This bridge, between Widnes and Runcorn in Merseyside, was originally opened in 1961, but was closed for refurbishment when the new Mersey Gateway toll bridge was opened a few years ago. The Silver Jubilee bridge was re-opened to traffic on Saturday 27 February, 2021 – this time also as a toll bridge.
The link below is to the Saturday Musings with Six Words challenge.
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?Thou art more lovely and more temperate.Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,And often is his gold complexion dimmed;And every fair from fair sometime declines,By chance or nature’s changing course untrimmed.But thy eternal summer shall not fade,Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st,Nor shall death brag thou wand’rest in his shade,When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st. So long as men can breathe or eyes can see, So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.
Probably the worst thing that can happen – through your own fault at least – is to arrive on site and find that you’ve forgotten to bring something. For example – you remembered your tripod bit forgot to mount an L-bar or arca swiss tripod plate on your camera. The checklists below might help to prompt you when preparing.
Clean Lens & filters
Charge batteries – camera and phone
Check space on SD card/s.
Replace with new cards if necessary
Check tripod legs firm/adjust as needed
BEFORE YOU GO
Pack as below:
Camera plus charged battery/ies
L- Bar or swiss arca plate or equivalent
Phone with charged battery
Blower / Lenspens
Microfibre cloth/ lens wipes
Remote cable shutter release if available
Torch/ head torch if planning night shots
Food Change for meters?
Clothing/ footwear for conditions
Bag for litter
Check viewpoint OK?
Check scene for composition?
Remove portable distractions
If necessary move elsewhere
Set up tripod securely/firmly
Attach camera firmly to tripod
Remove lens cap and store safely
Check camera set level to horizon
Attach remote cable shutter/ self-timer
Take a base shot
Check Preview for focus, exposure, and white balance
If necessary change settings, take another shot and check
Note shutter speed, aperture, ISO
Tape lens barrel to lock focus
Switch to Manual Mode
Enter the aperture and ISO
SET UP FILTER SHOOTING
Set High ISO Noise Reduction OFF
Set Shake Reduction OFF
Set Mirror Lock UP
Enter base shutter speed from test shot into app to calculate settings for ND filter being used
Enter shutter speed for that ND filter onto camera if less than 30 seconds
Attach Adapters and Filter/s
Use gaffer tape on viewfinder (and lens exposure window) to seal against stray light entering camera during exposure
Do not re-focus: Change mode to Bulb if recommended shutter speed more than 30 seconds
If using more than 30 seconds set Long Exposure Noise Reduction ON
Check filter still clean
Use calculated time to start timer and TAKE SHOT
AFTER THE SHOT
Allow time for Long Exposure Noise Reduction activity
REVIEW image – ADJUST AND RETAKE IF NECESSARY
When finished remove filter/s and adapters & pack securely
Replace lens cap and lens hood.
Check that you are leaving nothing behind
Check that your backpack zips etc are closed properly
Pack and leave
I think that with this post I’ve now covered most of the trickiest things that anyone new to photography needs to know. If anyone reading this blog wishes me to cover a different aspect, please let me know. Otherwise, my next post will revert to my writing hobby.
In a post a few days ago, I mentioned the idea of Stops in the context of the Aperture triangle. When you use neutral density (ND) filters, the idea of Stops becomes a central issue. You use filters to reduce light entering the sensor in situations when using the shutter speed setting alone doesn’t fit the bill. ND filters are available in a range of strengths – these can be called by different names, but the easiest one to remember is the number of Stops of light which the filter offers. You have to choose, by looking at the situation, how strong a filter you want to use. If you are photographing a waterfall in bright light, perhaps 3 stops will do. If you are photographing waves then probably 10 stops would be your minimum – and you may want to stack a 10 stop plus a 5 stop. You are the judge. What you then have to do is to take the shutter speed that your camera recommends without a filter, and look it up in a table – such as that below, or by using a phone app – to find out what shutter speed you will need when you have a filter installed.
So, if you’ve taken a test shot without a filter and the preview tells you that your exposure is OK, have a look at the shutter speed that you used, say 1/125 seconds. Now, let’s say you want to use a 6 stop filter, the table tells you that, with the filter installed, your shutter speed will need to be 1/2 seconds. At this point, you need to lock your focus, remember your settings and switch to Manual mode. Enter those settings – ISO, Aperture – and your new shutter speed (the 1/2 seconds one in this case), pop in your filter and you’re almost ready to go (I’ll say more about that tomorrow.
