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Finding the Sunset Direction for Photography

The Photographer’s Ephemeris is a fantastic tool that makes planning photographic expeditions a total cinch. No more wasted trips or missed shots due to unsatisfactory lighting or the pesky sun popping up over the horizon in the ‘wrong’ place. I rely on it quite a bit as part of my photography workflow and wanted to share a bit about the app, why its a useful tool to have and how to use it. 

What is the photographer’s ephemeris?

The ephemeris? It’s connected to the thigh bone, surely?

Actually, no. An ephemeris is a chart or collection of data used to help locate the position of “celestial objects”. As far as photographers are concerned, this means the sun (or moon, if you’re of a long-exposing, nocturnal persuasion). In practice then, what The Ephemeris does is let you figure out where the sun or moon will be, at any given hour, on any given date. Don’t worry, it’s quite the mouthful that has stumped many photographers as it’s popped up into conversation with us all having a stab on the pronunciation. Just for the record, I go with ‘ef-eh-meris’ myself! 

While the name and description might make it sound more like an obscure, archaic document that’s spent the last 300 years locked in a dusty university library somewhere, The Photographer’s Ephemeris actually comes in the form of both smartphone app and web-based desktop program. It takes complex astronomical data and visually displays this by means of Google Maps, making it easy to use – even for us halfwit camera-monkey like me. Here I walk you through how and why you should use it, so you don’t need to go bothering the professor for an explanation.

Who needs it?

You, more than likely. Or, at least, any photographer who cares about quality of light. Given that the word photography literally means ‘writing with light’, that’s pretty much any photographer who wants to take good pictures. That is you, right?

The Photographer’s Ephemeris is the perfect tool for capturing that last burst of light and knowing just the right spot to stand

Obviously this will be especially of use to landscape photographers. For example, a successful portrait primarily depends upon the distinctive countenance and charisma of the person portrayed, and the photographer’s ability to create a rapport with that person; meanwhile street photographers are flaneurs, lurking in the urban environment waiting for humanity to collide in quirky and ephemeral juxtapositions that are in some way revealing of our society and its values. These are one-off, fleeting moments that are difficult – if not impossible – to recreate.

As a landscape photographer, however, your subject matter may be considerably less unique.

CreditAnsel Adams

Indeed some of the most successful and well-known landscape photographs are of locations that have been captured time and time again – both by unimpeachable masters and a hundred-thousand cack-handed amateurs alike. What makes Ansel Adams’ vision of Yosemite still stand out today is his mastery of composition and light. The Photographer’s Ephemeris is a tool to help you achieve just such mastery.

In fact, perhaps we should rephrase things: if you’re a landscape photographer then your subject is light. The landscape is just a receptacle for your subject. And if light is your subject then you need to be in control of it.

Credit: Garry Winogrand: Dallas, 1964

With that said, some of the greatest portraits, street shots and other iconic photographs also draw a significant part of their appeal from the succesful use of light: just think of those classic Garry Winogrand images of the aging Texan cowboy stepping onto the sidewalk, or 3 women at the corner of Vine St. They just wouldn’t have the same impact if it wasn’t for the driving beams of sunshine illuminating the concrete canyons of the North American metropolis and throwing the subjects into relief. In fact, we might well ask whether either of these photographs would have made it any further than Winogrand’s contact sheets if instead he’d rolled up 40 minutes later –  shooting the same scene but in total shadow, rather than dramatically backlit as he did.

Given Winogrand’s famously haphazard and frenzied manner of shooting, however, I think we can safely assume that at no point did he ever bother to consult a sun-chart. Nonetheless, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t. Certainly there’s little point in descending upon a potentially rewarding street corner only to discover that the last ray of sunlight disappeared over the rooftops a good half an hour earlier just because that’s what Winogrand might’ve done (he also died leaving behind thousands of undeveloped rolls of film he shot of random women out of his car window, you want to try that too?).

