen everywhere. The upper areas in the air were warmer than the lower so that we were supposed to get rain instead of snow. But, because of the frozen ground and the low temperatures in the lower air areas, the rain would freeze as soon as it reaches the ground. Very dangerous conditions, when out in the streets. All plants got wet and encased inside the ice because the rain started freezing right after coming to rest on the ground or on twigs as well as on the streets and passways.
The next day, the rain changed to snow and from Sunday the landscape turned into a winter wonderland. Very soft and quite dry snowflakes were laying everywhere, even in the lowlands. You know, I’m 200m above sea level. So, we get about 15-20 cm of snow that weekend. The next few days only a few additional flakes came to accompany those already arrived. Starting on Thursday, the weather changed again: the clouds vanished and the sun came out more and more. On Saturday we had a stainless blue sky, temperatures around -10°C (up -20°C at night).
Perfect conditions for a winter hike!
At around 16:30, when the sun was already quite low (sunset at 17:42), I noticed this golden glow in the trees. Do you remember, I told you about the ice-rain. These ice encasings are the reason, why the trees are capturing all the golden light and glowing so much.
Yesterday, I already showed you an image, how the ice encaged the twigs.
Thanks, Patti, for this week’s challenge, subjects starting with an “S”.
Last weekend we have had fantastic winter weather. While the temperature was far below 0°C we got a quite thick layer of snow. The whole two weeks was already very cold. Icy air from Sibiria found its way to middle Europe. When it started raining Friday evening two weeks ago (Feb. 5th), the rain became ice-rain. Everything became covered by a quite thick layer of ice. Starting from Monday (Feb. 8th), we got more and more snow. From Friday before last (Feb. 12th) the sky became blue again. So, I used the weekend for a photo trip: hiking through a winter wonderland near home. That’s why I had to skip last week’s challenge. All the images in the first part of this post are from that trip.
In March 2010 I was in Frankfurt again. Again, I was there for a training and again I brought my tripod and my camera for taking some night shots in the city. But, this time I went along the river instead of heading between the skyscrapers.
I’m presenting the images here although they are not so good to visualize certain mistakes I did at that time.
The time of the day was right and the horizon is balanced. But, the verticals near the sides are not vertical. They are leaning to the center of the image. That’s because of the wide-angle lens. The images are taken with a camera having an APS-C sensor and an 18-105 mm zoom lens at 18mm. Because of the height of the buildings I had to tilt the lens upwards on the tripod which results in this ugly appearance. At that time I didn’t have the tools and the knowledge to correct it in post-processing.
The next problem here is the nearly burnt-out highlights. As I wrote in my last post on night-photography in Frankfurt, I should have made more than one image of each setting with slightly different aperture times while leaving all other settings untouched. My camera at that time already had the ability to use bracketing for such images, but I wasn’t aware of it. Thanks for using raw instead of JPG, I was at least able to recover a little bit, but for the price of some noise (especially in the last one, which is also taken too late).
So, when looking from today at these images, I have to say, I should return to Frankfurt and redo the job! In this post you can see (no, it’s not Frankfurt but some other night shots) how these images should look like when having done the job properly. I also explain the necessary technic in more detail over there.
Did you ever have such a review on old images of yours? Not only looking at them but reviewing and analyzing them with your current knowledge. It can help you a lot to make some progress. Do so with some distance. Keep out any memories (sweet or bad) and all emotions. Look at the lights, the darks, the horizon, and the overall composition. Be critical and name all the things you either made good or bad. Compare your images with similar images you can find online i.e. at Flickr. Ask yourself, could I do better in comparison with the other images? What could I do better? What are the reasons for the differences?
In case, you want to have an independent review, you can book me for an hour or so and we can discuss your images during an online session.
Recently, I was talking with someone about photography. Because that guy is living near Frankfurt, I was checking, where and when I published my images taken in Frankfurt. Surprisingly, they are not here on my blog. The posts are still online but don’t have any images in. I put the images on a separate gallery server that doesn’t exist anymore and set only a link to that location in the post. So, this is kind of a repost.
I was in Frankfurt for a training in November 2009. As I would have been alone in a hotel each night, I took my tripod and my camera with me and planned to go out after the training for taking some night shots in the city. That was my first trip for night photography. The difficulty is to balance the bright lights with the extreme darks while having quite long exposure times.
First I went to a certain skyscraper where you can go on top of the building to have a view over the city. The sky was proposing, unfortunately, it was extremely windy. Setting up my tripod as planned was impossible. The wind simply moved the tripod away. So, I dialed in a quite high ISO to get my shots hand-held without the tripod. The ultra-wide-angle lens allowed me to use a quite open aperture to get a good depth of field and still have the exposure time on a handleable value for hand-holding the camera despite the heavy wind.
At that time, I wasted a lot of quality not only because I had to use high ISO instead of my tripod. I also relinquished to photograph in RAW instead of JPG. For this post, I took out the original images and retouched them as much as possible. But, there was not much possible to recover.
