Moonlit and sunburst
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ben egbert
Registered: Jan 31, 2005
Total Posts: 6302
Country: United States

There was a full moon this morning so I drove to the west side of Utah Lake and took a few images illuminated only by moonlight. I stayed for the sunrise so I could work on sunbursts.

First is east with moon at my back.

After it set behind a local hill, I saw it was still illuminating a western slope so I grabbed this one.

I waited for the sun and got the last sunburst. There was some pretty color prior to this but I think the burst trumps the color.

I will post SOOC if anyone wants to play.



ben egbert
Registered: Jan 31, 2005
Total Posts: 6302
Country: United States

Here are some sooc if you want to play.



RustyBug
Registered: Feb 02, 2009
Total Posts: 12838
Country: United States

Took a stab ...



ben egbert
Registered: Jan 31, 2005
Total Posts: 6302
Country: United States

Very nice Kent. I especially like the darker sky. The cloud color add drama, but seem incongruent with stars. I know, so does a blue sky and light hills.

It was bright though, my tripod cast a shadow.

Question for you, I know Karen speaks of gamma a lot, probably when using the exposure layer. I typically darken with a layer set to multiply and use a gradient mask or brush. This looks like you worked on the sky and clouds separately. I need to learn such things.



RustyBug
Registered: Feb 02, 2009
Total Posts: 12838
Country: United States

+1 @ some seeming incongruity, but I wanted to see if I could accentuate the stars some. It might need some editing of the stars in the brighter / cloud areas, to improve on "plausible realism".

Multiply and overlay, exposure, levels with gradient mask & blend were my "weapons of choice" ... for this one.



ben egbert
Registered: Jan 31, 2005
Total Posts: 6302
Country: United States

Ok, thanks Kent.

The goal eventually and this was a practice run is to get a milky way with some naturally lit foreground. The natural light would be the moon which works fine, but it requires an otherwise dark area and no clouds, at least in the area of the milky way.

The formula as near as I can tell is at least 25mm or wider, The wider the shorter the star trails for any shutter speed. You can get to 30 seconds at 15mm. Faster aperture is also better. f2.8 is a practical limit and it needs pretty good image quality.

I tried my Samyang 14 f2.8 but it has too much distortion and aberrations wide open. My 1DS-mk3 will probably be the final limit as it is not a good high iso camera and in fact is limited to 3200.

Maybe I will do an astro conversion for my old 50d.

Back to processing. Making the sky dark while keeping the stars and foreground bright is going to be the trick when the moon is out. People get around the problems with light painting but I never cared for that.

No matter, I really do like the look from a long exposure moonlit scene even without a defined milky way. Hard to compose however as it is so dark the viewfinder and LCD are just black. Have to point the camera, take an image and adjust take another etc.




RustyBug
Registered: Feb 02, 2009
Total Posts: 12838
Country: United States

ben egbert wrote:
Ok, thanks Kent.

The goal eventually and this was a practice run is to get a milky way with some naturally lit foreground.



Have you thought about using a split ND filter?



ben egbert
Registered: Jan 31, 2005
Total Posts: 6302
Country: United States

Actually I did for some pre sunrise shots when the sky was naturally getting lighter. But the goal is to get a milky way, you need all the light you can get for the stars. Some even take multiple images and stack them with a program that will realign the images and account for star motion. In fact I have done that myself.

An ND grad would be counter productive for stars. On my sunburst image, I was afraid of the flare from the filter surface in direct sun so I removed it.

For the sunburst I have brackets and have blended them and can even get some detail on the mountain, but it looks better in sillohette. Leaving the mountain dark accentuates the star.

I don't have many (perhaps any) flare free sunbursts, so this is a first for me. I guess my Mesa Arch had one, but it was tiny.

Kent, your processing has made an artistic image, sort of like the wheatfield. I have more that might be interesting for such a project.



RustyBug
Registered: Feb 02, 2009
Total Posts: 12838
Country: United States

I was thinking "invert" the ND to hold back the foreground illumination, while you gather all the light you can for the stars.

It could "stand alone" as a single exposure (not sure @ ND value desired), or ... if you wanted ... then, it would be an easy matter to shoot a second image without the ND (or flipped), exposing for the foreground (generating black sky) and you could blend the two to taste.

Just gotta find a time/technique where those pesky clouds don't steal from the astro show ... balancing act that might be best approached at one vs. the other, challenging either way.



ben egbert
Registered: Jan 31, 2005
Total Posts: 6302
Country: United States

RustyBug wrote:
I was thinking "invert" the ND to hold back the foreground illumination, while you gather all the light you can for the stars.

It could "stand alone" as a single exposure (not sure @ ND value desired), or ... if you wanted ... then, it would be an easy matter to shoot a second image without the ND (or flipped), exposing for the foreground (generating black sky) and you could blend the two to taste.

Just gotta find a time/technique where those pesky clouds don't steal from the astro show ... balancing act that might be best approached at one vs. the other, challenging either way.



