Category Archives: Night Photography

My Top Images of 2012

My biggest fear as a photographer is being stuck in a rut.  That is photographing the same things over and over again.  Each year I do have a set of specific places I photograph.  There is the airshow at the Rhode Island National Guard and the Buttonwood Farm in Griswold, CT.  The challenge for me is first to perfect my photographic technique and second to look at the event differently.

This year, I added a few new techniques to my abilities.  I created star trails one evening from my front door and I started practicing portrait photography by setting up a rudimentary basement studio to photograph family and friends.

I also practices a lot more with off camera flash; lighting subjects in my back yard to bring out textures and colors.

Equipment wise, I added the Canon 5D Mark III to my tools.  I simply love this camera.  Moving to a full frame DSLR was also a learning experience with significant changes in how the lens perform at wider angles.  These larger image files are becoming difficult to process on my five-year old computer that was purchased without the thought of any kind of image processing.  So I see a high-end computer in my future.

This year I also exhibited for the first time in an Art Gallery and even sold a print.  I also set up camp at a “Harvest Festival” in my home town to see if any of my images would sell.  A few did but the rain all day limited the number of people attending the event.

With all that said, here are what I consider my top images of 2012…

Self Portrait. 

Inspired by Rodney Pike, I set off the create some manipulated portraits.  To to this however I needed to learn how to create portraits which sent me down the path of creating a rudimentary studio in my basement.  It was great learning how to set up the lights to create the portraits.  Syl Arena’s book: Speedliter’ s Handbook is an excellent reference to learn how to use flash from set up to capture.

Altered Ego |

Reggie – Mom’s Evil Cat

This image won Image of the Year at the Stony Brook Camera Club.  There were plenty of excellent images in this competition.  This image won on the cuteness factor.I think it brings out the true personality of mom’s cat.
Reggie | Mom's Evil Cat.

Circles of Light

Creating this image took learning a new technique, capturing star trails.  Lance Keimig’s night photography inspired me in a session he taught at the New England Camera Club Council Conference.  Pages 204 to 217 in his book “Night Photography: Finding your way in the dark” tells you all you need to know.

A circle of light |

Boston in the Morning

I love to photograph Boston.  For several years I have been photographing from the same location in East Boston.  This year I choose a new location and planned to photograph through the night staying at the Hyatt Hotel on this location.  (I was catching a plane out of Logan Airport in the morning).  Well mother nature was not good to me and that evening the wind was so strong, it kept vibrating my tripod and I was left with a series of “soft” images and two very cold hands…

The next morning, I had enough time to capture this single image of the city as the sun was just rising behind me.

Sunrise over Boston | Boston in the morning as viewed by the Hyatt Hotel in East Boston.

Butterfly with an Attitude

My daughter and I went to Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory in Deerfield, MA this year.  It was great making images with my daughter.  Afterwards, it was great seeing the images she created.  As I saw butterflies and flowers, she saw turtles, lizards and birds.  I realized afterwards I had missed so much and have a lot to learn about observation from my daughter.

Butterfly with an Attitude 1 | Photographed at Magic Wings, MA

(Looks like this butterfly has a nose ring…)

Boston Marathon

This year the Boston Marathon was one of the hottest temperature-wise.  Temp was 79 at the start of the race and topped out in the high 80’s.  My son ran this race.  It was his first marathon and he ran “unofficially”.  He made it to completion with a decent time.  I am very impressed with his determination to complete the marathon.

These photographs are early in the race where everyone are eager and full of energy.  I love the portrait of my son but am not sure of the haircut.
Boston Marathon 2012 |

Mike Runs |

Solo Heart.

These Bleeding Heart flowers, grow in my backyard.  This was the last flower of the year.  I captured this macro image in a basement setup.  This image is 24 images stacked using a technique to bring out a very deep depth of field.  The images were combined using a program called Helicon Focus.

Solo Heart | The last bleeding heart standing in the garden.  Multilayer Maco

The RI Airshow.

These are two different images than what I have created in the past.  The truck was simply luck.  I was tracking the truck as it raced across the runway when there was a Boom!  The pyrotechnics were spectacular.  Timing was great just as the parachute deployed.

The capture of the Mustang was something I have been trying to get a clean capture for years.  You need a slow shutter speed to give the feel of spinning propellers but be steady enough to bring the rest of the image in sharp.  I still see flaws and need more work perfecting this technique.

You can read more in a previous blog post.

Boom |

Never Miss | This P-51D Mustang, affectionately nick named Never Miss, was in service from 1945 to 1956.  Fortunately it never saw military action.   In 1996 she was named Never Miss by James Elkins who owned it for 13 years.

