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jcgter777 wrote:
I'm also looking for a new camera. ... Some "requirements":

-Has that satisfying CLICK. (I think most do)
-Isn't too bulky (using shorter lenses and stuff)


allynfolksjr wrote:
A mirrorless camera may likely be what you're looking for.


I second this. The only downside is that you won't get that click you're after nor will the lenses from DSRLs work on them; the caveat here is that there are adapters. On the upside, mirrorless cameras are considerably smaller.

By nature, all DSLRs will be bulky just because of the mechanism that makes the click. You can go with a DSLR and then look into Pancake lenses, those are short lenses and make a DSLR a pretty compact unit, but it'll still be larger than a mirrorless camera.

In your case, an upside to a DSLR - and if you bought Nikon - would be using your brothers lenses. But, I sincerely think a mirrorless camera is what you want.

Fun fact: I've always called these Electronic Viewfinder Interchangeable Lens cameras, or EVIL cameras for short.

jcgter777 wrote:
I have more photos, but they take SOO LONG to upload to imgur.


It's because you're uploading the full 16MP images to imgur. I recommend you resize them before uploading; 2-3MP is pretty decent for casual viewing on the web. If you want to upload as large as you are able (i.e. 16MP), imgur also offers some URL tricks:

Here is your image URL:
i.imgur.com/rAkjpGa.jpg

Here is your image URL telling Imgur to make it a square thumbnail:
i.imgur.com/rAkjpGas.jpg



Here is your image URL telling Imgur to make it a thumbnail:
i.imgur.com/rAkjpGat.jpg



Here is your image URL telling Imgur to make it a somewhat small image:
i.imgur.com/rAkjpGam.jpg



Here is your image URL telling Imgur to make decently sized image:
i.imgur.com/rAkjpGal.jpg



The last image is sized to 640 on the longest side by Imgur, which is small but it's an acceptable viewing size on the web. Cemetech resizes images to 800 pixels wide, however it still loads the full size image. So, you can upload a 2-3MP image to Imgur, embed the version with the lowercase "L" before the extension then link to the much larger size. Which, is what I usually do if I don't share them from Flickr.
Rented some lenses over the weekend so I could try before I buy:


IMG_9187.jpg by Alex Glanville, on Flickr


BBQ Diptych by Alex Glanville, on Flickr


Navigate by Alex Glanville, on Flickr
Dang, Alex, your night sky photographs are just so awesome. I never managed to get the exposure just right to reveal this blue tint, visible stars and no noise from large ISO values. This last picture, especially, is really interesting, because there is no motion blur on the lighthouse's ray.
And how do you prevent over-exposure of the foreground? Do you combine multiple different exposures in one frame (which is the next thing I want to try)?
Nik wrote:
I never managed to get the exposure just right to reveal this blue tint,


The blue sky is a result from the white balance being set to the lighthouse. Naturally, the night sky isn't blue. If I wanted to make it real I could desaturate the blue tones to a dark gray but I personally tend to like the blue. In the end I'd love all of my star photos to have the same tones and colors. Which is a continual challenge as I try different things.

For example, the flashlight on my phone may be a very warm white, while the white light from the trunk of my car may be a slightly cooler. So in order to create what we perceive as white light, I need to white balance the image to those whites in each image. Creating the blue color in the night sky.

It's pretty neat, if you ever fall into portraiture, you can use a similar trick with your flashes and strobes. If you do outdoor portraits, put a purple or a blue gel on your flash. This will obviously make your subject/model blue but when you adjust the temperature in post (or even in camera before you take the shot !!), the subject will look natural and the sky will turn yellow or orange. Really useful if you want to strengthen the colors of a sunset. With the same technique, you can use different gels to turn the sky different colors such as green and purple.

Familiarizing yourself with color theory is helpful since you'll learn complimentary colors and the color wheel. Using that color wheel to turn the sky orange, we'd need to shoot with a teal light. Likewise, to turn the sky blue, shoot with a yellowish light.

Quote:
visible stars and no noise from large ISO values.


To put it bluntly, this is where the right lenses really come in handy. I shot this photo at 25s with ISO 125, not 1600, 6400 or higher. That's because my aperture was f/1.4. If you're familiar with f-stops, that's two stops faster than f/2.8 and three stops faster than f/4. Which, is a considerable amount of additional light. That's why there's low noise in the night sky compared to the foreground. Had there been noise from a high ISO, it's possible I could have lost stars due to de-noising algorithm, but a lot of them would persist.

Quote:
This last picture, especially, is really interesting, because there is no motion blur on the lighthouse's ray.


