It doesn’t get any better than this….Sydney Opera House

Hi everyone,

It’s been quite a while since I’ve written a post. Life has been so, so busy. My husband and I have had a sea change! We’ve moved out of Sydney down to the Illawarra and are living right by the sea!! It is quite simply, the best thing we’ve ever done 🙂

On Tuesday I was up in Sydney conducting a night photography tour and took this black and white photo of the Opera House and city from Kirribilli on the northern side of the Harbour.

I stood and stared at this scene before I took the shot. The Opera House gets me every time – especially at night – it is just such an architectural masterpiece:)

For those of you who are photographers – this shot was taken on my new Canon 5d Mark IV and the 24-105mm L series lens. The settings were ISO 400, F18, 25 sec.

What do you think of the shot in black and white? I’d love to hear your comments below:)

Click on the photo for a larger version.

Until next time,

Chris 🙂

 

Early morning photography at Mahon Pool, Maroubra

I love getting out and about with my camera and particularly enjoy starting the day early, photographing a sunrise 🙂

Last Saturday we discovered a brilliant spot for photography – Mahon Pool, Maroubra Beach Sydney.

The first part of the morning I used my ND {neutral density} filters to create slow shutter speeds and movement blur in my photos….I love the effect the slow shutter has on the water – each photo is so individual…the swirling water looks like mist and gives the image an ethereal look.

So, what is a neutral density filter and what does it do?

As you all know {well I’m hoping you do} to SLOW DOWN YOUR SHUTTER SPEED you need low light….
So at dawn, dusk or night time, it’s easy….
But during the day {when the sun is shining :)} even if you set your camera to a small aperture {like f20} and your ISO way down to 100….sometimes the shutter speed is STILL NOT SLOW ENOUGH to record movement and blur within a photograph.

So, in comes the neutral density filter {ND FILTER.}

There are several different types of ND filter on the market. Circular threaded screw-on ND filters are the simplest to use, but have the disadvantage that stacking them together soon leads to vignetting issues.

A more recent innovation are variable Neutral Density filters, which screw onto the lens but have an adjustable outer ring, which you rotate to adjust the density depending on the light conditions and the effect you want.

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Variable Neutral Density Filter

Slot-in filters require you to first attach a filter holder to your lens via a ring adapter {the same size as the diameter of your lens – in my case – 77mm}, then insert square or oblong filters into the holder – the chief advantage is that, once set up, it’s easy to swap filters, stack them or add different kinds of filters to the mix. Slot-in filters are usually the most expensive option when purchasing ND filters.

Here’s my Lee slot-in filter set up below.

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Lee adaptor and holder attached to the front of the lens

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Lee .9 ND filter inserted into holder.

It’s SUPER easy to use the slot-in ND filter system.

I have 4 filters –

.3  – reduces the s/speed by 1 stop.

.6 – reduces the s/speed by stops.

.9 – reduces the s/speed by 3 stops.

‘The little Stopper’ – reduces the s/speed by 6 stops.

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So, how do they work?

Lets say you meter a scene at f22 and the s/speed is 1/250 sec in Manual mode.

Now, insert the .3  {1 stop} ND filter into the holder on the front of the lens. Roll the shutter speed dial till the exposure level indicator meets in the middle. The s/speed will now be 1/125 sec – 1 stop slower than 1/250 sec.

Remove the .3 filter from the holder.

Now insert the .6 {2 stop} ND filter. Roll the shutter speed dial till the exposure level indicator meets in the middle. The s/speed will now be 1/60 sec – 2 stops slower than 1/250 sec.

Remove the .6 filter from the holder.

Now insert the .9 {3 stop} ND filter. Roll the shutter speed dial till the exposure level indicator meets in the middle. The s/speed will now be 1/30 sec – 3 stops slower than 1/250 sec.

Remove the .9 filter from the holder.

See how it works? You can also stack the filters in front of one another in the holder – eg
I could insert the .3, .6 & .9 filters into the holder and reduce the shutter speed by 6 stops -{1 +2+3 = 6 stops.}

Another really cool thing about ND filters is that they enhance the colours and will create more contrast in your image.

