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DPChallenge Forums >> Tips, Tricks, and Q&A >> Learning Thread Landscape Photography
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11/17/2006 01:48:52 AM · #1
Thanks Steve and David!

I had never done this before either, but I got the idea from one of the non-DPC members (Ben) of the Ithaca GTG. He brought some of his images in a portfolio and he had one image of swirling leaves that blew me away. This was during lunch, and afterwards, I was determined to capture the swirls. I actually got some others that were very nice--here's one I was considering for the free study (but I went for the Streamlines photo instead, which did pretty well):

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In this case, the exposure was only 6 seconds. I didn't have an ND filter, only my GNDs, and other people were using their NDs. I believe I used two of my GND "in opposite directions" (how's that for improvising) in this capture.

By the way, while we are on the subject of fantastic captures by jtlee321, I had his 2nd place ribbon winner in Landscape in Portrait as my top pick! What a fantastic shot, and composed in the style of my favorite landscape photographer, David Muench.

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11/16/2006 09:19:35 PM · #2
I really like both of the images below. I tried stationing myself by a stream with the leaves coming down, and I wanted this same effect, but I never got anything I liked after several dozen shots. Thank goodness for digital! Anyway, I really respect these shots.

Originally posted by stdavidson:

Originally posted by nshapiro:

I really got more interested in long exposures for landscapes during my trip to Ithaca for the GTG. Here's one result of that:

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This is a 101 second exposure. The swirls are leaves circulating in the water.

First, congrats on the blue in the Portrait landscape challenge. It is well deserved and a great shot.

Your image is remarkably similar to jtlee321's 30 second ribbon winning image shown next to it.

In both images it is the remarkable clarity that makes them great. Obviously the swirls come only as a result of the timed exposures. That is cool, especially since the centerpoint for the swirls are so far removed from where the water enters the pool.

I gotta try this sometime, especially since jtlee321's image was taken so close to where I am. The effect is amazing. Great images, both.

11/16/2006 09:15:26 PM · #3
Originally posted by nshapiro:

I really got more interested in long exposures for landscapes during my trip to Ithaca for the GTG. Here's one result of that:

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/570/thumb/413254.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/570/thumb/413254.jpg', '/') + 1) . '... jtlee321: ' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/578/thumb/421771.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/578/thumb/421771.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

This is a 101 second exposure. The swirls are leaves circulating in the water.

First, congrats on the blue in the Portrait landscape challenge. It is well deserved and a great shot.

Your image is remarkably similar to jtlee321's 30 second ribbon winning image shown next to it.

In both images it is the remarkable clarity that makes them great. Obviously the swirls come only as a result of the timed exposures. That is cool, especially since the centerpoint for the swirls are so far removed from where the water enters the pool.

I gotta try this sometime, especially since jtlee321's image was taken so close to where I am. The effect is amazing. Great images, both.
11/15/2006 02:09:12 PM · #4
Originally posted by dsidwell:

Hey next topic we float to, let's start a new thread. 48 pages is plenty long, and then perhaps each thread can have it's own specific topic to cover.

Whadaya think?


btw - you can change the 'number of posts per page' in your preferences - I only see 7 pages in this thread ;)
11/14/2006 06:38:41 AM · #5
Bear,

PLease be sure to let me know when the new thread is started, as I would hate to miss it.

Thanks
Rich
11/14/2006 05:58:32 AM · #6
We will have a new thread for sure. Just a matter of getting organized.

R.
11/14/2006 12:05:34 AM · #7
Hey next topic we float to, let's start a new thread. 48 pages is plenty long, and then perhaps each thread can have it's own specific topic to cover.

Whadaya think?


11/10/2006 02:54:39 PM · #8
Originally posted by Gordon:

This website is a handy location for working out moon phases, sun rise, set times and twilight times too, all compiled into a handy, printable calendar.


Thank you for posting that website!!! Very useful.
11/10/2006 06:55:42 AM · #9
Thanks for the website Gordon, I am glad that they even have decent definitions on each of their times so you can understnd them.

Rich
11/10/2006 12:22:09 AM · #10
Thanks for the info Gordon.

I really got more interested in long exposures for landscapes during my trip to Ithaca for the GTG. Here's one result of that:

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This is a 101 second exposure. The swirls are leaves circulating in the water.

Also an interesting aside: When I came back from Ithaca I tried to order a set of ND filters for my Cokin system (right now I have only GNDs), and was told they were out of stock for an "extended" period, as Cokin needed to change their "formula" due to government regulations.

