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  • Tips for Using Neutral Density Filters for Cityscape Photography at Blue Hour

    Neutral density filters (ND filters) are essential tools when it comes to shooting cityscapes at blue hour. Even without an ND filter, you could shoot for a few seconds of exposure (using a small aperture like f/13) when the light falls towards the end of dusk.

    But those opaque filters let you take even longer exposure photos (minutes, not just seconds), and create beautiful effects such as light trails, silky smooth water, rushing clouds, etc., by slowing down the shutter speed by a certain number of f-stops.

    Singapore - Using Neutral Density Filters for Cityscape Photography at Blue Hour

    This Marina Bay (Singapore) photo was shot with a 2-second exposure (at f/13) without using any ND filter. The sky looks good, but the water isn’t smoothed out at all, as that exposure is way too short to create silky smooth water effect that is seen in the photos to follow.

    How ND Filters Make Your Exposure Longer

    ND filters come in different strengths, some popular ones are 3-stop, 6-stop and 10-stop. The bigger the number, the darker the filter (i.e. the less light that is let through) and the longer the exposure will be.

    For example, a base shutter speed of one second (i.e. when no filter is attached) can be extended to as long as 1024 seconds (over 17 minutes) with 10-stop ND filter attached, as each “stop” doubles the exposure time:

     

    1 second > 2 seconds [1 stop] > 4 seconds [2 stops] > 8 seconds [3 stops] > 15 seconds [4 stops] > 30 seconds [5 stops] > 64 seconds [6 stops] > 128 seconds [7 stops] > 256 seconds [8 stops] > 512 seconds [9 stops] > 1024 seconds [10 stops]

     

    It’s easy to calculate when a base shutter speed is a simple number like one second, but what about starting with, say, 1/15th of a second? This is where the Long Exposure Calculator app (for iOS) comes in handy and makes your life easier, as it automatically calculates a required shutter speed for you (look for an Android equivalent here).

    ND filter and app - Using Neutral Density Filters for Cityscape Photography at Blue Hour

    Neutral density (ND) filter (left) and Long Exposure Calculator app (right).

    Using Different Strengths of ND Filters for Your Desired Effect

    In this article, we’ll take a little deeper look at when to use which ND filter for your desired effect at blue hour.

    3-Stop ND Filter

    I don’t use 3-stop ND filter when taking cityscapes at a waterfront, as the strength is too mild to create a silky smooth water effect. Hence, my use of 3-stop ND filter is limited for scenes that have no water to be smoothed out, such as the photo below with light trails of moving cars, which doesn’t require a very long shutter speed.

    Shanghai skyline - Using Neutral Density Filters for Cityscape Photography at Blue Hour

    Shanghai skyline (China) shot with a 25-second exposure (f/8) using a B+W 3-Stop ND Filter (77mm). The base shutter speed was 3 seconds, ISO 100.

    Singapore - Using Neutral Density Filters for Cityscape Photography at Blue Hour

    Singapore skyline shot with a 10-second exposure (f/13) using the same 3 -stop ND filter. The base shutter speed was 1.3 seconds, ISO 100.

    This mild strength 3-stop ND filter (i.e. not so long exposure) isn’t all bad, though. It allows you to take a number of photos during blue hour, unlike more dense filters like a 6-stop ND filter where you can take no more than a few photos due to a longer exposure time required per photo.

    6-Stop ND Filter

    I almost exclusively use a 6-stop ND filter when shooting cityscapes at a waterfront. To create silky smooth water effects, slowing down 3 stops isn’t quite enough, but a 10-stop one is way too strong. For example, a base shutter speed of 2 seconds (i.e. with no filter attached) gets extended to 15 seconds (with 3-stop ND filter), 128 seconds (with a 6-stop ND filter) and whopping 34 minutes and 8 seconds (with a 10-stop ND filter) respectively.

    Shanghai - Using Neutral Density Filters for Cityscape Photography at Blue Hour

    Shanghai skyline (China) shot with a 164-second exposure (f/11) using a B+W 6-Stop ND Filter (77mm) in order to achieve my desired effect of silky smooth water. Had I used a 3-stop ND filter, the water wouldn’t have been smoothed out this much (base shutter speed: 2.5 seconds, ISO 100).

    Singapore - Using Neutral Density Filters for Cityscape Photography at Blue Hour

    Marina Bay (Singapore) shot with a 163-second exposure (f/13) using the same 6-stop ND filter (base shutter speed: 2.5 seconds, ISO 100).

