Try this with your photography!

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Try this with your photography!

For years, whenever I know a thunderstorm is approaching I try my best to get out in it. Still attempting to stay safe, but also standing in the wind, rain and lightning to try and capture the power and magic of it all.

I was faced with a challenge recently on a trip where I was caught in a beautiful location, big thunderstorm overhead... but it wasn’t at night and I had forgotten my ND filters! What to do??!!!

Normally capturing lightning strikes I would used long exposures. I did the best I could by shutting down the exposure to f.16, giving me around .5 second shutter speed. Still not slow enough. Luckily the camera I was using had a timelapse or multi shot mode which I could set to take a shot every second. If your camera cannot do this, there are third party intervelometers that can remotely control your camera for this purpose.

So after around 400 shots, I was able to extract several with decent lightning, then in photoshop I stacked the shots which gives the result you would normally get with a long exposure. To tell the difference look at the water and clouds. Not blurred by their own movements at all.

Try it out. It’s not ideal but it was a work around! 

Stay well. 

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Travel Photography - Keep it light!

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Travel Photography - Keep it light!

Travelling with heavy, expensive camera equipment is a pain.

I used to travel with 2 or 3 camera bodies, multiple lenses, full size carbon tripod, laptop, hard drives, cleaning kit, etc etc.  To be honest, if I hadn’t been in a situation to cut down for my most recent trip I still would!

But if you do feel like too much gear will weigh you down, you need to compromise confidently. I know I don’t need multiple camera bodies. So I’ve chosen the lightest. I’ve only brought one lens, the one I figured was the most versatile. A very small mini tripod, and a couple of other bits and pieces. 

I’m already amazed at how much easier my life is just transiting the airport. No anxiety around the weight of baggage, everything is lighter, WAY lighter! Sure I’m going to wish on occasion that I had a long telephoto lens, bigger, sturdier tripod and all the bells and whistles... but I know that I can get results from what I have. Being forced to get creative and compromise might actually be a blessing in disguise! 

I won’t always compromise my equipment, but I’m looking forward to the challenge of not lugging all that gear around! 

Stay well. 

J

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Read this before buying more camera gear...

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Technology evolves rapidly. I often catch myself trying to find an excuse to aquire the "latest and greatest."

 Assuming I'm not alone, here’s some advice.

Our entire lives, we are conditioned by advertising to justify and rationalise upgrading perfectly good items.

Phones, lenses, cameras, software, and any other technology. This is the marketing strategy of the big global brands at work. 

It used to be that razor blades were one of the few items that constantly needed replacing. They're considered a work of marketing genius! A product that people continuously need to replace forever. Then it became cars. And over the past decade this concept has been adopted by the tech companies, blurring the lines for the consumer between wanting something, and needing something.

 Smartphones are not offering significant improvements from one product to the next. Slight upgrades to cameras, memory and power... but they still do the same job they've done for years. Cameras too. The myth of the megapixel is well known. The resolution race is unnecessary. And if you look at how great some of the images are that photographers and cinematographers have produced, and still produce, with equipment from 5, 10, 20 years ago, why do we need to keep upgrading?

 HD video was mind blowing a decade ago... now we are speeding past 4K and heading into 8K resolution territory. Why?!  At what point do we ask ourselves "Do I really need that?" Digital cinemas project in 2K!

You may not agree with my views, but these days I'm more likely to rent cameras than buy them... depending on the projects I'm working on of course. I can go a month and have 5 commercial clients all wanting to shoot their projects on 5 different cameras. And with how rapidly these items are considered outdated, why buy before you have to? Or why buy at all!?!

 Here are a few tips: 

Do your research.

Save your money... Spend it elsewhere!

You decide when to spend your money, not when you are being sold the idea it's time to upgrade.

Don’t be dictated to by the corporations that sell the products. 

Having said all that... I've got to go and update my editing software!

 Stay well.

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I took over 80 photographs in a raging thunderstorm to get this shot... here’s how it was done.

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Capturing lightning on camera is a challenge, but absolutely a worthwhile one. It’s impossible to predict the amounts of rain, wind and lightning you may see. Many times, I’ve been in the pouring rain and freezing wind, firing shot after shot in the direction I think the lightning will strike. But it’ll strike to the left, right, behind... every direction but where I’m set up. It can be frustrating! 

 

Having said this, I have successfully managed to capture some fantastic lightning images. I’ll share how you can do the same and how I captured the photograph featured on this page.

 

EQUIPMENT YOU WILL NEED

Camera: Preferably a DSLR, or any camera with full manual control over exposure times.

Tripod: Avoid light weight tripods or weigh one down if it’s your only option.

Fast Memory Card

Rain Cover: For your camera (a heavy-duty garbage bag will also do the job)

Towels

Umbrella: Not a necessity but the experience will be much more tolerable if you’re shooting in heavy rain.

Torch: If shooting at night this will really help. It can also be used to “paint” your foreground in light which I explain later. 

 

The weather forecast predicted storms. I headed to the location a couple of hours before sunset, found the composition I wanted with the tree and set up the camera and tripod. I had a remote trigger connected to the camera for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it stops you from shaking the camera each time you hit the shutter release, and secondly, I was able to take some shelter in my car. If you don’t have a remote trigger, you can set your camera timer for a couple of seconds so that you have a moment to take your hands off the camera body before the shutter releases.

 

EXPOSURE

Lightning is unpredictable so to maximise your chance of capturing it, use a longer exposure time. My setup was as ollows:

hutter Speed: 20 Second

perture: F 8.

SO: 20

Lens: 16-35mm at 35m

ORMAT: RA

The trick is to set your exposure as if a giant flash will light your scene. If you shoot for the landscape and lightning hits it will be horribly blown out and overexposed.

There were often times in between shots where there would be absolutely incredible lightning strikes, just as an exposure finished but before I had time to fire off the next. To give yourself a higher chance of lightning striking within your frame, shoot exposures of 20 seconds rapidly one after another.

 

PAINTING THE FOREGROUND

To light the tree in the foreground, I used the headlights of my car. I didn’t want to end up with some amazing sky with the tree and the rocky buttes in the distance just silhouettes. During each exposure I would flash my headlights to illuminate the foreground. You can also use a torch to paint any foreground object with light.

 

POST PRODUCTION

Post processing this image was straight forward. The biggest issue I faced was the dramatic colour temperature difference between the lightning and the car headlights however, when I did the monochromatic test, I loved it. This saved me having to edit the foreground and match the light sources in photoshop. Given the desert location, I added some coffee tones to the shadows and applied some dodging, burning and sharpening.

 

I hope this is a bit of a help, and that next time there’s a storm you have some motivation to get out in it! Just be aware, shelter in a car or overpass if you’re able, and enjoy it all! If you have any questions don’t hesitate to email me info@jgmarshall.photos or use the form on the contact us page here.

Stay well. 

JM

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Jared G Marshall is a Multi Award Winning Director Of Photography, SOC Film and TV Camera Operator, Photographer. Originally from Melbourne, Australia, his work now takes place globally.

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Photo editing tech wizardry takes the time out of editing.

Interesting tech on its way according to this article by Science Alert. This technology will either be a great time saver, or a waste of time for pro photographers, but for everyday people shooting with their smartphones it could lift the level of everyday photos. Let me know your thoughts?!

http://www.sciencealert.com/new-algorithms-can-fix-your-photos-before-you-even-take-them

Will our photos in the near future be edited automatically by cameras running AI?

Will our photos in the near future be edited automatically by cameras running AI?

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