Shooting a Panorama from a Moving Vehicle

I’ve always wanted to take a shot or two from the Carter Langston Bridge which connects Swansboro, North Carolina to Emerald Isle on the Bogue Banks in southeastern North Carolina but I seldom, if ever,  have anyone with me on the trip from the farm;  and driving across a long bridge that takes you some 200 feet in the air requires both hands on the wheel.  And did I mention, there is no stopping on the bridge. This weekend though, I had a driver.  My wife Jeri  was heading to a reunion with cousins on the island and of course, I agreed to tag along provided I could sneak out for an hour or so to take a few shots along the beach.  This is one of more than 30 shots I took with my Nikon D800E camera while we traveled across the bridge.   So how did I do it.

First it helps to have a tripod for shooting from a vehicle.  Many camera makers offer them as well as many of the tripod makers.  All have a special padded clamp that fits on the top of a vehicle window that is almost rolled all the way down.  Girls, you will have to sacrifice your hair- do. Mine is made by Nikon.  It has an adjustable head like the typical tripod.  You attach the camera plate to the bottom of your camera and simply lock it onto the window mounted tripod.  If I remember correctly, I paid about 30 bucks and change for it at B and H Photo Video in New York.  Monfrotto also makes a model but its pricey, almost 90 bucks. I’ve also seen them at outdoor outfitter shops.

I had my camera all set up before we drove onto the bridge.  I used shutter priority; set the shutter speed at 1/500th of a second,  metered the light while sitting at a stop light just before the bridge, using spot metering and locked the setting.  I also switched on the lens shake reduction -vibration control on Nikons.   Jeri slowed down to about 30 miles an hour when we got to the high point of the bridge and I snapped about three dozen shots using auto focus.   I’ve cropped this one quite heavily in order to remove the power lines that were in the middle of the shot.  I’ll go back and zap them in Post.

So another gizmo for your camera bag and unlike a lot of the stuff you see out there,  this one is worth the money.  Thanks for the visit. See you next time.

When The Sky Is The Subject……..

……..And there’s nothing much to write home about at ground level, zero in on the big show in the sky!   That was the case this past week in the farm fields of Eastern North Carolina. The crops are in the ground but they’re months away from showing their stuff.  The soothing green foliage provides a nice foreground base but it doesn’t make for a very interesting picture.  I always go to spot metering in situations like this.  When this mode is selected, the camera meters a circle 3.5 mm (.14 in.) or approximately 2.5% of the frame with the circle centered on the focus point.  This makes it possible to meter off center subjects ensuring that the focal point will be exposed correctly even when the background is much darker or much brighter.  The result can be spectacular.

The trick is to remember to re-meter as the sky changes which, of course, it is constantly doing.  When the sun enters the equation (when it rises above the horizon)  be sure to take your meter point away from it.  This will ensure a proper exposure.

You’ll probably need to do a little work in post,  particularly if you shoot in RAW as I always do.  It allows me to change white balance and other aspects of the data to suit me.  As one who always under-exposes, I often have to boost shadows and tweak color curves.  Be careful with the clarity button in Camera Raw though.  Boosting it too much will result in a halo at the horizon. Sharpen the frame and you’re in business.  A final tip.  Photoshop (Elements etc..) offers a haze reduction button in the editing mode which often works quite well.  It’s worth a try.  Like so many things, I find digital DSLR’s and processing software at first to be overly complicated to the point of being obtuse but then spend every day thereafter being amazed at what they can do.  Have a good week ahead. See you next time.

Photo Of The Day: Return Engagement

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Sunrise along the Southern Outer Banks.

Ever wonder just how many times you have snapped the shutter on your camera? If you shoot in the jpeg format, each picture you shoot has the total number of  shutter activations included in the exif data that accompanies each picture.  Scroll down toward the bottom of the list and you will see it.   I shoot in the RAW format and when I convert it to jpeg for printing or posting, it’s not included in the exif data.  Yesterday I snapped one jpeg picture on each camera so I could find out just where I was shutter-wise.   My trusty D600 led the pack with more than 22,000 shutter snaps.  The D800e had only just over above 6 thousand and the D7100 just over 12 thousand.  In truth the D600 really only has about 12-15 thousand snaps on it.  The camera had a bug in the shutter that splattered little drops of oil on the sensor.  Nikon recalled it and installed a brand new, improved shutter which essentially made the D600 a D610.  What they didn’t do is rotate the number of shutter snaps back to 0 so,  the exif data shows 22 thousand plus. I doubt I ever swap it in on a newer model.  The shutter is tested to 150,000 activations.  I’m now 70.  I suspect I’ll wear out before the shutter does.