So, experiment with ND filters and different shutter speeds to achieve some really cool effects in your images:)

Click on each pic to view as large image…..

The second half of our shoot I experimented with FAST and SUPER FAST shutter speeds. Using the Canon 70-200mm zoom lens in AV mode, I raised the ISO to 640 and varied the aperture from f5 to f7.1. The shutter speeds ranged from 1/800 second up to 1/5000 sec. Don’t you just love the frozen action of the waves?

Click on each pic to view as large image…..

If you have any questions about ND filters, please email me at bernasconiphotography@gmail.com

Chris 🙂

P.S If you would like to connect with me on Instagram – click here, Facebook – click here & Twitter – click here.

 

 

 

 

 

How to create an AWESOME panorama using PHOTOMERGE in photoshop

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I have travelled to some amazing places.

I have recently had some time to go through some images from my trip to Italy….to be more specific….Lake Como…

Beautiful. Stunning. Inspiring…

I took a series of images from the ferry on the way to Gravedona – a beautiful town on the northern shores of Lake Como.

How do you shoot for a stitched image?

Use a tripod. In this case I was in holiday mode – so no tripod 🙂

Always shoot in PORTRAIT orientation – This will give you a taller panorama and allow more room for cropping.

My BEST tip? Take a pic of your hand BEFORE AND AFTER your series of images. This makes it so much easier when editing in Lightroom, I clearly know which images I want to use for my stitched panorama.

Shooting from the left, overlap your images by approximately 40% – {this didn’t happen in this case, the ferry was moving too fast!}

Keep your APERTURE constant for the entire series of images.  This will ensure the DEPTH OF FIELD is consistent in the final panorama. Also make sure your FOCAL LENGTH is the same for each image – {All the images were shot at f13 at 105mm focal length.}

I like to shoot a stitch in MANUALmode. Take a few test shots to determine correct exposure. Here are my 5 images.

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How did I edit this image?

I loaded all the raw images into LIGHTROOM.

HIGHLIGHT all the images for your panorama in Lightroom – click on the first image, hold down the SHIFT key, and click on the last image.

Click ‘CONTROL E’ which will open all the images up in photoshop {I’m using CS5.}

In Photoshop, click on ‘FILE’ then ‘AUTOMATE’ then ‘PHOTOMERGE.’ 

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This screen will open up.

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Click on ‘ADD OPEN FILES.’

‘AUTO‘ is the default button selected on the left. I use this function most of the time. You can experiment with the others for optimum results. Click ‘OKAY’ and watch your panorama stitch together before your eyes.

You’ll end up seeing a version of your panorama that looks something like this.

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When Photomerge finishes,, you will have a single panorama with each image on a separate layer.

Zoom into 100% and check the seams between the images. If everything looks OK, FLATTEN the image by going into the LAYERS menu and clicking ‘FLATTEN IMAGE.’

Crop a rectangular composition of your stitched panorama. This is where shooting ‘VERTICALLY’ really makes a difference. You have a lot more room to ‘CROP.’

And there you have it, a FANTASTIC large panorama of your series of images.

Make any adjustments you like to your final image. I always add some contrast and some vibrance.

In this case I also had to muck around with the ‘lake’…and the different tones.

Please be aware these files are usually HUGE…and may take up a bit more storage room than usual.

So, next time you’re out shooting and can’t fit everything in the frame, consider shooting a SERIES of images to create an awesome panorama 🙂

happy clicking

Chris

 

How to take great photographs of the moon….

This shot was taken on 21/7/13 in Sydney, Australia. ISO 100 Aperture F11, S/speed 1/125
This shot was taken on 21/7/13 in Sydney, Australia at 6.15pm.
ISO 100 Aperture F11, S/speed 1/125

The moon is such an easy object to photograph, but so many people find it really difficult and usually end up with a moon shot that looks like a ‘white blob’:)

In this tutorial, I’m gonna show you just how simple it is.

1. The first thing you need is a sturdy tripod. This will ensure that your camera keeps still and the image is SUPER sharp.

2. A DSLR with a zoom lens {minimum 200mm} or a point and shoot camera with an optical zoom.

3. A remote shutter release, or, if you don’t have one, you can use the camera’s self timer.

4. Put your camera onto the tripod and turn the image stabiliser OFF {if your lens has one.} The stabiliser can actually cause your camera to move when it’s on the tripod.