Unfortunately, the budget isn't there for going with the more expensive P system brands, so I am waiting!

But twilight kind of eliminates the need, doesn't it!


11/10/2006 12:14:06 AM · #11
This website is a handy location for working out moon phases, sun rise, set times and twilight times too, all compiled into a handy, printable calendar.
11/10/2006 12:10:23 AM · #12
Originally posted by nshapiro:


In your other shot, with the cafe (also very cool), how did do a long exposure and yet prevent overexposing the diner lights? Or was the exposure measured for the lights?


That was only a 30 second exposure ( because of all of the diner lights)

Nothing special about the exposure though, just matrix pattern/ aperture priority.

ISO 50, 30s at f/19. I think I may have had a polariser over the lens too, just to lengthen the exposure time, to blur the clouds further.

That's the common thread to this 'trick' finding a night with a fullish moon and some moving, broken clouds. I was lucky in the desert scene, but after seeing that, went out to look for it deliberately in the Zilker diner shot.
11/10/2006 12:00:23 AM · #13
Originally posted by Gordon:



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Gordon, this is fantastic. Very painterly. The sky is particularly fantastic. I'm going to have to try some twighlight exposures (actually I was doing that the other night, but didn't get over 2 minutes).

In your other shot, with the cafe (also very cool), how did do a long exposure and yet prevent overexposing the diner lights? Or was the exposure measured for the lights?
11/09/2006 09:53:59 PM · #14
Originally posted by Gordon:

Originally posted by stdavidson:

which is further emphasized by the brightness of the distant hills.


Ah - maybe the cause of some of your confusion with the sharpness.

This is shot, as far as I remember, with a telephoto lens, which adds a lot of compression to the scene. But the 'mountains' are actually small (~20ft high) piles of volcanic ash (tuff) that was white/grey/ and pale yellow in this case.

So the ocotillo and tuff are actually pretty close to each other (5 or 6 yards apart), well within the DoF of the aperture that I used. (if it was telephoto or not)

Saying all this I'll go home and find out it was 2 seconds at 17mm ;) It was about a year ago that I took this. I have quite a few 'educational' shots of just the location/ layout somewhere too that would give a better sense of place than this deliberately deceptive shot.


Bah. So much for trying to remember things. This particular exposure was shot with the 17-40. I'd shot the same sort of scene the day before with a 70-200. In the shot above, the exposure was 3 minutes at f16, ISO 100.

The following exposure was the 7 minute one and the one after that 15 minutes. So much for bracketing :)

Message edited by author 2006-11-09 22:01:18.
11/09/2006 09:48:26 PM · #15
Originally posted by stdavidson:


I didn't really follow the subtle arguements before about the scalar differences between web graphics and prints. Personally, I don't see any. I can't see why that desert landscape wouldn't make a great large scale print.


That isn't what I said.

There are some fine, classic landscape photographs that only look good when large. They don't work small. The subtle details that make them work are tiny at 640x480. I linked to several discussions on this by various people that explain it more than I can rewrite here.

But the way you design a scene to print large is different to the way you compose a scene that will be seen small.

It doesn't affect every image equally, but it certainly changes how you see and work.

It is nothing to do with any technical or postprocessing differences. Its just a different way of composition and a different weighting to the size of important elements.

The one that always springs to mind is a fine Edward Weston portrait of Ansel Adams (I think I have it the right way around) Ansel is dwarfed by a huge, old tree. In the portrait he covers maybe 10% of the height of the print. 60 pixels tall on the web. 4 or 5 inches tall on a big print.

It works large, you wouldn't even think about shooting it that way as a competent composition for a portrait for the web. (people do, but that's a different thing - I'm talking about what would be effective at the different scales)

Message edited by author 2006-11-09 21:50:59.
11/09/2006 09:24:04 PM · #16
Originally posted by Gordon:

Originally posted by stdavidson:

The simplicity of this composition is really amazing.


Also this is back to my frustration at composition for small or large viewing. I can do the small, graphically simple, web friendly landscape stuff like this. I have a harder time with things that will print well, large and have details that suddenly become significant, but are invisible /ignored in a small version. I just don't think/see in that grander sense for output.

I didn't really follow the subtle arguements before about the scalar differences between web graphics and prints. Personally, I don't see any. I can't see why that desert landscape wouldn't make a great large scale print.