I said above that filters are known by different names by different manufacturers – for example as a 6 stop filter, a 1.8 optical depth filter or as an ND 64 filter. The table above provides the equivalent types of naming for each strength. The table also shows the equivalent fraction of light that is admitted. So, a 6 stop filter admits only 1/64 of the light that would have been admitted without a filter. Think back to the first table. Without a filter you would have opened the shutter for 1/125 of a second. With the 6 stop, ND64 filter you will open the shutter for 1/2 second – ie 60/125 or roughly 64 times longer.
The table examples above are just to illustrate the principle. There are excellent phone apps, such as ND expert, where you just enter the base shutter time and the filter type and which also provide a timer.
Today’s featured image is of the lighthouse at Penmon Point, Anglesey, North Wales with Puffin Island to the right of the image.
This photograph was taken only slightly later with a 10 stop filter plus a 2 stop polariser. The light had also changed. The base shutter speed was 1/200 seconds, the filtered time was 10 seconds ie 2000/200 equalling a factor of 1000 (roughly 1024)
Tomorrow, I’ll provide a detailed checklist of everything you need to do to prepare for your long exposure outing.
I promised yesterday to say more about the various types of filter used in photography. As the featured image shows they come in different shapes and sizes: circular, square and rectangular. The square ones in the photo are 100 mm. For an ultrawide lens I would need 150 mm filters because of the diameter of the lens. They come in different strengths to block different amounts of light. They have different purposes, and while the circular ones screw into the internal thread at the front of the lens, the square and rectangular ones drop into a special holder that is mounted on the lens.
In the photo, from top left you see a filter holder with slots for up to three 100 mm filters to be stacked. Next along is an 82 mm NISI circular polariser lens next to a NISI 82 mm adapter for the polariser to screw into the filter holder. Below those three items are three 100 mm square neutral density filters – 1 @ 3stops, 1 @ 6 stops and 1@ 10 stops. Top right is a 3 stop rectangular graduated ND filter – darkest at the top and fading towards the centre. Below that is a 3 stop reverse graduated ND filter having a sharply defined area of darkness at the centre, fading towards the top.
Firstly, the circular filters. They come in different diameter sizes, so if you have several lenses with different diameters and you need various strengths of filter it would be expensive to have all the combinations. The workaround is to decide what will be the largest diameter that you are likely to need – say 82 mm, buy all your filters to fit that diameter and then buy one set of step-up adapters to convert your various lenses to hold your 82 mm filters.
Most photographers will own and use circular polarising filters. These usually block up to 2 stops of light. I say ‘up to’ because they have to be rotated to be effective. These lenses reduce reflections, reduce the effect of haze, increase colour saturation and make blue skies bluer but they only work when the Sun is at 90 degrees to you. A useful tip, though, is to look through your viewfinder while rotating the filter and you should notice when it takes maximum effect.
The photo shows my camera with a filter holder mounted and an ND filter and graduated ND filter in their slots.
The graduated filters are used to reduce the brightness of the sky area of the image and bring out cloud detail. These can be purchased as hard edge or soft edge versions. The reverse graduated ND is usually used at sunset where there is a straight horizon such as the sea. It’s purpose is to reduce the intensity of the light from the setting Sun.
Neutral density filters simply block different amounts of light depending of their strength, They are called neutral density filters because the coating should not cause a colour cast in your images. The may be square or circular. Different measures are used by different manufacturers – but they map across consistently. I only want to know how many stops because that’s what I’ll use when converting my base exposure to my intended filtered exposure. Let me explain that.
I’m in position to take my photo, my camera is on my tripod securely. The lens is focused, I’ve set my ISO as 100, chosen my aperture. I switch to Manual Mode. I check that the preview looks properly exposed and, if not, I adjust the shutter speed until I get a good exposure. I make a note of the exposure. I then look up the strength of filter I’ll be using against that base exposure and that tells me how many seconds I need to keep the shutter open for. I can now insert my filter. Because it’s stopping light, I won’t be able to see through the lens with my viewfinder, that’s why I did everything else first. If the shutter speed I need is 30 seconds or less, I can set that in the camera, press the shutter button and wait. Otherwise, I need to use Bulb Mode and time it myself.
There are aids available for much of what I’ve said. There are free apps for your phone to calculate shutter speeds if you input or look up the number of stops against your base shutter speed. There are also free interval timer apps also available for phones. Remember though, this is not an exact science. You’ve taken a test shot at a specific moment in time. At various times after that, before and while you’re shutter is open, the sun can go behind a cloud or appear from the cloud, messing up your assumptions. You need to judge the situation as best you can. Check your preview after the exposure has been taken. If it’s really bad, have another try adjusting the shutter speed up or down a bit. If its almost right, you can do some tweaking in software afterwards.