5. Set your ISO to 100. If you have a point and shoot camera, make sure the ‘Auto ISO’ is off.

6. Put your camera into M {manual mode.}

7. Switch the focus mode to ‘M’ {manual – it’s on the side of the lens.}

8. Set your metering mode to ‘spot’ – this means that your camera will ONLY take a reading off the moon and not the whole of the scene {including the surrounding dark sky.}

9. Now this is the bit that surprises most photographers; set the aperture to F11 and the shutter speed to 1/125 sec.…The moon is actually moving MUCH faster than you think 🙂
Remember, this is just a starting point for the aperture, shutter speed and ISO – adjustments can be made if necessary.

10. Focus on infinity, {by setting your lens to the centre of the infinity sign on the lens} if you are using your viewfinder.
If have the ‘live view’ function on your camera, it’s even easier to focus. Switch live view on, move the focus box so it’s over the moon, zoom in using the ‘magnifying tool’ on the rear of the camera and manually focus your image using the focusing ring on your lens.

11. Attach your remote shutter release to your camera and you’re good to go! Take a shot and examine the results carefully on the LCD screen for sharpness. The slightest bit of movement will blur the image.

If the moon is too BRIGHT, choose a smaller aperture {eg F14 or F16.} If the moon is too DARK, choose a larger aperture {eg F8} OR increase the ISO {I usually don’t go any higher than ISO 800.}

A couple of points here – I don’t change my shutter speed at all….I leave it at 1/125 sec. I adjust either the aperture or ISO to add or subtract light.

I don’t open up my aperture any more than F8…so I don’t use F5.6 or F4 etc – as I want a large depth of field to capture all the details of the moon.

Take lots of shots using different settings to get the result you want 🙂

Photographing the moon is lots of fun, so take lots of shots, experiment with different settings and most importantly practise, practise, practise:)

My images were cropped to enlarge the size of the moon in the frame.

Happy clicking,

Chris 🙂

 

If you have any questions or comments, I’d love to hear them 🙂

 

This shot was taken a few months back on a cloudy night. ISO 100 Aperture F13 s/speed 1/125
This shot was taken a few months back on a cloudy night.
ISO 100 Aperture F13 s/speed 1/125

How to resize your images quickly and easily using picmonkey.com

Are you frustrated with trying to send large photographs?

Emailing them to friends is a nightmare. You have to send one or two images at a time and it takes forever 🙂

Check out my screencast below. This is a quick and easy method using picmonkey.com

Please leave your comments or questions below.

Shackleton – the documentary of one of the greatest journeys of all time

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Sir Ernest Shackleton

OH MY GOD…

I’ve just finished watching Shackleton’s Antarctic Adventure – a documentary film of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s now-legendary 1914-1916 British Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition. He wanted to be the first man to cross the Antarctic continent on foot.

He never fulfilled this dream. What he did do though was embed his name forever into the history books.

Through sheer perseverance and a determination that made him unique, he and his crew experienced conditions that any man would shy away from.

He watched his beloved ship ‘Endurance’ be crushed by ice, camped on ice floes under horrific conditions, spent many days at sea in life boats with his crew, and perhaps the most incredible part of this journey, he and 5 other men rowed 800 miles from Elephant Island to South Georgia.

This is the part I can’t believe. They rowed in the lifeboat, the James Caird, across the worlds most dangerous ocean, experienced gale force winds, treacherous seas and freezing, wet conditions.

All with the hope and belief that he could accomplish this formidable task.

They eventually made it to South Georgia. They unfortunately landed on the opposite side to the whaling station, so Shackleton and two others walked the 30 miles across South Georgia, with leather boots, 2 compasses, an axe and an old rope. They walked non-stop for 36 hours over dangerous crevasses, formidable peaks and complicated land. They eventually reached their destination – an unbelievable feat.

This is a story of courage, perseverance, hope and the human spirit. This heroic adventurer had eternal optimism, unequalled leadership qualities and believed anything could be accomplished. This caring gentle man nurtured his crew like they were his own family.