Perhaps I'm failing to see past my simple minded viewpoint, but when you increase the scale of an image you also increase the normal viewing distance. The net result is the print looks like the web graphic, you just view it from a greater distance. At least that is what it looks like with my large scale prints.

Flaws, of course, show up more in prints but that is just because printers have a higher DPI than web graphics.

Granted that sharpening of a larger scaled print is much different from the sharpening for the same image as a web graphic, but that is true of every image.
11/09/2006 05:04:28 PM · #17
Originally posted by stdavidson:

The simplicity of this composition is really amazing.


Also this is back to my frustration at composition for small or large viewing. I can do the small, graphically simple, web friendly landscape stuff like this. I have a harder time with things that will print well, large and have details that suddenly become significant, but are invisible /ignored in a small version. I just don't think/see in that grander sense for output.

Message edited by author 2006-11-09 17:04:52.
11/09/2006 05:01:42 PM · #18
Originally posted by stdavidson:

which is further emphasized by the brightness of the distant hills.


Ah - maybe the cause of some of your confusion with the sharpness.

This is shot, as far as I remember, with a telephoto lens, which adds a lot of compression to the scene. But the 'mountains' are actually small (~20ft high) piles of volcanic ash (tuff) that was white/grey/ and pale yellow in this case.

So the ocotillo and tuff are actually pretty close to each other (5 or 6 yards apart), well within the DoF of the aperture that I used. (if it was telephoto or not)

Saying all this I'll go home and find out it was 2 seconds at 17mm ;) It was about a year ago that I took this. I have quite a few 'educational' shots of just the location/ layout somewhere too that would give a better sense of place than this deliberately deceptive shot.

Message edited by author 2006-11-09 17:03:00.
11/09/2006 04:50:07 PM · #19
Originally posted by Gordon:

Originally posted by stdavidson:

Originally posted by Gordon:

... This is I think around a 15 minute exposure, well into nautical twilight.

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It may not be totally 15 minutes, it might be 8...

The colour is from a particularly red sunset behind me that had just finished/ was finishing. The sun had set about half an hour before. The clouds were glowing red. That's the light source, and it was mostly behind/ to the right at roughly the angle you mention. It was twilight, in winter, in the high desert (between Big Bend National Park and Big Bend Ranch State Park)

I thought about cloud reflections but wasn't sure.

The simplicity of this composition is really amazing. Framing the moon where it is and the ocotillo where it is gives it just the right amount of balance yet highlights the starkness of the surrounding landscape which is further emphasized by the brightness of the distant hills.

Nicely done.
11/09/2006 04:36:18 PM · #20
I ended up shooting this moon and floaty clouds things a few times after that as well.

Another example with a similar feel, more urban landscape/ twilight though.

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11/09/2006 04:33:42 PM · #21
Originally posted by stdavidson:

Originally posted by Gordon:

... This is I think around a 15 minute exposure, well into nautical twilight.

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This image fascinates me at many levels. I always have a difficult time getting that type of clarity in a long exposured night shot, yet the edge of the mountains are razor sharp and have great clear detail.

15 minutes is almost 4 degrees of movement, yet the moon still looks round instead of oval to me and isn't even overexposed for the brightness of the ground. You were lucky to have it obscured so nicely by the clouds. Perhaps there is an optical illusion created by a partial moon plus its movement across the sky.

I've got more fuzziness in clouds than yours in 30 second exposures. Again, you were fortunate, you got high cirrus clouds that move very slowly. At that length exposure, how come there are no star trails at the top?

Where is the light coming from? What season and time of day is it?

From the available shadows it looks to be from a direction a bit less than 90 degrees from the moon. At that angle and latitude it would seem that it could not be from the sun which would have to still be above the horizon at that angle for a rising moon.

I really like this picture and its starkness a lot. But then, I'm partial to desert photography. :)


It may not be totally 15 minutes, it might be 8. I was off scouting other stuff and bracketing a lot. I suppose it could have only been a few minutes. The moon is certainly blurred though.

I find I don't even see star trails if I shoot ISO 100 and really stop down. I've made that mistake a few times before. Trying to get star trails and shooting F22 @ ISO 100 doesn't let much light in as it moves. I normally need to shoot ISO 400 around F4 or F5.6 to get decent light recording for star trails.