Why should you use the photographer’s ephemeris 

Needless to say, for anyone hoping to capture light at exactly the height and angle they want it, the ability to pick the right time and day to be in a certain location offers an enormous advantage. Instead of repeatedly having to drag yourself out of bed at obscene hours of the morning in the vain hope of encountering that perfect sunrise, you choose your location, check for the auspicious alignment of “celestial bodies”, and set your alarm. Job done.

Catching the golden hour light up Flinders Street which only lasts a few minutes before disappearing between the buildings

And your somewhat less-than-celestial body likely gained an extra half-hour under the bedcovers. I’ve used it for a few photo shoots including one of the light shining up Flinders Street just before it dips beneath the buildings. Knowing the timing of when the light would be at the right level before it dipped was crucial to getting Flinders Street Station lighting up with that golden hour light that we all love.

Alternatively, you can just keep doing it the way you’ve always done: standing in the middle of nowhere for 60 minutes of subzero twilight waiting for the sun to finally drag itself over a mountaintop, only for the light to totally miss the subject of your photograph when his celestial highness finally does rise anyway because you came way too early in the year.

What the photographer’s ephemeris helps you with

When shooting on a salt flat with not much in the way of composition, it’s great to know where the sun is going to set and burst

You’ve found the ultimate location, scouted the perfect vantage point, pre-visualised the composition and selected the right lens. All you need now is the weather and the light. Unless you’re that omnipotent dude with the beard and staff, or happen to be with the CIA, then there’s likely not a great deal you can do to control the former. The light, on the other hand, is largely just a matter of careful planning.

Planning your best sunrise and sunset locations

Got a location in mind for a stunning sunrise or sunset shot but want to check that it really is pointing in the direction you think it is? The Photographer’s Ephemeris will save you from a wasted trip. A great feature of the photographer’s ephemeris is that it also allows you to simulate different dates and times which works well for locations where the sun may be rising or setting at a different angle depending on the earth’s axis.

Chasing that keylight and backlight

When it comes to photography there’s really no right or wrong type of lighting, rather there will just be some qualities of light that are more or less appropriate for the particular shot that you’re trying to achieve.

Waiting for that burst of light up Greville St, Melbourne. Rather than wait all day, I just plugged the location into The Photographers Ephemeris iPhone app and knew what time to arrive

Many, if not all, serious photographers often have a preconceived idea of what they want an image to look like long before they get anywhere near to shooting it. This will frequently include plans regarding lighting. Clearly, if you’re this meticulous about the light in your photographs, and have a set idea in mind, you absolutely do not want to spend time and energy trekking off into some remote wilderness only to discover that nobody called the sun to inform it of your plans ahead of time. For this reason, The Ephemeris can be indispensable.

Indirect light

While missing the light can be a real disappointment, finding a scene speckled with stray sunbeams when you were hoping for a flat, contrast-free location in which to shoot can prove equally frustrating. Indeed, predicting precisely where the sun will hit is one thing, but sometimes you may want to avoid direct sun shining on the subject altogether – but still with a beautiful glow of soft yet directional light reflecting in from the sky.

Getting a soft light is key for waterfall photography

Just waiting for dusk to fall will not produce the same effect, so you’ll need to identify a point at which your location will succumb to the shadows caused by obstructions such as mountains or buildings, yet before the sun goes down. Indeed, The Ephemeris is probably just as valuable for its ability to show which areas of a locality will be without light as it is for indicating those with.

[box type=”info” size=”large” style=”rounded”]Knowing when the light will be dim works wonders for waterfall photography. My guide on waterfall photography goes hand in hand with this guide to capturing the best light[/box]

Using the photographers ephemeris

I know what some of you are thinking: “What do I need this for when I have a compass on my phone and Google Maps clearly shows where north is? The sun rises in the east and sets in the west. Easy!”

Sure, assuming you only need to gain a rough sense of where the sun will be positioned, your compass or map will do the job just fine. But there are many situations where the success of a shot will depend upon the light hitting a precise feature within the landscape, and at a particular angle. Without even getting into complex shots of incredible natural phenomena, lets just look at a very banal, easy to understand example: someone standing at a window with a nice backlight.

