It is getting near autumn and heather is turning purple. Not only that but the weather is currently providing a good many beautiful cloud cover between which the sun can throw down it’s ray on the face of the earth. A lovely sight of course, but also one very challenging to capture in all its dynamic form in the field.
The picture with this post captures all the beauty I had seen, but it did not come in the form of a RAW file. In the field I had already used a double graduated grey filter, but still this proved not enough to temper the sun sufficiently. After doing my magic with Lightroom I got what I had seen, and liked it very much. It has all the dynamics of colour, sun-rays, sweeping clouds and contrast of a backlit landscape while retaining detail in the mid-tones.
It was a good show this morning, and I was happy to be in a spot where I knew the place well. I have shot many early morning pictures here and the place still does not fail to deliver.
Nikon D3100, ISO 200, 16-24f4 VR, f16, 1/30s, gradual grey, tripod
After about 20 years (really, no kidding) I have been able to match the ingredients to capture the perseïds! It all started when still in highschool with Paul van Hoof. We were trying all different things we could think of that would work with a camera. Photographing the lightspectrum of specific elements, different types of lighting, trying to capture sunspots on a picture, and indeed to capture meteorite storms like the perseïds. While latter may seem to be the simplest, it took me longest to achieve.
On our first try we had little luck and had a persistent cloud cover. Reverting to photographing traffic lights did get us the attention of the local police, and a article in the local paper :-) Apparently getting a clear sky at the right day in august is rare in the Netherlands as the following years proved. Obviously, you need to have the time available as well, and access to a relatively dark location (living in Eindhoven makes this a tough cookie). This year finally these fairly humble requirements all came together. Jeah!
The plan was to make a series of about an hour (or however long the batteries would last in my D700) catching as many meteorites as would be presented to me. This I wanted to do in order to show a combination of circular star-trails and the different paths of the meteorites. Browsing through the photos in Lightroom made me hopeful. A few meteorites did end up on my sensor! But alas, after merging the 180 photo’s (20s exposure each) together, the meteorites were nowhere to be seen! Hmm, that was not what I had been hoping for.
I then realised that it would actually be nice to put the focus on one of the ‘stars’ of the meteorite show. I added the photo that had captured the meteorite in full glory and made the part with the meteorite overlay the circles of star-trails. The resulting picture is not what I had seen in the night (I for one have never seen star-trails ‘live’), obviously. What it does show, however, is the making of two types of trails that represent opposites in the time spectrum. While meteorites are short-lived and unpredictable, stars are the opposite. They move slowly over the night’s sky, in a predictable manner chasing their fellow stars.
In case you had not spotted the perseïd falling from the sky, it’s on the lower left side of the north star.
Nikon D700, 16-24 VR, f4, iso 1600, 20s (per image, total 180 images).
In the previous post I used the closeup to show the sundew in detail. I thought it would equally nice to have a feeling for their size as well. For a feeling on the size of the sundew (kleine zonnedauw) size, have a look at the ‘environment’ photo. Next to the sphagnum they look quite something, but then again, sphagnum is not that large either :-) In fact it is very easy to step on those little plants, so whenever you get close to a fen, take a good look before heading to the shore, you might find yourself nearly stepping on these interesting looking plants.
Nikon D700, 16-35/4 VR
These little plants have been a long lost subject to me. Years ago, when I did not yet have a macro lens, I had been trying to get the most magnification out of a tele-lens a loupe and a duc-taped inverter ring attached to a 50mm lens. That had been fun, but the quality of the image was not all that well.
This evening I set out to use the sunset. Walking around a local fen I found the wateredge to be filled with patches of sundew (kleine zonnedauw). They were glistening in the setting sun. Although it was still a bit early (for a sunset coloured sky that is), I started to use the backlight emphasising their sticky stuff. It gave a pleasing result. It also proved good not to wait. Moments after I had got a first series of shots a big raincloud covered the sun removing much of what made the sundew so nice.
Nikon D700, Tamron 90/2.8 macro lens
After a very mild winter the temperature finally dropped in the Netherlands. And it dropped like a brick! What’s more is that just before a great part of europe became a deepfreezer, snow was falling as well. If there is ever a great combination to my liking it is a snowy landscape, clear skies with added moon and stars. Probably this is in part because it is so rare in the Netherlands. Mostly the snow turns to slush(puppy) just a day after it has fallen, although over recent years we have had some better luck in this respect.
So a night of sleep was exchanged for a night in the freezing cold. I went out at around 19:00 in the evening armed with my camerabag full and a good thermos filled to the brim with some strong tea. Even at around this time the temperature had already reached -15 and would drop in excess of -20 during the night. I have no idea how cold it really was, but there was a good deal of fog developping with a dew point around the -19, and the -17 the car’s temperature meter showed felt relatively warm.
Everything became freezing cold, and nothing really wanted to be operated in any normal way, stiff and unwilling to move. Forgetting the camera was obviously cold (which was actually obvious as my breath instanly froze to the cama body) I put my nose to it a bit too much. Two days later an interesting spot on the tip of my nose apeared right where my nose made contact with the camera. A reminder to be more careful in subzero temperatures for next time!
