time lapse at night part 2

Time-Lapse at Night – Clouds and Meteors – Part 2

Out for the second night of trying to catch the Perseids Meteor Shower. The largest amount of visible streaks across the sky were scheduled for the early hours of Sunday morning.

Set the alarm for 12:05 AM. Wake up 11:58 PM. Check cloud cover. Looks OK. Dress. Hop in the car. Head to the pre-scouted location at Bell Rock Vista one of my favorite rock venues for photos in Sedona. (partly because it’s five minutes from my house.)

About one minute of time lapse from three cameras.

Note clouds and lightning to the south. Thankful there’s an open to the sky ‘window’ to the north.

Set up cameras. Yes, cameras plural. When photographing images for time-lapse video one thing you end up with is time. Once a camera is set, and recording do not touch, bump or adjust unless you would like to restart the sequence.

Camera one – Lumix GH5 with Leica 12mm Summilux f1.4 lens. This camera and lens combination ended up giving me the cleanest, sharpest files. I set the camera for RAW capture. Note that RAW files can chew up some real estate on your card. Make sure you have a large capacity. **

Camera two – Lumix GX85 with the Leica 15mm Summilux f1.7 lens. This set-up is a great go-to set up for night skies.

Still form time lapse captureHere’s a single still image from the shoot. Processed in Photoshop

Camera three – The Lumix FZ2500 with a built-in 25-480 Leica DC Vario-Elmarit F2.8-4.5 lens. This is best shot at the 25mm setting to keep the f2.8 aperture. As you’ll note in the video, this is the only camera lens that showed condensation toward the end of the sequence. It was a VERY moist and humid night. This camera must generate a little bit of heat as time goes on. In less humid situations I wouldn’t see this as a problem.

A great resource for deciding what exposure settings to use including various camera and lens combinations may be found here. I highly recommend checking out the rest of Ian Norman’s blog Lonely Speck. Lots of helpful info there to set you on the right path. Remember the guide gives you a starting point. You still must experiment to get the most from your experience.

Yours in Creative Photography,       Bob

Working on my settings for better quality imagery. Any lack of quality is purely operator error!

** The GH5 has two cards slots and can be set to behave in a variety of ways including to continue recording on the next card when one fills up. Very handy for lots of captures. When not gathering images for time-lapse the cards can be set to be an automatic back-up by writing to the cards simultaneously, RAW files to one card, jpegs to the other, videos to one card and stills to the other, etc. But I digress.

night time lapse

Time Lapse at Night – Clouds and Meteors

The Perseid Meteor shower was coming to a peak. I went out on the 11th of August to test out camera settings. It’s always better to practice before the ‘Big Show’ so you don’t end up spending time and not getting your images correct. I rarely do night time-lapse photography so I needed a refresher.

Good thing too!

MAJOR TIP! One thing you can never depend on is the LCD on the back of your camera when viewing images at night. Because your pupils are expanded because of the general darkness the light coming from your LCD looks nice and bright and full of detail. It’s a physics and eye thing. My images came out about two stops darker than I would have liked. That doesn’t mean I didn’t get anything. Just that the quality is not up to the snuff that I would like. A bit on the dark side. NEXT TIME IT’S BY THE NUMBERS.

Examples of time-lapse video made with Lumix GH5 and Lumix FZ2500 and Adobe PremierePro
(Click on the image above for two time_lapse segments lasting a little over a minute or so)

Three quarters of the noise in a digital file resides in the bottom, or left side, of the histogram. Conversely, three quarters of the best pixels reside on the right. When shooting night star scenes such as time-lapse video or star trails it’s better to get closer to over exposure and make your adjustments in post to keep the noise level at a minimum. You’ll see that in the images below.

Still form night tiime lapse sequence imageProcessed as a still from one of the images in the sequence. Made with Lumix FZ2500 (I underexposed this a lot! and was still able to pull a decent image)

bell courthouse red rocks in sedona photoThis image was produced with a still from the Lumix GH5 and the 12mm Leica Summilux f1.4 Lens This is a sweet piece of glass! I also underexposed this image but between the GH5 and Leica glass achieved a lot higher quality image.

I’ll share another shoot and some star/night shooting tips in an upcoming post.

Yours in creative Photography,        Bob

PS – the landscape was so bright at night because of the 1/2 moon shining down


slow motion humminbirds

Hummingbirds in Slow Motion

Testing out the slow motion in 4K Video with the Lumix GH5. Hummingbirds are a favorite of mine. They are fascinating to watch as they maneuver through the air. Here’s a short clip that tells so much about their feeding and territorial habits.