That's actually because it's now a pulsing light. It shines 360 at once instead of rotates. It's 11 seconds between flashes, and each flash is around 2 seconds now. I think they changed it recently because I don't recall this being the situation last year. Sad

Quote:
And how do you prevent over-exposure of the foreground? Do you combine multiple different exposures in one frame (which is the next thing I want to try)?


Planning, really. I don't like combining multiple photos into one shot. There are notable exceptions, such as the diptych above and my solar eclipse photo/selfie. Also, this photo. I never uploaded it to Flickr so I likely never shared it here. This is two photos but maybe not like you expect.

I was just shooting photos for the sake of practice when I really liked the image. So, I asked my friend to hold still for the next photo. Sadly, a car drove by and lit up the top of the bushes. But I didn't ask him to sit still again due to an old injury and the pain he started to experience from holding this pose so I just composited it all in post.



But that's really the extent of my "photoshopping." I prefer to keep it as natural as possible.

As for the exposure. Right back to planning. I try and use the moon to illuminate the foreground. This photo of my friend was taken on June 16th, 2017 per the info on 500px. Looking at a calendar of the moon for that day, tells me the moon rose around 9pm. The metadata of the photo in Lightroom tells me the photo was captured at 11:31pm. So, enough time for the moon to rise and light the landscape but not high enough to get in the way of the stars and Milky Way.

In the light house photo in my prior post, it was a New Moon, so there was no moon light. You can see the noise from the shadows as I added exposure to the foreground which revealed some noticeable noise. Since I was just trying the lenses, I wanted a New Moon so I could test them at their limits. In actuality I tend to shoot "Nightscapes" the weekend before (and after) a New Moon and let the moon expose the foreground.

There's still a lot more I can do better in the lighthouse photo. Shoot during a Waning Gibbous instead of a New moon, not shoot wide open at f/1.4, and don't shoot at 25s. I'll writing a blog post on my findings and take aways from these lenses and which one I'll purchase later. I will certainly share portions of that post here.

Here's a photo I'm planning with the same light house. Shot this with my 14mm, then composited an AR screenshot off my phone. Then got the FoV difference between my lenses and simulated what I expect to see with each lens. I'm likely going to shoot this with my 50mm and take it as a panorama to get the lighthouse in the shot.

This is all really astonishing. I hope to take pictures of the stars someday - like you did, Alex - although I don't exactly know how. I've messed with cameras before, but never actually had one to my name.

What camera would you all recommend for maybe some casual photography now and then? Preferably no more than a few hundred dollars or less than $1k. I really like Canon and Nikon by the way, and am open to suggestions.
Camera technology has come to the point to where there's no "bad" DSLR camera; they all take phenomenal photos. So, go with what's in your budget. If your parents or family has any film SLR's, go with that brand since you can use those lenses on your camera -- If they have a Nikon 35mm SLR, get a Nikon DSLR so you can use those lenses.

Biased Suggestion:
I'm a Canon shooter so the only bit of advice I have is that the Canon Rebel line, (The T6i, T6, T7i, etc) are all entry level DSLRs. You can probably get a kit (Camera + 18-55mm lens) for around $800-$900. You can go a bit older get a T4i or something for around $400. You can probably go second hand (such as Craigslist or FB Marketplace) and maybe find that combo for $300 or under.


Once you get a camera, focus on taking a lot of photos. In this case it's not about quality it's about quantity. Look at your photos, and distinguish between the ones you like and hate. Ask your self why you hate this photo. And why you like that photo. If they are similar, what differences set them apart? Once you start getting the idea of what makes a good photo, start focusing on technique and the quality over the quantity. The more you get right in camera, the easier it'll be to edit in post.

I look forward to any photos you'll share Wink
Here's a photo I took on a bridge over the Ohio River (which is owned by West Virginia)



I lightly modified it to accentuate the rays:

That's pretty cool! What did you did you do to enhance the sun rays?
Alex wrote:
That's pretty cool! What did you did you do to enhance the sun rays?


I used the iOS app "Facetune", which comes with a feature called "details" (basically a sharpen effect), selected the area I wanted to sharpen, and bam!

I also slightly defocused the area around the rays, which exaggerates the effect a bit more.
Clever! I've heard that using polarized sun glasses in front of your phone or camera can also help but I've never actually tried it. Your method is incredibly natural looking so kudos! Smile
It's Milky Way season again! And at the "last minute" I decided I wanted to use a completely different lens to photograph it. Sure, two months should be enough time to get ready but it's still a learning curve. I tried to understand how much of the frame it'd take up using the simulated field of view but it's never a good substitute for the real thing.

We got there sort of early so I shot some photos of my friend and her hula hoop for a bit. You can see the galactic core in the glow of some headlights from an oncoming car.