[box type=”info” style=”rounded”]Interested in landscape photography? My complete guide to landscape photography equipment and technique has you covered![/box]

Let’s pretend for a moment it’s April where ever you are in the world when you first spot the location. Inside, the room is exactly what you were looking for. Outside, the view is even better than you’d dreamed of. It’s perfect in every way.

Or at least it would be if it wasn’t for the fact that the building opposite blocks all sunlight from entering the room and illuminating your model, and there’s no sign that this situation will change later in the day.

Getting the right timing as the light pokes through the buildings of Sydney

Checking on the The Photographer’s Ephemeris, however, you can see that it would be worth coming back to shoot in late May, as by then the sun’s path will be sufficiently high to clear the building opposite and beam down through the window for over an hour each morning, allowing you to get the photo you wanted. Conversely, you can see that if you leave it until June before returning to shoot, the sun will already be too high in the sky and only briefly enter a few inches into the room before passing directly overhead.

Now imagine that you’ve seen some spectacular limestone rock formations, with holes in, allowing a view across the plains to a mountain peak. You have the idea to line up the sun, the peak and the holes. But is it possible? The Ephemeris knows.

How Does It Work?

Save and sync your locations between the desktop and mobile apps of The Photographer’s Ephemeris

Begin by choosing a style of map suitable for your subject (i.e. either regular Map, Satellite/Hybrid or Terrain). Now search for a destination you’re interested in shooting and drop a red pin right on your location. This screen gives you the ability to simulate where the sun will be at a given time, objects that may get in the way (i.e. a large rock stack) or even show you the shadow length that an object like a large rock stack may create.

The Photographer’s Ephemeris is a powerful tool and I must profess that I’m only covering off the very basics in this post. The tool is capable of a lot more including a night mode which allows you to track the milky way and integrates with Skyfire which gives you sunrise and sunset forecasts to help you in finding the best location to photograph the sunrise or sunset. How good is that?! Rather than complicate this post, I’m going to cover off the basics with the next few points.

Bookmarking your favourite locations

Locations can be bookmarked, so you can come back to them later: for example, as you’re sitting down for lunch planning your shoot for the afternoon you can quickly recall your saved location and check for the ideal date and time to shoot. If it’s not looking the right light, just keep scrolling through your list until you find somewhere that will be ideal based on the conditions of the day.

Simulating the sun at different times of the year

Finding the right light at Cape Schanck, Victoria
Finding the right light angle at Cape Schanck, Victoria
Golden hour light hitting Cape Schanck
Golden hour light hitting Cape Schanck

Choose a date from the calendar and then scroll across the timeline in order to see the trajectory and angle of light on your location at any particular moment during the day (or indeed night). This feature works well for photographing locations like my photo from Cape Schanck to the right. It was important to get the golden hour light shining on the rocks at the right angle. If I were to have photographed this at other times of the year, I would have had a harsh shadow of myself appearing in the frame. No one wants to see my ugly shadow in the frame 😉

Planning for obstructions that may block your light

Dropping a second, gray, pin displays geodetic data (i.e. info about the shape of the land, elevation etc.). This feature is extremely handy, as it allows you to work out if, say, a mountain or other geographical feature might potentially block the sun from illuminating your location for a further period of time after the sun has already risen and is shining everywhere else.

Once again, if you enjoy shooting in diffused light, The Ephemeris will allow you to plot the ideal time to start or finish work at a shortlisted location, before unwanted rays of strong direct sunlight start creeping into the shot. Move the timeline to see where shadows will fall, and from which angle, at any given time of day.

Simulating what effect the shadows may have on a scene is easy with The Photographer’s Ephemeris

Given the relative difficulty of estimating for yourself just how quickly shadows will grow or begin to disappear, perhaps the most important feature here is the app’s ability to display how long or short shadows will be at any particular moment. For example, if you’re a shooter that is looking to use the shadows to your advantage with a scene then having this feature can be a great one to have. Occasionally I will use it for my photography to help understand when the light will even out and give a flat exposure to my camera.

