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The Blue Hour

A forum to post any lighthouse pictures you'd like others to see. Feel free to talk about lighthouse photography. Lighthouse-related photos (such as LSS and lenses) are also welcome.

Postby beachbum1616 » Mon Jul 03, 2006 5:27 am


Now I like that one!!!

What was your settings when you took that one?
Stephen

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Postby Gary Martin » Mon Jul 03, 2006 6:32 am


Stephen, the lens would have been stopped down all the way... f/22 or f/32 depending on what lens I was using. The exposure time would have been in the 15-20 sec range which is all you can get away with with the motion of the sun. I was shooting Fuji Velvia that was exposed at iso = 50. I suspect I would have under exposed by about 1/3 of a stop.

While fiddling around in the blue hour at Holland --

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Big Red flases red and then white ~ 8 sec later. (I never timed it on a watch). These shots were taken about an hour before dawn in the "blue hour." These are 1 sec exposures and were taken some minutes apart, the white channel reflection image captured closer to dawn, hence the brighter blue in the sky.
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Postby beachbum1616 » Mon Jul 03, 2006 6:47 am


If I may say so, I think the white reflection shot is the better of the two. While I love the blue coloring in the first one, the lighthouse and the pier appear more fuzzy than in the second one. But with a little more light, I guess it help make the second image to be more "sharp."
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Postby Gary Martin » Mon Jul 03, 2006 6:54 am


Thre may have been a little mist floating over the channel that began to dissipate toward dawn as well... hard to say. I've got several hunderd shots from that morning, when I get time, I'll go through some more of them to see if there's a good red reflection shot closer toward dawn.

If anyone is interested, there is a flash sequence animated GIF of Big Red taken very early that morning looking down the channel at the following link:

http://www.coastalbeacons.com/greatlake ... gRed_6.htm
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Postby Larry » Mon Jul 03, 2006 2:47 pm


How do you guys stop the light from getting completely blown out on the longer exposures? See my Concord Point shot on the first page. That was ISO 100, f8, 4 seconds, and if not completely blown, it's getting pretty close. This show was orriginally pretty dark, almost black, and a levels adjustment rescued it.
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Postby Gary Martin » Mon Jul 03, 2006 3:01 pm


Larry, f/32 is your friend when it comes to longer exposures. Stop your lens all the way down to the smallest aperture. You can attenuate the light levels further using a polarizer (that's 2 full stops) or you can use screw in ND filters. I've got screw in 1, 2, and 3 stop (labeled 2X, 4X, and 8X - which is what you multiply your exposure time by when you use these filters) or you can get one of Singh-Ray's variable ND filters, which adjusts from 1 to 10 stops. I've never used the latter but Ross has one so maybe he'll chime in on what he thinks about the filter. I have a bunch of Singh-Ray grad and hard edge ND filters and optically they are absolutely superb!!! Hope that this info helps some. If you've still got questions, post 'em or e-mail me and I'll do whatever I can to answer the questions.
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Postby Larry » Mon Jul 03, 2006 5:20 pm


I've tried the smaller aperature, but that produces a longer exposure, and it seems I get more blow-out that way (and all my sensor dust shows up, too, but I can spot edit that...or better yet, clean my sensor).

I was trying out my ND filters that night, about 20-25 minutes before this shot, and I took some 15-25 second shots at f11, and the light doesn't seem AS blown-out, but still somewhat. I'm not sure which filters I had on in each particular photo I'm looking at, I was trying out different combinations of the 1, 2 & 3 stop (mine are labeled 0.3, 0.6 & 0.9). It's really hard to see what you are doing when the ligh is low and you're blocking out most of your light. I felt like I was aiming at total darkness.

Guess I just need to go back out there and experiment some more, huh? :roll:

PS...If I stack all three ND filters, I multiply my exposure by 64? 2x4x8? So if my meter reads a 1 second exposure, and I stack all three, I set my shutter to bulb and watch my watch?
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Postby Gary Martin » Mon Jul 03, 2006 7:30 pm


One advantage of stopping the lens all the way down, Larry, is that you get a free star effect.

Seeing where the split is in a grad ND is really tough. When you have a sharp horizon line, you can get away with a hard edge ND filter. On the other hand, with a grad, the effect comes in gradually so you don't have to be quite so precise on where it starts. The one thing you do have to be careful of is making sure that the filter is oriented perfectly vertical. If you have it crooked, wherever the effect is uneven above the horizon you can see a difference. I'll see if I can find a series of shots I took of Pigeon Point a number of years ago. I was trying to line up the filter at an angle to match the coastline to accentuate the shore break.