    I typically aim to shoot with a base shutter speed of 2-3 seconds when using a 6-stop ND filter, which extends the exposure to 128 -192 seconds respectively. In order to create a silky smooth water effect, 2-3 minutes of exposure seems just right.

    By the way, if you’re planning to buy only one filter for cityscape photography at blue hour, I’d recommend nothing but a 6-stop ND filter. I’ve probably photographed 90% of my cityscapes at blue hour using a 6-stop ND filter. It’s really a game changer if you are interested in doing this kind of photography.

    10-Stop ND Filter

    A 10-stop ND filter is a kind of special filter that lets you expose extremely long (longer than necessary in most cases!). Personally, I don’t really find 10-stop ND filter useful for shooting cityscapes at blue hour, as the exposure goes too long (even starting at a base shutter speed of 1/2 second gets extended to 8 and a half minutes), and digital noise caused by long exposure becomes too unbearable (even with in-camera long exposure noise reduction turned on).

    So, this extreme filter’s use is rather limited to pre-dusk or even earlier in the day, not towards the end of dusk. In fact, one big advantage of a 10-stop ND filter is letting you take long exposure photos while the sky is still bright, which is something 3 and 6-stop ND filters aren’t up to the task of doing.

    With a 10-stop ND filter, I usually aim to shoot with a base shutter speed of 1/4 or 1/3 second which is extended to 256 and 341 seconds respectively. I tend to avoid an exposure that exceeds 6-7 minutes, as long exposure noise starts to creep in.

    Such a base shutter speed (1/4 or 1/3 second) can normally be achieved around sunset time or before, therefore you don’t really see deep bluish hue that’s typically seen at the prime time of the blue hour. Instead, your photo will have a surreal look that is very unique and distinctive to 10-stop ND filter.

    Singapore - Using Neutral Density Filters for Cityscape Photography at Blue Hour

    Singapore skyline shot with a 258-second exposure (f/8) using B+W 10 Stop ND Filter (77mm) with a base shutter speed of 1/4 second, ISO 100.

    Singapore Using Neutral Density Filters for Cityscape Photography at Blue Hour

    Singapore skyline shot with a 259-second exposure (f/7.1) using the same 10-stop ND filter (base shutter speed: 1/4 second, ISO 100).

    Conclusion

    I hope this post helps you get started with shooting cityscape photos at blue hour using neutral density filters. I’m sure that you’ll be hooked in no time and can no longer shoot cityscapes at blue hour without one!

    If you have any questions or tips to share, feel free to do so in the comments below.

    The post Tips for Using Neutral Density Filters for Cityscape Photography at Blue Hour appeared first on Digital Photography School.


    Source: DP School

  • This is what dumping a truckload of plastic to the ocean every 60 seconds looks like

    According to statistics, the equivalent of a truckload of plastic is dumped in the ocean every 60 seconds. Sounds kinda scary, right? Since the statistic may be difficult to visualize, Benjamin Von Wong has decided to demonstrate it with a series of photos, hoping to make a change. So, he gathered a team and a […]

    The post This is what dumping a truckload of plastic to the ocean every 60 seconds looks like appeared first on DIY Photography.


    Source: Diyphotographynet

  • First images leak of new Sigma 28mm f/1.4, 40mm f/1.4, 70-200mm f/2.8, 60-600mm and 56mm f/1.4 lenses

    Oh yeah, that’s a whole lotta glass! New images have come from Nokishita showing five new Sigma Art, Sport & Contemporary series lenses. Two of these I suggested we may see soon after the recent Sigma Cinema Lens announcement, and one’s a very long-awaited and much-anticipated hunk of glass. But there are also a couple […]

    The post First images leak of new Sigma 28mm f/1.4, 40mm f/1.4, 70-200mm f/2.8, 60-600mm and 56mm f/1.4 lenses appeared first on DIY Photography.


    Source: Diyphotographynet

  • Five Reasons Why I Finally Bit the Bullet Switched to Adobe Creative Cloud

    When Adobe announced that they were transitioning their apps to a subscription model of the Adobe Creative Cloud in 2013, I almost fell out of my chair while clutching the cardboard box for my copy of Lightroom 4. It seemed absolutely crazy to me that Adobe would ask photographers and other creative professionals to spend money every month subscribing for software that they could simply buy once and use forever.