[box type=”info” size=”large” style=”rounded”]Interested in getting into long exposure photography but stuck for ideas? Give my long exposure photography ideas post a read![/box]

Closing out

The Photographer’s Ephemeris is a great time-saving tool for photographers across the board. While it will be particularly useful for those who shoot landscapes, it can also come in handy for photographers working in many other areas too.

While not a critical tool that every photographer must use, it is definitely one which photographers should know about and have up their sleeve. I’ve found it particularly useful when planning to photograph a location I’ve not visited before and looking to ensure I make the most of my time there. A great example of this was from a recent trip driving from Melbourne to Perth where we were visiting locations for the first time and was looking to ensure we were maximising our sunrise and sunset locations.

Indeed, for anyone planning a complex shot that relies upon precise natural lighting conditions, The Ephemeris will likely prove indispensable. By dropping a pin at your intended location you can quickly establish whether it offers the kind of light you’re looking for when you need it. If not, it’ll either be a case of choosing another date and time, or opting for a different location entirely. Either way, with The Photographer’s Ephemeris you can be sure that there will be no nasty last-minute surprises when planning a shot.

If nothing else, unless you’re a chronic insomniac, an amphetamine addict or a parent of small children (in which case sleep is anyway but a distant memory), you will likely appreciate the ability to set your alarm at a more convenient hour when shooting at sunrise.

Hope this guide has been useful! If you have any queries, please don’t hesitate to reach out and drop a line. Always happy to help!

Visit The Photographer’s Ephemeris to download the desktop or mobile app and learn more.

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Before and After – AAMI Park

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Aami Park 1 Aaami Park 2
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Capturing the Photo

Fireworks at AAMI Park as captured in 2011 during a sports game at one of Melbourne’s iconic sports venues.

After passing by it on my commute every day to work, I’d always wanted to capture a long exposure of the traffic going beneath the bridge with the stadium all lit up with a game being on. Timing for this photo was key where I wanted it to be a clear forecast so I could get a nice blue sky around blue hour.  I waited a few weekends where an event would be on but the forecast wasn’t really on my side. Eventually I got lucky with the forecast and luckily there was a time playing so decided to pounce. The plan was to arrive just on sunset to setup and capture an image around blue hour which would provide a nice even light over the scene and allow me to capture the lines from the constant flowing traffic beneath.

Various photos taken over the night.
Various photos taken over the night.

It was by luck that AAMI Park uses fireworks for when a team scores a goal. Even more lucky was that many a goals were being scored. I have to be honest – photographing fireworks isn’t my strong point and I really wanted to capture it in one image rather than blending the fireworks into the shot. Thanks to the fireworks going off every 5-10 minutes it let me get the right photo eventually in a 20 second exposure at F/13. For this photo I used the Canon 5D Mark II, Canon 17-40 and a tripod.

Processing the Image

The challenge for this photo (and something I find a lot when shooting night time) is battling the warm temperatures of the street lights. For this image, I could of edited it entirely in Lightroom by using the adjustment brush and saturation but I wanted a greater level of control over the image where I could make small-scale changes to a small selection without affecting the overall image.This is where I encourage the use of layer masks in Photoshop due to their ability to allow you to make selective changes to an image. Want to increase the saturation of just the reds of the traffic flowing past without increasing the saturation to other reds in your image? Layer masks is your answer.

[box type=”info” style=”rounded”]More information about layer masks and blending can be found in an earlier post about layer masks on my blog[/box]

Using layer masks on the bottom half of the image, I used a mixture of selective saturation changes, curves channel changes (adjusting the Red channel shadows and mid tones to reduce the red) and introducing a cold photo filter . I’m probably not 100% with the bottom half of the image but much prefer it over the original image where the lights create a high temperature over the scene.

