TimHallPhoto
TimHallPhoto

Marina in the Meadow



This image was taken around 9pm at night in late October, and the only lighting was from the moon or the distant towns. I used 3 separate images stacked togethe...
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This image was taken around 9pm at night in late October, and the only lighting was from the moon or the distant towns. I used 3 separate images stacked together to achieve the effect with the clouds.
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Behind The Lens

Location
I took this photo at a small marina called Blossoms Boatyard near my home in Oxford. The marina is situated on a large meadow called Port Meadow which has a very interesting history to it, from being agricultural land in the Iron Age to being an aerodome in the First World War.
Time
This was actually taken quite a while after dark, around 9pm in late October, and was the first time for a while the skies had been clear enough to catch some stars, although more would have been visible if the moon hadn't been so bright. This turned out to be a blessing though as it lit the scene perfectly!
Lighting
The scene was lit almost entirely by moonlight, with a little help from some noise pollution in the distance. I used a long exposure and slightly underexposed as I planned on using more than one image stacked to show a little more movement in the clouds. The brightness of the moon really made this photo!
Equipment
For this shot I was using my Nikon D800 with a Nikon 16-35mm f4 lens, mounted on a Vanguard Abeo 243CV tripod. I should have used my remote tigger for the shutter release, but as I'd left it out if my bag I opted for the self timer instead to minimise any camer shake.
Inspiration
I've often wandered around the meadow and the marina, but never really found anything I really liked as a composition. Somehow I had missed this one, and it was really the moonlight than brought the scene to my attention in the end, and with the colour in the sky and the stars in view it just really stood out. I didn't even set up my camera right away, I just enjoyed the calmness of the location. I was initially walking around looking for any long exposure opportunities, as I'm trying to improve and develop my skills in this area.
Editing
I stacked three images together using Photoshop CS6 and the "load files into stack" option. I then changed the blending mode of the top two layers to lighten to bring the clouds and lighter areas back into the shot. Then it was a simple adjustment of the levels and curves and a little saturation to bring the colour out a little more.
In my camera bag
I normally have my D800 and a backup D300 in my bag, along with my Nikon 105mm f2.8 macro, Nikon 16-35mm f4 and Nikon 50mm f1.4. I always keep my SB 900 flashlight in there too just in case. My lightweight Vanguard Abeo tripod is perfect for being on the move.
Feedback
It's always a good idea if you're shooting at night to check out the scene and possible compositions in the daylight first, especially if it's particularly dark on those moonless nights. Then it's a case of setting up the tripod, keeping it as solid as possible, and it can help to add some weight to the bottom for extra stability, if your tripod allows for this. Next you need to dial in your settings, which may take a bit of adjusting to get right. I used a fairly low ISO setting (500) even though it was dark, as I wanted to minimise the noise and allow for a slower shutter speed, which in turn gave me the movement in the clouds. The 30sec shutter speed also smoothed out the water adding to the calm feel of the shot. The focal length was 16mm, allowing more light in, and the aperture was set to f6.3. After checking the shots on the viewfinder and deciding I was happy with them, I went home to compile them into a single image using the post processing techniques I've highlighted. Different lighting conditions will obviously need different settings, and I'd normally have the aperture wide open and the ISO higher too when it's a little darker out. I hope this has been useful, and have fun with your photography!

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