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Star Trails in Woomelang

Last night I went out to get a star trail of the night sky over Woomelang.  The weather has been a bit crazy the last couple of days, but I had hoped that with the skies starting to clear that I might be able to get a good series of images that I could stack together to do a star trail.  While we could see the stars, we could also see that there were lots of clouds about, so I only tried for an hour.  When I saw the photos many of the stars were hidden by the clouds, so imagine my surprise when I did the stacking and saw this.

 

It seems the clouds didn’t matter. I wish I had stayed longer now.

This was only the second time I have attempted to do these.  They take so long and you really need to be somewhere where you can get a good foreground. I think I am going to have to start doing some camping, so I can take lots of and lots of these.  I can just set the camera up and take photos for a few hours, while I sleep in a tent.  That would be good.

The other issue is that you really don’t know what you are getting until you put them on the computer and see.  It is all trial and error and you spend a lot of time doing them, and then if you don’t get something right, then it is too late, you have wasted a couple of hours.

I don’t really know what I am doing, and still playing around, but I do know I want to try this some more. Woomelang and places around here are perfect for doing this, so I am going to have to keep trying when I come up.

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Last year, I went to a photography event, you know, one of the big shows at the Exhibition Centre here in Melbourne, with a friend, and Canon were selling the Canon IXUS 510 compact cameras for $100.  It was really too cheap to pass up.  We were told that they were worth over $300 and we were given a three year warranty with it.  It isn’t a bad camera, and I have had lots of fun with it, but one thing I have enjoyed using it for is the macro setting on it.

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You can get so close.  I can’t get that close with my DSLR, well not until I get a macro lens for it, so until then the phone and this camera will have to do me. I couldn’t stop taking photos with it.  It is such a small camera and so light, so it was so easy.  I would have taken photos for a long time, but then the battery died on me, so that put a stop to it.

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Another thing I had fun with was the fisheye setting.  It was hysterical seeing what I could do with it and how distorted I could make things.  I will have to play with this setting a lot more I think.

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Sometimes it is good to just take photos when it is easy.  I love my DSLR, but sometimes, taking photos has to be other things as well.  I like taking photos with all sorts of cameras. I still think, no matter what camera you use there are challenges involved. Compact cameras and cameras in phones are all about composition, and phone cameras can be hard to use because you have to have a steady hand, well I find they can be awkward.

I have a gallery of photos for you now.  Remember if you would would like to join us sometime for Social Snappers the excursions for Term 4 are now up, I have Sundays and Thursdays available.

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Photography Tips on Waterfalls

On the weekend I was asked by Amy from THE WORLD IS A BOOK… if I could write a post on how I photography tips on waterfalls. It isn’t something I have really thought about, but I guess they can be hard to do.  There are different factors to consider.

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One of the best ways of getting the “marshmallow” effect, that is what I call it, or the blurred water, is to use long exposures.  You need at least a 2 second exposure, or shutter speed. It can be a hard thing to do, and neutral density filters are often the best way to achieve them if the conditions during the day won’t let you get a shutter speed that slow.

The above image was taken in the Grampians, McKenzie Falls, though taken with film, so I had no idea what I had until I got the film back.  I could get the slow shutter speed because the falls are in a gully, so it was easier to get a slower shutter speed.  If you don’t have neutral density filters, then you should consider the time of day that you are going, avoid times when the sun will be on the waterfall.

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In the above image you can see the sun was shining down on the waterfall, and I wouldn’t be able to get that blurred effect unless I had a neutral density filter.  I also don’t like the sun directly on the waterfall, now that I know what the waterfall is like during the day, I know I should avoid that time of the day, and next time will choose early morning or late afternoon.

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One of the other problems is hot spots on the water, by that I mean where the water just turns white, solid white and often you can’t get any detail in it. I can only tell you how I do these, and the trick for me is to underexpose the image slighty, by a 1/3 or 2/3 of a stop.  I do shoot raw now, so I know that I can details back from the shadows.  I can brighten up the shadows and tone down the highlights.  I often use spot metering too and will have the spot on the waterfall so I am metering for the water.

steavenson falls, Marysville

Having a Neutral Density filter can help a lot.  I have a 9 stop one, so it cuts out lots of light, so when I can’t get slow shutter speeds normally, then the neutral density filter will allow you have to get a longer shutter speed.

A neutral density filter is a filter that is grey and depending on how dark the grey is, will block out more light, and it shouldn’t affect the colour of the image at all, so be careful of cheap ones, because they will make your images have magenta tinges. If you work in black and white it wouldn’t be a problem, so I saw go for the cheap ones.

Some of the ways to get the slowest shutter speed possible is to make sure you are on the lowest ISO possible, for most cameras that is ISO100, and then close down the aperture as much as  possible, so using f/22 or something like that.  That can often help. You also need to use a tripod, you won’t be able to do photos like these unless you have one.

I think they most of the tips I can think of.  I hope Amy find this helpful and some others as well.  I have some more photos to show you and will put them in a gallery for you.

