Vitruvius: I am finding it very difficult to set focus acurratly with night shots and large apertures. You can't just turn it to the infinity end because the lenses go past infinity and the foreground becomes out of focus. Of course the camera can't autofocus most of the time. And the the new lenses aren't designed for manual focus work since rotating the ring just 1mm has a big impact on the focal distance. Lots of time consuming test shot trial and error.
With open apertures you can easily focus on the bightest stars, especially with an f/1.4 lens. I usually remember the 'real' infinity focus point on the lens' scale, and use a small torch (or my cell phone) to set it to this point. It's always easier than you think!
Deardorff: Are the trees and rock formation naturally leaning in the direction we see or is it the wide angle lens that does it?
I correct when I think it's necessary. Here I honestly didn't think it was. Correcting always hurts quality, even if it's negligible.
It doesn't really bother me, plus it wouldn't be 100% corrected anyway and I didn't want to hurt image quality.
Slurcher: Beautiful shot!
At the risk of making myself look like an absolute newbie dick, why isn't depth of field an issue with the foreground at f/2.8?
Brendon's answer is accurate.
peevee1: Would it be worse if instead of 15 sec of exposure, say, 8 sec was used and ISO and noise reduction would be increased - given the smooth surfaces of the sky, detail smearing should not matter as much as smearing due to movement of the aurora?
I think this was the right balance between shutter speed and ISO setting. I wouldn't want to go up to 6400, although I have done it before.
A bit of both...
ljmac: Am I the only one who thinks the original unmodified shot is superior? Indeed, I find I almost always think that when I see these Photoshop tutorials - fake, hyped colour can never look as good as the real thing IMHO.
The unmodified shot looks less like the real thing than does the modified shot, sorry to disappoint :)
baldfox: Nice write up, appreciate the steps in ACR.I was in iceland a couple of weeks ago also shooting the "lights" fantastic experience. I wasn't lucky enough to have snow on the ground, only a gravel area, so foreground interest wasn't as good.. I using a 5D3, 17-40mm @ F5.6, 20secs, iso1250. Worked ok for me ! Tripod, release and "mirror up" a requisite!
Indeed, the snow on the ground makes the shot since it's both more appealing and is lit only by the Aurora. To shoot the lights, I recommend traveling to northern Iceland, where weather is more stable and snow is more probable.
cmj1: In fact, I really hate people "making" scenery photos. While slightly adjusting the exposure seems just fine. Creating a master piece by distorting the image, adding something that wasn't there is totally unforgivable... Ask yourself why you are not at the right place at the right time.
Forgive me, but in Iceland, she has a very very favorable environment for shooting the stars.
Let me get this straight - you claim that the different shots could not have been taken one right after the other?And you also claim that any panorama should not be shot since it's 'merging'?
wansai: Hi Eraz, good guide but may I ask why you opted for an HDR type of processing over using a single RAW and adjusting black, shadow, white & highlights in the RAW editor?
I'd imagine you could get a similar image. My only guess would be you wanted to avoid noise or detail loss from the darker shadow areas?
Hi,there's no way I'd get the same quality from one file, not even close, for exactly the reasons you've mentioned.Erez
I give up...
I still don't follow, sorry - where in the complete process shown in the article did I 'add' anything that 'wasn't there'?
wansai: this is an absolutely beautiful image but I'm really quite torn on it. The level of manipulation here is so extensive I'd put this into clear digital art territory; and indeed I had originally thought this was almost entirely a digital painting.
Don't take that to mean I can't appreciate the artistry and skill placed in the piece - it's clearly excellent art piece - it's just I have a hard time categorizing it.
I disagree. I think it's simply a panorama with some extra contrast :)
Kim Letkeman: Lovely image from the mountain upwards ... the water is incongruently devoid of the Milky-Way and filled with blurred and too bright individual stars. Although it was shot legitimately, this is a case where subduing the stars in the water part of the image and perhaps overlaying at least a hint of a reflection of the Milky Way would -- in my opinion at least -- dramatically enhance an already very nice image.
There was a small amount of movement blurring the fainter elements in the sky. The reflection of the stars is due to that very movement.I wouldn't add a reflection, I don't do that in my images.
Marcus Beard: I really like this article - can't understand all the hate. Would be much easier to create such an image with a tilt shift lens (using the shift then stitching undistorted panoramas). In fact it's inspired me to try
Indeed, the limiting factor would be the aperture. I brought the 17mm TS-E to this trip but it wouldn't have given the same result.
Dougbm_2: Maybe the photographer doesn't know that you can rotate the camera and take a portrait shot! Just saying!
Actually I don't understand why photographers go to so much trouble with multiple shots unless they plan to print extra large. Also the reflection in the water seems to not actually reflect the night sky.
Last time I checked I was aware of the poirtait option :)If you have the equipment for a 40MP, 12mm, f/1.4 shot, please let me know if you're selling!
joe6pack: "All four shots were 15 second exposures, at f/1.4, ISO 3200. This long exposure, high ISO setting is what does the magic when it comes to night photography, as can be seen by the amazing number of stars visible in the image."
I am not a Pro. Maybe someone can explain to me why the above combination is better than, say, 60s exposure, at ISO 800? Or 4 minutes at ISO 200?
Dear Mr. 6Pack, It's currently impossible to produce a single 40MP, 12mm, f/1.4 image. I'd love to get a hold of that equipment. Making the exposure longer is out of the question due to startrailing.
PowerG9atBlackForest: Yes, I agree to what Jamie said.But, as I wanted to trace back the (more or less isolated but significant) reflections on the water to their origins in the sky - there were none!
Really? I can see several sources. the ones that are harder to track are probably surrounded by many stars. Why not see the attached raw files for proof that there wasn't any cheating of this kind?
mpgxsvcd: I can't help but think that if this image was entered into a challenge it would get ripped apart for technical flaws. I like the concept and I can appreciate the effort it took to produce it. However, the blurred stars in the water were just too distracting.
I think it would be an excellent image if you just crop the water out all together.
I can''t really see your point. The star reflections are blurred because of water movement. It wasn't really possible to take the shot using a shorter exposure, was it?@Kim - the shot wasn't 'pounded with curves'. The adjustment was only performed on a very weak mid-level selection, in a way that didn't cause loss of detail. Why not look at the provided raw files and see for yourself?
Sorry to disappoint, the movement of the water didn't allow for the milky way reflection to appear, you can clearly see that in the raw files.