Light is the one thing every photograph has in common. In fact without it you have nothing. So as photographers we are always on a mission to control or use the light, sometimes by adding in additional light and other times by reducing it. In this photo I wanted to get a slow shutter speed and so that meant reducing the amount of light entering the camera. That’s where a Neutral Density (ND) filter comes in really handy. Basically it’s like putting very dark sunglasses in front of the lens. (In a pinch you could actually try that, too). The one I used here is a 9-stop ND; it’s really dark! In face it is so dark in the viewfinder you can’t really see anything and focusing is just not possible.
Getting around this problem is easy enough; place you camera on a tripod, set the focus to manual and then focus about 1/3 of the way into the scene. With the focus set it is now just a matter of screwing the ND filter onto your lens. You can use a calculator to figure-out the exposure or just count backwards from where it exposed without the ND on. That is easier than it sounds! If it was exposed nicely at 1/60th at f22 then dial-back the time 9 stops from there. If that sounds all too confusing then just slow it down and try a few test shots until you get it right. Given that you’re not using film, the trial and error approach is not a bad one!
Some things to keep in mind; use the best quality ND you can afford and you may see some vignette at the corner of the image. I usually either crop the photo or use Photoshop/Lightroom to remove it.
One more thing to note is that these slow motion water shots look best when the water is hitting a solid object (like the rocks in this photo).
In summary then:
-use the lowest ISO your camera has
- focus on manual (without ND on)
- use a good quality ND
- Use a small aperture (f13 – f22) if you want more in focus
This time of year in the Southern hemisphere it can be pretty hard to find any flowers in bloom. We do have a few winter flowers here but not enough to satisfy a photographer hungry for nature! So, winter is an ideal time to visit indoor locations such as the Begonia House at the Wellington Botanical Gardens. Usually I take my 100mm macro lens on these trips but this time I stuck with the versatile 24-105mm F4. There was enough light in the glasshouse to capture the shot handheld; the macro lens needs a tripod to get a nice sharp photo. In Photoshop there was really nothing to do – just a slight crop and white balance.
Head inside if you’re having trouble finding any colour in nature!
Iâm trying different points of view (POV) these days; getting low on close. Here I am with my tripod and a wide-angled lens attached to my Canon 7D. I hope that this creates some drama and intensity. Shutter speed is important here, too. In the sense that I wanted the shutter slow enough to have enough motion blur on the waves to convey movement. The combination of setting sun and sea give the whole scene a nice colour feel. I took quite a few shots on this day, some of them processed as black and white.
I was thinking back over the last year or so and I noticed that most of my top photos (in terms of views) have all been from ârandomâ shots. I mean those “spur of the moment” ones, where you have the camera on you and you see something interesting. I do go on a lot of planned outings and these are worthwhile too. But there is something to ne said for keeping your eyes open, ready to pounce.
These days most cell phones have great cameras as well and these can be all you need. The key I think is to be intentional and keep on looking. So, here I am a passenger on the way to the city and of course I’ve got my DSLR with me! The harbour looked peaceful after the storm. I only had a few seconds to get thisâ¦. My shutter speed wasnât really fast enough; there was a little motion blur in the capture.
I learnt this technique a long time ago â take a flaw and make it a feature. In this image that meant increase the glow or blur and make it a bit more mysteriousâ¦. Did it work? I think so!
Even if you know about rugby you may not know why the score or touchdown is called a “try”. Interestingly enough it is because way back when rugby began there were no points for the touchdown. It just meant you could “try” for the kick over the goal. (You still get that kick after the try and its called the “conversion”).
On the other hand isn’t strange that in American Football the “touchdown” is when you take the ball over the line; you don’t need to actually press it down!
This shot is from the Rugby World Cup 2011 game between France and Fiji, played in Wellington, New Zealand. France were always going to win this match given their world ranking (#4 at the time this game was played) but Fiji were expected to put-up a good fight. The Fijians are known for their physical presence (I’ve never met a short Fijian!) and their ability to create exciting attacks. On this night however they were totally out-played by the French. The score line of 66-0 was probably a good indication of the result.
The French player here is just about to go over the line for a try; one of many that night!
By the way you can also find this photo here on the Wikipedia page that relates to this match.
I tend to use panoramic photos when shooting landscapes. In this picture I needed to capture the size of the field and the awesome sky towering above. So, I took a series of portrait shots with the 24-105mm attached to my Canon 7D. Really a pretty focal range on that lens for this shot; I think was at 40mm taking these. Then I used Photoshop CS5 to stitch the images together, a bit of contrast adjustment with help from Color Efex Pro and we’re all done!
This photo was taken just before kick-off for the South Africa v Fiji game as part of the Rugby World Cup, 2011. South Africa is in the top three rugby playing nations in the word so they made short work of the valiant Fijians. These games as usually played at night so it was a rare treat to have an early game that started as the sun set.