Slow Motion Hummingbirds (click on the video above to play

still image from hummingbird videoHere’s a still I grabbed from a very small section of the video frame

Video captured using the Leica 100-400mm lens

Yours in Creative Photography,       Bob

6K photo mode

6K Photo Mode post Focus – Lumix GH5

Ran into a very interesting phenomenon pointed out by my wife. She was working in the yard and saw these long strands of moving stuff. (tech talk here) Never saw anything like it. Turns out it was tens of thousands of Gnat larva on a migration.

I wanted to get a shot of the larva to help identify it. Grabbed the GH5, my Leica 45mm Macro-Elmarit f2.8 lens, and a small tripod and was having no success. Even at 6400 ISO I couldn’t get a sharp photo of the moving, writhing masses due to the macro lens and speed with which the larva was moving.

I decided to try the Post Focus Photo Mode just to see if it could help. The photo mode uses all 225 focus points in the camera and captures them in a 6K video. Each of those 225 frames can be pulled and processed into an eighteen meg-pixel photo. The intended use in the beginning was to allow the user to decide which focus point to use later. An addition to the mode is the ability to fuse all the frames together giving you just the sharpest bits. The beauty is this can be processed in camera. Focus stacking in camera! Able to give you a 50MB plus file.

gnat larva on the move photo6K Photo mode image focus stacked in camera.

Even though this was a moving mass because each focus point is being photographed separately it is stopped and in focus. When all the images are processed together I get a Depth of Field i couldn’t with a single capture it also processed the sharp areas into a still image even though there was lots of movement.

gnat migrationSingle capture of the same general subject.

The new technology can be leveraged in many ways to make it possible to create images in a different way.

I’m diggin’ it!!

Yours in Creative Photography,        Bob

international photographic competition 2017 artist

International Photographic Competition 2017 – Artist Category

You can check out the post from yesterday about my Photographic Open entries in the Professional Photographers of America IPC competition. In that post you will also see the elements that the judges use to make their determinations on scoring. In the Artist category those twelve elements are also an important part of the judging but there is additional criteria that has to do with how much work and the difficulty of it that goes into the creation of the image.

You will notice there are small reference images on the canvas. These are there to help the judges understand the starting point of the art. This helps them see the amount of work that went into the creation of the final piece.

Without further ado, here are my Artist entries.

wall of fame photo ipcWall of Fame – Artist entry. This image scored a 93 at District and unfortunately did not make it to the PPA Loan Collection. This particular image needs a champion and sees the amount of work that is required for each individual image, let alone the collection.

homage to salvador daliFull Moon Over Dali Swamp – This was a personal favorite as I created an homage to Salvadore Dali. The image started to evolve in my head while photographing at the Bosque Del Apache Wildlife Preserve. Seeing that tree in the water at the bottom of the reference images was the catalyst.

Iris artist submissionIris – Started with a ‘focus-stacked’ image of an iris and I then used Adobe Photoshop to paint the resulting image.

grand openingGrand Opening – This image was photographed and processed as above.

I have been participating in imaging competition for eighteen years and feel that it has been on of the most important parts of my education. The process gives you feedback on your work from professional image makers. This feedback and attention to detail force you to stretch and improve.

Yours in Creative Photography,      Bob

international photographic competition 2017

The International Photographic Competition (IPC) 2017

Professional Photographers of America (PPA) hold a photographic competition each year. Judges from around the country assemble in Georgia near Atlanta in the Gwinnitt Technical College in Lawrenceville. Five thousand eight hundred images were entered and reviewed over a four day period.

Images are judged against a twelve element standard as opposed to being judged against each other. Each artist is trying to achieve their best and it is an incredible event to witness. I had the privilege to be an entrant as well as a juror during the event. Fortunately, they don’t allow you to judge your own work. If they had I might have scored better, ; )>, but then I would not have learned near as much as I did. Here are the images from my Photographic Open entries and their results.

mates for life competition photoMates for Life – PPA Loan Collection Image

monolith competition photoMonolith – PPA General Collection Image

ever watchful competition photoEver watchful – PPA General Collection Image

mission san xavier competition photoMission San Xavier – Did Not Merit

The Twelve Elements

Twelve elements have been defined as necessary for the success of an art piece or image. Any image, art piece, or photograph will reveal some measure of all twelve elements, while a visually superior example will reveal obvious consideration of each one

The Twelve elements listed below.

