Long exposure help

dkappdkapp Custon Title :)Registered Users Posts: 985 Major grins
edited July 18, 2004 in Technique
Tonight was the first time I tried long exposures. I went out to shoot some sunsets, and stuck around until the sun went down. I've attached a picture of the Golden Gate Bridge. It was a 30 second exposure. There are some things I like about this shot, like the rocks & water. I'm not happy with the bridge and background. This is one of about 30 that I took. Most of the others were just tests while I tried to get the shutter speed correct. I feel this is proably my best shot from the outing...

What could I try different? All I did was curves & shadow highlight work in PS CS. I'm looking to improve my technique because I have some great ideas I'd like to try. Any help would be appreciated. Give me the good, the bad and the ugly. I have thick skin.

6256446-L.jpg

Thanks in advance,
Dave

Comments

  • Shay StephensShay Stephens Artist in Residence Registered Users Posts: 3,165 Major grins
    edited July 18, 2004
    dkapp wrote:
    Tonight was the first time I tried long exposures. I went out to shoot some sunsets, and stuck around until the sun went down. I've attached a picture of the Golden Gate Bridge. It was a 30 second exposure. There are some things I like about this shot, like the rocks & water. I'm not happy with the bridge and background. This is one of about 30 that I took. Most of the others were just tests while I tried to get the shutter speed correct. I feel this is proably my best shot from the outing...

    What could I try different? All I did was curves & shadow highlight work in PS CS. I'm looking to improve my technique because I have some great ideas I'd like to try. Any help would be appreciated. Give me the good, the bad and the ugly. I have thick skin.



    Thanks in advance,
    Dave
    What don't you like about the bridge and background?

    Personally, I don't think you need to brighten the hills in the background. Keep them darker. In fact, try shooting the same photo again, only this time shoot it one stop darker. I have simulated it here:
    6256446-L.jpg
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  • dkappdkapp Custon Title :) Registered Users Posts: 985 Major grins
    edited July 18, 2004
    Thanks for the tip. I shot this in RAW, so I'll go back & see if I can take it back a stop. I didn't like the bridge & background because they were too light. The bridge looked fake and seemed to degrade the quality of the picture.

    Dave
  • dkappdkapp Custon Title :) Registered Users Posts: 985 Major grins
    edited July 18, 2004
    What don't you like about the bridge and background?

    Personally, I don't think you need to brighten the hills in the background. Keep them darker. In fact, try shooting the same photo again, only this time shoot it one stop darker. I have simulated it here:

    I think the problem was the shadows / highlight tool messing with the bridge and background. I've gone back to the same photo & used a layer mask (thanks for the tutorial Andy) to keep the bridge & background natural while I brought out the details in the rocks in the foreground. Here is my latest attempt. I think its going in the right direction.

    6268230-L-1.jpg

    Thanks for your help!
    Dave
  • wxwaxwxwax Immoderator Registered Users Posts: 15,471 Major grins
    edited July 18, 2004
    Dave, I've messed around quite a bit with twilight shooting. I cheat.

    I pick the shot with the best light on my subject, and the shot with the best sky color, and I combine them in Layers. If there are other parts of the picture that matter, I'll also find an exposure that puts them in the best light, and Layer it in.

    I say 'find an exposure' because I'm not skilled enough to know what's working when I'm shooting. I bracket like a fool, up and down the range, every few minutes as the sky changes. Then I sort through the shots and look for the best combinations. The tool I use to see what I'm shooting is the Histogram.

    One good thing about shooting in RAW is that you can make multiple 'exposures' of a single shot, in post.

    My favorite sky color is the rich, dark, almost black blue that you get after the sun has dropped beneath the horizon.
    Sid.
    Catapultam habeo. Nisi pecuniam omnem mihi dabis, ad caput tuum saxum immane mittam
    http://www.mcneel.com/users/jb/foghorn/ill_shut_up.au
  • spinkspink Big grins Registered Users Posts: 22 Big grins
    edited July 18, 2004
    What don't you like about the bridge and background?

