Light Pollution

Hi!

I have so much going on I have been neglecting the blog lately. I’ve taken loads of new shots, but haven’t had time to process them yet and those already done require some sort of story to go with ;).

My last shared post was the milky way with a lone tree in the foreground. Taking and processing that photo opened a whole new perspective for me. I uncovered the enormous potential of the camera to see what our eyes don’t and what’s more, it pushed me towards learning something new! So about two weeks ago, it was a night just before new moon and I decided to go out at about 11 PM and take some more shots of the night sky. But this time, I had an awesome challenge at hand. I was in no mood for driving and so I just searched for a suitable location in the city. I had a good idea about where to go. This place was at the outskirts of the city and nicely shaded by trees from nearby brewery and by a low hill from the nearest houses. From time to time, a car passed by, so I had to shade the lens for a while, but otherwise OK. The night was clear, with just a little clouds, only to add thexture here and there.

If you have ever tried to photograph stars, you might have read, that you need a place with no or just little ambient light. Cities and the surroundings are generally bad areas. So I decided to beat the myth! With the right equipment, you can photograph in quite extreme conditions, just as the photo below proves. Shot with Sony NEX 6 with Samyang 12 mm f/2.0 with aperture wide open, ISO 800 and 20s exposure. The glow behind the horizon are street lights from nearby (well-illuminated) urban settlement. You can see, that despite that, the milky way is nicely visible. Yes, you have to shoot in RAW and spend some time editing. In this case, the new wavelets tools of RawTherapee came in handy. Used properly, these things can effectively kill noise and ennhance contrast as needed and therefore bring out milky way nicely. The process wouldn’t of course be complete without the help of Wilber ;). Nothing fancy, just duplicating the image exported from RT and using overlay and multiply on the correct places through the mask. I think the result is quite pleasing…tell me what you think 😉

Have an awesome day!

Stanley

Oh, and there’s more coming soon 😉

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Solitaire and the Galaxy

Heya!

We’ve gone through another short era of inactivity. But we have shot tons of new photos so there should be quite a surplus in the upcoming days/weeks ;).

After quite a while, I’ve finally gotten the chance to test the full potential of my first non-kit lens, the Samyang 12 mm f/2.0 NCS CS. I bought this lens after reading a rather inspiring article about astrophotography somewhere in the depths of the internet. That being said, you can expect heap a nighttime photos in the days to come! I’ve used this lens so far for interior shots, some architecture and a couple of landscapes, but none of that competes with nightscapes with this thing!

And now to the photo below. I usually don’t share much EXIF data (mainly because GIMP has rather hard time keeping them in the file :D), but this one deserves it. The lens has superb results even wide open, so this was shot at F/2.0, somewhere between 15 and 25 seconds exposure and ISO of just 800! I still had to deal a lot with the moonlight filling the sky (it was about two days past the full moon), so the noise creeped in anyway, but thanks to the team developing RawTherapee, the wavelets tool killed the noise quite nicely. Anyway, here is the result. I believe I will be driven to writing a short review for this lens soon, as it deserves it!

Also, I recommend viewing the photo in full resolution HERE (remember we only upload photos in reduced resolution to save the space ;).

Have a great day

Stanley

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Rotten to the Core

Oh hi!

Has this ever happened to you? “It’s a deep night, somewhere in the middle of the forest, no light around apart from the moon and stars. And suddenly, you see a light source on the ground. You move closer ot examine it and find out it’s a decomposing bit of wood!”

That’s pretty much to gist of what happened to us. So I got asked If I was able to photograph a light source this weak (let’s face it…it’s barely visible unless it’s pitch dark). I took my 12 mm f/2.0 lens and what do you know…it worked! I had to keep the exposures pretty long, but I didn’t care…the shots were worth it. I then took out a speedlite in hope to capture a bit of a background with the glowing wood too. I have used the weakest output possible and bounced it off the other wall of the shed and it created the overal fill pretty nicely…but I’d still like it even weaker. I then had to rely on a long exposure to make the glow strong enough to have something to work with in PP. (TBH, in reality, the colour wasn’t so pronounced, but this is still dialed down from what the camera captured – that was crazy radioactive green!)

Stanley

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Betula Nighttime & 12 mm Samyang

Heya!