With the high temperature traffic lights cooled down I then went about editing the sky and stadium. The changes here were quite simple and included:

  • Saturation boost and brightening the sky – With the intention of capturing the image on blue hour I really wanted to bring out the sky to emphasize the blue hour feel. The sky in the raw was quite flat (notice how the light drops off near the stadium lights) so I used the dodge feature in Photoshop to brighten the sky and to also bring out the fireworks more. With this done I then set about boosting the blues of the sky with a saturation mask
  • Colour correcting and brightening the stadium – As  I had the camera set to auto white balance, this left a warm and inconsistent colour temperature across the whole scene. To correct this, I set about creating a curves layer, opening the red channel and reducing the reds in the shadows and mid tones. The key here was to remove the reds from the stadium to make it appear its natural white colour. In addition to this, a saturation layer was created to lower the saturation of the stadium. Once again, a layer mask was used here for both layers to ensure the reduction to the red channel and saturation was only made to the stadium and not other parts to the scene. Once this was completed, I then went about dodging the stadium to brighten it
  • Straighten and perspective correction – I must admit, it’s rare that I’ll get my horizons 100% straight. Luckily it’s easy to quickly fix in Adobe Photoshop by selecting the ruler tool, running it along the horizon of the image and then selecting Image > Image Rotation > Arbitrary. With this complete I also used the lens correction tool in Photoshop which corrects distortion based on your lens profile. This can be found in Filter > Lens Correction

And that’s it really. For this image the most important thing was getting as much correct in camera as possible. Sure the colour balance could have been set to manual to avoid having to re-correct in post but through getting the fireworks and everything in one shot made post processing a lot easier.

Hope this post was useful for you and as usual if you have any questions or feedback I’d always love to hear from you.

Thanks for reading,

– Alex

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Before and After – Mansfield Tree on Sunset

[twentytwenty]IMG_4223 Tree reflections[/twentytwenty]

Recently I posted this image on [ilink url=”http://www.reddit.com/r/EarthPorn/comments/2epv5r/lone_tree_on_sunset_in_mansfield_victoria_by_alex/”]Reddit[/ilink] and received some great exposure. Amidst the exposure, some people were calling that the sub-reddit had degenerated into nothing more than heavily Photoshopped images that didn’t depict how the scene accurately looked. As part of my [ilink url=”http://www.alexwisephotography.net/blog/category/technique/before-and-after-technique/”]Before and After Series[/ilink] I’d like to look at how this image from [ilink url=”http://www.alexwisephotography.net/blog/2014/06/24/exploring-country-victoria-mansfield-and-abroad/”]Mansfield, Victoria[/ilink] was captured and processed.

The Evolution of the Dark Room

When reading comments comments about photographs that don’t resemble a scene whether it’s directed at me or others, I question whether there is a level of ignorance surrounding post processing. Let’s not forget that Ansel Adams was a pioneer in the use of dodge and burning and other darkroom techniques as discussed in interesting detail with comparative pictures by [ilink url=”http://whitherthebook.wordpress.com/2013/02/27/ansel-adams-and-photography-before-photoshop/”]Jack Dziamba[/ilink]. I would argue that if Ansel Adams was alive today, he would be using Photoshop as his digital dark room and pushing the envelope by using its features to process his images. Not only was Adams a pioneer in developing darkroom techniques but his involvement in the now famous, f/64 group, were also pioneers in exploring darkroom techniques which are now imitated in the digital equivalent –  Photoshop. Regardless of time, photographers will always be looking to explore and push the envelope with photography and to me, that is the joy in Photography. We’re always constantly learning and developing. It’s definitely what keeps me hooked.

My Shooting Process

Before I even press the trigger on a my camera shutter, I am not only correcting the camera as much as I can (i.e. setting it to the settings that I desire, straightening the horizon, etc) but also considering how I will process the image whether this be adding a duo tone or using the dodge/burn tool to highlight particular parts of the image. I don’t simply take a photo, look at my LCD and think “ah well, I’ll fix it up in Photoshop”. Instead I capture an image on the camera that forms part of ‘my vision’ for the whole photograph. For this reason, you may find notice my before photographs in this [ilink url=”http://www.alexwisephotography.net/blog/category/technique/before-and-after-technique/”]Before and After Series[/ilink] are often captured quite flat. Shooting in RAW mode, your images will appear somewhat flat regardless however often I will aim to shoot my image without any harsh highlights which often means shooting slightly under exposed. Modern digital camera’s have come a long way however pulling detail from highlights is a lot more difficult than pulling detail from blown highlights. For this reason, I will often expose just before I start to lose my highlights. For example, if the highlights are starting to blow at 5″ seconds, I will reduce to a shorter exposure of 2.5″ seconds. But enough ramble… Let’s look at how this photo from Mansfield was captured and post processed.