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Yesterday, I went to Kinglake National Park with a friend. It was an interesting trip, and while I had my DSLR to use, she was using her iphone.  I have to say it didn’t diminish the trip in the slightest.  In fact, when I saw how close she could get to some things, I took out my phone and started taking some photos.  I have a Samsung Galaxy S3.

I often go out with just my phone to challenge myself and see what I can get.  It isn’t the same sort of photography, it is different and the challenges are different. I like the apps that come with the phone too, like Snapseed. There are other things to play with.  My phone will never replace my DSLR, but I like the challenge of using the phone.

I am just going to put some of my Instagram photos into a gallery for you now.  They aren’t all great, and there is always limitations, but it is good to try.

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Last weekend when I was in the city I took a photo of the Manchester Unity Building. It wasn’t an especially good photo, though, one I have taken many times before really.  I like doing some images over and over, seeing how much I have changed, or how much my editing has changed.  I like to see what I can do now, or how I would do it differently.

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The light was a little weird, but I thought there was plenty to play with here.  It is a very distinctive building here in Melbourne, but there is one thing that makes it a hard, and that is the tram lines that run in front of it.  It is one thing about Melbourne that can make photography really hard, those tram lines. They run up and down nearly every street in the city.  I could just leave them there, then again, if I want to get better at photographing buildings in Melbourne, to do good images, then I need to get good at removing them.

It is a time consuming thing, and I have to admit that once I started doing it, I wasn’t really sure I wanted to keep going, but in the end, I reallsed, I had to. The other thing I wanted to remove was the air conditioners sticking out, and close the windows.  There are other things I could have changed, but it still has to look real.

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I made the image monochrome and put in a new sky.  I didn’t like the plain sky that was there, so I decided to put it a new one.  I like it when clouds move like that.  It seems obvious that I changed the lighting and the image now looks like it was taken a bit later.

I might have to try doing a long exposure during the day one day.  I will have to work out when the light would be best.

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Yesterday was another Social Snappers Photography Excursion, and this time we went to Banyule Flats.  It was a gorgeous afternoon and the sun was beautiful.  We walked around places I haven’t walked through for a few years, and we tried to work out places to take photos. The weather really was perfect.

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The swamp put on a great show and throughout the flats you could see the early signs of spring.  There were people out on bikes everywhere and people walking. I think you could almost say that spring fever hit Melbourne, not something I’ve ever experienced before, but definitely have this year, we all want nicer weather, well nearly all of us.

There is only one more Social Snappers event this term, a trip to the city on the 21st of September, a Sunday, though this one starts later, at 6 pm.  We will be taking photos along the river, though a different end to where I normally do, and then into the city.  Should be a good evening, night photography is always good fun. Unlike other trips, this one really is for those that have a DSLR, Bridge camera or Mirrorless.  You need to be able to control everything, and you will also need a tripod.

I have already done some dates for one day next term, with where we will be going,

  • Oct 5th – Heide and Banksia Park
  • Oct 19th  – Collins Street, one end to the other
  • Nov 2nd – Fitzroy gardens
  • Nov 16 – Docklands
  • Dec 7 – City Christmas Lights.

All are on Sundays, and in the afternoon, except for the last one which will be in the evening. I am also going to be offering a Thursday as well.

The cost will be $40 a session, if you book all 5 sessions you will get a 25% discount, and it will cost $160.

Remember, they are for all levels of photography.  There is no show and tell, there is just fun had being with other people taking photos.  You would have no idea what settings my camera are on, but if you need help, then no problem, If you want to take photos with your phone, again, no problem. I don’t want people to think they have to have a certain level of skill to be able to do these excursions, just come and have fun taking photos.

I have a gallery with a few of my favourite photos from yesterdays excursion.

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Scouting Around Marysville

Yesterday my daughter took me driving to Marysville.  I had very specific ideas of what I wanted to take photos of.  I had all the plans, knew where I was going, but when I got there, things didn’t go the way I hoped.  I was heading for one particular road, it was CLOSED.  Two hour trip for nothing.

Well almost.  We went to the lolly shop there and got talking to the people who told us about Steavenson Falls.  So we went looking for it.

steavenson falls, Marysville

It was a great waterfall, but in all seriousness it was too sunny, and I knew I didn’t have much hope of getting any good images.  I did have the neutral density filter with me and used it for the image above.  Nice to now you can get a long exposure in bright sunlight.

The atmosphere was disturbed by a group of school children who came to see the falls.  They are always so loud, and there never seems to be anyone in charge of them.  They seem to never be given guidance or understanding that they are disrupting other people.  If my children behave like that, well when they were children, they were reminded that people there didn’t want to listen to them.  I saw the something other day about children these days not having manners, I believe it.

There are walks around the falls and I would like to go back another time, but pick a better time to take photos.  Maybe first thing in the morning.  Marysville is really growing again, and is recovering well after being almost totally destroyed by the Black Saturday fires.  It might be good to go and stay overnight and then go to the falls early in the morning, before people get there, and do some exploring.  Something to think about at a further date.