    Personally, I don't think you need to brighten the hills in the background. Keep them darker. In fact, try shooting the same photo again, only this time shoot it one stop darker. I have simulated it here:
    6256446-L.jpg
    Agreed. The original picture posted was too bright.
  • dkappdkapp Custon Title :) Registered Users Posts: 985 Major grins
    edited July 18, 2004
    wxwax wrote:
    Dave, I've messed around quite a bit with twilight shooting. I cheat.

    I pick the shot with the best light on my subject, and the shot with the best sky color, and I combine them in Layers. If there are other parts of the picture that matter, I'll also find an exposure that puts them in the best light, and Layer it in.

    I say 'find an exposure' because I'm not skilled enough to know what's working when I'm shooting. I bracket like a fool, up and down the range, every few minutes as the sky changes. Then I sort through the shots and look for the best combinations. The tool I use to see what I'm shooting is the Histogram.

    One good thing about shooting in RAW is that you can make multiple 'exposures' of a single shot, in post.

    My favorite sky color is the rich, dark, almost black blue that you get after the sun has dropped beneath the horizon.

    Bracketing is a great idea. When I was shooting last night, I tried to get the exposure right by using the histogram, but I just meetered for the entire shot. Next time I will meter for the sky/ water/ bridge..etc seperately. I'm not too skilled with PS, so this could be a great exercise for me.

    Thanks for the ideas.

    Dave
  • wxwaxwxwax Immoderator Registered Users Posts: 15,471 Major grins
    edited July 18, 2004
    dkapp wrote:
    I'm not too skilled with PS, so this could be a great exercise for me.
    Dave

    It's not hard at all, once you know the steps. Pick an evening, we could walk through it together in steps. Lotsa links here, too.

    The only tricky bit isn't using the software, it's being precise with the brush to "paint in" the part of the image with the different light. It can be time-consuming. The final results are very rewarding.
    Sid.
    Catapultam habeo. Nisi pecuniam omnem mihi dabis, ad caput tuum saxum immane mittam
    http://www.mcneel.com/users/jb/foghorn/ill_shut_up.au
  • dkappdkapp Custon Title :) Registered Users Posts: 985 Major grins
    edited July 18, 2004
    wxwax wrote:
    It's not hard at all, once you know the steps. Pick an evening, we could walk through it together in steps. Lotsa links here, too.

    The only tricky bit isn't using the software, it's being precise with the brush to "paint in" the part of the image with the different light. It can be time-consuming. The final results are very rewarding.

    I've been searching the net looking for some good tutorials. I started at Luminous Landscape because I can usually find good info there. The one piece of info that I came across worth mentioning is the "Rule of 600." It is used to determine maximum exposure time w/ a given focal length to prevent stars from streaking in the sky. Here is an example w/ the lens I was using. I had a Nikon 18-70mm lens set to 18mm.

    18x1.5(1.5 focal length multiplier on Nikon DSLR)= 27mm
    600/27 = 22.2 seconds exposure time.

    In my photo, I was not concerned w/ star trials, but it is good info for the future.

    If you have any links handy, could you please post them? Maybe in the future we can put together a thread to use as nighttime photography tutorial. Here is the link to the Luminous Landscape article.
    http://www.luminous-landscape.com/tutorials/d60-night.shtml

    Dave
  • wxwaxwxwax Immoderator Registered Users Posts: 15,471 Major grins
    edited July 18, 2004
    Dave, my starting point was the Luminous Landscape piece on Digital Blending which has been linked here before. I just took the same info and applied to it twilight shooting. And where he shoots two frames, I shoot two hundred. And mine are spread over about half an hour or more, as the sun slowly recedes and the light on my subject changes, and then later the light in the sky changes.

    I try to pair up the most gorgeous golden light on my subject, with a dark blue sky. Then layer them. The Luminous Landscape layering directions have one mistake: they say Layer/New Adjustment Layer/Hide All. It should be Reveal All.
    Sid.
    Catapultam habeo. Nisi pecuniam omnem mihi dabis, ad caput tuum saxum immane mittam
    http://www.mcneel.com/users/jb/foghorn/ill_shut_up.au
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