A couple weeks ago I bought a Samyang 12 mm f/2.0 lens. On my nex, it has a viewing angle of about 100° the lightness is just awesome! Many people say it’s a great lens for starry skies and milky way photography, but I haven’t yet had the chance to do that. Being the first prime I ever got, it’s quite unfamiliar to me. I was used to filling the frame pretty easily with my 18-55 kit lens, but it’s pretty darn hard with this baby! It’s just not made to be an all-round lens. But that’s OK. At 12 mm, none can expect the lens to be universal. What I like is the closeup photos of objects, where it really brings a dramaticity into the shot (sample below 😉 ). The low light performance is just incredible. I really can’t wait to try it on the starry sky in a low light-polluted area. But don’t think I just let it lie around the house…I’ve already taken some night shots with it and here is one of them. It’s cropped, so it doesn’t really show the full wide angle potential, but the picture below I believe shows it…and it has a nice effect to it too 😀

Have a great day!

Stanley

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Shot at night. The white background is a cloudy cover over the city, illuminated by it’s lights – hence the yellow tint.

Uncropped image illustrating the wide angle of the lens. I guess it would be better compared to a shot with default kit lens, but that will be a part of the upcoming detailed review.

Uncropped image illustrating the wide angle of the lens. I guess it would be better compared to a shot with default kit lens, but that will be a part of the upcoming detailed review.

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A long exposure with the lens and static foreground. Only slightly cropped and about f/4. The moon was very bright that night (I think it was full moon!), but by the time I finally got out, a huge cloud came over the city and stayed there for about two days 😀

The lens has a minimal focusing distance of 20 centimetres. This really comes handy for closeups, where the object is really drawn into attention. Aperture wide open at f/2.

The lens has a minimal focusing distance of 20 centimetres. This really comes handy for closeups, where the object is really drawn into attention. Aperture wide open at f/2.

Welcome to 2015!

Happy 2015 everyone!

If you read our last posts in 2014, you know by now, that we decided to move from posting a photo a day (which we couldn’t keep up 😀 ) to posting a new picture once a week. Hopefully, we will observe a shift from quatity to quallity. Hopefully, there will also be some time to come up with more things besides photography 😉

So, I’d like to open the year with a fireworks photo. Last year, we spend the New year in Jana’s hometown Pečky. It’s pretty small town and the firework photo wasn’t therefore as rich as I hoped it to be. But we knew exactly where the firework is going to be and we therefore had an easy time setting the shoot up. The photos turned out wery well and I was really looking forward to this year’s photos, when we are spending the New year in my hometown, Liberec. In the past years, there used to be a huge city-organised firework show. When we got to the town hall square by midnight, we found out this tradittion is over. Many people have gathered there however and brought their own fireworks. The problem was that the fireworks were kinda spread around the city centre, so we didn’t really know where to position ourselves. We ended up setting the tripod as you see on the picture below. And because the absence of a big firework was clearly not enough, it started to drizzle. The wind didn’t really help either…next camera I’m buying will definatelly be weatherproof! Because of the raindrops, many photos have those huge bokeh-like heptagons on the right side. Well, I tried to make the most of it and ended up with three quite nicely lit photos. And since I couldn’t decide which one to post, I made them into a triptych. This is something I wanted to do for quite a long time, but till now I couldn’t think of a topic, neither did I stumble scross such a series of my photos, that would go nicely with this. This fireworks triptych still isn’t the kind of a result I’d like to achieve, but I’m getting closer! I’ll definatelly make at least one more during 2015!

So, have a wonderful year 2015 and thank you for staying with StrangeGround! We appreciate your support! Cheers!

Stanley

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P.S.: Note the towers in the background…that Liberec town hall, that looks suspiciouly like Vienna town hall. Coincidence? No! check wiki 😉

Night-time Liberec

Hi everyone!

A couple day’s ago, as I was coming home from the university, I took a short walk in the city to shoot some interesting night pictures. Please, remind me to pack in a tripod next time. Enjoy 😉

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Square Night Long

It’s quarter to one in the morning and as you can see, I have trouble coming up with titles.

Since I had no tripod at hand, I was glad to come across a bridge with good railing, that allowed me to place my camera on it and go for a long exposure of the lights reflected in a river.

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