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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Hot Summer Tips

Shooting Local • Botanical And Commercial Gardens • Falling Water • High-Basin Wildflowers • Up, Up And... • Time-Lapsing • Lightning In The Daytime • On The Water

Labels: How-ToColumnTech Tips
Summer days and nights offer good subjects for time-lapse techniques. Building thunderstorms, moving animals in a meadow or tidal action are examples of time-lapse stories you can later post on Vimeo and YouTube. All you need is an idea, some time and an inter-valometer to capture the hundreds, or even thousands, of frames that will make up the time-lapse that lasts only a minute or two. I bring my captures into Lightroom 4, where I optimize all of them at once using the sync function, and then I assemble them using QuickTime Pro 7. Use a program such as iMovie or Premiere Elements to combine several QuickTime segments.
My favorite shutter speed for falling water is around ¼ sec., which gives a flowing rendition with detail. Shutter speeds of 1⁄1000 sec. or faster can be revealing and dramatic. Be creative, and don't forget time-lapse and HDR interpretations for an entirely different view.
Capture Lightning Storms In The Daytime
Speaking of thunderstorms, there was a time when we could only photograph lightning at night, opening the shutter and letting the strikes fall where they might. With lightning sensors, we can capture individual strikes at any time of day or night because pre-strike changes in atmospheric conditions set off the camera. Two systems I've used with great success are the Lightning Trigger from Stepping Stone Products, LLC (www.lightningtrigger.com) and the Lightning Bug (www.mkcontrols.com). A sequence of strikes with the camera in the same position can be composited into one image in post-capture processing. Caution: Lightning is attracted to metal golf clubs, baseball bats and tripods (aka lightning rods). All the more reason to have a lightning trigger that takes the pictures while you stay safely under cover, preferably in your vehicle or in a building. Don't sit under a nearby tree.

On The Water
Take your camera out with you in a canoe or kayak—a floating approach that birds and sea mammals find more tolerable than the shore-bound human form. Place the camera and a few lenses in a "dry bag" to protect them in case of a spill or splashes from the paddling. Be sure to take along a polarizing filter to control the reflections off the water; if it's clear and shallow enough, you may even be able to see through the water and include the lake bottom in your composition. Marshes and bays offer great opportunities to photograph birds in beautiful natural settings. I prefer a stable flat-bottomed kayak rather than a canoe or sleek ocean kayak. Remember to factor the movement of the boat into your photographic technique, especially critical when handholding telephoto lenses for wildlife subjects. Place your elbows on the gunnels (sides) of the watercraft to brace the camera/lens and use expanded ISOs to shorten exposures, especially in low light. I can use a 500mm with a 2X tele-extender (1000mm) in this position if the water is calm and my paddling partner cooperates!

Follow George Lepp's exploits, see his latest photographs and be part of the discussion on his Facebook page: www.facebook.com/georgelepp. And Lepp is now a part of the OP Blog on our website, www.outdoorphotographer.com/blog/author/glepp.


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