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Figure + Astrophotography: Akemi Homura - Part 2Figure + Astrophotography: Akemi Homura - Part 2

EXkuroganeEXkuroganeHace 10 mesesTutorial
Part 2

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47965499422_eb574849e0_z.jpg

This article is in reference to this photo: PICTURE #2226223

Click here to check out part 1: BLOG #42894

When it comes to photographing figures, everyone who has taken a figure picture before would have experienced this. When you focus on the figure, the background is blurred off. Likewise, if you focus on the background, the figure is blurred off. You can’t get both in focus, unless you use a very small aperture, say, f/11, or f/16. For daytime photography including sunrise and sunsets, this is not an issue.

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47971374147_c1c3e2874c_z.jpg

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47971431231_8077502239_z.jpg

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47971386813_bf96ece427_z.jpg

However, you can’t shoot a night sky with small apertures like f/11, f/16. You need a large aperture like f/2.8 or wider to “absorb” as much of the faint light as possible in a dark night sky. But a large aperture will blur off the background of your photos further.

Hence, if you want to shoot photos of a figure with a night sky of stars as the background, you will need to do photoshop work. It is compulsory to produce photos like these. You need to shoot at least two shots - one with the figure and ground in focus, and the second shot focused on the night sky, then combine the two in photoshop. More shots may be involved depending what you want in a photo.

The technique I used here for this shot of Homura is to use 3 shots to produce a trio of different photos, then combine them into one. I could have done more complex techniques to improve things further, but i want to avoid this tutorial from becoming over-complicated.

- One Night sky shot, taken at f/2.8

- Two Sunset shots taken at f/11 - One overexposed / too bright and One underexposed / too dark. These two shots are HDR’ed.

- I will make two different edits on the HDR’ed shot to produce two different photos - a normal sunset shot, and a bluish tinted version (colors shifted to look very cold)

If you plan to combine several photos like this in photoshop, make sure to shoot the same camera and lens combination (in case you own several of them) at the same focal length for best results. Or at least, the photos must be taken with the same focal length if you were using different lens.

(a) Photographing a Sunset Landscape with the Figure

This part is largely dependent on whether you did your homework as mentioned in my part 1, the tips I provided, especially with location hunting. For my case, I did not have to deal with a situation where I’d be too close to the sea for this shot, so I didn’t have to consider sea tides.

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47971374311_1d3e27922d_z.jpg

I just set up my camera on a tripod with its center column inverted, and the camera mounted upside down, allowing me to shoot at close to ground level. It’s a bit difficult to operate a camera upside down, but muscle memory will kick in if you are very familiar with the button layout.

I only took two shots at ISO 64, at f/11, 15mm focal length (full frame) with focus locked on the figure. Of course, there were a number of test shots taken before that. The two shots consist of a slightly overexposed and underexposed shot, for HDR later on a computer. You can shoot more frames of varying brightness if you wish, 3 or 5. Not an issue.

Straight out of camera: 15mm, f/11, ISO 64, 2secs
https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47971324968_46ae45c375_z.jpg

Straight out of camera: 15mm, f/11, ISO 64, 0.3secs
https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47971318142_6fd8d2ae02_z.jpg

Even at f/11 and a focal length so short and wide at f/11, the closest ground is not perfectly in focus. It’s not an issue because I intended to crop the photo from 3:2 to wide view of 16:9, so the shot was framed with excess ground at the bottom for me to crop off later. I dont want to add an additional step in my workflow here - focus stacking - and complicate things further for this tutorial. Also, I did not want to go further down to f/16 because at that aperture diffraction will ruin the sharpness of a photo.

After HDR the above two shots, with no edits:
https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47971318142_6fd8d2ae02_z.jpg

After Editing the HDR pic in Adobe Lightroom, normal sunset color:
https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47971326243_282a4f5478_z.jpg

After Editing the HDR pic in Adobe Lightroom, night colors:
https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47973233097_072e7bae79_z.jpg

(b) Photographing The Night Sky

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47972836021_b01418a8b0_z.jpg

This is just a guideline/suggestion, you start from this point, and then make adjustments from there. Also, you’ll need a good basic knowledge in the exposure triangle of photography - ISO, Shutter Speed and Aperture to understand this section.