    In the years that followed I resisted moving to Creative Cloud and continued to buy new versions of Lightroom one by one until a few months ago when I finally bit the bullet and subscribed. I was one of Adobe’s harshest critics in those intervening years and staunchly refused to buy into Creative Cloud for several reasons until I realized five important things that finally got me to switch over.

    Five Reasons Why I Switched to Adobe Creative Cloud - couple portrait

    Much of my hesitation to switch was due to the fact that I didn’t really understand the service Adobe was offering with their Creative Cloud Photography plan. That’s the one that lets you have Lightroom and Photoshop for $10/month.

    What I failed to recognize was that Lightroom and Photoshop are just the tips of the iceberg, and there’s a whole slew of additional Adobe services that users have access to with a CC subscription. None of these by themselves are worth the price but when you examine all the ancillary benefits you get alongside great software it makes the idea of renting the software I used to own a lot more palatable.

    Syncing between Lightroom Classic and Lightroom CC

    When you subscribe to the Photography plan you get two versions of Lightroom, each with unique features and benefits designed to cater to specific types of photography workflows.

    Lightroom Classic CC is the name of the traditional desktop app that has been around since 2007, now available only through a Creative Cloud subscription. This is for desktop-centric workflows where all your photos reside on a single computer.

    Lightroom CC is a new different version of Lightroom designed for a cloud-centric workflow where all your photos reside in the cloud and can be edited anywhere – in a browser, on a tablet, on a phone, or even using Lightroom CC on a desktop computer.

    What you might not realize is that you can use both of these programs together, with the key difference being the location where your original pictures actually reside. If you are accustomed to a traditional desktop-centric workflow you can use Lightroom Classic CC to sync specific albums in the Cloud.

    This basically uploads low-resolution preview files of your photos to your Creative Cloud account. These previews, then, can be edited anywhere using Lightroom CC and the next time you load Lightroom Classic CC on your desktop all your edits are automatically synced to your original photos and catalog file.

    photo editing in Lightroom CC - Five Reasons Why I Switched to Adobe Creative Cloud

    I started editing this photo on my computer in Lightroom Classic CC. Then I pulled it up in my browser and made additional changes which were synced back to my desktop.

    The key difference between both types of workflows is that when using albums published to the cloud from Lightroom Classic CC, your originals remain on your desktop which means you can’t export high-resolution images from Lightroom CC. However, for photographers who want to edit their pictures on the go and then return to their desktop for any final tweaking and exporting, this is an outstanding solution and one that could make the difference to those on the fence about subscribing.

    One final note about this: The $9.99 Photography Plan includes 20GB of cloud storage, but the albums that you publish to the cloud from Lightroom Classic do not count against that 20GB. This is because they use low-resolution previews instead of your actual images which is fine for flagging, cropping, keywording, color correcting, and most of the other adjustments you would want to make on a mobile device.

    family photo in Lightroom - Five Reasons Why I Switched to Adobe Creative Cloud

    Having access to my photos on mobile has sped up my culling process enormously. It’s much faster for me to flag, reject, and rate photos on my iPad and the results are synced right back to my iMac in Lightroom Classic CC.

    Photoshop is Included

    I’ll be the first to admit that even though I call myself a photographer I rarely use Adobe Photoshop and instead do most of my post-processing in Lightroom. I do, however, have an old copy of Photoshop CS5 that I bought about eight years ago which I use when I really need to do some heavy processing.

    But it’s slow, lacks a lot of modern features, and has an interface and layout that is confusing, to say the least. It also crashes on me a lot which doesn’t exactly help matters whenever I do need to use it.

    Despite these issues, the fact that Photoshop is included did not do much to initially sway my barometer when it came to shelling out $9.99 each month for the Creative Cloud Photography plan. I forced myself to get by with what I had even though it was not really suiting my needs anymore.

    image in Photoshop - Five Reasons Why I Switched to Adobe Creative Cloud

    But the more I thought about subscribing to Creative Cloud the more I realized how nice it would be to have the full version of Photoshop ready when I needed it.

    No need to think about buying, upgrading, or figuring out whether the version I had would really be current with the latest online tutorials. It just started to make sense for a small-time photographer like me to pay what really is a modest monthly fee to have the latest and greatest tools at my disposal for when I needed them.

    Since I don’t use Photoshop all that often it would not be worth the price of a Creative Cloud plan by itself, but combined with everything else it sure did make a lot of sense.