Lek Yuen Bridge

This is a foot bridge found in the new territories of Hong Kong that crosses the Shing Mun river.  This bridge provides a majestic view of the downtown area of the “New Territories”. Captured using both night photography and HDR techniques.

Lek Yuen Bridge | A foot bridge found in the new territories of Hong Kong crosses the Shing Mun river.  This bridge provides a majestic view of the downtown area.

Buttonwood Farm 2012

Every year the Buttonwood Farm in Griswold, CT grows 10 acres of sunflowers.  People come from all around to visit and photograph this field.  Donations are collected for the Make –A-Wish foundation.I needed to stand in the middle of the field to capture this image with the barn in the background.

Buttonwood Farm 2012 | Every year the Buttonwood Farm in Griswold, CT grows 10 acres of sunflowers.  People come from all around to visit and photograph this field.  Donations are collected for the Make –A-Wish foundation.

Adirondack Balloon Festival.

In what may become a new tradition, the Adirondack Balloon Festival is a great place to go in September to capture some great images.There are some risks however in that mother nature can limit the flights and the first launch was cancelled on account of winds.  The following three images provides a feel of what images can be captured.

In my Beautiful, my Beautiful Balloon. Captured in the early morning, this balloon was part of an early morning balloon launch of 100 balloons.

Up Up and Away | In my Beautiful, my Beautiful Balloon.  Captured in the early morning, this balloon was part of a 100 balloon launch at Glens Falls, NY.

Fireworks over Lake George.

Fireworks over Lake George |

Morning Glow as this balloon master fills the balloon.

Baloon Master |

Fall

Still life in my back yard.  After the rain one morning I set out to photograph the turning leaves.  This image was captured with the leaves still on the tree using off camera flash to light the subject.

Fall |

Paths to Nowhere.

The next two images is a new idea that I am developing.  They are simply paths to nowhere.  The first image is a roadway in Minnesota in a low population part of the region. The second image, is my last image of 2012 a walk along the Upper Charles Trail in Milford, MA.

I think I do need a subject in these images a payoff at the end of the trail.  Still working on this concept.

The Road Home | Route 59

A walk in the cold | Along the Upper Charles Trail Milfird during the last snow of 2012.

Martha Mary Church

Martha Mary Church at Longfellow’s Wayside Inn and Grist Mill – Sudbury, MA.  Couldn’t find the Grist Mill but found this beautiful church.

Martha Mary Church | Martha Mary Church at Longfellow's Wayside Inn and Grist Mill - Sudbury, MA.  Couldn’t find the Grist Mill but found this beautiful church.

Our Lady of Victory

Located in Tannersville, PA, this is my brother’s church.  A Roman Catholic Church with a very vibrant community.  Captured just after Christmas celebration.  The light reflected through the clerestory windows provides dramatic light across the crucifix.  I saw this light and immediately saw the symbolism of the resurrection of Jesus.  Just after this capture, the clouds hid the sun and the light show was over.

Our Lady of Victory | Love how the light luminated the cross in this image of the interior of Our Lady of Victory Church, Stroudsburg, PA.

 

How Convenient! Boston Bodegas and the Immigrant Experience

A friend of mine and fellow photographer Peter Bates is exhibiting his work at The Newton Free Library from now until July 31.  I had a chance to go to the opening reception last week.

What I liked about his exhibit is that Peter choose a project to drive his photographic passion.  He chose to photograph Boston Bodegas at twilight using HDR techniques.  His work is wonderful.  but better yet, Peter interviewed the owners and wrote a back story about each Bodega and their owner.  It is a wonderful exhibit.  

He inspires me. 

Images reprinted by permission by the maker.  Contact Peter at ptbates1@gmail.com 

Henry's Market



Composite Interview Shot Happy Superette Onwer

The Newton Free Library is at 330 Homer Street, Newton, MA 02459
Hours open:
Mon-Thr 9-9
Fri 9-6
Sat 9-5

My top images of 2010

This year was my most creative year photographically.  I photographed a vintage sailing regatta in Newport RI, photographed San Francisco, San Diego, Cincinnati, and Limerick Ireland. I photographed at the Roger Williams Botanical Garden, the Boston Marathon, the RI Air Show, a cranberry bog and my friend’s lighthouse (The Wings Neck Lighthouse) with the most amazing photographic moment being my 24 hour stay on the USS Abraham Lincoln.