• Set up camera on a tripod

• Suggested settings for night sky / star shots:
*Recommended focal length range is 8-18mm (crop sensor camera), 12-28mm (full frame sensor camera). Fish eye lenses are also usable if you own one.
*f/2.8 zoom lenses: f/2.8 , ISO 3200, 20 seconds
*Kit lens or f/4 zoom lenses: f/4, ISO 6400, 20 seconds
*f/1.8 prime lenses: f/2, ISO1600, 20 seconds
*White Balance at +/- 3300K

*Do not exceed 25 secs in shutter speed or the stars will start trailing due to earth’s rotation. Instead of pin point stars you’ll see short lines all over the sky.

*The shorter your focal length (wider lens) the longer exposure time you can use. I dont want write specific formulas here, but for example, if you shoot at 28mm you can only max out maybe 13, 15 seconds, but if you go as wide as 12mm you can get away with up to 25 seconds exposure. This is because stars start trailing faster at longer focal lengths. The benefit of being able to shoot several seconds longer is that you can use lower ISO values.

*Always shoot Raw. Adjust settings as necessary to brighten or darken your shots.

Understandably not many cameras produce good images at ISO levels this high. Night sky photography is one of a few genres of photography that pushes your camera to its limits. A “more expensive”/high end camera and lens combination may give you additional advantage if you care a lot about the quality of the image.

• Autofocus will not work in night sky photography. Turn off autofocus. Shoot in live view, manually focus on the back of your camera screen by zooming in to any bright star you can see on the screen, rotate the focus ring until that star is pin point sharp, and never touch the focus ring again. If you want to be sure, place a small piece of duct tape on your focus ring to prevent it from moving.

• If the lens you use has optical stabilization, usually a switch on the left side of the lens, turn it off.

• Use the timer function (or an external remote if you own one) to shoot photos, dont touch the camera after timer countdown starts, or you will blur the shot from movement blur due to a long exposure.

• If you get it right, your milky way images will only have a faint appearance, and not as vibrant. It is there in the camera raw file, just that you will have a lot of editing work later to bring it out.

Straight Out of Camera: 15mm, f/2.8, ISO 3200, 15secs
https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47971321682_b70245caef_z.jpg

After Editing the HDR pic in Adobe Lightroom:
https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47971332517_dbbc7a2bbd_z.jpg

Here’s the editing process I went through to produce the final image. There are many different ways to do the same job, it all boils down to your own preferences.

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47971341618_017e122729_z.jpg

Since it’s difficult to describe things in words, I have a video recording of my editing process here. It’s been sped up to avoid the video from being too lengthy.



The article may seem pretty technical, but that’s basically what astrophotography is. If you know the environmental criteria on shooting a night sky, do your homework and equip yourself with the necessary accessories, and the basic camera settings as a starting point, you’ve got a good chance at getting a decent shot. It didn’t take me long to figure out how to photograph a night sky and edit them. This is my only second attempt. The problem has always been weather and location rather than anything else. . Unfortunately, the rest are all about how good you are with a computer instead of how good you are with a camera.

There are even more advanced techniques such as dark frame stacking, to reduce noise and improve image quality, but I did not bother to cover that topic here – we would be going out of topic, lengthening the article further, and getting too technical. My aim here is to cover the basics, and if you are interested in this genre of photography, then there are plenty of resources online for your reference.
I prepared this post in response to requests from people in my facebook page. So I hope it will be helpful to y’all readers of this two-part tutorial. Thank you very much for staying with me and reading!
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Comentarios6

1pt
Great job and keep it up!! You deserve much love.
Hace 4 meses
2pt
This is absolutely incredible. This is an amazing tutorial and I'm completely overwhelmed by the love and detail going into your photos. You deserve way more than only Picture of the Day.
Hace 10 meses
1pt
Lots of work you have done . Your photo desire a picture of the year
Hace 10 meses
1pt
Nice tutorial, very detailed, there are a lot of elements that I never considered before.
Hace 10 meses
1pt
Great tutorial as always! Have you ever thought about writing a photography book?
Hace 10 meses
4pt
This is amazing I have been following you for a while now, and I have to say that your work never cease to amaze me, heck thanks to you I borrowed an old T3i and started learning photography.
Hace 10 meses
Bringing the hobby to your door.

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