Tips for Long Lens Photography in Windy Conditions
- Use a good tripod and keep the center column low.
- Keep low, sit, lay down or kneel.
- The lens hood can be a wind catch.
- Shutter speed should be at least 1/250.
- Bump up the ISO.
- Burst mode may produce a sharp image.
- We usually advise to turn image stabilization off when using a tripod but if your camera is shaking from the wind you may have success with it on. Be careful between gusts when things are still as the image stabilization can cause softness in your images.
- Add weight to tripod. Fill a bag with rocks, sand or water or hang your camera bag off your tripod.
Focal Blending in Photoshop
Focal blending is especially useful when using a long lens where you have foreground and background subjects that are impossible to both be in focus in a single exposure.
Do this in the field.
- Use a tripod, cable release and mirror lockup or Live View.
- Keep exposure constant for all frames.
- Focus on and take as many photographs in the scene from near to far. I like to use Live View and the square spot focus tool that shows up on the LCD. Take your first exposure, focusing as near to the bottom of the frame as you can. When Live View refreshes, the square focusing spot will show up where you last used it. Move it up a bit, focus and take another exposure. Repeat this step until you get to the top of the frame.
Processing the Focal Blend.
- Select all files in the focal blend sequence from Lightroom.
- Go to Photo > Edit In > Open as Layers in Photoshop.
- Once all the files are opened in Layers Panel, select (highlight) all the files and go to Edit > Auto-Align Layers, choose Auto under Projection.
- Then Edit > Auto-Blend Layers > Blend Mode-Stack Images/Seamless Tones and Colors/Content Aware Fill Transparent Areas > Flatten after blend.
- You might get better results using HeliconFocus.
An Easy Recipe for Effective Blue Hour Photographs
- Use a tripod. Obviously, with these long exposures you will not be able to get sharp images by handholding your camera. You will need a tripod, gorilla pod or some way of keeping your camera still such as placing it on top of your car, a bench, fence post or the ground.
- Use a cable release or self-timer. This is necessary when triggering the shutter to avoid any kind of movement in your camera.
- Set your camera to manual exposure. If you have your camera in the auto mode you run the risk of getting an improper exposure. Auto mode will most likely detect too much bright light or too much shadow and either under- or overexpose.
- Choose your best time. For balanced exposures it’s 30-45 minutes past sunset or 45-30 minutes before sunrise (this can vary depending on your latitude).
- Set your ISO to 100 to begin with. As it gets darker during an evening Blue Hour session, you may have to increase your ISO to keep your exposure to 30 seconds or below. We usually do not go above ISO 400.
- Use a small aperture, f16 or f22, if you want to get good starbursts from streetlights. I often use f16 because I want good starbursts with sharp points. I start with ISO 100 and then move it up to 200 and then 400 as it gets darker. When it gets so dark that I need more than 30 seconds at ISO 400 and f16, I stop photographing for this session unless I am shooting toward the west with sky that is brighter because of the direction of the sun that has set. Occasionally I will push the ISO to 800. The sky is getting too dark at this time for a good balance.
- Review the photo and its histogram. Do this after each exposure to make sure you are getting the correct exposure. Beginners usually underexpose. If you have a lot of bright lights in your scene such as a cityscape, you will have overexposure in those areas. This is difficult to avoid and in my opinion nothing to worry about. You don’t need detail in the streetlights.
Inclement Weather Always Bring your Camera . . .
. . . and protect yourself and your camera with:
- Rain parka
- Rain pants
- Cover for camera/waterproof stuff-sack
- Lens and camera drying cloths
- Camera pack cover
- Not all lenses produce good sharp starburst.
- Use f16 or f22.
- Clean your lens as dust particles cause problems when shooting into strong light-sources.
- Use a tripod.
- Use LCD to review results. Adjust your position if needed.
- Flare is common and much can be removed in post-processing.
- Starbursts are best against areas that are in the distance such as a blue sky.
- Smaller and brighter light-sources will produce sharper and more pronounced starbursts.
Easy Recipe for High Resolution Panoramas
- Use a tripod.
- Shoot in camera vertical mode with an L-Bracket.
- Use manual exposure. Set color temperature. Turn image stabilization off.
- Level tripod below the ball-head.
- Level the camera on left-right axis. The front-to-back axis is not important which allows for more compositional freedom.
- Use mirror lock-up or live view on dslr.
- Pan from left to right. Overlap 25-50 %. Work fast if the light is changing.
- Stitching in Lightroom seems to work better than in Photoshop.
- Dedicated apps with more controls are available. One example is PTGui.