Impact is the sense one gets upon viewing an image for the first time. Compelling images evoke laughter, sadness, anger, pride, wonder or another intense emotion. There can be impact in any of these twelve elements.

Technical excellence is the print quality of the image itself as it is presented for viewing. Retouching, manipulation, sharpness, exposure, printing, mounting, and correct color are some items that speak to the qualities of the physical print.

Creativity is the original, fresh, and external expression of the imagination of the maker by using the medium to convey an idea, message or thought.

Style is defined in a number of ways as it applies to a creative image. It might be defined by a specific genre or simply be recognizable as the characteristics of how a specific artist applies light to a subject. It can impact an image in a positive manner when the subject matter and the style are appropriate for each other, or it can have a negative effect when they are at odds.

Composition is important to the design of an image, bringing all of the visual elements together in concert to express the purpose of the image. Proper composition holds the viewer in the image and prompts the viewer to look where the creator intends. Effective composition can be pleasing or disturbing, depending on the intent of the image maker.

Presentation affects an image by giving it a finished look. The mats and borders used, either physical or digital, should support and enhance the image, not distract from it.

Color Balance supplies harmony to an image. An image in which the tones work together, effectively supporting the image, can enhance its emotional appeal. Color balance is not always harmonious and can be used to evoke diverse feelings for effect.

Center of Interest is the point or points on the image where the maker wants the viewer to stop as they view the image. There can be primary and secondary centers of interest. Occasionally there will be no specific center of interest, when the entire scene collectively serves as the center of interest.

Lighting—the use and control of light—refers to how dimension, shape and roundness are defined in an image. Whether the light applied to an image is manmade or natural, proper use of it should enhance an image.

Subject Matter should always be appropriate to the story being told in an image.

Technique is the approach used to create the image. Printing, lighting, posing, capture, presentation media, and more are part of the technique applied to an image.

Story Telling refers to the image’s ability to evoke imagination. One beautiful thing about art is that each viewer might collect his own message or read her own story in an image.

Tomorrow I’ll share my Artist entries in the competition.

Yours in Creative Photography,      Bob

density range gh5

Density Range of the Lumix GH5

Mucking about in New Orleans while in town speaking at the Professional Photographers Association of Louisiana last week. I took my relatively new ** Lumix GH5 and the Leica 12-60mm f2.8-4.0 lens out for a solid workout, keeping my camera with me at all times recording lots of different situations. It was a real eye-opener seeing what the camera was capable of recording.

Here is a great example of what got me very excited. As I was prowling the French Quarter just about dark after the sun fell below the horizon I captured this image of the Rev Zombie’s Voodoo Shop.

new orleans voodoo shop photoPhoto made from one image. No HDR involved. Detail in shadows and detail in the neon sign.

voodoo store hdr sequenceHDR sequence in the original capture. I used the middle exposure for the image processed above.

When out photographing random areas if I’m not certain that the camera can capture the entire dynamic range in a single image I’ll run a five stop bracket of the scene and then process the images in Aurora HDR software. I use Aurora because I’ve been able to achieve realistic results on a regular basis.

Just for fun I decided to forego the HDR software and see what I could pull from a single image just utilizing Adobe Camera RAW. There’s full detail in the brightest areas of the image and details in the shadows and the color is spot on for the scene.

Could I have made an even better image using the HDR software? Let’s see.

rev zombies voodoo shop photo hdrI’ll leave the decision up to to you. I seem to have been able to pull some more shadow detail. Lots of options are available in making the image tell the story we want these days. An exciting time in photography indeed.

Yours in Creative Photography,    Bob

** Smokin’ deal alert! Panasonic has bundled this camera lens combo for about $2600 saving 400 bucks from separate purchase.

tech talk on kazm

Tech Talk Radio Show – KAZM Radio

Had a chance to visit with Tom Taback (sitting in for Mike) on my monthly Tech Talk appearance at KAZM Radio station in Sedona, Arizona.

tom taback with bob coates on the radioTaback & Coates recording Tech Talk – Photo by Josh using the Lumix FZ2500

Tom and I chat about new Lumix cameras and some of the features that help get well exposed images. We also chat about advanced features, creating art and where I’ll be traveling to share info on photography and the Lumix line of cameras.

