Monday, 27 February 2012

Night Watcher

Exposure: Aperture F16|Shutter Speed 15s|ISO 200
Who is watching your back at night?

Thought process: Moonset period, waiting for it to get into the black box(it's a truck actually) so that I can frame it exactly match to what I have in mind, and finally when the timing is right, light painting at the back of this black box from the bottom up to create more dimensional image.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Machine Addict

Exposure: Aperture F8|Shutter Speed 30s|ISO 100
I'm always obsessed with machines/robotics, not too sure if it is side effect of watching too much sci-fi movies during my childhood.

Thought process: To create depth in the image, angle, relative size, distance, contrast and shadow are all important factors. This image is taken during full moon, together with lighting painting using Quark RGB flashlight on camera left.                                                 

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Full Moonset: Subtlety

Exposure: Aperture F16|Shutter Speed 8s|ISO 100
Full moon is always the favorite time for night photographer because the moon will be the best light source out there. The moon will rise in the east and set in the west so we can basically track the moon trail. The coming full moon(March 7th) will be decent time to go out for night photography as there's possibility to see moonset at horizon before sunrise.

Thought process: It's all about subtle reflection for me in this image, the moon will set at 9am morning so there's no way to see it at horizon, I have low tide here with the mud land(no sea water here otherwise you will see silky and smooth surface in long exposures), the moon light illuminated the mud land, and it was actually reflected in the only small pool of water in this mud land. We all love to have depth in the image by taking interesting subject in the foreground, and I really have subtle one this time.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Abandoned Train

Exposure: Aperture F11|Shutter Speed 30s|ISO 800
This abandoned train is found at Juru, and it offers a lot of opportunities to light painters, I have yet to make interesting image for it yet but already pre-visualize some creative night images can be made out of it. Lets see how well it turns out in future, the clutter background and some street lights around can cause some problem to me and lets see how it goes. I do wish to be able to meet the owner to know more about the background of this train and also ask for legitimate access.

Thought process: There's no access to the inner part of this train as it is locked, in fact to simulate the lighting inside the train, it is illuminated from the back of this train through the windows, the minor catch is the windows glass tends to reflect the light back to the trees at the back so the light painting needs to be controlled carefully to avoid the reflection reaching the trees at the back. The foreground is very dark and has been painted by galaxy nexus flashlight near to the ground level to bring up some ground texture details.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Symbol Of Penang Island

Exposure: Aperture F8|Shutter Speed 8s|ISO 800
Known as betel-nut in english, this is the tallest I have seen in Pulau Pinang(Penang Island) so far. It is also known as symbol of Penang Island.

Thought process: This Pinang tree is not straight up but diagonal, however it really stands up in the forest because of its height, even slight mild wind will shake the tree. My thought was, if everything in the image is sharp except the main subject, that might be interesting as if the main subject is in motion. I carefully frame the tree by aligning my camera with the tree branch so that it looks straight. For this image I don't set tungsten white balance but let AWB to take the charge. The result is what I have expected, with warmer color as there are some street lights(tungsten) and fluorescent light from very far distance.

From Ansel Adams - You don't take a photograph, you make it.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Urban Night

Exposure: Aperture F9|Shutter Speed 30s|ISO 200
This image is captured in urban area, where light pollution is everywhere to kill your eyes' sensitivity. The purple sky is surreal but identical in city town, with the mix of night blue sky and orangish tungsten street light, however the stars are always no where to be seen except some clear sky nights.

Thought process: Most of us focus on main subject when we capture the image, but sometimes background is so important to bring out the image, here the stars and moving cloud are making big impact to lead our eyes to main subject.

The scene is gone after few minutes, with the cloud covered the sky ...

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Lumix GX1: Night Photography Gear Test

Exposure: Aperture F8| Shutter Speed 60s| ISO 200
Exposure: Aperture F8| Shutter Speed 15min| ISO 800 
Both images on top are processed with dark frame subtraction(Out Of Camera LENR) using BlackFrame and the second image is stacked using StarStaX. Further processed with Gimp for some minor manipulations.
I borrowed Panasonic Lumix GX1 from my friend Alex to do a night photography field test, to see if it can be used for night photography. Night photography requires long exposures, this feature is a must, and surprisingly GX1 does support up to 60 seconds exposure and bulb mode. On the plus side, it also has long exposure noise reduction(LENR), this feature is useful if we are not going to do image stacking for star trail, otherwise it should be turned off.
To do a field test, I used Steve Harper's Moony 8 Rule - Aperture F8, Shutter Speed 4-8 Minutes, ISO100. Since base ISO of GX1 is 160 and maximum 60 seconds shutter speed without cable release, I chose to test with the setting of Aperture F8, Shutter Speed 60 Seconds, ISO400 and the result had sadden me, I dialed to ISO 200 to lose one stop of light and see how things go.

