Tag: redbank

Film Landscapes & Slow Motion Lightning

Finally got around to getting a roll developed and I’m 3/4 of the way through shooting another roll. I’m starting to get the hang of shooting film. For my film of choice for landscapes, Kodak Ektar 100, I’ve found you really have to nail the exposure for your subject (usually the land) and then filter the sky to keep it to say within a stop in brightness. Film will handle a much brighter sky, but you then have to try and pull it all back in post production on the computer.

Getting it right in camera using filters etc really pays off with film and saves you a bunch of time on the computer at a later date, when you’ve forgotten what you even shot lol! I’m using a Mamiya 645 1000s medium format camera, my go to landscape lens for the wider scene is the Mamiya 45mm. Film is Kodak Ektar 100. I have a local lab develop for me (just normal develop) and then I scan the negatives at home using an Epson V550. From there it’s really just getting the colours right and some sharpening in Photoshop, as well as removing any dust and scratches, probably the worst part of film.

This first photograph has to be my favourite film photo to date. I also shot this on digital, and I’ve even done Astro photography here, but the way this has come out, the colour, the soft glowing light, yeah, really happy with this one.

An amazingly stunning sunrise of an old broken down farm truck as the landscape is bathed in colours from orange to pink to red at Mt Walker near Ipswich Queensland Australia. Photographed on Kodak Ektar 100 by Australian Landscape, Storm and Weather photographer Murray Fox
Mamiya 645 1000s, 45mm, Kodak Ektar 100

I was pretty much treating this roll of film as a test case, I was bracketing most photos to see which exposure would work best (take good notes!) and photographing landscapes in various lighting conditions. On one recent storm chase I had some time so I broke out the film camera once again and captured this photograph. Those Ektar Reds are really popping in this one and the light that broke through the clouds really made this photograph work for me.

A storm cell approaches Purga just south of Ipswich Queensland Australia. Photographed on Kodak Ektar 100 film by Australian Landscape, Storm and Weather photographer Murray Fox
Mamiya 645 1000s, 45mm, Kodak Ektar 100

Finally, after another chase, I decided to see what I could do with a reverse sunset, that is looking east as the sun was setting west. This one didn’t quite work out for me, the main issue being if I kept colour on the landscape, none of it was up in the clouds yet, and if I waited for it to be in the clouds, it wasn’t on the landscape anymore. So this was more of a test/compromise shot, however I do know in this kind of light it would be much better to find an amazing subject I can get very close too and really highlight those colours on the landscape, wow golden hour smacks you in the face with this film!

A beautiful sunset as the last light of day falls across the hills. A river bends its way through reaching for the Brisbane River. Captured on Kodak Ektar 100 at Redbank near Ipswich Queensland Australia by Australian Landscape, Storm and Weather Photographer Murray Fox
Mamiya 645 1000s, 45mm, Kodak Ektar 100

So the plan is now to keep shooting more film and really start working on the composition and subjects. My confidence has increased a lot thanks to some major trial and error, time and of course, money, film costs every click.

Thank you very much for ready my blog this week. If you’d also like to check out a very short cool video I made yesterday with some slow motion lightning captures click below :

I sell all of my photographs as Fine Art Prints, Canvas prints and Prints on either Acrylic or Metal, if you’d like one for yourself, simply contact me and I’ll send you pricing details.

Until next time, enjoy!

Murray

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Red and pink skies of sunset at Redbank near Ipswich Queensland Australia as a massive lightning bolt strikes down from a storm cell. Simply stunning landscape, storm and weather photography from Murray Fox

Sunset Lightning – Bolt of the year so far

Storm season is really kicking in here in Queensland Australia. The last week has brought wide spread storms to the region, some becoming very nasty super cells with tornados of all things. It’s the first time in my memory I’ve seen the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) issue a tornado warning, with several dropping a few hours north of Brisbane and causing widespread damage.

Thursday saw a good chance for something around home, as I work full time I took all my gear with me on the off chance I’d have an opportunity to get something. Driving home I started to see cloud to ground lightning bolts (CGs) dropping to the west, but pretty close. I headed for the Brisbane River near Goodna as there is a great spot there with good views. Arriving I quickly worked out I needed a better view west so I moved a few k’s up the road to another higher spot.

As I pulled up I started to see the most amazing colour come across the scene. The sun was setting and throwing out amazing shades of red and pinks, with the actual storm cell being illuminated. I’m pretty sure I set a new record in getting setup and shooting. Camera on tripod, turn it on, into manual mode, aperture to f/6.3, ISO to 100, and shutter speed to live composite. I was getting a well exposed photo with 1.6 second updates. Start shooting. I normally run live composite for 20-60 seconds depending on cloud speed as they can start to look weird if they move too much. Second frame there was a massive flash in front of me, and this amazing bolt appeared on my screen.