This really is one of the greatest journeys of all time….watch this film (click on the link below) and please let me know what you think of the film in the comments below.

Shackleton’s Antarctic Adventure

Frank Hurley – how tenacious and valiant you were….

I spent part of this weekend ‘gallery minding’ my photography exhibition, FROZEN LENSES – a photographic journey to the Antarctic.

I spoke to lots of people, showed them maps, talked about photos and described myself as a ‘passionate photographer.’

Later on in the afternoon I had the chance to do some reading – a book I’ve recently acquired called ‘The Heart of the Great Alone  – Scott, Shackleton and Antarctic Photography’ by David Hempleman-Adams, Sophie Gordon and Emma Stuart.

This book is beautiful. The photographs are stunning. As I was reading I came across a couple of pages dedicated to Frank Hurley – the Australian photographer who (amongst other journeys) accompanied Shackleton on the Imperial Transantarctic

Expedition 1914-1917. Hurley was hired to accompany Shackleton and his men who were attempting to cross the Antarctic continent on foot (1800 miles.) His job was to document the journey and secure photographic evidence of the trip.

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Frank Hurley, photographer unknown.

In Buenos Aires on the 12th October 1914 Hurley set sail aboard the Endurance with Shackleton and his crew. He  commenced photographing them and working life aboard the ship.

So far, this is like any other photographer. Being passionate about the job at hand, I can totally relate to this.

What happens next though in this story is ABOVE AND BEYOND.

The ‘Endurance’, on its maiden voyage was built to crush through pack ice. After five months the expedition reached the freezing Weddell Sea and were within sight of land when the Endurance became trapped in the freezing ice. Nine months later, the ship was finally crushed, leaving the crew stranded on drifting ice floes in the unforgiving Antarctic.

Hurley photographed in adverse conditions that were unimaginable. With temperatures as low as -25 degrees Celcius, he continued his photography until the ship was finally destroyed by the ice. His darkroom was the ship’s walk in refridgerator.

Cold and then more cold.

His determination and commitment to his craft were unflinching and above his personal safety. During the final disintregation of the the ship, Hurley spent almost three days out on the ice, not wanting to miss one moment of the final peril of the vessel.

He had salvaged most of his glass plates and camera equipment from the wreck, but on November 2nd 1915 he wanted to retrieve the film canisters and negatives.

In Argonauts of the South (1925), Hurley wrote:

“We hacked our way through the splintered timbers and , after vainly fishing in the ice-laiden waters with boathooks, I made up my mind to dive in after them. It was mighty cold work groping about in the mushy ice in semi-darkness of the ship’s bowels, but I was rewarded in the end and passed out the three precious tins.”

Now read that again. He dived down into the FREEZING ANTARCTIC WATERS to retrieve canisters of film to be developed to show the world his photographs?

WOW.

I understand doing whatever it takes to get the shot and preserving it for all to see, but honestly, Hurley’s story shows commitment that far surpasses many ordinary photographers.

A great deal of money had been advanced to the expedition against the rights to the films and photographs and it was well known how valuable these photographs were to pay for the cost of the expedition.

Hurley and Shackleton had the agonising task of deciding which 120 plates to keep and destroying the remaining 400 plates. This was necessary to reduce the weight of the equipment the men would have to carry across the ice.

This would be truly heart wrenching. As a photographer, I know how personally attached I am to each and every photograph. A huge amount of energy is expended taking each pic and to have to decide which ones to destroy would be an incomprehensible task.

Take a look at this shot of me (the girl in sitting down in the cream hat) photographing in the Antarctic earlier this year. Hurley and I share the same passion for photography, but I live in such different times.

I wonder what Frank Hurley would say if he saw this photo of me sitting comfortably in a zodiac, using a high end DSLR camera and lens, dressed in contemporary polar clothing?

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I am in awe of a courageous human being like Frank Hurley. What a true inspiration.

If you would like to enjoy some of these fantastic photographs, you can obtain a copy of this beautiful book here.

Hempleman-Adams David, Gordon Sophie, Stuart Emma. ( ) The Heart of the Great Alone  – Scott, Shackleton and Antarctic Photography, United Kingdom: Royal Collection Enterprises,pages 60-62