Category Archives: Educational

Long Exposure Workshop – September 30 to October 2, 2016

A three day workshop with Marc Koegel a Vancouver, BC based photographer turned out to be a really cool way of learning a new skill. Marc was a great teacher as his teaching style was easy to follow and he concentrated his time on the workshop attendees. If you’re not familiar with Marc or his work check him out here.

Not only did I learn about Marc’s technique but I also learned an important aspect of working with my own images. I don’t have to have real to life images! I have been trying for so long to “get it right in camera” that I’ve forgotten to move on to post processing and photo manipulation. Probably the single most important thing I learned was that it was OK to create art from my images. Thanks Marc!

In the spirit of what I learned over the three days I’d like to share some of my work from the workshop and I will. But first, what is long exposure? There are various definitions but the one Marc gave is one I like – “Long exposure is anything that causes movement to be blurred.” Accordingly it can be a 1/250th of a second shot of something so fast that it shows up blurred or it can be a 1 hour shot of the moon transiting the sky at night.

It is the longer exposures I went to the workshop for. The kind that my camera can’t do by itself – not without the aid of really dark filters. Neutral Density filters to be exact. Also known as ND’s, they block light from reaching or camera’s sensor – or at least slow it down. Because the camera has to take so much more time to capture an image all ND’s end up introducing a colour cast. (Mine introduced a heavy magenta colour cast.)

Marc recommended taking a standard well exposed shot then putting the filters on and working from there. This recommendation allows you to compare before and after images for a variety of reasons. For me, it allows me to share the differing results along the way from start to finish.

Shows a pulp mill along a shore of a river.

Camera Defaults: F/16, 1/6s, 200 ISO

In the image above the camera was set for a sunny white balance (hence the blue cast) and the rest of the images here have the same white balance setting. I usually would process the image in DXO’s Optics Pro and be done. Something like this would end up being my “default” image.

Shows a pulp mill along a shore of a river.

DXO Processed Image

After putting the ND filters onto the camera – a total of 16 stops (two ND filters, 10 & 6) a recalculation of the duration needs to be done. In the next image a two minute exposure with the 16 stops of filters in place was made.

Shows a pulp mill along a shore of a river using a long exposure.

F/11, 121.3s, 200 ISO

In this camera processed image the magenta colour cast is because of the low quality filters I purchased. It turns out the Formatt-Hitech filters were likely “old stock” – Marc indicated new ones don’t have this bad of a colour cast. At any rate its easy enough to remove in post processing. So playing around in DXO again I ended up with this one.

Shows a pulp mill along a shore of a river using a long exposure.

The colour cast is still evident but already you can see the effects of a long exposure vs the original. Marc however doesn’t stop there – he likes to convert his images to striking works of art in B&W and with that in mind I didn’t bother trying to rid the remaining cast from the image. My next step was to turn it into my own flavour of a monochrome “art” piece (if I could).

After a couple of tries I’ve come up with a couple of versions.


I’m not done yet – but I think this one is good enough to get a feel for where I’m heading with this style of photography. Today I re-did my post processing with a similar image and I like it better this way.

Shows a pulp mill along a shore of a river using a long exposure.

F/4, 20.8 s, 200 ISO

Leave me a comment, let me know what you think.


Ginter’s 2nd Night 20160506

I wasn’t satisfied with the previous nights attempt and since it was now Friday I wanted to try again. I was really after stars in a photograph and to learn more about my camera and night-time photography.

This time I chose my 35mm prime lens. I wanted some city type shots with stars overhead. I also wanted to get the “Big Dipper” and try some different things with aperture, ISO and shutter speeds to see how the images were affected.

Again I setup my tripod, camera and tablet and let loose with finger tapping on the tablet screen. While it was a lot darker than the night before the connected tablet let me do previews of what it would take. This gave me the opportunity to do some composing for the shot, before the shot. Which ultimately is actually just taking a picture, view the results and then deciding if it was good enough before taking a picture to keep.

I’m curious also about the program I’m using to edit images – DXO OpticsPro 10. OpticsPro 10 has a high noise reduction option which DXO claims to be the best. Since I shoot RAW & Fine JPG combined I’m going to compare Nikon’s D90 JPG image processing with the results of the RAW processed images to how DXO and Nikon look side  by side.

First up is a set of images that show the effect aperture has on the image with this particular lens. These images are all straight from the camera using Nikon’s built-in jpg image processing.

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While its pretty clear that the aperture lets more light in the image suffers because the lens isn’t designed for optimal focusing at F4. F8 gave a better result for sharpness in the stars but at ISO 400 it was pretty dark. Boosting the ISO to 640 helped show more star light.

Next lets take a look at DXO’s processing of the RAW images. Using DXO’s Night preset (I didn’t alter anything.)

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OK, I think DXO wins. It seems the worst image clearer after DXO processed the RAW. I like what the presets did for the rest of the images too.

The remaining images are in my Flickr share here except for this one. I’m including it here just because it caught a satellite passing. The image is pretty bad but it does demonstrate what happens when you’re focusing on technology instead of trying to pay attention to your surroundings.

Ginters at Night May 6, 2015 15Small

Satellite (passing lower right)

Ginter’s at Night 20160505

I read about Haley’s Comet meteors peaking on May 5th and thought because it was supposed to be a clear night I’d head to Ginter’s off leash dog park and do some night-time photography. I hadn’t really done much like this so it was really a first time thing for me.

I used my fish eye lens which is a manual lens and set the aperture to the largest opening. I attached my tablet for better viewing and easier access to my camera’s controls. I waited for darkness and stars to shine.