So while the trip didn’t work out as I had hoped, it was good to at least see it and see some of the possibilities. Marysville is a lovely and beautiful small town. It is shocking what happened to it just over 5 years ago, but it is great to see that it didn’t destroy the spirit of the town.  I have a video somewhere in a post on what it was like a couple of months after the fires.

I am going to include a gallery for you to see two other images, plus the one above at the end.

Please consider helping me, if you have enjoyed this post or learned something new, then please consider supporting me and helping me to continue helping you by making a small donation, it would be appreciated a lot.

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Car Boot Photography

Recently, I’ve been talking about this quite a bit, car boot photography.  It is something that I really enjoy doing, and something I have to thank Moose Peterson for introducing me to.  apollo-bay-sunrise-harbour-boats-1

It is an interesting idea and something that really suits the type of photography that I like to do.  So what is it?

I should also explain that in Australia the back part of the car where you put your luggage is called a boot, in other countries it is referred to as a trunk. So basically Car Boot Photography is taking photos from the boot of your car, well sort of.

When I used to go out and take photos I would take everything I needed in one bag, which meant that since I would have to carry the bag, I wouldn’t take too much stuff.  The downside to this is if you are out and realise that you could have done with a different lens, then too bad, you don’t have it with you.

I have two Tamrac camera bags, a big one, the Expedition 7x, and a smaller one, the Aero Speed Pack 75.  They are both great bags, but one is too big for carrying around all the time, the other too small.  So now I take most of my gear in the Expedition 7x, but I also take the Aero Pack.  I leave the larger bag with things that I’m not sure I will need in the boot, and take the smaller bag with camera, spare lens and any filters I might need.  If I am out taking a photo, then I know I don’t have to go far to get another lens, or something else from the bag.

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When I went to the harbour in Apollo Bay, I was using my 24-70mm and then thought it would be nice to use the 80-200mm, but it was in the other bag, so I just went back to the car got it, and then continued taking photos with it.  A couple of months ago I would have stood at the harbour and been disappointed that I hadn’t brought it with me.

I think I really like car boot photography, it also means that you take photos that aren’t too far from the car.  So driving somewhere, stopping, taking photos, than driving somewhere else.  You can’t always get access past a public road, but you can take photos of things from the road.  In Australia you can take photos from public areas of private places, as long as you are on public land.  I think most of my photography is probably this sort.

Do you do any car boot photography?

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Photographing Rainforests

Last week when I was in Apollo Bay we went to a couple of different rainforests, and, of course, took photos of them.  I have never really tried to photograph them before, and I have to admit, my first thought was, “how hard can it be”.  Well, as it turned out very hard.

As I went through all the images that I had taken I realised that the sun did ruin many images. The forest is too dark and the sun too bright and just not a great combination.  I should have had my tripod with me, and I should have done lots of different exposures, which I think if I were to go back, that is what I would do.

After going through lots of photos and trying to find one suitable to use for Monochrome Madness this week on my other blog, I found this one.

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I do really like the way the light is coming through the trees onto the fern, the light then becomes the focus, rather than taking the focus away from something else.

I would like to get better at photographing rainforests, but I think I would need to go on overcast days, or very early in the morning before the sun comes up, which is doable, I like early mornings.  There is a rainforest about an hour from where I live, so I think I will have to investigate it some more, and see what I can get.  Might even be interesting to do when it is raining, though maybe straight after it had rained.

I did do another image, that I had to crop a lot and then made it black and white as well.

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I don’t know if it is as powerful, but it really has me longing for a macro lens.  It was difficult to get with the lens I had.

I like both, but I think the first is the one I keep going back to.  What do you think?

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This past week I went to Apollo Bay with a friend to take photos.  I love trips like that, it is such a great thing to do, just to go somewhere and take lots of photos.  Apollo Bay is a gorgeous place on the South coast of Australia and somewhere where I have spent lots of time, but not for a long time.

One of the things I was really looking forward to was using my new Neutral Density Filter.  I have used other ND filters, but nothing like this, and I have to say I really wasn’t prepared for what would happen and how to use it.

crap photo with ND filterWe went out the first afternoon to some rocks nearby and I set the camera up and away I went. The first thing I noticed was that it was so hard to see through the lens, this filter is so dark that you really can’t see what you are doing, and then when I first took some photos the photos were black. Some seemed to work and some didn’t.

When I got back to the place that night and had a look through my photos, well, as you can see from the image above, I had trouble.  There was a strange line or area of dark on the sides. There were also areas of magenta, which in theory shouldn’t happen.  I thought, oh no, it is dodgy, what is happening. It was time to do some research.

So what I found out was that I need to stop light from entering the camera through the eye piece, which is why some images worked and some didn’t.

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The above image worked, I think, because there wasn’t a lot of light around, so there was strong sunlight pouring in the back, like in the first image.

Once I knew what I was doing I tried using the filter again the next morning, and it worked a whole lot better.

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It worked every time after that and I got some interesting shots.  I will have to play with it a lot more yet, but I do wish I had done some research before the first time.  I will have make sure I try that a lot more, the research I mean.

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