 Capturing the Photo

Images captured at varying exposure times for the final image
Images captured at varying exposure times for the final image

This photograph was taken while staying on a remote rural property in June 2014. We stayed in a farm house on an actual farm filled with livestock. It was an amazing experience and something I’ll never forget. Upon arriving home from photographing the [ilink url=”http://www.alexwisephotography.net/blog/2014/06/24/exploring-country-victoria-mansfield-and-abroad/”]Howqua Valley[/ilink] the sun was just starting to set and without much time to drive far, I decided to take a walk around the farm in the hope of finding a composition to capture the sunset. Luckily I came across this tree and decided to setup my tripod and camera gear while having a walk around to try find a good angle. As I was setting up cows were walking across the crest of the hill, I worried for a second that they may take a seat and call it home for the night but fortunately they kept moving. On this evening, there was quite a bit of breeze about which in turn was bringing through clouds at a rapid pace which I wanted to capture through a long exposure. The clouds weren’t moving as quite as much as I would have liked so I captured multiple long exposures with the intention of layer blending them in Photoshop. However through taking a long exposure, this ran the risk of also blurring the grass and puddle reflections. For this reason I also took some shorter length exposures in case the long exposures left the scene unsharp.

Processing the Images

The location was lacking for stand out compositions so I decided to take a chance and just take this one composition of the sunset of the tree reflecting in the background. Once I setup my camera, I took a few photos over the sunset which included:

  • Long exposures – The idea was to capture the moving clouds but unfortunately they weren’t moving as fast as I would have liked so to capture them properly before the sun went down, I captured multiple exposures with the intention of combinging them through using layer masks in Photoshop;
  • Short exposure – Shooting 3-5 minute long exposures with a slight breeze ran the risk of blurring the grass and puddles. I captured a shorter exposure in case I got home and these elements were blurry from the long exposure. By having this image I could easily layer mask the short exposure into the image and retain the sharpness of the image and;
  • Self portrait – Can I just say, putting the camera into a one minute self timer and sprinting (and perhaps awkwardly tripping) makes you look like a complete fool to anyone nearby watching? Fortunately no one was around nor do I really care but I’m sure if someone saw they would have been slightly bemused. This image never eventuated but was just an idea for something different in case the tree didn’t work on its own.

[box type=”info” size=”large” style=”rounded”]Layer what? Check out a previous blog post that discusses how to use layer masks[/box]

Generally I’ll tend to make most of my adjustments in Lightroom but obviously when you are doing some layer masking Photoshop is required. Once I identified what images I would be using (a mix of long exposures and a short exposure), I exported the images from Lightroom without much change and began editing them with the following process:

  1. Opened my short exposure in Photoshop to use as the base layer
  2. Imported the longer exposures and added them as layers to this image
  3. Slowly introduced the clouds one shot at a time by using layer masks
  4. Once the clouds were introduced to the shot and I was happy, I wanted to go a bit experimental with the vignette and colour grading for the image. This resulted in a lot of selective curves and saturation masks making minor changes to the different channels of the image. For the most part, this was just playing around until I was happy with the end result but the intention was to focus on the tree and reflections and slowly fade off to a vignette using dodge and burning
  5. Added a ProContrast layer from the [ilink url=”https://www.google.com/nikcollection/”]Nik Collection[/ilink] and juggled the opacity until it was at an acceptable level
  6. Save image (this will form my master copy for printing)
  7. Resize image for web (900px at the longest edge)
  8. Added a unsharp (USM) layer to sharpen only the tree and grass of the shot. The idea here was to keep the sky looking as soft as possible while trying to boost the sharpness of the rest of the image. I do this quite often for my images however be mindful not to do over do this as having one part of your image with strong sharpness and the rest looking unsharp can look quite odd if you’re not careful
  9. Save web image

Apologies if the process sounds a bit vague but for the most part, dropping and the different clouds exposures was the easy part. It was experimenting with different colour styles and dodge/burning where I dabbled and experimented with different looks until I ended up with something I was happy with.

