Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Summer Storm Clouds over Farm Country

Equipment Used: Nikon D750, Tamron 24-70mm f2.8 DI VC G2 lense, Lightroom & Photoshop CC

It sure didn’t happen very often this summer but there were storm clouds rolling through the country side that produced dramatic skies. I happened to be getting off work when two of these storms passed through so I got my camera out to capture the scene.

The D750 was fitted with the new Tamron 24-70mm f2.8 G2 to shoot landscapes for the first time on these two nights. The VR was kept on as I was shooting handheld with shutter speeds as low as 1/80 sec. RAW format with an ISO of 400-640 and aperture of f7.1 to f9. Matrix metering was used as well and a -1.0 to +.3 exposure compensation adjustment.

Lightroom CC did the majority of the post processing with adjustments to a number of sliders. I first changed the white balance to shade followed by adjustments to exposure, contrast, shadows, whites, clarity, vibrance and saturation. A slight S was put into the tone curve and dehaze was increased as well. Once the above adjustments were done, I created a preset to be able to post process the other images much quicker.

In Photoshop CC, I first cloned out the unwanted spots from a dirty camera using the clone brush tool and straightened the image based off of the corn crib or other buildings I wanted straight. I then made a selection on the corn crib to be able to apply an exposure mask to just the crib.  Because of the red, yellow and white paint on the north side of the crib, I increased the exposure to make it more visible using that selection mask. The final step was to hit F12 to apply the sharpening action I had created previously.

With fall fast approaching, the harvest of corn and soybeans will begin soon so I look forward to getting out in the fields and capturing the farmer’s scenes with the Nikon and Tamron. 

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Monday, September 11, 2017

Summer Sunflowers 17

Equipment Used: Nikon D750, Nikon 24-120mm f4, Nikon 35mm f1.8, Nikon 70-300mm, Zeikos Extension Tubes, SB-700 Speedlight, VanGuard Abeo Plus 363CT tripod, Lightroom & Photoshop CC

The sunflower plot at Bays Branch was full of big headed sunflowers which was a great opportunity to capture the large flower on two different trips. I wish I would of gone sooner to the plot has the sunflowers on the second trip were very much past their prime. The first trip was pretty close to having them look their best.

I carried in my camera bag loaded with the above equipment and used the different lense combo’s to get the perspective of the sunflower I was looking for. With my tripod set up, I always turned off VR and AF and used LiveView to focus on the sunflower. Aperture ranged from f11 to f16 and ISO from 100-200. Both matrix and center weighted exposure metering was used along with adjustments to the exposure compensation. If I wanted a darker background, I turned down the exposure compensation and used the SB-700 flash to expose the head of the sunflower. I used either Manual or TTL on the speedlight.

Using Lightroom CC to adjust these images, I first adjusted the white balance followed by adjustments to the other common sliders. Once I had one of the images looking great, I created a preset to help speed up the processing of the other images. I used the radial filter to further improve the look of the sunflower head while leaving the background unadjusted.

In Photoshop CC, I first had to clone out a number of dust spots from a dirty lense and also a spot that is on the sensor of my D750 (Side Note: Will be sending the D750 in for a recall because of shutter issues that Nikon released a month ago. I haven’t had any issues with my body but figure it would be a good time to have the sensor cleaned as well. Now I just got to figure out the best time to not have my camera). I then sharpened the images using the high pass filter and adjusting the blend mode to overlay and opacity down to 15%. To speed up the sharpening step, I created an action in PS that will automatically do the steps needed to sharpen the image all by pressing the F12 button.

Hopefully next year I’ll be able to capture the sunflowers at their peak and also use the Tamron 24-70mm f2.8 G2 lense that I’m now using on the D750. 

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Monday, August 21, 2017

Panorama Days Fireworks over Lake Panorama Lighthouse

Equipment Used: Nikon D750, Nikon 24-120mm f4, VanGuard Abeo Plus 363CT tripod, Viltrox Remote Control, Lightroom & Photoshop CC

Panorama Days marks the last event of the summer to capture fireworks in the area.  I was glad to see that the rain had moved out of the area by late afternoon and mostly clear skies had rolled in. Just before sunset, I left work and got to the jetty and got my equipment set up by the lighthouse on the main basin of Lake Panorama.

My usual set up for firework captures included my camera and lense, tripod and remote control plus a chair to set in while taking the images. On the D750, settings included having the ISO at 200 during the fireworks and then IS0 800 afterwards. Aperture ranged from f9 – f14 resulting in exposures of 10 to 20 seconds to capture the burst of fireworks. The remote control was used to trigger the camera once the firework was fired off the ground and then released when I decided I had captured the firework bursts that I wanted too.

I just used Lightroom CC to adjust these images and used my preset firework setting to help start processing them. I had created the firework preset after working on the 4th of July images. Having this preset helped me save time post processing these images. Depending on the color of the fireworks, I then further adjusted saturation on the HSL tab.  

To finish off these images, I used Photoshop CC to get rid of unwanted objects in the scene using the clone and patch tool brush. Saturation and exposure adjustment layers and the brush tool were used to further enhance the fireworks or the lighthouse exposure.

The firework shows are now over for the summer and I missed out capturing this show by just a few days with another new lense, the Tamron 24-70mm f2.8 G2 that arrived a few days later.  Looking forward to testing the Tamron this fall. 

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Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Lake Panorama Summer Scenes on the Main Basin

Equipment Used: Nikon D750, Tokina 28-70mm f2.8 AT-X Lense, Nikon 24-120mm f4, Nikon 70-300mm f4-f5.6, Capture NX-D, Lightroom & Photoshop CC

The main basin at Lake Panorama during a summer day makes for the ability to capture blue skies, boats, water and the lighthouse all at once. When cumulus clouds were rolling through the sky, I headed over with my camera and started capturing the scene.

I fitted the D750 with different lenses depending on the location I was at and whether I was trying to capture the flag in the image as well. When I used the Tokina lense, I put a polarizing filter on to enhance the sky and the water. Shooting in aperture priority mode, the aperture was between f7.1 and f9 while I kept the ISO at 200.

I used Capture NX-D and Lightroom CC to process the RAW files. Using NX-D, I changed the white balance to sunlight and picture control to nature-landscape. Exposure compensation was adjusted as well along with the hightlight/shadow sliders. In Lightroom, I used the contrast, highlights, shadows, whites, blacks, clarity, vibrance and dehaze sliders.

The final step used Photoshop CC to get rid of unwanted objects in the scene such has the buoy and boat docks along the jetty. To improve the color of the water, I used a cooling filter layer with a small opacity level to give it a blue tint. The brush tool was used to erase areas of the image I didn’t want the blue tint on the layer mask. 

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