Whenever possible, go the extra mile and photograph in raw. You have so much more quality.
After leaving the tower I also walked a bit through the city. Now, I was able to use my tripod. These images are taken at ISO 200 and aperture times of several seconds each.
What have I learned from that trip?
I should have split that trip into parts to have the nice blue night-sky in all images
I should have closed the aperture more to get nice stars around the small lights
I should have taken more than one shot with different exposure times while leaving the other settings unchanged (bracketing)
Fortunately, the subject for this week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge was published ahead. So, I had enough time to prepare this post. Each photographer struggles sometimes over the limitations of the photographic gear and gets images (far) away from the expected result. Fortunately, nowadays in digital photography, you have the option to increase the image in the digital darkroom. As our host this week, Tina asks to show such images as examples.
You know, I’m taking my photographs in raw format instead of getting the JPGs processed automatically straight from the camera. Although this takes additional time and work, I’m usually getting better images. The link above directs you to a post I wrote a couple of years ago. Despite the abilities of the sensors increased over time, I still don’t want to throw away quality.
Usually, I don’t do much post-processing. I only sharpen my images and balance the exposure by subtly brightening the darks and shading the lights a bit, if necessary. So, the additional effort is very small and I can use batch-processing quite often.
But, every now and then I have images demanding a bit more work, just like the image I’m showing you today.
This image is taken on Helgoland in January 2016. My idea was to capture the light beam of the lighthouse. So I went out during the blue hour because I wanted to have a slight dark-blue sky instead of a black sky. The slight snow and rain that night didn’t disturb much. When I arrived at the planned location, I noticed a family walking towards the lighthouse. So, a quite short exposure was necessary to get a sharp family and get nice light beams. The exposure was set to fit the lights of the window: full-frame, ISO 2000, f4, 1/25, handheld (no time for setting up the tripod because of the family).
As expected from that scene, the captured image was very dark. Thanks to the raw format, this wasn’t a loss! These steps were taken to get the final image:
increased exposure compensation in my raw developing software by +2
decreased the lights a little bit
increased the darks a little bit further
export to JPG
In the other image, I integrated the OoC for comparison. Click on the image to enlarge it. It’s also taken on Helgoland in January 2016. It shows the remains of an old pier.
This long exposure is also taken in raw and the exposure is aligned to the bright areas to avoid burnt-out areas. Besides a tripod, I used a gray-filter and a graduated gray filter.
remove dust spots in the sky
balancing the horizon
lighten the darks
increased the warm tones in the clouds from the setting sun
export to JPG
These dust spots are almost always in your images when using a camera with interchangeable lenses because they are in the air and when changing the lens they can come into your camera. The same is true when you using nun-sealed lenses. When dust is inside your camera, it’s easy for the particles to settle on the sensor. You can recognize them as dark mostly round spots in the image. Most easily you can see them in a bright sky or on homogeneous areas in your image. The other possible source for the spots the lens itself. Either you might have spots on the back lens of your interchangeable lens or on your front lens. And, although the front lens is quite easy to keep clean, spots will appear. When now taking your final image in JPG format to do the corrections, you’re losing quality because the image will always be compressed with a lossy algorithm when storing it. So, it’s much better to do all the necessary work on top of a raw file and export the finished image. I’m recommending reading the post, I linked further up in this article.
For the next 2 images, I also embedded the original image into the final one.
lighten the darks in the face to reveal the eyes a bit
coverted to monochrome by using software that emulates monochrome film instead of desaturating the colors
adding a subtle dark vignette
export to JPG
This is a wildlife image. Despite using a 400mm lens, I was too far away from the seals for my planned composition. You know, gray seals are raptors and you have to stay at least 30 meters away from them. They are much faster as you might think. So, you better respect the recommended distance.
The week before last, my son got himself a new lens that has had to be tested. He bought a long telephoto lens, so we planned to go photographing birds. So, Saturday before last we went to a lake where I’ve never been before, but it proposed some good sightings according to my researches. As we were going for wildlife photography, I took only my wildlife camera with an APS-C sensor, the long telephoto lens, and my monopod with the gimbal.
None of us was there before and so we went around scouting the area for a probable return. At one point, I noticed this junction of two creeks and I liked the reflection very much. But, I definitely had the wrong lens with me for this scene. Fortunately, he has had an additional lens in his bag: a 35-70 mm. It’s taken with an APS-C camera at 70mm (~105mm on 35mm-film).
In the end, it was a quite successful stay despite we only had 3 hours time and the location is worth a return. The heron image, I showed you yesterday, was taken there. A few further images are already in my Instagram account.
Inside the castle of the former king of Saxonia. To the right, you can see the colonies of the former royal stud. Now, people using the area to cut short from the river Elbe or the new town on the other side of the river to come to the old town.