All posts tagged road

… before we go to the nice and warm Philippines…

I’ll make this an exposure 101. If you’re a pro-photographer you already know this (or at least, you should! πŸ˜‰ ), but I’ve been asked about this a couple of times and I decided to do a simple, little write up about it, without getting into too technical language.

Why is it important to take (manual) control of your camera?
A lot of people, especially those who have just bought a camera or have just gotten into photography, use the automatic settings in the camera. In most of the average cases that would be just fine, but since a camera is just a thing, with no obvious intelligence, when things get out of average, the picture goes south as well.

My camera is set (in 95% of the cases) to full manual with spot metering. I prefer spot metering above all other settings, because I get to pinpoint a location in my frame for which I decide what exposure is the best one, based on the initial suggestion of the light meter in the camera.
The other metering methods are also working fine, but don’t just blindly trust the values the light meter in your camera shows you.
What you need to know about the camera’s light meter, is that it’s “calibrated” to assume that everything in your frame has an average hue. The light meter doesn’t see or read colors, it just sees light or dark. 18% grey may sound familiar to some of you, maybe not to others. But 18% grey is what the light meter thinks the average hue in your image is (or rather, should become). Green grass, for example, is about 18% grey, on a normal sunny day. So if you were to take an image of a sports field with mostly grass and you’d have your camera do everything automatically, you’d have a great picture with a perfect exposure. Of course there are plenty of other things that are -about- 18% grey. But what if you’re shooting somewhere where everything, or the bigger part of your frame, is NOT 18% grey?
If that were the case, and you have your camera set to automatic (or to manual, and you’d dial the exposure, ISO and/or aperture so that the bar sits nicely on the 0 in the middle), your camera will make everything 18% grey.

The perfect examples are in the two extreme ends of the light spectrum.
Imagine a winter landscape, with mainly… yep: snow. Snow is one of the purest, whitest substances on this planet (provided it’s not territorially marked by some inhabitant of this planet πŸ˜‰ ).
So what would happen in the camera when I’d point it at my winter landscape? The meter sees the landscape and ‘thinks’: “Wow! That’s easy! A big frame full of 18% grey.” And so, thinking the purest white snow is 18% grey, the camera underexposes your image with about 2 stops.

D800, ISO100, 1/250 sec @ f/8, Nikkor 70-200mm

D800, ISO100, 1/250 sec @ f/8, Nikkor 70-200mm

D800, ISO100, 1/500 sec @ f/8, Nikkor 70-200mm

D800, ISO100, 1/60 sec @ f/8, Nikkor 70-200mm

D800, ISO100, 1/125 sec @ f/2.8, Nikkor 50mm

D800, ISO100, 1/500 sec @ f/2.8, Nikkor 50mm

D800, ISO100, 1/500 sec @ f/2.8, Nikkor 50mm

D800, ISO100, 1/125 sec @ f/2.8, Nikkor 50mm

In order to correct this, and to get the right exposure for the snow, you’d have to manually adjust the exposure time either by dialing up it with up to two stops, or use the exposure compensation.

The same thing goes for the other extreme of the scale. When what you see in your viewfinder (or your Liveview screen) is primarily black/dark, the light meter will assume that this is 18% grey and will adjust –overexpose in this case- the exposure to make the blacks look like 18% grey. You will have to underexpose the image to correct for the camera’s false assumptions.

D800, ISO100, 1/250 sec @ f/5.6, Nikkor 14-24mm

D800, ISO100, 1/250 sec @ f/5.6, Nikkor 14-24mm

D800, ISO100, 1/250 sec  @ f/4, Nikkor 14-24mm

D800, ISO100, 1/250 sec @ f/4, Nikkor 14-24mm

D800, ISO100, 1/250 sec @ f/4, Nikkor 50mm

D800, ISO100, 1/250 sec @ f/4, Nikkor 50mm

D800, ISO100, 1/250 sec @ f/5.6, Nikkor 50mm

D800, ISO100, 1/250 sec @ f/5.6, Nikkor 50mm




I can write loooong pieces of text about the landscapes.
They’re gorgeous. And they’re many. And they look different every day, especially when you have a sunny day one day and snow the next, and sun again the day after that.
Have a look:

