Turimetta Star Trails

So towards the start of February I noticed that mid week it was going to be a new moon and that the clouds (and somewhat the stars) will align into a great opportunity to try some Star Trails.. in Sydney! Not so shocking to you no doubt, but infact due to the light pollution in every big city they are practically impossible to capture without a lot of unnecessary and distracting camera noise (from the light/clouds/air particles).

I noticed on a previous trip to Turimetta Beach just north of Narrabeen in Sydney that at night there is very little light spill from the surrounding area. Added to this that it isnt the most densely populated part of Sydney I thought it was worth a shot.

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So I migrated to Adobe Lightroom three point zero..

Old Land, New View

Old Land, New View

Dont hit me! I am not a traitor to Photoshop CS5.. more just of a now selective user. As someone who does not yet have a massive photography catalogue (sitting between 5 and 10,000 photos) I had not yet thought much past naming conventions. Easy enough, I quite like my folder system of ‘YYMMDD Description’ It is something that will list.. probably well belong I pass (and lets hope thats many years and hundreds of thousands of photos later). Now a lot of my tog buddies have all told me about lightroom and how necessary it was. Me, well I actually came from using photoshop for graphics work, and naturally was used to the work flow. Adobe Bridge irked me much like Alan irks Charlie in Two and a Half Men. So where did that leave me? Using a third party image viewer, remembering file names I liked (or writing on postits) and generally a flow that got the job done but perhaps at a level of inefficiency that would cause strokes in the most relaxed of bean counters.

So to help me with this transition, enter stage left my friend Rob and his knowledge. He’s dropped over during the week and given me a run down on how the file management works, along with the basic use of presets, tools and exporting. Infact, paired with my previous knowledge and the detailed run through im now up and running (as you can see above). More to the point, I also now have a watermark (would like to know if you think it is too intrusive, I dislike but I digress… we are in a digital age).

Initial thoughts are .. wow.. I can quickly edit, have preset sizes and standard processing for images I do often (such as Iron Photography entries and Stormy Stormtrooper) and the ability to quickly check images on the fly, rate them, tag them, search them and sort them. I dont know why I didnt move over before?

A little tip for new users, I worked out what put me off.. it was a double sharpen.. one in LR and one in the export phase… it cost me 2 weeks of laborious photoshop work! Dont make the same mistake!

Might give a run through of some specifics over the coming months as I learn more, also perhaps how to make your own watermark.

Quiet week this week.. no sunrise.. bad weather.. but this gives me hours in the house with Stormy Stormtrooper.

Till next time..

Guide to Post Processing Tilt Shift Effect. Buckingham Place.. with a Shift.

Buckingham Palace Tilt Shift

Buckingham Palace Tilt Shift

So you can get a Tilt shift lens, but on my budget it all comes down to… Photoshop!

This is an effect where you can almost minaturise different situations by creating a very thing DOF (Dept of Field)

The process is quite simple, however i think it lies more within the shot of choice to create the effect.

The shot needs to be able to be blurred enough to still form the frame of the shot (i.e – you can still know what you are looking at even tho it is severely out of focus).

I currently do this Post Processing in Photoshop CS3 and CS4.

Method.

1. Load the image you want to edit into Photoshop
2. Press Q (to open Quick Mask)
3. Select the Gradient Tool (where Paint bucket is) and ensure you have the Center fading to top/bottom option selected along the top bar.
4. Now shift draw your line and you will see it create the gradient look… i find to get the best results dont try and keep too much in focus.
*TIP* The area you want in focus; draw your line downwards from roughly 50% through the area you want in focus. Draw this line a little below where you want the DOF to end. Also.. experiment with different effects.
5. Press Q again (to Exit Quick Mask) and you will see a rectangular selection of your photo.
6. Go to the Filter Menu. Filter -> Blur -> Lens Blur.
7. Ensure that Hexagon is selected, and start with level 20.
8. Apply the effect and see how it has turned out. From here, you can go back to Step 6 (or click back in History) and adjust the settings to suit your taste.
9. Once you have the desired Tilt Shift Effect you can further enchance the look by adding some Sharpness and Saturation.
10. Go to the Filter Menu. Filter -> Sharpen -> Smart Sharpen
11. Start with 20%, Radius 20.0 pixels and Remove: Gaussian Blur
12. Apply the effect and see how it has turned out. From here, you can go back and adjust the sharpen effect until you are happy.
13. Go to the Image Menu. Image -> Adjustments -> Vibrance (On CS4, earlier versions please select Saturation)
14. Bump the Saturation level up to 30 – 40. Add some Vibrance too, anywhere up to 50 and see the effect. From here, repeat or go back through the process until you have enhanced the image the way you like.
15. Crop the image to suit (If you have not cropped pre-edit). Please keep in mind the idea behind the Tilt Shift is that you would like to create the minature feel, and this means the viewer must be able to make out what the OOF (Out of Focus) area is, as a scale size for the IF (In Focus) area.

In the above image I have;
- Slightly straightened and cropped the image.
- Created a thin DOF based on the people in the photo
- Lens Blur Settings: Hexagon & Level 30
- Saturation +40
- Vibrance +75
- Smart Sharpen of 25% at 20.0 Pixels.

This image was difficult, as I wanted to retain some of the details of Buckingham Palace, otherwise it would be lost in the image. I am more happy with the OOF area at the bottom of the image.

I hope you find this small guide useful.

Till next time..

You can view some more of my Tilt Shifts here.

Star Trails.. Hills Hoist.. RIP

Hills Hoist Trails

Hills Hoist Trails

I am back from my trip up the coast.

RIP Robert “Barry” James

As a side I decided to take some photos as a momento and in memory of Barry.. so i decided to take some shots of the epically vast universe beyond our wee little planet. This is a shot I am going to reshoot at some stage in the future.. but I would i would share it now.

This is 3 x 5min exposures stacked in Photoshop using the Script > Stack Images function.

Till next time..

Layer Masking in Photoshop

Hey People,

Following up my last post Alex Wise from www.alexwisephotography.net posted up a comment regarding one of my fav shots from the morning. You can see this comment here.

IT was in regards to an article he had written about combining two images to form one, a trick which is a good way to use a shot where the sky is exposed correctly, and one where the foreground is exposed correctly. Too often it seems with landscape photography, you have odd light.. odd times and sometimes you have to compromise to what you find best.

Anyway here is the result,

Staring Down the Sun

Staring Down the Sun

This shot has the sky at captured at -1 exposure, and the foreground and +/- 0.

You can find the tutorial by alex here.

Thank you Alex, very much appreciated :)

Till next time…

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