Here's the original copy of first image, you can click the image to zoom in -

And its 1:1 aspect ratio -

Notice the hot pixel noise? And this is at ISO 200 with 60 seconds exposure. The noise pattern is always the same. I have confirmed this by taking the dark frame with the lens cap on. As this is not luma/color noise, you can only fix it using dark frame subtraction.
So the question here is, can we use GX1 for night photography, the answer is tough one, if you are into learning night photography and this is the only camera you have, then go ahead and experiment with it, however if you are serious about night photography, and plan to make large print of your image instead of just looking good on the web, then the answer is no.

Updates: Regarding the hot pixel noise issue(fix speckle pattern), it maybe sensor defect on my friend's GX1 camera, Not many people will notice this defect unless they shoot long exposure(more than 1 second shutter speed and the speckle will start to appear). I'm yet to fully confirm about this until my friend sends to Panasonic for checking.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Glowing Mountain

Exposure: Aperture F11|Shutter Speed 240s|ISO 100
Yes, the mountain is alive ...

Thought process: This is typical horizontal one third framing, while the mountain is framed in the middle vertically to create the balance, the clean reflection does give the sense of peace and silence, I always like to create image like this, simple and clean.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Moon: Abstract

Exposure: Aperture F5|Shutter Speed 1/60s|ISO 400
Many people love to take picture of moon, and there are everywhere to be seen at night when the sky is open to the eyes.

Thought process: To add the mood to the image, we all love to take moon with tree photos, and this is one of them but made to be different. I was shooting the moon through multiple tree branches using 150-500mm sigma len, the focal length is set at 150mm here, as I was very closed to the tree branches, by focusing the moon all the tree branches turned into bokeh, as the day is dark, the flashlight is fired to illuminate the bokeh and they forms interesting shape in this image.

Enjoy, these few nights are full moon with clear sky in town!

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Chasing twilight

Exposure: Aperture F11|Shutter Speed 1/20s|ISO 100
The gigantic bird(phoenix) is flying back to her home during morning civil twilight before sun rises, notice the small birds are waiting for their queen to come home ...

Packed up my camera kits and tried to hunt for some night location at 4am, found couple of places and noted them down, however it didn't turn out to be productive night apart from location scouting, until the day is almost out ...

Some people think landscape is easy, the sky won't fall and the mountain won't collapse and be gone, you have time to work out your composition and all ...

Sometimes you don't really have time, you need to think fast, especially if you are capturing twilight(normally about 20 minutes time window before sunrise or after sunset in equator area) and you have quite a strong wind(that gives the sense of movement), not to say some non-still subjects in your frame.

Thought process: I found the cloud shape in the sky to be very unique, and work out my composition to match the ground subject with it(the sky dominates here), as I saw birds flying around on the left(outside of my frame), I waited a little bit and finally able to capture this moment after few frames. The sun soon raised on the right of this image.

Plan to be lucky!

Friday, 3 February 2012

The sense of place

Exposure: Aperture F8|Shutter Speed 30s|ISO 200
This is the yard where fishermen usually clean their net and rest after back from long hours of hard work, after balanced the night ambient, street light and my light painting, I clicked on the shutter and started to illuminate the yard with my smart phone turns flashlight as my own torch light ran out of battery, the cat ran into the yard, staring at me and avoided me again(the cat tried to avoid the bright light if I'm not mistaken).

I was having the feeling that the cat might ruin my image this time but to think the other side, it may enhance the image. There I have the ghosting cat, and it becomes my favorite image ...

Living in Malaysia with diverse culture, you see different things in different fish town, in Chinese fish town, you usually see a lot of dogs guarding around, on the other hand our fellow Malay friends are cat lovers, no doubt you will see cats around Malay fish town. The cat gives the sense of surrounding to my image.

Thought process: People tend to take picture of fish town by facing the boats, and the sea, the symbol of fish town is always the net, I tried to avoid those elements in my image here, and visualize what fishermen are going to see when they are about to go home when walking out from this yard after finish their works,  rest at the sofa, chit-chat with their friends in the yard.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

1st Post

Exposure: Aperture F8,|Shutter Speed 60s|ISO 400
The very first post of this blog, to share my thought process and experience of night photography!

Sometimes you just get the line to make the image stronger from the shadow ...