Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Solar Eclipse How To

This was my view on the partial solar eclipse that happened on Sunday. It was a beauty that I almost missed photographing.
My parents are in town and they wanted me to take them out to Drumheller. I clearly said in advance that I did not wanted to miss the solar eclipse and so I told them we were going to be on a tight schedule once on the road.
Drumheller was great by the way. For the first time in a long time I came back with quite a few photographs I liked. And of course I will be sharing these in the next few weeks.

Anyway. Lets go back to Saturday first. On Saturday I did a photography talk for The Camera Store. I did a presentation on why I like photographing in bad weather. About 25 people came out and in between  the break I started chatting with two people. We chatted about weather forecasts and the coming solar eclipse. They both wanted to know what I was going to do... How I was going to photograph it. I said 'you'll see on Monday what I did with it'. But truth was, I had no idea yet. I just knew I wanted mountains on the bottom and that I was going to do a composite.

Back to Sunday. Coming back from Drumheller, the closer we got to Calgary, the more clouds we were seeing. And in Cochrane I made the call NOT to go out. Seconds later the sun popped into a clear section and it was a mad dash to get to the spot I planned for this opportunity in time.
My dad went with me and we had a great time photographing this event together.

This was how I created the photograph.

  • First I visualised the track of the sun by using an app called GoSkyWatch. When I figured out where the sun would set, I set up my camera with the 24-105 set to 50mm
  • I made a few test exposures and then slapped on the Lee Big Stopper (10 stop ND). 
  • I started photographing and making photos every minute. They were dark. The only thing that was visible was the sun. But that was my intention. Exposure times ranged from 1/800 at ƒ22 (50 ISO) to 1/80 at ƒ22 (50 ISO). There was some cloud cover so I had to adjust times a bit.
  • When the sun set, I took another exposure. This time without the 10 stop. This was to record the scenery.
  • Once home, I downloaded all the shots and simply merged them in Photoshop. I placed the scenery shot on the bottom and layered all of the other ones on top. Instead of taking all of the photographs I made the choice of taking shots 5 minutes apart. Once that was done I changed the blending modes of all those layers with the exclusion of the scenery shot of course to screen. Then I converted to black and white and sprinkled some magic overtop.
That is how a photograph like this is done. Pretty simple idea. Semi-complex Photoshop file. All in all I called it a succes.
O and the same technique can be applied for a lunar eclipse for instance (just be sure to leave out the ND filter).

Monday, May 7, 2012

'Super' moon, not so super?

This weekend, there was – what news websites called – a 'SUPER' Moon. The Moon was going to be huge according to main stream media. 

Where you out, hoping to see an 'end of the world and we are all going to die' sized Moon and where you disappointed when you saw that the Moon was actually not all that big?

As an astro-geek, I've seen my fair share of 'Perigee' and 'Apogee' full Moons and realistically (unless you have a telescope) the human eye does NOT see a lot of difference between the two. Sure if you do a side by side analyses of the two you would see a difference. But noticing it with the naked eye is something impossible to do (since there are no tape measures flying around in the sky).

It just shows you how much hype, the media can stir up. I for a fact, wasn't too excited about it. Cause 2 seconds worth of thinking and calculating meant this. The Moon's general apparent size in the sky is 0.5°. They were saying this 'Super' moon was going to be 14% larger than normal. Which meant, 0.5° + 14% = 0.57°. You see where I mean?

What I am excited about (and what the media hasn't picked up on yet) is the partial solar eclipse, North America will witness on May 20 at sunset. Here are 2 screen caps on what the sky should look like around Cochrane, Alberta (or any part of North America) around 7pm MST. About 60% of the sun is going to be eclipsed. So start making plans on how you can photograph this.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

New Photo Talk, May 19

Thanks to the Camera Store here in Calgary, I'm able to do another talk about photography.
This time around, I'm going to nerd out about the weather patterns here in southern Alberta and how you can use that bad weather to your advantage.

You know, photographing in bad weather is so awesome. Nobody else is out there in the rain next to you. But there is some stuff you need to know how you can succeed in your quests.
I will share a bunch of tips on what I do to, not only track the weather I like to see in my photography but also what you for instance can do to keep your front element dry.
Or how you can safely track spring or summer storms (without getting yourself in a hail storm).

It's gonna be a jam packed session with a ton of examples of my work.

Also I am going to touch on another subject I love to photograph. The aurora. I will explain how you can predict this phenomenon yourself without relying on the – often too general – other prediction websites.
This phenomenon is usually very local. So what we see here in Albera is often not seen by people on the East coast for instance. I will explain everything in very simple terms.

AND as a little extra, I will walk you briefly through my B&W workflow and I will show you the tools I use to get to the results I like.

So there is a couple of weeks left to register if you are in the neighbourhood and you'd like to check it out. One place to go to, to get your tickets for this event is here.

See you all there!

Aurora Borealis 24 April 2012 - Images by Olivier Du Tre