Have a great Sunday.  See you next time.

Photo Of The Day: A Rural Perspective

A Rural Perspective Posted to Flickr October 30, 2014

I’m addicted to Sunrises. I’m up just about every morning checking the pre-dawn sky and if I see a few clouds, I’m on it.  I had noticed the high grass along one of the paths to the field beyond and I knew the sun would come up right in line with it so that’s where set up my tripod and Nikon D800E Camera.  I used a Nikon 24-120mm lens set at 31mm.  f/22 which gives the sun the star effect; exposure was 1/80th which for me anyway requires a tripod. I’m pretty steady up to 1/60th but beyond that, gotta use the SLIK tripod.  Manual exposure setting using spot metering.  I take my reading on the bright section of sky away from the sun and lock the exposure;frame up the shot and shoot it.  ISO was 400 with Auto white balance.  Nikon cameras do very well in my opinion using the auto white balance.  I was pleased with the results.  A perfect example I think of the Sun making a shot.  It even makes the weeds look good.

For all of you stateside, have a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday.  And for everbody, have a great weekend.  See you soon on most of this same blog.

Photo Of The Day: White Tide

_DSC7950_edited-4-1Dawn breaks over one of the cotton fields here.  This was a good year for cotton in coastal North Carolina thanks to the unusually wet weather over the summer and the heat.

I shot this with a Nikon D800E Camera using a 24-120 f/4 lens.  The D800E has jaw dropping resolution thanks to its 36 mp sensor and the disablement of a low pass filter which increases sharpness measurably. I was blown away by the detail in the low light of the early morning.  As with most things electronic these days, the D800E has already been replaced by the next big thin, the D810,  but most of the improvements are in the video side of the camera which I never use so I suspect the D800E will be in my bag for a long time to come.

A word about the ads WordPress is now selling and plastering on individual blogs.  I don’t mind them putting static ads on my site but I think video ads are obtrusive and detract from the blog which I’m sure is exactly the idea.  Anyway, it does not sit well with me.  I’m going to look into creating my own site and getting rid of WordPress and its ads.  If I move on, I will give lots of notice and give all of you who are nice enough to drop by,  my forwarding address.

 

Thanks for the visit

Photo Of The Day: September at Duck

BloggedJust back from a week at Duck/Southern Shores on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  I was blessed with phenomenal weather despite or perhaps, in spite of the weather prognosticators who kept predicting a washout.  I think I spent more time out with the cameras this time than I ever have; out twice a day roaming the banks for hours on end.  I filled up three 16 Gb SD cards and two compact flash cards.  With weather like I had, it was hard not to snap a keeper.  This is the dawn on the beach at Duck September 15th.  Sorry for the tilted horizon. Too much Blue Moon Beer.

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New Camera from Nikon

Nikon has released the D750,  supposedly the replacement for the legendary D700 which was released years ago.  I loved the D700 and while the new camera has most of the bells and whistles one would expect in a professional/consumer level camera, the non-pro body left me cold.   I passed on it then along comes B and H Photo Video in New York where I buy much of my photography gear with a terrific deal on a factory refurbished Nikon D800E.  It was too good to pass up so I traded in my faithful D700.  Nikon’s advertising for the D800E was to the effect that “you’re going to shoot everything all over again.”  I believe it.  The resolution is mind blowing.  I’m already thinking about a return to Duck to reshoot everything.

Thanks for the look in and have a great week ahead.

Photo Of The Day: Point Harbor from Duck

00090.obx.12.13_edited-1Shooting the sun at f/22 will always give you a nice sunstar.  The number of radials depends  on the lens.  Shot from the boardwalk at Duck on New Years Day.  That’s seagrass in the foreground.  Thanks for the visit and have a great evening.  And…Happy Mother’s Day!!!!!