Tree reflections

Thanks for reading. If you have any questions about the processing of this image be sure to leave a comment or drop me an email as I’d be happy to help!

– Alex

 

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Sunset at Shelley Beach, Portsea and a New Toy

Last weekend in parts of Australia it was a long weekend, a perfect opportunity to get out and take some photos. Something I could really get used to. Can someone please start a petition for a 4 day working week? How great it would be but maybe not so much for the economy…

Continue reading Sunset at Shelley Beach, Portsea and a New Toy

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Portsea Back Beach on Sunset

Go swimming + take some photos = my idea of a good photo trip

Recently I caught up with some friends for some photos down the Portsea area. For those reading this post from overseas, Melbourne is sweltering at the moment with the temperature hovering around 40 degrees (or 104 fahrenheit). Maybe it’s my Tasmanian bones but I can’t handle the heat well and much prefer winter. Although one part of summer I do love is being  by the beach and getting my feet wet. Growing up and spending a lot of time by the beach, one of the things I’ve missed the most moving to Melbourne is the beach and it made first priority on our trip down to Portsea.

sd-card-corruption
Uhhh… What’s this black bar suddenly appearing on my photos?

After getting down to Portsea earlier and going for a swim (the wait was worth it) we set about getting the camera gear out and setting up for some photos. Originally the idea was to shoot around the London Bridge area which is a popular tourist spot down that way. Although on the night, the tide was going out which allowed you to get nice and close to the rock ledges and capture the waves rushing over.

All was great until a black bar made a guest appearance…

All was great until I fired my first photo and glanced at the LCD for a quick look at how the photo looked (yep I’m a massive chimper and proud ;)) and noticed a black bar across the screen. I thought to myself no worries. It must be the Cokin adapter and/or filter holder. I jiggle both around and they both appear as they normally would. Strange. I then take all the filters off, remove the battery and take a bare photo. It’s still happening. Inappropriate words for this blog may of been dropped. I instantly thought “Great, another broken 5D Mark II in the space of 2 years”.   I wasn’t happy as the sunset was just starting to take off but rather than let the issue with the black bar deter me I kept shooting even if in the back of my head I was thinking of better ways I could spend the money that a new 5D Mark III was about to cost me. After shooting the sunset and finishing up I decided to walk down and meet with Ricardo De Cunha to show him the images and check whether he had seen anything like it before. We played around for a while and try the memory card in his camera. The issue wasn’t occurring but once we placed it back in my camera the issue stopped occuring. That damn memory card was causing my grief and it wasn’t a dead sensor after all. Hoorah. Well. Sort of. I still had a card full of dud images that had a black bar across the top of them.

Generally I like to minimise the amount of processing I do on my images but knew that with the images on the card they would require significant more editing than normal. Fortunately the bar appeared along the sky so it was relatively easy to remove. On the first image I was feeling lazy and decided to give the much hyped content aware tool in Photoshop a play not expecting any marvels. Oh how wrong I was. It surprisingly worked perfectly and faultless. Unfortunately I can’t say it worked as well on the other images but I’m still impressed nevertheless.

Luckily most of the images except a few were recoverable and it’s now time to order a new memory card to replace my old faithful. Here are some of my favourite photos from the night. All captured with a Canon 5D Mark II, Canon 17-40, Cokin Z-Pro ND Filter Kit and a corrupt memory card 😉

Thanks for viewing,

– Alex

Portsea Victoria IMG_9334 copy IMG_9345 copyPortsea Back Beach