Last week I posted about Aerial Photography: Las Vegas Sunset . This weekend I finally got around to sorting through the video footage I recorded from that adventure as well as some key shots from each segment of the trip around the strip at sunset. Without further ado, here it is. Hopefully it gives you a sense of what the experience was like and you enjoy it. Let me know what you think.
I tried to capture the previous Blood Moon earlier this year in April, however it was not a very fulfilling exercise. There was only so much I could do with the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens, even with the EF 2x Extender III attached and even with the 7D’s crop factor. The shots I got weren’t very pleasing and in my mind, not even worth writing a post about.
Since then I acquired a fully assembled set of astrophotography gear and accessories. I discussed this a little in previous posts Astrophotography: The journey begins and Astrophotography: Solar Observation.
Up until last night I had been dreading the steep learning curve and painful process involved in learning to properly align a German Equatorial Mount with computerized tracking. The Blood Moon was a good reason to dive into it and see if I could figure it out. I got an early start. My first setup and calibration took at least an hour and I got a solid track on the moon.
However the moon had not yet crossed the sky and when it did I had to re align the telescope mount. My second alignment took half the time but was less than perfect and I still had some drift. It was still small enough for me to compensate for in post production.
With tracking somewhat sorted out, I had another challenge of managing the wild swings in exposures throughout the eclipse. You will notice I had to segment the time lapse as I made adjustments. I used spot metering, shutter priority mode with auto ISO throughout most of the sequence and stepped my shutter exposure as the eclipse progressed, switching to manual mode briefly at the peak of the eclipse. As you can see I did not place much emphasis on image quality. Since it was a time lapse, I also set a higher maximum ISO as the clarity and quality of the individual frame is not as important as the consistency of the sequence from frame-to-frame.
I hope you enjoy this time lapse. Please feel free to share your thoughts, ideas, suggestions and experiences, especially with GE mounts and photography.
Blood Moon – Lunar Eclipse (October 8, 2014)
Happy New Year!!!
This year I decided to stop thinking about watching (photographing) the fireworks over the San Francisco Bay and actually get out and do it. One of my good friends and great photographer, Steve was only happy to come along and plan our New Year’s Eve photo excursion. We decided, since we were going to be out in the cold weather we may as well catch the sunset over the city. I had been wanting to revisit my last shoot from the Port of Oakland where I shot my last time lapse of the Bay Bridge lights. This time my focus was to obtain a really good high quality wide panorama shot for large format print and reproduction. I did however capture a time lapse of the sunset and city lights as well. It’s hard not to, as it has become fairly easy for me with my 7D and 17-55mm f/2.8 lens. I’ve shot so many time lapses with that combo, it only takes a few minutes to setup.
Magic hour over the city only lasts for a few minutes, and I found it very challenging to capture a full panoramic set of the city with a long enough exposure at a narrow enough aperture (f/8 or smaller). This was due primarily to the amount of the disturbance on the water from boats, ferries and large cargo ships. While you might see a few minutes of calm, they are punctuated by wakes, shadows of moving vessels and light streaks. My frustrations were only compounded by the fact that I decided to use my EF 2x Extender III on the 70-200mm f/2.8. I chose the wrong time to experiment. Under anything other than perfect lighting conditions you will find it exceedingly difficult to use any lens with the 2X extender III. As a result, I missed easily half of my photo opportunities. Below are some panoramic shots I managed to salvage. The detail is pretty impressive – you can see inside offices and hallways in all those buildings you see. The full res compressed JPEG is just under 200MB and the master GIMP file is 1GB (1000MB).
Canon 5D Mark III + EF 2x Extender + EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II
Canon 5D Mark III + EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II
We shot through the sunset till about 9pm then we packed up and headed out to treasure island to scout for a good angle on the action. I have never seen this many photographers and enthusiasts in one place. The whole island was crawling with people like me. Even in the seemingly remote bushes along back roads. We finally settled on the waterfront as the best vantage point. Fireworks are a challenge to shoot! This was my first time shooting fireworks and nothing could have prepared me for it. Below is a collection of some of the highlights. Overall I think it was a success. There are a few things I would’ve done differently now. Your feedback would be highly appreciated.
I was also able to capture a time lapse of the fireworks. The entire show lasted about 13minutes. It was a spectacular affair. If you missed it, the time lapse compilation below should help you enjoy the experience in a matter of seconds. My new years gift to you. I wish you a Happy and Prosperous New Year!
Earlier this year I had the opportunity to capture my sister’s performance in Paris. I thought they were some great performances and after her performance in Austin TX at the beginning of the year I really wanted to get some good clear recording of the show for archival purposes. I had already packed my Canon 5D Mark III for my trip to Paris and was curious to find out how well it would hold up in a real live video setting.
For lens I used the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM. I have to say without this lens, it would have been impossible to record this show. The heavy duty stage sound system triggered vibrations all over the venue, which were only amplified by the long focal length required. Because the concert was sold out, there was no way to come close to the stage and capture any usable video. The 4+ stops of image stabilization really proved every last cent of this lens’ worth. I also used my Canon 7D with Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS to capture secondary shots to provide subtle variety to the final cut.
For sound, I was able to pipe the output from the main sound board into the 5D Mark III. This greatly reduced my sound editing tasks in post processing to almost nothing. The 5D Mark III sound recording capabilities are world class. On both the 5D Mark III and the 7D, I shot the video at f/2.8, ISO-1600 and 1/50 to 1/60 shutter and 25 frames per second for a more cinematic feel. There was also a very noticeable reduction in video file size. The shutter speed (roughly twice the frame rate) gave a really crisp, sharp rendering of each frame. Amazingly noise was not an issue at all with both cameras at ISO-1600.
Below is her performance of “Nothing More”, one of my favorites, in full 1080p HD.
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Thanks for watching.