The colour is from a particularly red sunset behind me that had just finished/ was finishing. The sun had set about half an hour before. The clouds were glowing red. That's the light source, and it was mostly behind/ to the right at roughly the angle you mention. It was twilight, in winter, in the high desert (between Big Bend National Park and Big Bend Ranch State Park)

Message edited by author 2006-11-09 16:34:19.
11/09/2006 04:26:54 PM · #22
Originally posted by Gordon:

... This is I think around a 15 minute exposure, well into nautical twilight.

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This image fascinates me at many levels. I always have a difficult time getting that type of clarity in a long exposured night shot, yet the edge of the mountains are razor sharp and have great clear detail.

15 minutes is almost 4 degrees of movement, yet the moon still looks round instead of oval to me and isn't even overexposed for the brightness of the ground. You were lucky to have it obscured so nicely by the clouds. Perhaps there is an optical illusion created by a partial moon plus its movement across the sky.

I've got more fuzziness in clouds than yours in 30 second exposures. Again, you were fortunate, you got high cirrus clouds that move very slowly. At that length exposure, how come there are no star trails at the top?

Where is the light coming from? What season and time of day is it?

From the available shadows it looks to be from a direction a bit less than 90 degrees from the moon. At that angle and latitude it would seem that it could not be from the sun which would have to still be above the horizon at that angle for a rising moon.

I really like this picture and its starkness a lot. But then, I'm partial to desert photography. :)
11/09/2006 12:31:56 PM · #23
Originally posted by thndrdrag:

Thank you both for such an indepth analysis, especially since were only in pre threading. One thing I wated to ask is why are you guys using the long shutter speeds at twilight and how are you keeping the color? Or is it saturated in PP from photoshop?

I love indpeth conversations like this one. Especially with people who know so much about it. Lets Keep it rolling...

Thanks for your analysis again,

Rich


In my shots, the shutter speed was around 8 to 15 minutes as the light was so low. The colours are mostly how it falls out of the camera, with a bit of saturation adjustment. Most of the colour you see is coming from really high clouds that catch the very last rays of sunlight, or the deep blue of twilight mixing in. I basically can't see that sort of colour in that low light but the camera picks it up.

Aperture was around f11 or so for depth of field, ISO around 100 for less noise. The long exposure/ low noise performance of some of the newer digital sensors is amazing (I've shot 2+ hour shots with my 1DII that don't really have much noticeable noise in them)

The main thing I was going for in the first case was the movement in the clouds as they blow through the scene. In the second shot of the mud, the light is mostly moonlight mixing with the very last hint of colour, and was again saturated a bit from the initial capture, but that colour was produced in the shot.

The big draw of digital for me in these low light situations is being able to really crank up the ISO and shoot wide open to get a 'digital Polaroid' preview on the composition. Because the light is often low I can't see to compose, but with ISO3200 at f2.8, my camera can show me the scene. I can then use that to evaluate the composition and exposure (with the histogram)

From that meter reading, I can then use reciprocity to get back to an ISO 100 reading, and then double the time up to get an appropriate aperture for the actual shot. The canon timer remote is handy then as I can dial in the multi-minute exposures for bulb mode and walk off and do something else while the exposure is going on.
11/09/2006 12:13:33 PM · #24
Originally posted by thndrdrag:

Thank you both for such an in-depth analysis, especially since were only in pre threading. One thing I wanted to ask is why are you guys using the long shutter speeds at twilight and how are you keeping the color? Or is it saturated in PP from photoshop?


My twilight shot was 15 seconds, ISO 100, f/11. I could have opened up the lens or used a higher ISO and had a shorter exposure, but I like longish exposures in twilight because they soften the image up, make it kind of ephemeral. Look closely at the water and the clouds and see the effect. And when you use REALLY long exposures, the light actually MOVES during the exposure and the shadows themselves get soft as well.

The color is mostly attained in the RAW conversion by playing with the white balance. In this particular shot it's pretty realistic, assuming you accept that the human eye has "auto WB" and cancels out the blue cast of twilight color to make the skies appear more gray than they strictly are, if you measure their color temperature. In other words, it didn't LOOK that blue because my eyes had adjusted, but I was SEEING the blue because I knew it was there.

R.
11/09/2006 11:56:04 AM · #25
Originally posted by Judi:

Originally posted by stdavidson:

Wait, wait... do digital lenses still have an aperture dial? LOL!!!


Yup....mine does!!

Yeah... I got one of them to... an Ashai Super Takumar made before the invention of digital. Can you imagine?... you don't even get the f/stop recorded in the EXIF and it doesn't even autofocus. How primitive! LOL!
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