Red and pink skies of sunset at Redbank near Ipswich Queensland Australia as a massive lightning bolt strikes down from a storm cell. Simply stunning landscape, storm and weather photography from Murray Fox
Olympus OMD Em5 Mark II, 12-40mm Pro Lens, ISO 100, F/6.3, Live Composite 1.6sec updates

We’ll jump for joy and high fiving myself, I quickly went live on my facebook page to show the scene and what was happening. As luck would have it, the colour soon faded and no more bolts dropped, I got “the” shot and my best bolt this year by far.

This ended up going a little viral on Facebook and ended up on Sky News Weather Channel, ABC News and Sunrise on Channel 7 the next morning, it’s great when others appreciate your work.

I’ve also sold a few prints on canvas of this shot now, if you’d like one for yourself, simply contact me and I’ll send you pricing details.

I’ve also added this to my Lightning Portfolio, so be sure to check that out.

With more storms due this coming weekend, hopefully I can get a few more shots in the back, it’s always exciting but extreme care must be taken, quite a few people were injured in the last round.

That’s all for this week, stay safe!

Murray

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An amazing lighting bolt strikes the ground on the leading edge of a huge storm system at Redbank Plains near Ipswich Queensland Australia before it moved on to Brisbane causing widespread damage and blackouts.

Massive storm Redbank Plains to Brisbane 11/02/18

All I can say is wow! I’d been watching the forecasts and predictions all week, Sunday was looking promising for some late afternoon storm action. The day was very hot but also had very low humidity, none of the usual forecast websites were warning anything tho so I wasn’t getting my hopes up.

Come the afternoon, bits and pieces of weather were coming down off the range to the south west, with most of the action over the border ranges in NSW. I still wasn’t expecting anything. By around 5pm things looked to be getting a little more organised so I headed to a local spot and met up with Bobby from Mr S Photography (search for him on facebook, great photographer). It was right about this time the storm very suddenly gained structure, and made what appeared to be a right turn and came directly at us.

The sun was setting to the west, throwing some amazing light across the landscape. The wall front was so big, I had to use 7 photos at 12mm (equivalent to 24mm on a full frame camera) just to capture the entire front. Settings on manual, ISO 100, F11 to help get a longer shutter speed and shutter at 1/2 a second. I fired off my shots and stitching the photos together on the computer came up with this amazing panorama.

An amazing panorama of a huge storm wall cloud approaching Redbank Plains near Ipswich Queensland Australia on the 11th of February 2018 11/02/18 before it moved on to Brisbane.
Olympus OMD Em5 Mark II, Olympus 12-40mm pro lens. 7 vertical shots stitched

The storm at this point picked up some quite fast rotation and really started moving. It was no longer possible to capture the entire front so instead I focused on the leading edge to the east as that had the best structure. This time I turned on the live composite function in my Olympus OMD Em5 Mark II. This great piece of technology allows the camera to take a normal exposure at my settings, but it then keeps the shutter open and only adds new light to the base exposure. By running this in 10-20 second bursts, I could keep detail in the moving cloud, but easily capture this huge lightning bolt as it struck the ground.

One of my best storm photographs to date, this ended up on several media websites as well as making page 5 of the Courier Mail.

An amazing lighting bolt strikes the ground on the leading edge of a huge storm system at Redbank Plains near Ipswich Queensland Australia before it moved on to Brisbane causing widespread damage and blackouts.
OMD Em5 Mark II, ISO 100, F8, 1/2 sec, Live Composite, run time 8 seconds.

Very quickly after this we had no choice but to leave. We tried to get a head of it by heading towards the river, however even travelling at 100kph on the highway, this storm now outpaced us and it was a quick wet drive back home, and sit and wait for over an hour for the system to pass.

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A beautiful sunrise at Redbank near Ipswich, Queensland, Australia. The sun is just peaking through the trees, illuminating the grass on the rolling hills and lighting up the clouds and sky with amazing colour.

Redbank Sunrise – Importance of practice

With the weather calming down from the recent spate of storms, its time to get back into shooting some landscape photography. I’ve been reading up on a few techniques including focus stacking and exposure blending, so this morning, armed with a brain full of ideas and a nice local location, I set off to see if I could put those techniques into use.

The visualised photo in my head I wanted to shoot, was direct into the sun, have the light directly onto elements of the landscape, be pinpoint sharp from front to back, front elements extremely close to camera (around 20cm) and have detail in shadows and the majority of the highlights. I wanted colour where the sun is, but not necessarily detail, a nice glow would be perfect. Finally, I was going to shoot in portrait orientation as this allows me to really put the foreground very close to the lens and still show the sky, trickier in landscape orientation without an ultra wide lens.

