I have been so busy in 2011 that I haven’t got myself a wall calendar yet! So I was just reading a post on Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Killer Tips about using Lightroom to create wall calendars and found an amazing preset for making 2011 calendars. Check it out!
I used the preset to create this calendar page for February and printed it to hang on my wall. You can download a copy for yourself if you like it. It’s a beautiful view of Vancouver at night.
When you click on the link there will be a short contact form and a Facebook “Like” button.
Once you submit the form you will be taken to the calendar. Click “Add to Cart” to get it. You won’t be charged – it’s free! I am offering it under the Creative Commons license, which allows you to share, print or transmit as long as it is for non-commercial use and you credit Lloyd K. Barnes Photography.
I woke up at 2:30 this morning to look for the aurora borealis, which is brighter than usual due to recent solar activity. But the city lights in Vancouver are too bright to see much happening in the night sky, so instead I took this shot. At 2:30 a.m. it’s good to see most of the office lights in the buildings are turned off to save energy. It was a beautiful night with the crescent moon rising and Venus shining brightly. There’s a haze in the air caused by the smoke from forest fires in the region. The haze was lit up by blue light over the city which was quite beautiful contrasted with the yellow city lights.
The 2010 Celebration of Light fireworks competition got underway last night with the entry from the USA team. This year USA, Mexico, Spain and China will be competing.
Fireworks, with lots of light, colours and motion, are a great subject for photographers. I’m amazed at the incredible details of the plumes of light that show up in the photos, even though the fireworks last only a few seconds.
Here are a few tips for taking some great photography photos:
Use a tripod. You need long exposures (several seconds) and holding the camera by hand will cause the images to look shaky. If you don’t have a tripod handy, look for a spot that you can place the camera.
Use a cable release – this also prevents camera shake.
Exposure: 4 seconds at f/8.0 works well (ISO 100). You can play around with the exposure – usually you’ll want a long enough shutter speed to capture the trails of light, which is about 4 to 6 seconds.
Use manual focus. You can prefocus on some bursts and then keep the same focus for the subsequent shots.
Try focus blurring – this is a little tricky but the idea is to change the focus during the exposure to give some interesting looking shots. Check out Focus Blur group on Flickr for more details.
Try setting the camera’s shutter on “bulb” and covering the lens with a black cloth (in a pinch your hand will do). When a particularly dramatic explosion happens, you can remove the cloth for a couple of seconds and then cover it and wait for the next one. After 2 or 3 bursts you can close the shutter.
I prefer to shoot in RAW format and adjust the image later using Lightroom (or any other raw image editor). Try different white balances – tungsten usually looks pretty nice!
I love night photography and Vancouver is a great place for it. My favourite time for taking night shots is during the first hour after sunset. It’s called “The Blue Hour” – when the sky is a beautiful rich blue – even when it’s overcast. But it is dark enough for the city lights, which adds more interest and drama to the shots. Buildings, traffic signals, cars, neon signs all look great at night. After about one hour, the sky turns dark and doesn’t look quite as cool.
I took this photo on Commercial Drive, which comes to life in the evening with lots of people enjoying the restaurants, coffee shops and bars or just picking up some groceries at the shops.
Some tips for night photography:
Bring a tripod! The shutter speeds will be too slow to take handheld shots. If your camera takes decent pictures at high ISO settings and has image stabilization, you might be able to get some good handheld shots with a faster shutter speed.
Use a cable release or remote if you have one. If not, use the self-timer so that you do not touch the camera during the shot giving, you sharper images.
I turn off the image stabilization with my camera (Olympus E-510). The image stabilization is unnecessary with a tripod and actually adds motion blur!
Try f/16 or smaller apertures – the lights will have more twinkle and bright lights will have starry rays!
Moving cars look very cool with long shutter speeds
Moving people will be ghostly and blurry – sometimes totally disappear. I like the motion blur effects as it adds more energy to the shot. If you want sharper focus for the people in the foreground, you can use a flash.
Try different white balance modes – tungsten and fluorescent often look really good. Daylight mode will look warm and orange which can give a cozy feel to some scenes. If you shoot in raw format you can easily play around with the white balance when you process your raw files.
Here’s a slideshow of some of the night images on “The Drive”:
Here’s another version of the photos in a music video style slideshow: Create your own video slideshow at animoto.com.