Valley with a river running in between two mountain ranges

D800, ISO100, 1/125 sec @ f/5.6, Nikkor 50mm

Yellow line dividing the road running off into the distance

D800, ISO400, 1/250 sec @ f/11, Nikkor 70-200mm, Nikkor TC2

Boulders on top of a mountain in Rocky Mountain national park

D800, ISO100, 1/30 sec @ f/8, Nikkor 14-24mm

Logs in the partly frozen water of a lake

D800, ISO200, 1/250 sec @ f/8, Nikkor 50mm

Dirt road leading into the fog and into the Rocky Mountains

D800, ISO100, 1/30 sec @ f/11, Nikkor 50mm

Waterfall in a small stream covered with fallen trees

D800, ISO400, 1/4 sec @ f/11, Nikkor 50mm

Water fall in a small canyon in Grand Lake in the Rocky Mountains

D800, ISO100, 8 sec @ f/11, Nikkor 50mm, Singh-Ray VariND

Sunset over Grand Lake

D800, ISO100, 1/1000 sec @ f/11, Nikkor 50mm

As a photographer you know that “light” is one of the most essential variables in anything you do.
Living in a country as Finland, and especially in winter, you see funky things happen with light whenever there’s snow around. It may be in the middle of the night, and pitch black, but with a nice pack of snow, it could almost be twilight, because the snow reflects every bit of light.
It’s the same with both natural light and artificial light.

Yesterday I shot a picture of the street down here in daylight, the sky so overcast that it was a perfectly white massive softbox, good for nice and neutral colors.

This morning I set up the camera again, but earlier. It was still (or again) overcast, but there was the shade of this 15 minutes of civil twilight, where everything turns blue for a short while. It was just before 9am when I took the first shots, with the street lights still burning. It’s funny how the street lights seem to absorb all natural light and throw off this funky orange hue.
Below first the colors as the camera recorded it (slightly accentuated from the RAW file) and on second what I turned it into (because I like it better when it looks a bit warmer πŸ˜‰ ).


D700, ISO200, 30 sec @ f/13, Nikkor 50mm, Singh-Ray VariND, 5 images combined in Photoshop


D700, ISO200, 30 sec @ f/13, Nikkor 50mm, Singh-Ray VariND, 5 images combined in Photoshop

But then, I actually didn’t know this was going to happen beforehand, the street lights switched off. It was in theΒ  middle of one of the 30 second exposures when that happened, so in that particular image (not posted here) you can actually see the after-glow of the street lights. That image ended up somewhat underexposed (salvageable, but not really interesting), but the following exposures gave a nice example of how big an influence the light, its color and the color of the environment influences the image you take.

Below again first the image with the colors as the camera recorded it, and the next one adjusted to how we “know” a snowy scene is supposed to look.


D700, ISO200, 30 sec @ f/13, Nikkor 50mm, Singh-Ray VariND, 4 images combined in Photoshop


D700, ISO200, 30 sec @ f/13, Nikkor 50mm, Singh-Ray VariND, 4 images combined in Photoshop

They’re a pain in the arse. Especially when you’re in them. But sometimes, when you’re NOT in them, and you have a nice overview of what’s going on, a traffic jam can be a very inspiring thing. When you’re a photographer, at least.

Traffic jam

D700, ISO200, 30 sec @ f/11, Nikkor 50mm, Singh-Ray VariND filter

The cool thing is that you can take a whole series of shots and they all turn out differently. And then you can combine stuff. Take a car from here, a tram from there, some tail lights from a third, etc. etc. And “minor” details like a biker and/or pedestrian from a few others to set the mood.

Now all I’m waiting for is ambulances, fire trucks and police cars to race by so I also get some blue lights in there still. Since that happens pretty much on a daily basis, it’s just a matter of time.
To be continued…? πŸ˜‰

So I promised to do a side-by-side.
Here you go:
Top image -> laptop, uncalibrated, crappy, 13″ glossy worthless piece of sh!t
Bottom image -> desktop, calibrated, 27″ matte sweet widescreen

Mushrooms on the side of the road

D700, ISO200, 30 sec @ f/5.6, Nikkor 50mm, off-camera SB-800 (flashed manually several times on the mushrooms near the end of the 30 second exposure)


Same as above, but the post-processing was a bit better πŸ˜‰

Of course you can argue that I could’ve tried harder and got the same result on the laptop, but there’s only so much you can actually see on a piece of sh!t which isn’t made for this kind of work. I tried desaturating the road (primarily red and yellow channels) on the laptop (just like I did on the desktop), and all I got was a load of banding and other unwanted ugly side effects. It just didn’t work.
It may not have been mainly the calibration problem, but also the fact that this screen can’t handle all these colors… Owwell, anyway… The difference is here, and obvious (and yes, I know, if I spend a bucketful of money I can get a very expensive laptop which can handle the colors, but that’s beside the point right now πŸ˜‰ ).

I promised to add some autumn pictures… More will probably follow still. It’s so beautiful right now! πŸ™‚

I'm on a road to nowhere

D700, ISO800, 1/125 sec @ f/8, Nikkor 70-200

In line

D700, ISO200, 1/4 sec @ f/11, Nikkor 70-200mm