I used my Olympus OMD Em5 Mark II camera, the Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 pro lens, I had a manfrotto circular polarising filter on, not to bring out colours (impossible when facing towards the sun), but to help knock a little reflection off the greenery, and finally a 3 stop soft graduated filter, just to help keep the sky/highlights under control.

I arrived about 30 minutes before sunrise, this spot is very close to home and I as I was wanting the sun up in the sky there was no real point getting there earlier, even tho the early pre dawn sky colour can be the best, that wasn’t the goal here. I found a nice composition, where the hills act as layers going into the scene, and I had the tops of some nice grasses as my foreground.

For my first tests, I put the camera in aperture priority mode, ISO 200 (base ISO), f5.6 (sharpest point of lens), and camera decides the shutter speed. As I’m on a tripod I wasn’t worried about shutter speed at all. I then enabled the in camera focus bracketing. All I had to do was pick a focus point closest to the bottom of screen, then the camera would take a series of photos, shifting focus until it figured it had everything. At these settings it was taking around 17 photographs. Now storage is easy but that seemed like too many photographs for me, and a review on the back of camera showed a lot of the final ones had been taken well past infinity and were blurry again.

So I decided on a different route, and this turned out to work extremely well and easy. I set the shutter activation in the camera to 2 second delay, and turned on the select and shoot function of the rear LCD screen. I also stopped down the lens to f7.6 so each photo had a little more in focus. Then it was simply a matter of touching the bottom of the screen, waiting 2 seconds, camera took a shot, then touching a little above that, repeat. All in all I could take photos from front of scene to back in 5 shots, then for the final photo I stopped right down to f22 (aiming for sunstars), dropped the exposure by 2 stops and took a final shot clicking on the horizon to capture detail in the brightest parts of the photograph.

Here is the series of photos I ended up with, the first photo is the completed image. Then there are 5 photos used for focus stacking, and the final f22 exposure that was used to bring some sky detail back (the exposure is adjusted here, it was captured 2 stops darker)  :

Display of the selection of photographs used for focus stacking with my olympus omd em5 mark ii as well as for exposure blending.

To post process all of this I started in Adobe Camera Raw. Working on the first image of the focus stack, I made my initial adjustments and then synchronised those settings to the other 4 in the focus stack. For the photo where I was only going to use the sky, I made some specific adjustments relating to that, as well as adjusting the overall exposure so it was very close to the other photographs, I find this helps with blending.

Next I brought everything into Photoshop. I put all the images for stacking into layers of one photograph, auto align, then auto blend > stacking. This gave me a base photo with everything tack sharp front to back, first success!. I then created some bright luminosity masks, selected one that would allow me to merge in the highlights with detail from the f22 photo, and did the blending. I now had a perfect starting photograph, all of my testing this morning had given me the results I wanted to achieve.

From there I went through my normal post processing, which is to use some curves for local contrast adjustments, then take the image into Nik Filters for some final polishing.

Here is the final photograph in detail, I think you’ll agree the results are great, the realism is still there, I’ve been able to get everything tack sharp which is always a challenge, and I have detail in both shadows and highlights where I want them, a success for me!

A beautiful sunrise at Redbank near Ipswich, Queensland, Australia. The sun is just peaking through the trees, illuminating the grass on the rolling hills and lighting up the clouds and sky with amazing colour.

Now it’s possible to get this all in one photograph, and in fact I did. But I’ve found the highlights aren’t quite as detailed, the over all image required a lot more sharpening and noise reduction, hurting the details somewhat. However, I like to enter photographic competitions, and a lot of them don’t allow the techniques used here, so I always endeavour to capture a single image photo as well and keep that just for those times where I wish to use it in a competition. This one, using stacking and blending, is perfect for printing, in fact I’ll be doing that today and adding this to my personal photo wall.

I’m now confident that next landscape photo I take, I can replicate the process with ease and get the results I want. It pays to practice!

I hope this post has given you some ideas, it’s important to experiment, have those practice sessions where there is no pressure, see what works, see what doesn’t (I won’t bother with f22 next time, the nice stars that were over the ground lost so much detail from diffraction I couldn’t use it).

If you want to learn more regarding exposure blending, I highly recommend watching Jimmy McIntyre’s free videos over at http://www.shutterevolve.com/ and if you use Olympus, your manual has very good information on focus bracketing and the Em1 series can focus stack in camera (I do prefer to do it after the fact in Photoshop, more control). Feel free to ask any questions you have and I’ll endeavour to see how I can help.

Be sure to visit regularly, follow me on Facebook or Twitter where I’ll post links to each new blog post as it happens, also follow me on Instagram where I post up my photographs, and My Story will have lots of behind the scenes photos and videos.



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