Image

I ended up shooting an entire role of film to get this one shot. Each image had a slight rotation of the filter vs. the previous one. I was more or less guessing where to put the beginning of the graduation.
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Postby Hersh » Mon Jul 03, 2006 8:23 pm


Larry, does the lantern stay lit all the time at Concord Point? If you're blowing them out I'm guessing that might be it. On Gary's Holland photos the light is only flashing every 8 seconds, to the majority of the time that the shutter is open the light is off, which allows the rest of the scene to expose properly and the light stay at a reasonable level. If you put on a ND filter, you're not gaining anything because you're retarding the light levels in the whole frame, it just makes the exposure time longer. Sometimes you just have to take what you can get and it's really tough.
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Postby Jen » Mon Jul 03, 2006 9:00 pm


Larry, the other advantage of stopping down to F16 or smaller is that you can set your lens on manual focus to infinity and you don't need to worry about focusing. With that small of an aperture, depth of field brings foreground and background into focus at once. Gary is right - you need to stop down further in order to bring the lantern room down a bit. Also, what are you metering off from? Do you have a spot meter? If not, you could try metering right off the lantern room using center-weighted metering and base your exposure on that.

This is a shot of Manistee Pierhead, two hours after sunset, ISO 400, 13 seconds at F6.3. You can tell the foreground water here is out of focus, and the light of the Fresnel is a bit wider due to the large aperture I was using here.

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This next shot of South Haven was taken about 1/2 hour after sunset, ISO 100, 30 seconds at F14. The star effect is from the shutter being closed down further for a longer period.

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And 15 minutes later (45 minutes after sunset), same settings, ISO 100, 30 seconds, but at F8. Notice the difference in the star effect on the catwalk.

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The other thing to think about, is you should really check how your particular lens performs stopped all the way down. Some of the more "inexpensive" lenses on the market actually perform worse at F22 or F32 than at F16. I find this website very helpful in helping with that, especially when I'm in the market for a new lens and want to see how it performs.

<a href="http://www.photozone.de/active/survey/surveyform.jsp?filter=%22brand='Canon%20EF'%20OR%20brand='Sigma%20AF'%20OR%20brand='Tamron%20AF'%20or%20brand='Tokina%20AF'%20or%20brand='Vivitar%20AF'%22&title='Canon%20EF%20(EOS)'#browse">Photozone - Browse the Lens Database</a>
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Postby Larry » Tue Jul 04, 2006 6:16 am


Thanks Gary/Mike/Jen. I knew I could count on you.

Gary - Perhaps I should invent in some graduated ND filters instead of my plain old all the way through ND filters? Yeah, I really should.

Mike - Yep, the light is on steady from dusk to dawn. That could be my problem and I just need tolearn to work with what I've got.

Jen - Yes, I am working with cheap(er) lens. From that particular vantage point, I use my 18-55 kit lens, so, yeah, f22 does show some softness. I'll try it at f16 next time, maunally focused to infinity (and beeeeyoond!). Metering has always been my weakness. I've read the books, I've experimented, but I still end up relying on trial & error and luck.
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Postby Hersh » Tue Jul 04, 2006 8:02 am


Glad I could help Larry. I know how you feel with the lighting, I've struggled with it plenty of times. I experimented with Bodie Island for well over an hour last year, trying to figure out the exposure for this flashing light. I finally tweaked it until I got what I found to be a nicely balanced exposure.

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Postby Gary Martin » Tue Jul 04, 2006 5:49 pm


Larry,

Insofar as metering is concerned, it isn't difficult or a mystery. Give the following approach a try:

1) Open your lens all the way to it's wide open aperture. For the sake of argument, let's say that's f/4.

2) Take a meter reading. For purposes of discussion, let's say the reading is 1/2 sec at the f/4 setting.

3) Begin to stop the lens down. For every full stop (full stops are - f/2, 4, 5.6, 8 ,11, 16, 22, 32) that you close the lens down, double the exposure time:

f/5.6 -- 1 sec
f/8 -- 2 sec
f/11 -- 4 sec
f/16 -- 8 sec - etc.

Hopefully that will give you a better handle on getting in the vicinity of the correct exposure time.
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Postby Hersh » Tue Jul 04, 2006 7:49 pm


Gary's basic instructions as stated above are what got me using manual for the first time. It sounds tough, but really it isn't. Just count how many stops up you go, and decrease your shutter speed by the same amount of clicks. (of course some cameras allow you to set your aperture and shutter speed on 1/2 or 1/3 increments, so make sure you know how your camera handles that before you start.)
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Postby Larry » Wed Jul 05, 2006 3:22 am


Oh, that part I understand. My problem is picking the right THING to meter from. I know I should look for 18% gray, but I'm real bad at picking out the grayest area. :lol:
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