De La Salle Soccer Photo Walk

Thank you to everyone who attended the Camera West Photo Walk last night. We covered a great soccer match under the stadium lights of De La Salle High School in Concord.

I chose a night game for this photo walk to challenge the shooters. I think i succeded! Covering soccer in itself is challenging due to the fast, unpredictable action and size of the playing field. However at night, under dim stadium lights, it’s even more difficult. Long, fast aperture lenses are needed, along with a camera that can handle high ISOs. (For the action photos you see on this page, I used a Canon 1DX with a 400mm f2.8 lens. ISO was set at 8000 with a shutter speed of 1/640 of a second.)

Those photo walkers who did not have 2.8 aperture telephotos, practiced a technique called panning or what I like to call, painting with motion. When done right with a slow shutter speed, it can produce fluid, action photos.

A special thank you to De La Salle’s athletic department and Conrad Rowling for allowing us to hold this photo walk.

Photos will soon be published from all the participants on the Camera West Photo Walk Flickr site.

And as always, check out our Events link on the Camera West website for upcoming photo walks and events. On our next photo walk, we will be shooting beautiful waterfalls along Cataract Creek in Marin County.

Shooting a Moonrise

Photos by Michael Maloney

Once a month, there is one day where the full moon rises at close to the same time as the sun sets. What this means for you the photographer is that you can get a detailed shot of the moon and still have detail in your landscape. You need to shoot quickly however because as the moon rises and we go into twilight, our perfect shooting conditions change at which point we need to decide if we want detail in the moon which is lit by the sun, or detail in the landscape which is now plunged into darkness. Choose to expose for the moon, and your landscape becomes pitch black. Expose for the landscape, the moon will lose all detail and look like a white dot.

The best way to determine when this one day occurs is to use The Photographers Ephemeris (TPE). This app is all you need to determine exactly when and where the sun or moon will rise or set on any day, past, present, or future, from any place in the world. I even use TPE to plan vacations! It is absolutely an essential app for landscape shooters.

Equipment

  • Camera with an assortment of lenses. Longer lenses will show more detail in the moon.
  • A sturdy tripod
  • A remote shutter release or you can use the shutter delay function on your camera.

Camera Settings

  • I recommend shooting in the RAW mode. You can get much more out of your image in RAW – rather than JPEG.
  • Set your white balance to 3200 – 3800 K or Tungsten if you want a blue, colder tone…otherwise use Daylight balance. (If you are shooting in the RAW mode, it doesn’t matter where you set your white balance as it can easily be tweaked in post production)
  • Turn off your image stabilization (IS/VR). This is recommended whenever your camera is locked to a tripod
  • Set your ISO to 100 – 400. Do not use AUTO ISO. Since we are on tripods, and the moon is lit by the sun, we can get by using a lower ISO which will give us a better quality image.
  • Use single point auto focus. Recommended because with single point focus, we will know precisely where our focus will be. Once focus is set, turn auto focus off. Now you can arrange your composition and not worry about focus shift. You need to be very careful however not to move your focus ring. I often use tape to lock the focus ring in place.
  • If you are not comfortable shooting in the manual exposure mode, then use aperture priority (AV on Canon, A on Nikon). Aperture priority is recommended because we want control over our aperture. We want a small aperture (f8, f11, f16) for deep depth of field, especially if you are using a long lens. For those of you comfortable shooting in manual mode, bracket your exposures. (changing your settings for at least 1 stop over and 1 stop under). By bracketing, you are sure to get the perfect exposure.
  • Keep in mind that you will be changing your exposure settings as the moon rises and your scene gets darker. You don’t want exposures that are too long however, because the moon will appear as an elongated blur. You can get away with a 5 second or so exposure with a wide-angle lens, but with a telephoto you need to keep exposure times to no slower than 1 second.
  • Choose a small aperture if using a long lens (200mm +). The depth of field the smaller aperture gives you should allow both your landscape and the moon to be tack sharp. If shooting with a wide angle lens, you can get by with a wider open aperture.
  • A graduated neutral density filter (2-3 stops) will extend your shooting time as twilight turns your foreground dark.
  • Last but not least, to assure tack sharp photos, lock your mirror up if you are using shutter speeds slower than 1/30th of a second, or better yet, use Live View mode.