Tomorrow I’d like to say some more about stop sizes and filters.
Most cameras have a default maximum shutter speed of 30 seconds, so I guess the range of shutter speeds from about 1/8000 secs to 30 secs must be classed as the normal exposure range. By that reckoning any shutter speed longer than 30 seconds would count as a long exposure, but, for the purpose of this blog, I’m going to count anything longer than 1 second.
Why, though, would anyone ever need to open the shutter for longer than 1 second? One answer would be to take photographs in low light conditions where. Alternatively, say that you want to use a wide aperture in bright sunlight eg to blur the background behind a shrub that you’re photographing in your garden. In order to avoid the photo being over exposed you could use a neutral density filter (ND filter) to reduce the light entering the camera. Another would be to take photographs to smooth out movement – for example waterfalls, waves or clouds.
Compare this shot at Cleveleys beach, Lancashire with today’s featured photo in which wave motion has been smoothed to focus attention on the rocks. I took the photo on the left at 1/200 of a second but the featured photo at 8 seconds using a 9 stop filter and an aperture half a stop smaller.
I took this shot, mid morning on a bright day with a 10 stop ND filter. My shutter speed was 30 seconds at an aperture of f/8 and ISO 100.
This image was taken within minutes of the one above but the shutter speed was 1/60 secs at the same aperture and ISO. Notice how the movement of the water in the stream was blurred by using a filter.
I won’t be able to explain even the basics in a single blog post, so I’ll spread it out over a few days. Today, I’ll just show a couple of examples of long exposure. Tomorrow, I’ll say something about the various types of filter that photographers use. Then I’ll post a blog about calculating shutter speed for using different strengths of filter. Finally, probably, I’ll go into how to use filters.
Having said all that about filters, in low light conditions you won’t need them normally, your main equipment other than your camera will be a tripod to enable you to take a stable, steady shot.
For this photo of Liverpool by night I used a tripod but I didn’t need a filter. My settings were shutter speed 6 seconds, aperture f/8, ISO 100 and focal length 23 mm. Because I used a tripod I set the image stabilisation to off. Other than that, the effort was simply waiting until all the drivers were using their lights and that there were enough of them moving quickly between two sets of traffic lights.
I hope that these examples may inspire you to look at this blog tomorrow to learn more about the various types of filter.
My featured photograph today is of the top of my camera. Like most dedicated cameras – and some smartphones – there are a multitude of dials, levers and buttons. These vary so much from camera to camera that I’m not even going to try to explain all of them. One dial, however, has settings that are common to most cameras – that is the Mode dial. In the photo, it’s the one on the left. The markings that I’ll be covering in my Blog today are those with the following marks on the dial – AUTO, P, SV, TV, AV, TAV, M, B and X.
AUTO Scene analyse Automatic exposure – the camera’s software analyses the scene and chooses for you the optimal settings.
P Programme Mode, Automatic exposure – allows you to change the ISO and exposure compensation only. (On my camera you can also set one the dials to change aperture and shutter value)
SV Sensitivity Priority Mode– Automatic exposure is similar to the Program mode but you cannot customise buttons for aperture and shutter values.
TV Shutter Priority Mode – Automatic exposure. You can change your shutter speed, ISO and exposure compensation but not your aperture setting.
TAV Shutter and Aperture Priority Mode – Automatic exposure. You can change shutter speed and aperture settings together with exposure compensation but not your ISO
M Manual Mode – You can change all the above settings. This is not an automatic mode – ie the camera does not make allowances – it uses your settings and doesn’t try to change settings to give you a good exposure. You’ve input your choice of settings, if the resulting exposure is rubbish, use the exposure triangle to get it right next time.
B Bulb exposure -You would normally use this for exposures longer than 30 seconds. You have to set the time to close the shutter by an intervalometer or a timer. you can only change the Aperture value and the ISO.
X Flash X-sync speed. – You can only change Aperture value, ISO and exposure compensation. You can change the Flash sync speed by using your camera’s Menu.
On my camera, the Shutter Speed and Aperture settings are set by rotating the appropriate wheel.
It’s not you – it’s me. When I look at conventional explanations of the relationship between aperture, shutter speed and ISO, they are always shown as a triangle. That form of representation confuses my brain. I think they would be better shown as a slide rule. I don’t have the know how to do this as a properly sliding image so my featured image today is a simple Excel spreadsheet diagram.
The measure used for using the slide rule is the STOP. Each stop represents a halving or doubling of light. Over the past few days you should have seen that effect at work in photographs I’ve included.
