ObG Thursdays – Old Post Office Light Painting Composite

Lighting a large scene with just one flash is something I’d wanted to try for a while and finally got around to it with this shot in today’s Oldie-but-Goodie.

This photo is a composite of six shots, stitched together in Photoshop CS5. In each, I lit a different part of the building using a single SB-900 flash with the standard diffuser cap. I fired the flash using the test button and in most of the shots I fired it multiple times. The camera (Nikon D300s wtih Tokina 11-16mm) was set to manual exposure (f/8 8s ISO 100) and manual focus and set on a tripod in the parking lot. The long exposure allowed the camera to capture the ambient light but also gave me the time for the flash fires.

Here are the shots that went into the composite. In the first four I lit both the concrete and brick walls.

DSC_9339 DSC_9340 DSC_9341 DSC_9342 In the next two I tried to light the smoke stack by zooming the flash in to 200mm. The flash lost a lot of power at that distance and even with multiple fires it was difficult to light the stack.

DSC_9345 DSC_9346At this point the images look like a mess with many points of light and many Owens. However, by choosing which part of each image I wanted to come through using layer masks I could clean this up considerably. Below I show a capture from Photoshop with each of the images and their corresponding layer mask. Notice that for the most part only a small area (the white region of the layer mask) is used in the composite.

ScreenHunter_16 Apr. 11 07.19In the end I did have to remove a few stray flash bursts and Owen limbs here and there using the healing brush and clone tools. Finally, with a curves adjustment to brighten the lower mid-tones, I ended up with this!

DSC_9339-EditAs this was my first ‘light painted’ composite, I did learn a few lessons. Most importantly, it was difficult in a few instances to remove my ghost from the image. Next time around I would use brighter flashes and stand further away from the subject to not catch as much of the reflection. Distance would also help broaden the spot as it falls on the surface. Overall though, I was happy with this first attempt!

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ObG Thursdays – Mary Hill Blues

Today’s Oldie-but -Goodie comes from summer 2007 when Jeff and I took a night-time photo trip out to Mary Hill, Ontario. We were drawn to the church, since it’s a landmark on the trip between Waterloo and Guelph. Since I’d brought along my tripod I thought it would be fun to take some moody long exposure shots of the cemetery next to the church, made extra moody by the moving clouds. I tried out a few long exposure (2-8 seconds) and found that, while the sky and church looked just as I had hoped, the figures in the cemetery were lost.

What I needed was flash. Unfortunately, both of us had forgotten to bring any batteries for the Vivitar 285HV. Jeff had the great idea of using his camera’s on-board flash to light paint the cross figure during the long exposure. We set out testing. While I took a long exposure image, Jeff walked around the figure taking pictures of it with his camera so that his built-in flash would put light just where we wanted it (more on the right side and less on the left). The image below was the best out of a half-dozen.

I finished the image with some colour/contrast enhancement and local dodging and burning to bring out the cross figure even further.

Pentax *ist DS with DA16-45mm f/4 @ 16mm f/6.7 8s ISO 200:

Mary Hill Blues