Tripod Tips

  • Make sure your tripod is set up properly – on sturdy footing, all leg sections firmly tightened, camera secured tightly.
  • Try not to raise the middle column. You will get better stability just extending the legs.
  • Always have one leg of your tripod aimed at your subject. Forget doing this with a long heavy lens in the wind can be a costly mistake!
  • Secure your camera strap so that it is not flapping in the wind. Better yet, take it off your camera.
  • If windy, use your body to protect the camera from the wind.
  • If using long lenses with big lens hoods in the wind, take the hood off. The hood can catch the wind, causing slight vibrations that will ruin your shots.

Shooting Through Fences

Meet Ginger a beautiful tiger who resides at the Oakland Zoo with her three sisters. I was fortunate that she was in a posing mood while I was there leading our Camera West Photo Walk this morning. (more on the photo walk in a future post)

Ginger was quite photogenic…only problem was, she was behind this pesky chain link fence which was about 5 feet from me.

I had no other options but to shoot through the fence. But where is the fence in my photos of Ginger? It’s there but just not visible as I used a long lens and a wide open aperture, plus my subject, Ginger was about 30 feet from the fence. The long lens, in this case about a 300mm and wide aperture of F4-5.6 allowed for a shallow depth of field so the fence was invisible. Had I shot this with a wide angle or a small aperture, the pattern of the fence would show.

In the photo above, Ginger was quite intrigued by a baby crying and came up closer to the fence to investigate. Note now, the fence is more visible, causing some irregular patterns on her back and on the cement wall, ruining my photo. The fence was now about 5 feet from Ginger rather than the 30 feet in the first photo. Ginger btw is crouching behind a cement wall that you see running just below her eyes.

Now Ginger is right up to the fence. no way to make the fence disappear here unless you are a Photoshop genius with too much time to spare.

So, if you are ever in similar situations shooting through a fence, No worries! You can make it magically disappear if you can get close to it with the subject far away while using a wide open aperture on a telephoto. The longer the telephoto the better, also the closer you can put the front of the lens to the fence, the better your image will be. And one final tip, you need to use single point auto focus, or go to manual focus to avoid the camera from locking focus on the fence.

One last photo for you. Check out the teeth on Ginger! I’m sure glad that fence was there!

December Photo Walk : Explore Fort Point

Photo by Michael Maloney

Come join Michael on another of his photo walks, this one exploring the historic Fort Point underneath the iconic Golden Gate Bridge.

Fort Point is a photographer’s playground. The brick architecture and symmetry throughout the historic fort offers a great lesson in composition. Spiral staircases, long dark hallways, moss covered bricks, weather worn iron and spectacular views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco Bay are just a few of the subjects to get your creative mind thinking about light and shadow and composition.

Sign up early for this photo walk as it will be limited to just 12 participants.

Sunday, December 16
Cost : $25.00

Call or email Michael at Camera West in Walnut Creek for more info or to sign up.

michael@camerawest.com

925-935-1424

Photo by Michael Maloney

Photo by Michael Maloney

Photo by Michael Maloney

November Photo Walk : Fall Colors of Napa Valley

Photo by Michael Maloney

Join Michael as he leads us on a photo walk through the beautiful Napa Valley where we will photograph the splendid fall colors of the vineyards.

November is a great time to explore the vineyards of Napa Valley. There’s a crispness in the morning air which turns the vineyards into a multi-colored canvas of greens and browns and reds and yellows – a photographer’s playground.

Plan to spend the day! Aside from shooting at pre-scouted, colorful locations, we’ll take a late lunch break and socialize at Gott’s, formerly known as Taylor’s Refresher in St. Helena. We’ll also visit the Ansel Adams Gallery at Mumm winery for some inspiration.

Saturday, November 10
Cost : $25.00

Call or email Michael at Camera West in Walnut Creek for more info or to sign up.

michael@camerawest.com

925-935-1424

Photo by Michael Maloney

Photo by Michael Maloney