The moon was out in the early night, making the snowy landscape visible. Funnily enough the full moon (which in this picture it was not) of this month is apparently called ‘snow moon‘. I think the name is equally applicable to this picture as well!
The image is a composition of 20 separate images that were intended to become a time-lapse. Unfortunately the battery pack I had recently acquired cut this plan short making my D700 show a ‘Err’ message. Back at home It hough, well, lets see what combining these images can do. Normally, using a long exposure to get these star trails (10 minute equivalent in this picture) you would have to stop the lens down, and/or turn the iso to a low setting. Both would have the net effect of reducing the ability to capture weak stars. Not so with this setup! It made the star trails light up, and resulted in more detail than I could normally get into one long exposure image. It also combats long exposure effects like trigger happy pixels and noise problems. While I still have to give it a try it would also allow for ultra long exposures really getting long star trails.
Nikon D700, 16-35/4VR, 30s (each), f8, ISO 1600, ND grad filter
In the early early morning the moon went away and the stars were shining brightly. Closer and closer to the sunrise the colors became purple, pink, blue and finally the early morning orange glows. What a palette of color I had enjoyed. This image shows one of the beautiful colors with which the skies were adjourned. A great way to say goodbye to the night. If you look close enough you can actually still make out some faint star trails. The last pieces of the night in a futile attempt to resist the morning lights.
Image below: Nikon D700, 70-200/2.8 VR, 25s, f5.6, ISO 1600
The early rays of the winter sun may not be very strong, but still after spending the night in the cold every ray of the sun is a welcome sight. The image itself also displays this transition of the cold night to the early morning warmth. While the overall color is a very warm one, the nightly cold is evident, the fog combined with the fridge temperatures resulted in a nice frost complementing the layer of snow already present. What a sight, what a night!
Nikon D700, 70-200/2.8 VR, 1/8000, f5, ISO 1600
While the previous post was all about using my newly aqcuired ND500 filter eating up 9 stops, in this post I wanted to display one image from one of the timelapse series (roughly 450 images in all) illustrating the beautiful golden hues that iluminated the skies before and after sunset. I had set up the slider so that the camera could move low over the surface of the water creating a strong 3D effect for the time-lapse. While I picked this image, truth be told, each and every image of the series was a pleasure to see while back at home.
Can you image these colors just refusing to dwindle? Just gorgeous!
Nikon D700 24-70/2.8, ISO 400, f22, 1/30s, Slider
This evening I went out to try my luck at the ongoing project: getting a time-lapse of the sun setting on the heathland close to home. While I was doubtful when leaving home I cannot put it in any other way than that I hit the jackpot. While normally some color would be expected, rarely does it last for over an hour. This time was a special occasion. Really over an hour of gorgeous blues, yellows, gold and orange colored skies drowning in the purple hues marking the end of the sky parade of color.
The resulting image (the top one) is one that fits well with the longevity of the sunset. Just after finishing the time-lapse with the slider (I hope to be able to post some images of the TL, or the video itself soon) the colors were still abundant. Having recently purchased a 9 stop ND filter (Lightcraft Workshop ND500 MC HRC) I decided to try something different: max out on the exposure time. I set the camera to f11, added the filter and guessed my way to a exposure time of 11 and a half minutes (yes, minutes). The guess was a bit off. I tried to take into account the dwindling daylight but ended up missing almost one full stop. Well a bit pp in Lightroom combined with the very good image sensor on the D700 made relatively short work of this lack of light.
It is almost as if everything gets blended together that changes over time in just one shot, especially when compared to a more standard image (left image). The clouds obviously move, but the color also fade into each other with more and more blues being added towards the sun, and the water gets smoother than it actually is. All in all I like the effect very much.
Top: Nikon D700, ISO400, 16-35 VR/4, f11, 11,5 minutes, tripod, ND500 (9 stop)
Bottom: Nikon D700, ISO400, 16-35 VR/4, f11, 2s, tripod
It has been quite a while, years for sure, that I had been trying to capture a lunar eclipse (partial or whole) on film. Well, december 10th 2011 was such a day, and an interesting at that. In the Netherlands we would not see totality, that much was sure, but what would we see, if anything? Weather predictions were so so, so would I be in luck? I went to a place where enough of the horizon could be seen for the partial lunar rise. Armed with 2 camera’s and lots of gear (3 ball heads, two tripods, a slider, multiple lenses, cordless power drill, a water level, and some food) I hoped to get the lunar eclipse as a time-lapse series, hopefully adding movement as well.
The time of moonrise passed and no moon. Am I looking in the right place? I was (according to stellarium and the compass on my phone) and a little later suddenly there was the moon loosening from a thin strip of clouds. Yes! Time to start the time-lapse. Oh no! Clouds, Clear, Lets start, No! Clouds… and so on. I was beginning to lose hope when a larger clearing appeared. Having one camera set up with a wide angle lens minding his own (i.e. taking some 1800 images) the other was pointed to the moon with a tele lens. The opening was just big enough to squeeze in a 10 minute series I had hoped for. As you can see in the upper right moon, the clouds were obscuring the moon again, but it was beautiful to see a partial lunar eclipse after so much time.
Nikon D200, 70-200/2.8+1.4TC, f2.8, 1/25s, ISO400, tripod