This video takes us behind the scenes on a recent Nightscape shoot at these lovely old farm ruins. The feature was this beautiful old chimney stack which lends itself wonderfully to light painting. Not only that, we discover some more gorgeous old farm machinery lying around.
We look at the camera settings as well as the techniques I commonly use to light paint my nightscapes. These shots are all blended from multiple exposures and utilise focus stacking to get the sharpest images possible. It's virtually impossible to get a shot like this in one single image because it takes quite a while to get around the subject to light it from the different angles. As well as that when focused on infinity to capture sharp stars it's quite possible that the foreground details will be lost.
Shots below from the photoshoot.
One of the most difficult aspects of Nightscape Photography is finding Infinity focus. Many people are excited after a night out shooting the stars only to be disappointed when they see their images on the larger computer screen and discover they are out of focus.
This video addresses some of the areas we need to look at in our quest for finding Infinity Focus when out in the field. It's hard to say that a blanket approach works for everyone because their are quite a few factors that come into play when shooting. Different cameras and lenses can make the process easy or somewhat frustrating.
My desire is to help people understand some principles and theory behind what infinity focus actually is and then give some guidance as to the methods to achieve it with any camera and lens combination. We look at the tried and true Live View Focusing method and then explore a less well understood but equally effective process of finding accurate infinity focus using a Depth of Field Chart.
The two images below were shot on the same night. The one on the left was the traditional method of utilising the live view screen of the camera to zoom in and focus on the actual stars themselves. The picture on the right is taken by first establishing the infinity focus distance using a Depth of Field Chart, and then focusing on that point which was actually on the small cubby house about 10 meters away from the camera. You will see that both images look exactly the same and the stars of both are in accurate focus.
Nikon D750 Nikon 20mm f1.8 @ f2.8 20 second exposure iso2000
Lighting is vitally important to any form of photography but when shooting at night it becomes an absolute must have skill set. This video goes through 4 different scenarios shooting different objects with various lenses and exposure techniques. I tend to apply very similar lighting principles to most of my night photography, whether it be single shots, multiple blended exposures or even time lapse sequences.
As described in the video there are many ways to light a nightscape image but I want to focus on my two main methods here today. You can see the various lights I use listed below and they all have a particular use depending on the style and setting of the particular application. For example I nearly always use my LED Lenser P7.2 for hand held light painting as it's such a user friendly and reliable torch. I have used other brands with success as well.
The main requirement for a torch is a soft edge beam and the ability to zoom or focus the beam. The ability to "contain" light spillage is vital. Even the very small light I use on the lantern in the video has this ability. Sometimes our lights can be too bright and it's handy to have a dimming option to assist with that.
The constant lights which are commonly known as "Low Level Lighting" generally have a very wide spread of light and are therefore much better suited to environmental lighting. In the examples shown in the video these include lighting the tree in the background or providing a constant light source for a timelapse video sequence.
Again, the ability to dim the light down low is very important.
Lights used in video listed below:
Today we take a look at an image taken recently with a group of photographers under the stars. As we were shooting this awesome old Austin A30 car in a paddock, a thick fog rolled in. In a matter of minutes the sky had disappeared and we all thought we'd have to go in and abandon our adventure for the night.
Before we left we decided to get the torches out and see if we could get a "Ghostbusters" themed shot shining our torches through the fog. I think it turned out ok and I hope you get something out of the process involved in taking this type of shot.
One of the things to remember when out shooting at night is that anything can happen and you have to go with it. Conditions can change in an instant and it's always good to have some creative options in the tool kit.
These torch beam shots are quite popular and I've included a few more for your viewing pleasure from the last few years below.
In this episode of How to get the Shot we look at a favourite image of mine. It was shot a couple of years ago while driving home from another location I had already spent a fair bit of time at. I remember thinking that this particular road would be a great place to get a shot of the milky way galactic core rising in the eastern sky just after midnight.
So I stopped and went through the setup as laid out in this video. I wanted to try something a little different with the lighting and I think it worked out quite well.
Below are a few shots from the night.
In this episode of How to get the shot we look at how we go about lighting this old hay shed by utilizing a combination of continuous lighting and flash. Balancing these 2 light sources can be challenging but as we demonstrate it's simply a matter of following the process for capturing a normal milky way shot and simply adding the lights to the foreground one by one.
It's always a lot harder to incorporate people into nightscapes but I reckon it's worth the extra effort. We created some awesome memories and friendships during the weekend and that's what it's all about after all.
This shot was taken during one of our Nightscape Workshops so I've included a few more below from the same weekend.
In this episode of How to get the Shot we take a trip down to the beautiful and iconic Malmsbury Railway Bridge and take a look behind the scenes explaining how to get a low angle image of the bridge, night sky, rocks and flowing water.
It's never easy working in the dark around water, especially with slippery rocks all around but if you take it slow and steady you'll get the result in the end.
In this video I'll explain my techniques and motivation behind the capture. I also demonstrate my light painting process as well as a focus stacking method for obtaining sharp focus across the whole image.
This location is certainly one of my favourites and I go there often to capture nightscapes. Some of my favourites are shown below.
How to get the shot is an exciting new video series Nightscape Images will be posting online to help night photographers understand some of the ideas and techniques necessary to get eye catching photos.
Our first episode features this lovely old trike and shows the location and concept behind the capture of the image.
I always encourage people to de-construct images with the intention of understanding how they are taken ... these videos will make that job just that little bit easier.
The above image was shot with a Nikon D750 camera fitted with a Sigma art 35mm f1.4 lens wide open at f1.4
10 second exposure with an iso 2000 Manual White Balance setting of 3450K
LED Lenser P7.2 torch used to light paint from behind.
I recently went on a night adventure to the Cairn Curran Reservoir in Central Victoria. I must be honest and admit that my reason for being there that night was to try and capture an aurora picture as there had been a good show the previous night. Unfortunately the aurora was a no show so I had to find something else to take whilst I was at this lovely location.
So what do you do when you're all dressed up with no-where to go ... you take a selfie of course. I was all by myself so I had no choice really ... well that's my story and I'm sticking to it.
Anyway, I've had a lot of questions about how I put these type of shots together so I figured I'd go back out there during the daytime and re-create the scene, demonstrating the equipment and methods used to create the final shot.
I'm always happy to chat if you have any questions or comments.
Below are the files I used to create the final image:
1 x Background image: Nikon D750 Sigma 35mm f1.4 @ f2.2 10 sec exposure iso2500 WB 3450K
2 x Foreground Images: Nikon D750 Sigma 35mm f1.4 @ f4 10 sec exposure iso1600 WB 5000K
This video explores some of my methods for scouting and shooting subjects with the Milky Way in the background. We look at how to work out where the Milky Way will be positioned at anytime of the year using simple smart phone apps.
We also take a drive into the country as I reveal some of my favourite locations for finding unique and iconic photographic subjects. You'll notice I always mark my specific locations into my GPS for ease of navigating in the darkness.
This is my tried and true method of navigating my way around the Country Victorian landscape so hopefully you can all benefit from the many hours of time I've spent perfecting and fine tuning these techniques. As I've mentioned many times before, you should never leave home to photograph the stars at night without a well thought out plan in place. There are lots of hurdles to negotiate to enjoy this form of photography, so getting off on the right foot at the beginning is vital.
The below images are some of those used in the video. I'd love to hear from you and am always happy to chat and discuss any of the techniques or specific gear mentioned in these blog posts. Thanks for following my work ... it means a lot to me.
My intent is to inspire you to look up and see the beauty of the night sky.