Namibia – Abstract Landscapes

8 12 2011

 

One of the highlights of my trip to Namibia was visiting the Deadvlei near Sesriem.  From the time I first saw photos from this amazing place I said to myself “this is somewhere that I just have to photograph”.   The textures of the dry lake bed…. the abstract shapes of the petrified trees….. the beautiful red/orange sand dunes surrounding the lake are all like something out of a Dali painting.

A light painted image taken at night.

I ended up doing three shoots at this location.  A sunset shoot, followed by a sunrise shoot, and then a sunset/night shoot.  Similar to Kolmanskop, this location was a photographers dream… lots of different ways you could approach the shoot.  Different compositions, lighting and post processing all combined to make this a pretty special and surreal landscape.

I deliberately went pretty hard with the post processing.  The reason for this was that there are plenty of lovely “natural prints”,  however because this is such a surreal landscape, I wanted to add a bit of surreal processing to the post production to create an image that was a bit different to everybody elses.  The top image looks incredible when printed large on fine art paper (and on super glossy).

 

I’ll follow up with a tutorial on my post processing for some of these images in a few weeks once I have finished my image processing.

 

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Light Painting An Entire Freaking City!!!

28 10 2010

Check this out…. This is light painting on a grand scale… What a project.  50 photographers went to great details to light paint an entire city.  While the translation from Spanish is not perfect, it’s still worth having a read of what these guys got up to.  Absolutely amazing.

You can read the whole story here.

Brent





Kirsty Tutorial Part 2 – Post Processing

22 05 2010

This is part 2 of my tutorial on how I produced the image of Kirsty by the bunker.   If you haven’t read part 1, you might want to scroll down or go to the previous article to understand how the capture occured.

This posting is all about the photoshop work.  Now before you jump into the screencast, I refer to a guy in the video called Calvin Hollywood.  I have found Calvin’s techniques very different and very cool.  In particular I refer to an effect called “Freaky Details”.  The link to Calvin’s posting on Freaky Details is here. I have also bought Calvin’s DVD called “Calvinize” and I totally rate it.  But you want to be into more stylised photoshop before buying it…. It wouldn’t be as suitable for those of you that are only interested in photo realistic landscapes.

Anyway I hope you find this tutorial useful and pick up a few techniques.  I’m not sure I have explained everything super clearly, so just post a question in the comments if there is something you didn’t understand and I’ll clarify.

Enjoy

Brent





Tutorial: Kirsty At Middle Head Fort – Part 1… The Capture

16 05 2010

It’s been a while since I posted a tutorial, so I thought I’d do a tutorial on this image that I made last night.  This article will be in two parts;

  • Part 1 will talk about how I made the capture
  • Part 2 will take you through the post processing of the image.

So last night I was running a workshop for Northside Creative Camera Club on Light Painting.  I decided to ramp it up a bit and include some off-camera flash techniques as well.   We invited a lovely model called Kirsty to come and model for us.  Here’s how we did this shot.

Set up an SB900 flash unit in a soft box just out of frame on camera left.  The flash was close to Kirsty which meant the light levels dropped off quickly in the scene and allowed us to control the lighting on the bunker separately.  I was using Nikon’s CLS to control the flash power.  Camera was set on ISO200, f5.6, 30sec exposure.

As we triggered the shutter the strobe fired, and then we started light painting the bunker from camera right, and then from camera left using my olive oil can with a fluoro in it.  We also went behind the bunker and popped a second flash with a pink gel on it into the bunker about 5 times to create the pink glow.

The stars were captured separately from a high ISO shot (iso 1600, f5.6, 30sec) and then blended in using a contrast mask.

Thats pretty much it.  Even though it was a long exposure, Kirsty was sitting in darkness, so the flash pop gave her sharpness.

My next post will show the post processing step-by-step.

I hope you like it.  I am using a more stylised processing approach for these portrait sessions because I feel they lend themselves more to it rather than straight landscapes.

More later

Brent





This is cool…. seriously! Check this out. Off Camera Flash Meets Light Painting.

12 01 2010

Don’t you love it when an experiment comes together and works!  Well this one worked better than I thought.

Recently I’ve started getting more into Off Camera Flash photography and blending it in with my landscape and urbanscape images.  I came up with an idea of combining studio off-camera flash with creative light painting.  So I pulled together 2 lovely models, 1 awesome makeup artist and a bunch of strobist freaks for a  night of experimental fun.

