The Christmas break this year gave me the opportunity to play around a bit with long exposure shots. The bottle picture on the right is the best of my experiments, and is a single 20 second exposure with minimal post-processing. The set-up was easy – just an empty bottle of wine, a darkened room, a blue wooden table, a tripod, and a blue LED penlight.
The idea was that once the shutter opened, I would move the penlight torch around the bottle in what would hopefully be a spiral shape. The movement produces the bright light trail, but also leaves enough light to illuminate the base and some of the bottle – in particular the label.
The trickiest part of the setting up is to determine the focus point. You can’t use the camera’s automatic focus as there is not enough light in the scene for the auto-focus system to work. While you could just switch to manual mode, on the basic SLR I used – a Canon EOS 350D – manual focusing aides are a bit limited. Instead I switched the main room light on, used the camera’s auto-focus to pick out the bottle, and then switched the lens to manual focus mode, being careful not to disturb the lens at all. I then killed the lights to start the shoot.
Peak District exposure blend
Following on from my previous post “Something from nothing“, this image uses a different technique to blend an overexposed sky with a detailed foreground. I nearly called it “Something a bit better from a little bit more”. This post is shorter than the earlier article, and hopefully less coma-inducing as a result.
The photo was taken from Heggar Tor in the Derbyshire Peak District last April in the early evening. This time I had the benefit of my Canon EOS 350D digital SLR, and captured in RAW format, which gives much more to play with in post processing. I also used slightly different software – Photoshop Elements 5 (or possibly 6 – I forget when I upgraded). The editing process still uses layers, but this time rather than overlay them using masks, combines them using blend modes.
The resulting image won’t win any prizes, but I rather like it. It may not be too obvious from the small image here, but if you click on the above image and select the larger version (via the “All sizes” button) you should be able to see some of the fine detail of the rocks and lichen.
This image came out of nothing, and I’m not sure if it is cheating or not. With a pretty poor original photo (see below) I changed the colours, messed with the contrast, blended different parts together and airbrushed out some bits that were spoiling the shot. Which got me to thinking: at what point does photo enhancement fake things too much in an attempt make up for poor camera technique?
Here I describe how I put this image together from an original low quality shot. If nothing else it may help people who want to do similar things using their photo editor. I’ll leave it to the reader to judge whether I should have just taken a better picture to start with.