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In this digital photography tutorial video we go on location to Lyme Regis in Dorset and show tips on low light digital photography.
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Well welcome back to Pro Photo Insights. Today we are in Lime Ridges, it’s a beautiful afternoon here. The sun is just setting. And we’re here because we’re gonna do some, some low light photography. This is my favorite time of the day to shoot, just when the sun’s drop well below the horizon. And we just got that little bit light left in the sky and it balances quite nicely with the artificial light you might have in your location. So it’s all about judging the right time to start shooting. So that’s what we’re gonna do tonight, we’re gonna shoot, start shooting probably about, probably half an hour, once the light drops significantly enough for the shots you want. Welcome back, we’re now on the Cobb, which is quite a famous landmark in Lime Ridges. I think, the French Who Turns Woman was filmed here, or something with Meryl Streep, anyway. Yes so we’re waiting now for the light, the light is dropping again quite quickly. It’s now half past five, I’m waiting for these street lights to come on, on here. And they’re a little bit late coming on, I was a bit concern, we’re not gonna get the shots. But, we’ll wait around, we’ll see, and hopefully it will be on shortly, and we’ll gonna start, start some exposures. But, I’ll give a little tour around the scenes and you can have a look at that while I’m, while I’m continuing to wait. Okay, the lights have finally come on. You can just about see that, I’m gonna start making some exposures. It’s a bit late, it’s quarter to six, so. The sunset is about half an hour ago, some lovely glow coming from this side, you can probably see from my face. And, so yes, we’re gonna just do start some exposures now, the lighting is just perfect. We can't afford if we go to dark, otherwise we’re gonna lose the sky. But we got a bit time yet, so, let’s start our exposures now. I’m shooting at 100 ISO, I’m shooting 8 seconds at 16 as we currently speak. Now I’m doing at 15 seconds, F16, that one’s a little bit dark for what I wanted. We can actually afford to actually open up the aperture, which I probably do in a second. I'm currently shooting about 35 millimeter, so it’s a semi wide shot. Yeah, that picture’s much better. Okay, just entered to just about 50 mil now and I’m just exposing. We shoot at 20 seconds at F11, again, I’m gonna breach the exposures and just gives us some choice afterwards when we’re processing. It’s always better to have shot a little bit too light and then darken it rather than trying to lighten stuff, coz by lightening stuff you’re gonna get a lot of image noise and different artifacts in the image, so. You don’t try and avoid lightening stuff too much. So I’m gonna carry on, I might be around couple in a second and we’ll see in post production the final image we’ve got. Okay, I’m not sure how much you can see in shot now. It’s pretty dark if you see me there. Anyway, we’re on our last shots now, done a few at the top, we just come down, I got this quite nice bench and the curb and the lamp and the colors are nice and contrasting, so. We’re gonna rack up a few shots here, and then we’ll be finish. You can see it’s got pretty dark now in the back here, back of me, if can make that out, so. We’re gonna get to the point where the exposure is gonna bit too, too long with not enough light on the skies and. To shoot these type of image with the black sky is just, is just very uninteresting, so. Like I said, we’re just gonna finish off now. Okay, so we’ve finished. It’s now, we should check the old watch a minute, it’s now 5 past 6, and behind us where we were shooting is virtually pitch black now, there’s no bit of light. But if we shoot in this direction, where the sun set, we should be able to shoot, there’s still quite a bit of light there. But, we’ve done pretty well, the problem to night was the light in the harbor here, we’re the last to come on, and it meant I had a bit of a rush to get the shots I want to, coz the light was dropping quite quickly. But, we got them, it was a good shots, done an alternative as well with the bench and the lamp here, so. Just shows you how important it is to preplanning, normally I preplan these shoots, so I know exactly what time the lights come on, and what time I need to set up and starts shooting. But, I didn’t on this occasion and it nearly caught me out, so. There’s a bit of advice is always try and plan your shots if you can. So what we’re go about now, do a bit post production and I’ll show you what we got. Cheers. Welcome back to the room, I hope you enjoyed that video as much as I did shooting it. The weather here hadn’t been particularly great of late, so it’s just really nice to get out and some lovely sunshine and get, get some shots. It’s a very enjoyable shoot, a bit frantic towards the end there because, as I said, I put my hands up, I didn’t originally plan it, it’s a last minute thing to rush out and do this video coz the weather was so good. Didn’t do my planning and just thought, yeah, fine, and of course nearly trip me up. But we got there, the shots done, I was a bit frantic like I said towards the end there, but we got everything done that I wanted, so, it was all good. So I just take you through some of the camera set ups, setting for this image. This is the picture, the final picture I’ve picked out. There’s a couple of variations, but this is the one that works the best. The camera was Canon 1Ds MK2, as normal, 28-70 mil Canon series lens, and focal length is set to 53 millimeters. I did some wider at 35 millimeter, but, on reflection afterwards I felt they're a little bit, a little bit too wide. It wasn’t really enough, enough going on or a bit, a bit too small from where I am, so, this work out better. My exposure was 13 seconds, F11, camera raw, 100 ISO and manual focus. Now I breached the exposures, I did some at the cameras metering, normal. I did some at plus 1, one stop over, and