I didn’t see any meteors and it got to cold too stay out. But I did get a few pictures I live with.

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With such good conditions (despite the cold) I don’t think I did that bad considering I had never tried this with a manual lens.

While I didn’t see any meteors I did see one satellite pass by. Unfortunately my settings weren’t good enough to capture it in transit.

Wells Gray Provincial Park – Sept 25th – 27th, 2015

Prince George Photographic Society’s annual field trip was to Wells Gray Provincial Park this year. At least 23 club members went on this trip (including me!) and it was a busy trip. Great people in a fantastic slice of God’s beautiful creation! There is simply way to much to see in just one full day – but sore feet I got anyway. I arrived Friday evening and right away some us went to Helmkin Falls. I have never seen such a high water fall – just stunning. Saturday morning a few us got up for a sunrise shoot at Dutch Lake, Clearwater, BC. Despite the disappointing overcast we got a number of great shots anyway and we got to go to Moul Falls afterwards. Once I looked down into the depth I just had to go down to the bottom and wow! What a sight that is – and you can go behind the falls and into the giant cavern beside the falls. Later after some lunch we headed out to Spahats Falls – again with the stunning sight! A little night time photography – something I have not done much of – and I got some shots I am very pleased with – some I’m disappointed with as well. As usual you can view my images in my flickr share here

Sunday morning a few of us headed over to the bridge over Murtle River and spent some time taking pictures there before heading home. I was really disappointed because my camera fogged up. I took a few pictures and thought I’d try out the “Clearview” filter in DxO’s Optic Pro 10 suite when I got home. Well, I learnt two lessons – I should have taken more pictures even with the fogged up camera and DxO’s software really rocks! See for yourself.

Shows a foggy river rapid

Foggy 1

Shows a foggy upstream

Foggy 2

It should be pretty clear from these two images that something was seriously wrong with my camera. But I just hoped that it would clear up on the way home and the camera/lens would be OK. I didn’t hold any hope for these images at all.

Now look what DxO did to recover them for me.

Shows rapids with almost no fogginess - just some mist.

Fixed Foggy 1

Shows the upstream view without the fogginess.

Fixed Foggy 2

I am impressed with DxO’s software…

Colkin ND Grad Filter – August 16, 2015

I recently purchased the Colkin ND Graduated filter kit. I wanted to try it out with a little landscape photography and share the differences in my pictures with you.

From a vantage point across the Fraser River I wanted to use the City as my subject while also including the river and the sky. The sky was looking fairly cloudy in some spots and stormy like in others.

With the Sun to my left I started playing with the circular polarizer. Gently rotating it in the holder to maximize the effect. I tried a few shots with my 70-300mm Tamron lens. Then I added the 1 stop ND graduated filter and cycled through the other two, a 2 stop and a 3 stop. The results were exactly what I was hopping for!

I took the path down to another lookout over the river where I could get the river, the city and the stormy sky in one shot with minimal (aka none) pokies. I switched my lens to my 30mm Sigma, slid the polarizer in and the 3 stop graduated ND into the holder – Nice!

I’m happy with the purchase. Not too happy with the price since the Canadian dollar has plummeted which drove the cost up. But – I’m not planning on dropping out of photography any time soon.

Using my 30mm I took three identical images. The first showing the combined efforts of the polarizer and the 3 stop graduated ND filter on the image. The second using just the lens and the third image I tried adjusting the image exposure to lessen the brightness.

In DxO OpticsPro 10 I added the effects I like to the first image and made a temporary preset which I then applied to the other two images – making them get the exact same DxO treatments. I can safely say that without the filters in place I would not be able to reproduce these results with them using just software. Compare the results for yourself.

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Full size resolution and the remaining images I took are on my Flickr share here

More Garden 2015 & New Software

One of the issues I’ve been having is which software to learn to use for my post processing? I started with Photoshop CS5’s ACR, I’ve used GIMP, I’ve got Photoshop Elements 11, RAW Therapee and DxO Optics Pro 7. Whenever I process images I always wondered which was easiest to use and I finally started comparing. To be fair Elements stumped me pretty quickly and so I just didn’t bother with it. I spent time learning ACR – not Photoshop and I never seemed to want to make images from my images so I didn’t bother with it. So, that really left me to try and edit the same images in ACR, DxO & RAW Therapee. After processing 4 images in ACR I tried to repeat the results in DxO then in RAW Therapee. RAW Therapee quickly overwhelmed with it’s options and I didn’t even bother pursuing it futher.

DxO won and as a result I’ve purchased version 10. I’m now working with it and finding it’s even easier to use then 7. Below is a gallary showing each of the four images. Each image is shown three times, the first image is how the Nikon D90 saves it as a high resolution JPG image. The second image is how I processed it using ACR and finally the third image is DxO v7 results. Below that gallery are some images I’ve been working with using version 10 of DxO.

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Some more images using DxO v10.

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Photocram June 13-15 2014

Time is running out to register for an exciting PHOTOCRAM weekend June 13th to 15th!!  There are 7 spots left for “Creating Story and Mood in Photography” with Darwin Wiggett and Samantha Chrysanthou.  We will be sharing our passion for photography, learning and networking together.  It will be a great educational time, don’t miss out!!

Contact Debbie Malm

Creating Story and Mood in Photography:

– The Art of Storytelling

– Harnessing the Power of Tone for Mood and Story

– The Advanced Grand Landscape – A story in a single image

– Beyond the Single Image – Telling stories with more than one image

More information is available here

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