IMG_9794.jpg by Alex Glanville, on Flickr

I then switched to my 50mm and photographed away! I am not happy with the results because I think the lens adds some extreme comatic aberration, which makes some stars appear to have wings.


IMG_9812.jpg by Alex Glanville, on Flickr

But, I found it completely goes away if I do focus on something closer to the camera, so that's what I did! It made the stars blurry which I think is awesome.


Focus by Alex Glanville, on Flickr
Oh man, those pictures are definitely wallpaper worthy! It may be my phone, but why is that second and third one taken vertically? Does it have to do with this post?
Amazing images as always Alex! Very Happy
Your photographs are indeed amazing, I especially like the first and last one. However, I think I see reddish noise on the bottom half of the third image? Is that a result of the post processing, or comparatively high ISO settings (you probably couldn't expose for too long with a person in the frame)? Or is that something else I am missing?
Also, I'd like to see a variation of this one which is focused on the galaxy and blurs the foreground. As you mentioned, it would probably suffer from the chromatic aberration if you used this lens, however, I remember your made very high quality photographs of the milky way earlier, presumably with a different lens. Have you considered combining two exposures from different lenses?
Whoops.

Nik wrote:
Your photographs are indeed amazing, I especially like the first and last one. However, I think I see reddish noise on the bottom half of the third image? Is that a result of the post processing, or comparatively high ISO settings (you probably couldn't expose for too long with a person in the frame)? Or is that something else I am missing?


That's 100% my bad. I used a red color filter in front of my flash since my flash produces a rather cool white, and in order to get a blue sky with a white light (or at least natural colors) I opted to make the flash a warmer white. I definitely chose too strong of a red. I'm still learning how to use flash gels, and how to use a flash in a setting like this.

Click the image for the full size. Notice the red tint on the grass? That's because of the gel. My plan was to drop the color temperature to get a blue sky and normal looking grass (e.g. green) but the sky was already pretty blue, so the gel wasn't needed. Oh well.



Quote:
Also, I'd like to see a variation of this one which is focused on the galaxy and blurs the foreground.



IMG_9832.jpg by Alex Glanville, on Flickr

Quote:
As you mentioned, it would probably suffer from the chromatic aberration if you used this lens, however, I remember your made very high quality photographs of the milky way earlier, presumably with a different lens.


Yeah, I had used a 14mm lens. Even a 24mm lens. I'm not sure what I need to do to get this 50mm ready and I honestly have not gone to shoot the stars since this night so I'm going to be woefully unprepared when the day comes to get the shot I want. Some friends & I are going out again this Saturday but I think we're going to focus more on the cityscape at night than the stars but we may do both.

Quote:
Have you considered combining two exposures from different lenses?


From different lenses, no. I know it's a method some people use but I don't think it's something I'd ever do; I typically shy away from as I try to do it all in camera. I've composited a few (3 photos) but nothing very drastic. I've seen a few photos that were tracked using a star tracker, and stitched together as a panorama. This photo right here is the reason why I started to pursue a tighter focal length for my astro shots. Here's the reddit thread I found it on.

He's got 12 shots in here: Six for the sky and four for the mountains. He used a 135mm lens and a star tracker. Using the 500 Rule, that'd be a 3 second photo before the stars started to trail and there's no way I can achieve that with just a camera. So I'll need a star tracker to achieve a several minutes long photo for each part of the panorama.

For as gorgeous of a shot it is, I can see a few flaws with it. For instance, the trees on the right side have a halo around them. Which is from where he cut out the background and put the new one in. And I don't fully agree with that. I don't mind panoramas I just have some reservations when it comes to compositing images, but you literally can't get these photos in camera without something blurring. The star tracker will keep the stars sharp but the Earth elements (mountains, trees, ground, etc) will blur. If you photograph the mountains, the night sky will blur. So, you literally have to composite the two together to achieve a photo like this.

Whoa by Alex Glanville, on Flickr

Starting to break away from my editing norm here. This is technically one photo, but with two edits stacked together. I have one copy that's edited for the stars and sky and another that's had the exposure decreased to bring the bright spots down in intensity. Then I combined them in photoshop to get this. I also took a few sequential photos of the Milky Way to practice proper stacking.

I'm preparing for an eventual star tracker; my friend is planning on making one from scratch that we'll share and if I happen to help out I'll certainly create a project topic for it. The current plan is that I'll help troubleshoot it, (e.g. it's not staying aligned) but if I help build any of it then I'll create a project topic for it. But maybe I'll create a project topic once it's complete?

I'm deciding that the 50mm or tighter is most likely the route I want to go with this, I took an incredibly awesome photo with my 50mm but I think I can improve upon it a little bit further. I'm headed back out this weekend to take more and I hope to improve upon a few more photos as well. If I don't, I'll certainly share the ones I took this past weekend. Smile
Alex wrote:
I'm deciding that the 50mm or tighter is most likely the route I want to go with this, I took an incredibly awesome photo with my 50mm but I think I can improve upon it a little bit further.