some minus 1, obviously a stop under. And that just gives me a bit of choice when I come back off location and look at the images. I can have a bit time there and look at them, and look at which one’s work out for best. And also gives the option if you do enough, enough frames that you can also always do a HDR. There’s a lot of point to HDR on this particular image, because the only detail really be extra detail I’ll be holding was like the, be the light bulbs really. But, there’s wasn’t really a need to do a HDR. And I normally, as in this case, this one is the, is the slightly larger of the three images, the over exposed one. And that’s quite often the case, I mention in the video, I see videos, videos about photography and they tell, you know, if your image is too dark, don’t worry about it, just, you know, put into photoshop and lighten it. Well that’s all very well and good, but if you shoot an image too dark, and you try and lighten it by, you know, by maybe place stop under and try and lighten it from that, you’re gonna run into problems. You’re gonna raise noise levels in the image for start. You’re gonna get all sorts of artifacts and it’s gonna look horrid. So, as a rule of thumb, you’re always better overexposing, I’m not sure, I can't tell you exactly how much, coz it depends on your metering, depends on your image that you’re shooting, and how good you are interpreting the scene where you do your metering. So I let you experiment on that, but this, I normally find generally depend, again depends on the shots that I can overexpose by half a stop, sometimes more. And in photoshop, I can recover a fair bit of highlights and it gives you a just better file to work with. So bear that in mind, you know, better you do if you can breach your exposures bit, you quite often find the overexposed one and actually pull back the detail you need is often the better one to work with. So those are the settings, not a lot to it, and now, we’ll go through a bit of the post production. Okay, so here’s our image on screen, I’ve processed it in camera raw. Haven’t changed, changed as much of the settings in there. Set it pretty straight forward and often when I shoot these kind of twilight shots, I do want them finer, that means do a lot of, a lot of work in the photoshop. And I think partly reason for that is that, you know, in a lot of my image, I’m trying to bring out a certain atmosphere or mood. And with these shots, normally, there’s quite a lot of mood in them as in this one. These little balls of lights around the building and the corners of the background combined with the artificial lighting already has given the effects of atmosphere, so. Again with this one, didn’t do very much. What I did do is a, with the first layer here, my spotted layer, I basically just clean it up. I just, with the 1Ds MkII Canon’s tend to suffer, quite a bit of a problem with dust, so I always, always dust cleaner for the sensor. But I will take you through some of the settings and we’ll start off with the curves adjustment layer. Right, so the first one I’m gonna do, I’m just gonna darken this and add a bit more contrast into these cliffs. These, I think this is Golden Caps Fall, one of these is, they have a lot of landslides here, this also part of the Jurassic coast, and they’re always finding dinosaur fossils and lots of things, and they have a lot of landslides, so this is called Golden Caps, so. We just go, we just go add an adjustment layer for this, now first of all I need to make a curve adjustment, I need to do a selection, sorry, of this now. Something I’ve been playing around of late is the, is the quick selection tool, if you, if you sent a mail, you know, CS3 has got a great new selection cool tool, can't get the words right, called the quick selection tool, I probably would turn up my nose to it. Because, you know, a lot of these things are quite gimmicky and they’re okay to a degree, but I often tend to work that well and I wouldn’t normally use them. But I have actually found that this, this tool has been pretty good. So what I’m doing, I’m just select the quick selection tool, and I’m just gonna drag over the Golden Cap here if my computer will catch up, like so. Not gonna worry about the mast of the boat, that’s not a problem now. You wanna take it to there for a second. I’m not gonna worry too much about being absolutely exact, although, like I said, it’s, my experience so far with this tool is actually quite, pressure there, is pretty good, so. Come on, like I said, didn’t have to be absolutely bang on this selection for what I got in mind, but I want it fairly, fairly good. Okay, so it’s a bit of a problem there, but we can sort that out in a second. Again, just drag into the house there. And what we can do is just zoom in in a second. What I haven’t done is normally, what I’m doing when I’m retouching for the video, is convert this files down to 8 bit, just to help things along a bit, to speed things up. For that I got 4 gig of RAM on this machine, sometimes it just struggles still, so. But I forgot to do that, so, that’s why it’s running a bit slow, but never mind, this is only a short tutorial, so it shouldn’t kill us. So right, so I’m just holding down the Alt key now, just dragging over this bit of selection here. Just take it away from our image, and there. And on that, and as you can see, it’s, sort of done a better job. I just wanna get a bit more inside that house there, just drag it in like that. I think it’s actually good enough of what I want. Okay, so, I’ve continued to make my selections for the quick mask tool. It’s not a tool I normally use for very precise masking, for what we need to it today, it’s fine. So just check it out, you might find it occasionally it a good tool just to use to make those quick selections. So now we’re all make our curves adjustment layer, I just my cursor over these hills and just see where that pops up on my, on my curves adjustment. I’m just gonna drop the curves down a little bit and just raise it, oops, too much, too much, about there. And just have a fiddle, it looks right, and