    Share albums publicly

    I take a lot of photos of family, friends, and events just for personal use and like most people, I enjoy sharing these images with others. Until subscribing to Adobe Creative Cloud my workflow for this type of sharing was somewhat convoluted and involved exporting small-sized images from Lightroom, saving them to a Dropbox shared folder, generating a public link, and sending that out to others.

    I couldn’t do much in the way of limiting access privileges either, and meanwhile, the images were taking up space in my Dropbox account that is perpetually near its limit anyway.

    Now my process is much simpler, a lot more efficient, and results in a greater degree of control over what I can actually let other people do with my images. After publishing an album to the cloud from Lightroom Classic CC you can log in to Lightroom on the web, on mobile, or just load up Lightroom CC and generate a public link for any synced album.

    Moreover, you can get an embed code, choose to allow downloads and show metadata, and even let people filter the photos according to Flag status.

    album sharing - Five Reasons Why I Switched to Adobe Creative Cloud

    While the images that are publicly viewable using this method are the low-resolution previews and not full-size images for printing, they are more than enough for most people.

    The tradeoff in terms of overall simplicity and ease of use is more than worth it for me, and I’m not taking up valuable space in my Dropbox account or other file-sharing services.

    Adobe portfolio

    This might not be useful for some photographers but I have found Adobe Portfolio to be an incredible asset as a Creative Cloud subscriber and it really was one of the primary reasons I eventually chose to upgrade. Previously I was paying a service nearly $100/year for my photography website. But when I realized that Adobe Portfolio could do everything I need and was included with a Creative Cloud subscription I canceled my other hosting service and moved everything over to Adobe.

    adobe portfolio - Five Reasons Why I Switched to Adobe Creative Cloud

    Adobe Portfolio won’t give you the fanciest website in the world, but it could very well get the job done for you at not much more than what you are paying for a website now.

    All Creative Cloud subscribers have access to Adobe Portfolio which, though not as full-featured as some of the other hosting providers, is more than enough for my needs and possibly yours as well. As an added bonus it syncs with Lightroom so I can create albums on my computer and have them synced automatically with my website. Something that was not possible at all with my previous hosting company.

    If you are at all interested in Creative Cloud but unsure about the $9.99 monthly fee, I recommend looking at your current website hosting solution and comparing it to Adobe Portfolio. It is quite likely that the latter could suit your needs just fine and end up only costing you a bit more than what you are already paying for a website.

    adobe portfolio - Five Reasons Why I Switched to Adobe Creative Cloud

    Adobe Portfolio doesn’t have the breadth of features offered by other website platforms, but it does have a decent selection of themes and some solid options for photographers who want a simple, effective way to showcase their work online.

    The price was right

    As I looked at all the features offered by Adobe Creative Cloud I kept on coming back to the monthly fee, and for years I just couldn’t reconcile the idea of being locked into a perpetual contract just to use software that I could go out and buy once but use forever. However, I kept coming back to other software I had purchased like Aperture, Final Cut Express, and even other Adobe apps like Fireworks that simply wouldn’t run on my computer anymore.

    Sure I had bought these apps but as time went on the only way to use them was to purchase new versions anyway. In the meantime by not upgrading I was losing out on the bug fixes, added features, and overall speed improvements offered by their newer counterparts. In some cases, like Final Cut Express, apps were simply deprecated by their developers leaving me with no choice but to upgrade anyway.

    software - Five Reasons Why I Switched to Adobe Creative Cloud

    I’ve paid hundreds of dollars over the years for software that I can’t use anymore, or won’t be able to use in the near future because it has been deprecated by its developers.

    I still don’t like the idea of being locked into a monthly fee for software but when I considered all the benefits that came with what really was a modest price (only about $30 more than I was paying just for my website) the choice became clear. I’m not saying that Creative Cloud is right for everybody but it was definitely the right choice for me and, depending on your needs, it could be right for you too.

    The post Five Reasons Why I Finally Bit the Bullet Switched to Adobe Creative Cloud appeared first on Digital Photography School.


    Source: DP School

  • What if all photographers had the same gear?

    What if you had the same camera, lighting and subject matter as everyone else. A groundhog day for a photographer so to speak. If we all have the same gear what would make you different? “Imagine you had no way of visually showing someone any of your work, and they ask you to describe what […]

    The post What if all photographers had the same gear? appeared first on DIY Photography.


    Source: Diyphotographynet

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