Yours in Creative Photography,      Bob

PS – In the program I refer to the Lumix FZ1000 (which is a fine camera too!) as the camera I have with me. It is actually the newer model Lumix FZ2500


working the scene part two

Working the Scene – Part Two

A couple of days ago I shared some ideas on working a scene to yield more and/or better images from a landscape photography shoot. See that Post here. The post was getting a little long, so I decided to continue sharing a few images and some more ideas.

I talked about using technology to improve upon a capture along with changing the view of the scene and not getting locked into the first composition you feel works. I did lock down my Lumix GH5 on a tripod on what I felt was the best image with lots of depth and dimension to layer passages of time into the final process. That’s why I also carry an additional camera to capture other areas and things which grab my attention.

courthouse butte with bell rock photo sedona arizonaThis image was processed in *Macphun’s Luminar Neptune used as a plug-in in Adobe Photoshop. Luminar can also be used as a stand-alone program to process your files.   As shown below and I wasn’t able to pull the details and color the way I wished.

HDR process imageThis was the original process using Aurora HDR 2017 and four of the five one-stop exposures I made of the scene. I wasn’t able to pull the details and color the way I wished. Then I moved to Luminar for the finishing. (see the top image in the post)

So a different angle and a different ‘feel’ give me more from the shoot.

Let’s keep going with a couple more examples.

red rocks of sedona photoZooming into the scene has a more intimate feel. The lighting shown here was a situation the appeared and disappeared quickly. Able to capture it with the FZ2500.

common desert beetle photoWhen I posted this little guy on Instagram, https://instagram.com/bob_coates I received a few EWWW’s, but I feel a bit of real nature’s beauty here. He’s kind of cool!

Yours in Creative Photography,        Bob

PS – * Luminar is in Beta for Windows machines. Check it out here.

work the scene

Work the Scene for Best Results

There is one error that I see repeated in photographers work that come to me for some feedback.

Know what it is?

It’s getting to a beautiful scene and not working it to see how many different ways the scene can be photographed. There are many options for creating different looks on location. Here are a few ideas for expanding the number of bonafide keepers for your photo collection.

Courthouse Butte Sedona, Arizona photoFirst image of the evening. Photographed with the Lumix FZ2500 bracketed exposures due to foreground being in shadow. Processed in Aurora HDR 2017. I like Aurora because I can pull realistic HDR images without the “HDR!!” look.

HDR exposures imageYou can see when the detail in the clouds is good that the foreground is almost totally blocked up. I usually photograph a sequence of five exposures one stop apart. When processing I’ll sometimes use all five exposures. In this case I used these three.

• Number One on my list is – Wait for different light.

Can’t tell you how many times a beautiful subject or scene is presented but the light was lacking or lack-luster. It’s all about the light people! I have witnessed some pretty terrible photographs of Cathedral Rock in Sedona, which is one of the top ten photographed places in Arizona if not the country. And, I’ve seen an exquisite photograph of a pepper. The difference is the light. When you get the chance spend more time on location waiting for the sun to change or do your best to return when weather,sunrise or sunset can add more interest to the beautful vista.

I know I said one error but as I was writing this post a couple more jumped into my head.

courthouse butte image bob coates photographyDifferent view of the same scene a little while later. Made with the Lumix GH5 and the 12-60mm f2.8-4.0 lens

• Number Two – Change your view

There are a veritable plethora of possibilites to accomplish this. Walk closer. Walk farther. Zoom in. Zoom out. Change lenses. Get your camera higher, or lower. Of course, this is in addition to working the light if at all possible.

courthouse butte photo bob coates photographyHere was another exposure made at a slightly later time when the clouds parted. I made all the exposures from a locked down tripod in order to be able to mix and match different moments in time.

images of different exposures at courthouse butteDiffernt exposures allow for different processing options to give make it possible to show a photograph of the scene as you saw it.

• Number Three – Utilize available technology

When capturing images think about the scene. (we’re back to the light here) Is the enough dynamic range in your camera chip to capture all the detail you need in highlights AND shadows? If not, then please grab a few extra frames and process the images in HDR. I’m not necessarily telling you to go for the oveerprocessed, highly garish HDR techniques we have seen over the years. But with the correct technique you will have much better detail in the highlights and the shadows if you process properly without going over the top.

Yours in Creative Photography,       Bob

PS – See more of this shoot in Part Two of Working the Scene