what I’m gonna do in a second is change this blending mode, let’s just leave it there for a second I think. I’m just gonna change this blending mode from normal down to luminosity, and that will not allow the color shift to happen. So if you put it back to normal, look at the, look at those hills, they’ve gone quite blue, and that’s the normal mode, if I change to luminosity, we don’t pick up such a color cast, so. Just gonna turn it on and off, so just add a little bit of a, little bit of a extra contrast in there. What I will do, I think the one behind here is actually a bit distracting in our shot, I think it’s fighting for attention, so. I’m just gonna get my paint brush, and I’m just gonna in mid black, just gently knock that back a bit, like so. Yeah, well I can take it all out now, which I think, yeah, it’s fine. And I think it’s, it’s enough effect, it is quite a lot of , I suppose this is where the landslide happened, it’s got a lot of rock exposed there, it’s quite light. There’s still a bit of a, bit of sunset, which is also behind camera, so, doesn’t need it, need lightening. So that’s, that’s that, just add a bit of contrast in the hills. What I will do, I just click on the mask and just clean that a bit more with my black paintbrush tool, like so. And now I’m just gonna go filter, blur and add a bit of Gaussian blur to the edges. Not that much, essentially I want maybe a pixel, like so. And now I’ll just soften those transitions on the edges there. So that’s that one done, just gonna rename this one, cliff curve, like so, or in my case liff curve, miss the C off. There we go, cliff curve. Right, so, that’s that one sorted. Another curve adjustment layer, on this one, I’m just gonna pick out a little bit of the clouds here, and just add a little bit of brightness to the edge there, like so. Just drag that up, just drag that bit down, like so. And then I’m gonna fill that with black to take the adjustment away. Then I’m gonna get my paintbrush tool with foreground set to white and I’m just gonna paint in the adjustment like so. Don’t worry it looks about I can see it at the moment, we can sort that out in a second. And then I go to filter, blur, Gaussian blur, and just add a bit of a soft Gaussian effects on to the layer mask, like so. Okay, we can go back in if we need to, and I think we do. With your paintbrush, with black set to foreground and just take away some of the effects on the edges there, like so. And again, Gaussian blur, just to take that slight halo effect off, just turn that off, on. I just lighten the clouds a bit. And our final adjustment layer, let’s call that one cloud curve, I'm missing out my spelling tonight, it’s rather sharp, but anyway, there we go. And this one, another curve adjustment layer, in fact this one, I just change that one to luminosity as well, before I forget. Another curve adjustment layer and this is our final one, I’m just kinda darken the image down a fair bit there, like so. Get my lasso tool, and just, in fact what I’ll do, I’ll use my elliptical marquee tool and just draw around our building here and paint bucket tool, fill that with black, to take away the effect, and then again filter, blur, Gaussian blur, I wanna wrap this right up 250 pixels, like so, that still look awful when it’s finish blurring. Still a bit too showy, I just turn that back, the effects on that a little bit. Again, I think I’m gonna plot it in luminosity, so then it terms of color shift, I turn that off, I turn it on, and it just helps keep, keep your attention to the center there. Still that’s a bit. I think the transition’s a bit harsh in there. So I'm just gonna do a filter, Gaussian blur again and that should help things a long a bit. I want to do that if I need to is of in with my paintbrush tool with the foreground set to white, and again we just. If we’re not happy that we’re not there, really just go in a little bit drive that in, and just gently paint in what we don’t want, so. I said earlier, didn’t need a lot of adjustment, this is got quite a bit of mood in there already. But even so, it’s hard sometimes not to have a little bit of a tinker. Didn’t normally things that I do anyway with the edge curves, just to hold the detail in the center picture, a bit better. So, there we go, so that is pretty much it. There’s, there’s not a lot else to do with it, I mean we could, could go in, apart from photoshop, we obviously, we still need to sharpen the image, and we’ll do that once we’re finish tinkering. But as far as color balance, I’m not gonna, I’m not gonna adjust the color balance in this because it is what it is, it’s what makes it works so well is I think the contrast, you know, lovely warm artificial lighting and falling effects its given us. And that cool almost monochromatic background with the cool tones. So I’m not gonna start to tinker around with that trying to take some of that blueness out. I think it’s fine as it is. So yes, so that’s what we’d finish super sweet, but hopes that’s give you some ideas and some tips to go out and shoot some lowlight images of your own. Just one last thing before we finish up here, this doesn’t, doesn’t apply to Pro Photo Insights members, but if you’re watching the edited version of this video, on one of the photography magazine websites or off the front cover disc of a magazine or on one of the video channels that some of this videos end up on, I just wanted to mention to you that if you sign up to Pro Photo Insights, it’s completely free, you’ll get these videos sent to you. They’re all free as I said, but also, if this particular type of photography interests you, lowlight photography, if you sign up at Pro Photo Insights, you also get a free 30 page ebook called Photographing the Edge of Darkness, which I wrote. And it’s got a lot of tips in this type of photography, it also touches on HDR image as well, so that’s a bit of that info, plus obviously you get to see the full versions of these videos. So, just wanna let you know that and on that note we’ll finish up and hopefully I will catch you again in the next video. Cheers then. Babye.