Different than 2009, this year I pushed myself t to get out there and make images.  I pushed myself to go places I may not have gone and take opportunities that I may not taken to capture some interesting moments in life.  I also found myself “seeing” very differently this year.  I noticed the sun’s position in the sky more often, I noticed the little things and details I had missed in previous years.

In reviewing my images for this blog post.  It was difficult to pick my favorites, I wanted to pick only 10 but I settled for 20.  Here are the images and the back story for each.

 

 

#1 Olivia. This photo of my niece brings the most emotion to me and hence gets the #1 rating. I love her dress, the Easter egg in her hand and how it appear she is looking for more eggs during her hunt. It was a lot of fun chasing a toddler with a camera trying to get a good pose. Even though I do not see her face completely in this image, I think you see the story.

 

Olivia

 

#2 Juno. When this image is shown, I hear a lot of “oohs and ahhs” so I placed it #2. This image was captured while on a workshop with Onne van der Wal. In this workshop Onne had hired a motor boat to follow the Classic Yacht Regatta in Narragansett Bay. We were photographing two days after hurricane Edgar had come through the area and the seas were rough. I was tossed around a bit on the boat and we had to deal with the sea mist all over our lenses. When I photographed this Yacht, it was the first time I had become excited on what I was seeing in the viewfinder as I captured the image. It was the first time I knew this image was a keeper.
Juno Classic Yacht

 

#3 Glowing Orchids. This image was created using the Freeman Patternson Effect. It is a technique used in slide photography for years and something that is relatively easy to do with Photoshop. I love how it brings out a lot more of the colors in the images and provides a warm glow.
Freeman Patterson Orchids

 

#4 Greetings From… This image says “Summer” to me. When people see this image they immediately see themselves sitting in the chairs looking out on the beach. It can be anywhere there is ocean. This image was captured early morning on Myrtle Beach, SC.

 

Myrtle Beach

 

#5 Buttonwood Barn. This is a High Dynamic Range “HDR” image taken at the Buttonwood Farm in Griswold, CT. These sunflowers are part of the Sunflowers for Wishes program who makes donations from the proceeds from the sunflowers to the Make a Wish foundation. This image was made after a rain and late in the season as the flowers were drooping from the heat. The next day, they were all gone.
Buttonwood Farns, CT

 

#6 The Village of Adare, Ireland. I chose three images to show here. The building with the thatch roof is my favorite. Although I’ve been told to crop this image removing about a third of the roof, I think it is the thatch that makes the image. The thatch and the contrast of the red door is what keeps grabbing me in this image.
Adare Thatch Home

 

and the runners up were both created at the Adare Manor
Adare Manor  rose

 

#7 Wings Neck Lighthouse Stairs. My friend owns a lighthouse, and offered to allow me and a group of photographers to shoot it (with cameras). My favorite image was captured looking down the staircase with a wide angle lens. It is also captured in HDR which allows me to bring out the textures within the building. Many of the out takes were images that contained my foot in the bottom right corner.
Wings Neck Lighthouse

 

and the runners up: sunset and sunrise at the house.
Wings Neck Lighthouse Wings Neck Lighthouse

 

#8 The Boston Custom House. This image was captured from my favorite vantage point of Boston, Piers Park, East Boston. Captured just after sunset but early enough that the lights in the office building were turned on.
Boston Customs House

 

#9 WaterFire. Providence Rhode Island has a wonderful event throughout the summer called “WaterFire“. This image is also HDR and I think it provides a very interesting surrealistic view up the river in Providence just after the lighting of the bonfires.
Providence Waterfire

 

#10 USS Abraham Lincoln. Having spend 24 hours on the USS Abraham Lincoln, I captured thousands of images. None of which truly tell the story of this magnificent aircraft carrier, the people, the aircraft and the mission. I discovered the only way to tell the story is in a slide show. You can see it here.
USS Lincoln

 

#11 Winner. I shot the Boston Marathon for the first time this year. I will do it again in 2011. It was a wonderful experience. For me it wasn’t the mainstream runners who were interesting to photograph but those thousands of others trying to achieve their goals.
Boston Marathon

 

#12 Cincinnati. I never expected to see such color and beauty from this town.
Cincinnati

 

#13 Boston Silhouette. Another image from Piers Park. I guess this is a runner up to the Custom’s house but I think the effect allows this image to stand on its own as number 13.
Boston

 

#14 Caribbean Sunset. You always need something in front of a sunset to make it interesting. Here a tanker did just fine.
Sunset

 

#15 Thunderbirds. I love this image of the USAF Thunderbirds because it appears that my vantage point was above the aircraft. but I was on the ground and they were banking sharp and in tight formation!
USAF Thunderbirds

 

#16 Dingman’s Falls. Why did this image make my top of 2010? Well it is my first waterfall with the “cotton candy” water effect, and we always love the first time we’ve done something right.
Waterfall

 

If you wish to see these images in more detail or are interested in purchasing one or two follow this link

The Wings Neck Lighthouse

In November of 2010 my friend allowed me to stay over night at his lighthouse which is also a summer rental .  I came with 20 of my photographic friends who joined me until moon rise.  Afterwards I spend part of the night and early morning photographing this beautiful place.

