A Two Mile Sunrise

There is a spot here in Apalachicola that is great to photograph for sunrise and sunset.  It is called Two Mile.  It got it's name because it is 2 miles from the traffic light in town.  Clever, right?  It's hard to give people directions there and tell them it's name without them thinking you are just a wise guy.

Here is a sunrise shot that I took there the other morning.  While there were no clouds to make the sky very interesting, using more of the foreground and a small Aperture, like F/22, gave me a nice starburst on the sun.

ISO 125, 15mm, F/22 @ 1/2 second

I was able to capture this image using the Tamron 15-30mm Lens that I had borrowed from my teaching partner, David Akoubian.  I also had to borrow his Nikon to E mount adapter.  Don't worry though, I had my own camera...the Sony A7Rii.  All mounted a top a fancy new tripod I am trying out, the Sirui W-2204.  It is a waterproof tripod, so it's certainly working out great while out here shooting along the coast!

More Yellowstone Sunset

Keeping with the theme of the last few posts...

Here's another sunset image I made in Yellowstone.  I was super excited to get these sunset images at Yellowstone.  I had this conversation with more than a handful of people that Yellowstone isn't really a "landscape" park.  Meaning, it's real tough to find a good landscape image there.  The people that had been there, totally agreed, while the folks that hadn't visited the park before couldn't figure out why I would say such a thing.  

The Yellowstone area is a lot of thick forest, which makes things a bit difficult.  The other thing about the park is if you want to include any of the geysers into your image, then you have to work on the geyser's schedule.  Many times that isn't the same as the sun's or yours.  

So, being able to get a few landscape images of sunset in Yellowstone I was super excited.  Here's one of those.

ISO 100, 35mm, F/16 @ 1/10th second

This area was one of the many pools scattered along the Upper Geyser Basin in The Old Faithful area.  I'm not even sure this pool had a name.  It should be called The "this is where I knew sunset was going to be awesome" Pool.

This image was made with my Sony A7R, LA-EA4 Adapter and Tamron 24-70mm Lens.  All mounted a top my Vanguard Alta Pro 283CT Tripod and BBH-200 Ballhead.

Sun stars...How? Why?

A question that came up recently was about how to obtain a sun star when your including the sun in your composition.  While the short answer is use a small aperture, like F/16-F/22, I wanted to attempt to explain why that helps...

The above photo was taken at DeSoto Falls near Mentone, AL at sunrise.  I shot this with a very small aperture, like mentioned.  This one was at an aperture of F/22.


These are the short answers...Use a small aperture and this is much easier achieved at a wider angle.


This happens because of light "bending" around the aperture blades of your lens.  This is where knowing your lens comes in super handy!  How many "points" you obtain coming off of your sun star depends on how many aperture blades your lens has.  If your lens has an odd number of aperture blades, like 7 or 9, your lens will double that and you should end up with a 14 or 18 point star.  If your lens has an even number of aperture blades, like 6, then your lens will yield a star with the same number of points as you have aperture blades.  So a lens with 6 aperture blades will give you a star with 6 main points on your star...there are chances that those "points" may be split, but there will still be 6 main points.

The image above was taken with my Tamron 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD Lens, which has 9 aperture blades.  If there was a full star there, and it wasn't partially blocked, you would see 18 points on that star.  For the record, I enlarged the image and I was able to count about 13 that were unobstructed.

Thanks to depth of field, using a smaller aperture allows you to pick up much sharper, well defined points of the star, which is why F/16-F/22 is usually recommended.

If you want a full sun star, then you would not want the sun obstructed, or diffracted, by anything.  However, these stars are typically much more interesting in compositions when the sun is diffracted by something like the horizon of the earth, a mountain, trees, etc.

Hearing that a small aperture creates a nice star burst, I would not suggest you try this at say, F/32.  The main reason I wouldn't suggest that is most lenses aren't at their very sharpest point at that small of an aperture (remember that a large depth of field will mean everything is in focus, not that everything will be at it's sharpest).  This, of course, is based on your lens.  The more experience you have with a particular lens, the more you will learn things like its' sharpest aperture...that comes with field time.

When the light sucks...

I once heard another photographer say "When the light sucks, make it black & white."  I think for the most part, this works.  However, don't let that be the only time you remember to try converting things to black & white. 

Last week, we were on our way back from Yellowstone National Park (in the good, old days when it was open) back to Jackson Hole.   A few miles past the entrance to Grand Teton National Park we came upon a stunning light show nature was putting on for us.  One of those very fast, but impressive displays that you have to capture right at that very moment at that very spot, or it's gone kind of deals.

The few days before this had been socked in with clouds and the afternoon was supposed to be "mostly clear"  according to the weather.  Well, I was under the impression that "mostly clear" meant things would mostly be clear...stupid me.  However, it worked out that being "mostly not very clear" gave us just enough break up in the clouds to get this light show for about 3 minutes.  It was phenomenal to see.  It reminds me of another quote I once heard from a not so famous photographer, "Exposure is hard.".  

Anyways, so the point of the post was to remind you to try black & white when the light doesn't suck.  I converted this image above to black & white and I'm quite pleased with the result.  It's not that I don't like the color image, because I do.  However, now I have two images that I like. 

In case you're wondering technicals for the shot above, here you go...

Canon 5D Mk II, Tamron 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD Lens @ F/16.  ISO 100 and a shutter speed of 1/80th second.  The color shot was processed in LR5 and Nik Color Efex Pro.  The black & white shot was converted using Nik Silver Efex Pro 2.