What's the point of improving if you don't share the first version?


Twinkle Twinkle by Alex Glanville, on Flickr

50mm @ f/2.8, ISO10000 @ 10s.

The lens goes to f/1.4, which lets in a considerable amount of light but the comatic aberration is so bad that I am forced to stop down to f/2.8. It's still visible but it's tolerable for the time being because I don't want to stop down any more. (Mostly because 10s is too long for this focal distance already and ISO10,000 is much higher than I want to go too).

I've been planning this shot for a few months. It's a slightly different angle than I planned, I decided I wanted to make the lookout point a bit bigger in the image, and by pushing the camera closer and looking up I'd also get more of the galactic core in the frame. But all in all, it came out pretty close to what I had planned.

Things to improve include the noise, the comatic aberration (aka coma, which I did manage to subdue a bit while shooting; see above paragraphs), and the color of the Milky Way. It's still an amazing & wonderful first attempt and improvements on these subjects will certainly take a few years.

  • Noise will be eliminated by shooting at lower ISO's, such as ISO100 for several minutes with a star tracker instead of ISO10,000 for a few seconds on a stationary tripod.
  • Color will be improved because I'll be able to use filters to block certain light and stacking those photos into the final image.
    • The only downside to stacking images is that I start getting into composite territory, which I'm not keen on but it seems to be pretty common place in nightscapes like this.
  • Newer lenses may have improved optics and coatings to eliminate coma and distortion.
    • I'm less enthusiastic about filters because those are lens specific usually. A filter will fit on a lens with a Xmm diameter. So, if my 50mm lens has a 58mm diameter, but my 20mm lens as a 74mm diameter, I'll need two separate filters.


So, yeah. I'm looking forward to improving this photograph over the years. Smile

I wanted to take this photo myself - that is me on the lookout point - but I was just barely on the edge of cameras' WiFi range. I was connected by like 1 bar (the dot of the WiFi signal really) and my phone just couldn't stay connected. I communicated through "morse code" to my friend, and he took the photo. Next time we'll bring walkie talkies and maybe I'll buy a portable router so I can get some better range on my camera; the plan would to have the camera connect to the access point rather than create an access point itself, that way my camera & phone can be about 350' apart and still communicate.
Um, here's a swamp I guess.

Tropical Swamp by Nikky, on Flickr
Had a great weekend and ventured back into portraiture a bit for a practice sunset photoshoot. Since I was going for the practice anyways, I'm satisfied with how they turned out. I'm learning this now so when a friend of mine is ready for me to take some photos next year, I've got it dialed in.

I discovered that my flash may not be adequate to get the coverage I need; I'll need to practice a bit more with the flash to really know the limitations. I can tell the coverage is poor because the dress starts to get a little yellower towards the bottom, I had the flash mounted on-camera rather than synced off-camera. Pushing the flash forward would have helped or maybe even better flash modifiers. I should also diffuse it a bit more so the flash isn't as visible on her arms too; her arms and cheeks look a bit blue/desaturated rather than a natural color.


IMG_9609.jpg by Alex Glanville, on Flickr

This next photo still has the flash mounted on the camera, but I pointed it down more. As a result the flash hit the ground and you can once again make out some of the blue flash but this time in the bottom right corner, reflecting off some rocks. As the cliff continues into the background, it starts to blend in to the ocean and background. Which isn't super.


IMG_9614.jpg by Alex Glanville, on Flickr

So, I'm going to need to find a new location or push the model back a bit more so I can clearly separate the foreground from the background. I'm also going to recommend a different color dress, maybe a white or a blue. The muted green just doesn't work for this photo. I'm also going to look into renting the 20mm 1.4 again or a 35mm 1.4. I like my 50mm 1.4 but when it comes to these full body shots I think I'd get much better results with something a bit wider -- and I'll also be able to get closer with the flash.
Wow, I still find those great images! Honestly I don't think I'd notice the flaws if you hadn't pointed them out. (I'm looking at this with a small phone screen and an untrained eye though).

I'm going to pull a nikky and point out that you're immediately going after new equipment rather than attempting to get the shot right through other means first. I'm sure a wider lense *would* look better, but can't you adjust something else or use some equipment you already have? Smile
Here's a train, not really photography but come on it's a train



Also, those are absolutely wonderful vibrant pictures Alex! The orange backdrop is simply stunning, and I do like the details on the top of the model's dress. But like you said, you might actually try some other color other than that muted green. Perhaps a rich red?
  
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