Ok, gotcha, that may work, never thought of reversing the nd grad. Your idea made me consider another. I could do one shot while the moon was up and another after it sat. Then blend the results.

I once did this only reverse, I took a shot just at sunset for the foreground then waited for total dark while freezing half to death. But it turns out I was pointing wrong for the milky way. I was still able to blend, but it looks pretty fake.

Here is what it looked like, the milky way is 4 shots stacked, the foreground is pasted from an earlier shot.









ben egbert
Registered: Jan 31, 2005
Total Posts: 6302
Country: United States

Here is one taken at 14mm and processed in Kents direction. I found that by selecting the sky, including the clouds and stars, that I could darken it considerably without losing the stars. I also found that I could desat and darken blue in the hue saturation box so some extent.

This has a lot of color noise in the foreground but its basically an attempt at processing.



RustyBug
Registered: Feb 02, 2009
Total Posts: 12838
Country: United States

Ben,

Diggin' it ... plausible (twilightish) in my book, and more natural looking than mine. Now to see it with a Milky Way ... extrapolating concept to application.



ben egbert
Registered: Jan 31, 2005
Total Posts: 6302
Country: United States

RustyBug wrote:
Ben,

Diggin' it ... plausible (twilightish) in my book, and more natural looking than mine. Now to see it with a Milky Way ... extrapolating concept to application.


Thanks for the inspiration. Here is another I did. This is over the lake and with the 14 again. The lens must be pointed up for sky shots and the distortion is horrible. The lake shore grew a mustache.

I have a better lens coming and next time I will get down to the edge of the lake.



HiredGoon
Registered: Feb 07, 2012
Total Posts: 199
Country: Australia

Interesting shots there Ben ... I especially like the sunburst shot, which has your characteristic warmness.

Although I think that there are better sections of the Wasatch mountains to shoot than that section shown in the first image, and I would crop out the foreground land.

Here's an example that I've shown before that I think makes a better composition (although I am not fond of the overly blue processing). If I ever get back to Utah I'm going to try for a night-time shot of Utah Lake from that angle.



ben egbert
Registered: Jan 31, 2005
Total Posts: 6302
Country: United States

Thanks Geoff, thats a nice shot and must be closer to Saratoga Springs. The problem with truly dark skys is that Provo has too much light. I took one that direction and it did not work too well. So I pointed more towards Spanish Fork.

I was hoping for more snow on the mountains but most of the recent stuff had melted. Only get one full moon a month. Next time I will get down by the waters edge. But perhaps I will go down to that reservoir further south and use it for a reflection of Nebo.



ben egbert
Registered: Jan 31, 2005
Total Posts: 6302
Country: United States

Here is what Provo looks like at night. Pretty bright.

Also included a couple more sunrise shots before the sun rose.



HiredGoon
Registered: Feb 07, 2012
Total Posts: 199
Country: Australia

ben egbert wrote:Thanks Geoff, thats a nice shot and must be closer to Saratoga Springs. The problem with truly dark skys is that Provo has too much light. I took one that direction and it did not work too well. So I pointed more towards Spanish Fork.

I think that the image was taken much further south than Saratoga Springs. I have some shots from the marina at Saratoga Springs and the angle is still too front-on towards Provo Canyon. I'm thinking Pelican Point or perhaps further south, and possibly taken from higher ground. Perhaps from Lincoln Boat Harbor near Provo Bay?

I'm also interested in how to take longer night-time exposures without city lights getting too bright (as in your shots) or bleeding (as in some of mine). I'm wondering if there's two exposures blended in that shot: one for the lake/sky and one for the mountains/lights?



ben egbert
Registered: Jan 31, 2005
Total Posts: 6302
Country: United States

HiredGoon wrote:
ben egbert wrote:Thanks Geoff, thats a nice shot and must be closer to Saratoga Springs. The problem with truly dark skys is that Provo has too much light. I took one that direction and it did not work too well. So I pointed more towards Spanish Fork.

I think that the image was taken much further south than Saratoga Springs. I have some shots from the marina at Saratoga Springs and the angle is still too front-on towards Provo Canyon. I'm thinking Pelican Point or perhaps further south, and possibly taken from higher ground. Perhaps from Lincoln Boat Harbor near Provo Bay?

I'm also interested in how to take longer night-time exposures without city lights getting too bright (as in your shots) or bleeding (as in some of mine). I'm wondering if there's two exposures blended in that shot: one for the lake/sky and one for the mountains/lights?



I have used blends, and it could be done. I am writing a thing for my webpage, so stay tuned and I will tell what I know so far and what I want to get and solicit comments and ask for errors.

Notice the Provo shot. I masked the sky which was easy, and in other shots the lake which was also easy. But it will be difficult to separate the lights from the mountain itself.

I was about 4 miles south of pelican, and up on the side of the hill. I would have been better at waters edge and could have seen more there. But i was not willing to try those roads to the shoreline in pitch dark.

Here is a first draft of my photo tip on moonlit images.

http://ben-egbert-photo.com/?page_id=1041