The images that you will see in this video ARE STRAIGHT FROM THE CAMERA!!! I have not opened them at all in Photoshop, they have just been converted in Lightroom.

Credits:

Makeup by Glitta Supernova

Models  Catherine and Liliana

Strobeys: Australian Strobist Group

Music: Chamillionaire – Good morning & Temper Trap – Sweet Disposition

Light Painting: Yours truly.





Light Painting Article in Better Photography

29 12 2009

I just picked up a copy of the latest edition of Better Photography.  Peter Eastway has written up a nice article about a shoot I took him on a few months back to show him the ins and outs of light painting.

It’s funny what editors omit from their articles… he ommited to mention that he went on a seascape shoot with two Phase One backs in his backpack wearing thongs.  Now the trip out to the headland wasn’t too bad, but it was an incoming tide, and I think Peter got a tad nervous when we had a few dashes across the rocks in between waves.  Watching somebody dash across the rocks in thongs with about $80K worth of camera gear on their back was certainly one of the moments I won’t forget in a hurry.

🙂

BP





Sculpture By The Sea…By Night

9 11 2009

Well this is the second year that I have stayed away from Sculpture By the Sea during pre-dawn or daylight hours…. It’s like Pitt Street for Photographers… has been for a few years now.

But at night…  all the people go except for the occasional couple that stroll by with torches.  You have plenty of space and time to just experiment and play.

Here’s a couple of shots from this years exhibition.

Blue Face at night

This was probably my favorite shot from the two nights that I went out shooting.  Funnily enough it was the last shot of the night.  I’d seen this face when I was browsing through some of the other photos of the exhibition, and while none of the other images of the sculpture grabbed me, the face itself did.  I figured it would have possibilities before I even saw it, so it was on my “must shoot” list for the night.  It really helps to do your research, otherwise I could have easily missed it.  As it was I had to ask the security guards where to find this sculpture.

OK, a bit of info on how I made this shot.  The first thing is that I am previsualising my light paintings much better these days.  When I looked at the sculpture here’s what I was thinking….

  • Cool face…  I could some cool things with highlights and shadows on the face
  • Love the horizon and water in the background
  • The bushes create a nice transition against the sea… want to emphasize them
  • The stars and the clouds are very cool… I want to get lots of stars and no star trails and try to get some of the little puffs of clouds to blur in the sky.
  • I liked the way the sculpture cut above the horizon and kind of made a nice transition between the land and the heavens… I wanted to emphasise this as well.
  • As I was looking at this I thought it would look cool if the face was kind of emerging out of a blue-light fog.

So that was what was going on in my head… so here’s how I set about executing it.

Screen shot 2009-11-09 at 10.11.35 PM

(You might want to click on the image above to see it full size)

I started off with my heaven shot… my background.  Set my camera to ISO3200 and shot 30sec @ f5.6  This gives me heaps of bright stars due to the high ISO and no star trails due to the 30sec exposure (lucky I’m shooting with a Nikon)… Canon would probably give me a shit-load of noise…. OK… couldn’t resist that jibe… seriously though, the D700 is awesome at this high an ISO.

Then I started my first white light run on the face with the fluoro light.  Aftger that I saw clouds coming over, so I redid my heaven shot.  The the next two images were more light painting on the face from different angles.  Once I felt I had the face captured from the right angles, I light painted the bushes in the background.  I then did two frames of the face in blue light (using cold cathodes).  This was to give me some blue light on the face from the blue fog.  I then thought that perhaps I might light up the face red to see what it looked like in contrasting colours emerging from the blue fog…. however when I previewed it in Photoshop I didn’t really like it, so I didn’t use the red images.

The final image is of the blue “fog” that I created with Electro-luminesent wire.  This stuff is wicked.  It creates cool water/fog effects.

Then I just started working the blending in Photoshop. The trickiest part was making an accurate mask around the sculpture that was sticking up in the sky.  I used a contrast mask for that (see my cool shit tutorial series for video on how to do that).

Here’s a couple of my other shots from Sculpture By the Sea.

horse sculpture

I loved the look of this horse from the moment I saw it.  It had “light painting” written all over it.  I loved the way it overlooked the water.  I used contrasting colours to really try to highlight the insides of the horse.

This last shot was from my first night’s shoot.  I just wanted to do something a bit abstract and different with it, so I threw the sky into almost total blackness and focused on abstracting the sculpture and the surroundings.

Sculpture by sea 1

For those that want to learn this type of photography see my Light Painting Workshop Page.  Still a few spots left for the Nov 09 workshop.

Brent