If you use a faster shutter speed, you reduce the amount of light reaching the sensor because the shutter is open for a shorter time. That shorter time enables you to freeze motion or counter camera shake. If you open the shutter for longer you let more light in and you can blur motion.
If you use a larger aperture (the size of the opening of the shutter) the front to back sharpness or depth of field decreases, so you get a blurred background. Using a smaller aperture you get more of the depth of the photo in focus – as in a landscape shot. What confuses some people with aperture size is the unit used the f/stop. That’s because it’s shown as a ratio or a fraction. So, just as a half is larger than a quarter f/2 is a larger aperture than f/8. Every stop of aperture, even if the number below the f/ looks odd (mathematical reasons involving the square root of 2), the larger that number is eg f/22 the smaller the aperture is, while a smaller number eg f/11 is a smaller aperture (2 stops smaller)
If you use a smaller ISO (say 100) you get a clear image, but in low light conditions you may need to increase the ISO to 200, 400 or even 1600. However, the larger the ISO, the more likely it becomes that the graininess of the image will become noticeable. The ISO setting is used to increase brightness.
So what. Well, have a look at your subject and take a test shot. Make a note of the settings eg a landscape shot at f/8 at ISO 200 with a shutter speed of 1/500. Let’s say that you feel you’d like a greater depth of field . As a first step, try reducing the aperture by one stop to f/11. That lets in half as much light. Using Aperture priority as your mode, your shutter speed should decrease to 1/250 seconds to compensate and still produce a similar exposure – but sharper.
The slide rule gives you your guide. If you increase one aspect by two stops, to retain a similar exposure you will need to make a two steps correction between the other two elements.
I’ve mentioned camera modes in a paragraph above. Perhaps tomorrow I should explain something about the various modes available on most digital cameras and their uses.
ISO is a setting to increase the brightness of a photograph.
Sometimes you have a dilemma when, in low light conditions, you wish to avoid an underexposed image. Let’s say that, even though you have opened your aperture as far as your camera allows in order to retain sharpness, the image is still under-exposed. So then you have set your shutter speed as slow as you can yet still avoid avoid blur, but the image is still under-exposed. If you don’t mind blur – or if you want special effects such as light trails – you could mount your camera on a tripod and take a long exposure. (If you are taking an exposure longer than about 1/50 seconds without a tripod you risk camera shake and undesirable blur.)
In other circumstances, however, in order to increase brightness your only option other than flash is to raise the ISO setting. Unfortunately, if you raise the ISO significantly, you will begin to notice ‘noise’ or ‘graininess’ in your image. You then have to trade off motion blur against graininess – or miss the shot.
I’ve provided here a series of images of the same scene, on the same day, as darkness appears. I took this first one at 20:37 using ISO 100 at f/11 and 1/25 seconds. The focal length was 20 mm for all this series. The image is reasonably sharp and without noise.
This photo was taken 3 minutes later and yet is brighter. I increased the ISO to 200, increased the shutter speed to 1/100 seconds, but retained the aperture of f/11. At ISO 200, there is no noticeable increase in graininess.
By 22:03, I was using ISO 250, a shutter speed of 4 seconds and an aperture on f/3.5 – that’s an increase of 8 aperture stops alone. There is some noise but not much.
By 23:28 I was using ISO 3200, a shutter speed of 25 seconds, and an aperture of f/3.5 – as wide as possible with the lens I was using. There is considerable noise. In the following two images I have cropped section of this image to illustrate the noise or grain.
This is a crop from the middle- left of the picture.
This is a crop from the bottom right.
The shutter speed of 25 seconds was as slow as I could use, with the lens I was using, without causing spot stars to trail as a result of the earth’s rotation relative to the stars.
So, in summary, The ISO setting on a camera can be used to brighten a photo, but start by setting an aperture suitable for your subject. Then set your ISO to its base value – usually 100. Take a test shot and if the preview image indicates motion blur, try a faster shutter speed until you get a sharp test shot. If you still experience blur, increase the ISO but use a faster shutter speed. If after increasing ISO a few times you start getting noise in the image, try opening your aperture.
My featured photo of light trails today illustrates some of the types of trade-off issues. It’s a low light shot for which I wanted sharpness overall ie good front-to-back depth of field for the light trails, and — preferably – a starburst effect from the street lights on the roundabout. My start point was, therefore, a small aperture of f/18. However, I wanted the exposure to be long enough to capture the light trails, so I used a tripod to avoid camera shake and a fairly low ISO of 125. My focal length of 30 mm was wide enough to take in the scene I’d chosen. As the scene became darker I eventually got the shot I wanted with a 30 seconds shutter speed.
I’ve provided a link below to an excellent website that explains ISO in crystal clear terms.