I hope you enjoy the images I created.  You can see more of these images here .

The soundtrack is from Angel Fair.

 

Time lapse

I decided to do a bit of experimentation with time lapse photography during my recent trip to Las Vegas.  I was fortunate enough to have a room on the 32nd floor of the MGM Signature Hotel.  Since I was nice to the person who checked me in, I was able to get a great corner room facing the Vegas strip.  The room also had an open balcony which was a huge plus.

Having decided that I was going to take some night and time lapse photography, I brought the following equipment with me:

1) my Canon 40D SLR
2) my EF-S 18-55mm lens
3) my tripod
4) an intervalometer

Over the next couple of evenings, I set up my camera just before sunset and tried to capture the sunset and transition to night time.  In addition, I also tried to captures of sunrise but I found it hard to get out of bed early while in Vegas.

Here is the flow I followed:

Before sunset, I placed the camera on the tripod and placed it on the deck.

I turned off the autofocus (AF).  (I found this out the hard way where I used auto focus on the first evening  and ruined the time lapse sequence.  This is because during the transition to evening the camera’s AF had difficulties and used different focus points for each image.  This created jerky final results with several images that had to be thrown away because they were out of focus.

This lens has no image stabilization which was not an issue since the camera was on a tripod.  I also used my EF-28-135 which has IS for another sequence and had no issues with the combo of night photography and time lapse.

I shot in raw, center weighted light metering, I composed my image and in the case of this sequence, set the focal length to 33mm.

I also set the camera to aperture priority at f20.  I wanted the best depth of field and star bursts of the bright lights.  Also, I took a few test shots and adjusted the exposure bias until the histogram was not blown out, in this case I adjusted -1/3 a stop.

I forgot to set the ISO which was defaulted to auto.  I think this was a mistake and the ISO adjusted from 400 for the first images to 640 for a few then to 800 in the final images.  Next time I would lock it at 800 for the sequence.

White balance was also auto but since I shot in raw, I knew I could adjust later.

I set the intervalometer to delay until when I assumed the sun would begin settings and then to take pictures every 4 minutes.  I made sure my 8GB CF card had enough room for the images.

I went downstairs to eat dinner while the camera did the work.  It is good to leave the room so that you are not tempted to peak which may move the composition, or any settings.  LEAVE THE CAMERA ALONE.  The leap of faith of course was that no one was going to come into my room and steal the camera.  But that’s what insurance is for, isn’t it.

After a great dinner, I downloaded the images into Lightroom 2.

I then took a peak on the images but decided not to touch them until I got home to play with on my calibrated monitor.

In Lightroom, I picked 26 images in sequence removing some on the front and back of the sequence where there was minimal change image to image.  Then to my horror, I found dust on the sensor which as clearly visible across the sky.

No problem, in Lightroom where I was able to select those areas with dust and using the spot removal tool removed the dust form all 30 images in one shot.

I felt I did not need to adjust white balance nor to crop the images in any way.

Next I exported the images to a folder.  I found exporting the images full size made it almost impossible in playback.  Picking my monitor size was good for playback at home (1280×853) but for the website, I choose a smaller size (640×427).  The trick is to make sure the image names follow a sequence.  You can start at any number but the image file names must be in a sequence for the next step.

The next step was to purchase Quicktime Pro.  (At this writing it was $29.99). (As of Lightroom 4, you can now create time lapse using Lightroom.)

In Quicktime Pro there is a feature “open image sequence”. When you open the dialog first make sure you select frame rate.  Two frames per second allows for a slow show, 6 frames per second allows for a quick show.  Select the frame rate first (it is at the bottom of the dialog which is counter intuitive) then double click on the first image in the sequence. Quicktime will then assemble the time lapse sequence and bring up the Quicktime player.  I found selecting “view/loop back and forth” an interesting way to watch the sequence.

Next you have to save the sequence.  Select “save as” then save as a self-contained movie.  This way you can put it on your website or show it to your friends.

I hope you enjoy the sequence here