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.

Advertisements

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: The Birds Of Winter

birds.059.1.14.edited_edited-1I’ve been spending a lot of time this winter photography birds.   For one thing,  I get absolutely starved for color in the drab winter months. Especially so now that the bitter cold has wiped out all of the Camellia blooms. That plus the fact that the birds of winter are at their most colorful during the colder months.  It’s hard to top the brilliance of the Cardinal’s scarlet red,  the vibrant yellow of the Goldfinch,  the deep grays and browns of the Chipping Sparrow,  the subtle blue of the Tufted Titmouse and so on…  Plus, there’s no foliage to shoot around. I caught these Cardinals and a Sparrow in a River Birch Tree here on the farm.  Group shots are a challenge for me but I was right pleased with the overall sharpness of this take. Click on the photograph for a larger view.

As for the gear: Nikon D7100 with a  Nikon 70-300mm f/3.5-5.6 lens. I’ve tried the big 400 and or 600mm lenses from various makers  and found all of them wanting in the sharpness department  when fully extended.  I have yet to find a reasonably priced telephoto lens that is sharper.    As I have pointed out before, The D7100 is excellent for wildlife shooting because of its high resolution (24mp) and small sensor which gives you a 1.5 crop factor turning the 300mm lens into a 450mm.  As for settings, Auto White Balance, Spot Metering, Aperture Priority Mode,f/11, and the lowest ISO I can get away with.  In the shot above that was 160.  More coming. Stay Tuned.

Thanks for the look and have a terrific Sunday Evening.  Hope your team wins.