Tag Archives: Night

Magical Light in Perth

Looking back, I have unfortunately neglected to write much here for the second half of 2018. Photographically, 2018 was not a big year.

However, 2019 started off very nicely with a trip to Western Australia, in which we were based in Perth.

This was a first-time experience, and naturally, I had a list of subjects and places I wanted to photograph.

In our short time, I did not capture all of the images I wanted to captured, but I did tick a few off the list, and came away with some rare images.

On our second day, we did some tourist activities in the city, one of which was a visit to Kings Park.  It was one of the locations on my list.  In fact, for that day, I had planned to shoot Elizabeth Quay at twilight; but I also wanted to shoot the war memorial in Kings Park at golden hour, followed by a cityscape at twilight.

Kings Park offers sublime elevated views of Perth, and may just be the only major Australian city which offers an elevated view from a publicly accessible place.

After our first visit of that day to Kings Park, I changed my mind about the plan, and decided that we should return and execute the photography plan there on that day.

As the afternoon wore on, the cloud increased, and the light became very glary, flat and dull.  My hopes for golden hour were fading, but I figured we would stick around anyway, as there was still the potential for a moody twilight.

Late in the afternoon — actually, technically evening — some golden light started to appear on the buildings across the water.

I set up my rig and played the waiting game.

Within a matter of minutes, the light started getting interesting, and before too long, there was an amazing glow of golden light on buildings.

This is what I saw:

Gold Rush

Gold Rush

Despite the horrible cloudy sky, the cloud in the west had not completely obscured the sun, and as a result, some intense light struck the city.

The combination of a darker, cloud-laden sky in the east as the intense warmth of the sun shone through from the west, made for an amazing sight.

The next image I captured showed a blend of golden light, plus the beginning of the more intense warm colours as the sun inched its way closer to the horizon.

Picture-Perfect Perth

Picture-Perfect Perth

Later, just after sunset, the light became really interesting.  A glow of pinks, purples and reds immersed the entire city in intensely rich light.

I was in paradise.  This was the spectacle which had unfolded:

Best of the West

Best of the West

Light like this is so rare.  It really is the stuff of postcards.  I have only seen conditions like this on a few occasions, and rarely am I in the right place at the right time.

On this day, I was, and I captured the magnificence of light which is not only amazing in a photographic image, but exceedingly pleasant to watch with one’s own eyes.

A little while later, this magical pink glow gave way to the onset of twilight, and I completed the sequence of images.

Here is the result:

Perth by Night

Perth by Night

What a magical afternoon for photography.

Earlier in the afternoon, the conditions looked decidedly atrocious, and if we were somewhere else and not already committed to the shoot, I would have likely decided not to bother, because the light was terrible.

What I did not know was that it was a blessing in disguise.  The conditions were ideal; I just did not know it at the time, as we had restricted visibility of the western sky from where we were positioned.

In one session, the sky went from dull grey to intensely golden, and then to intensely pink and red, followed by gold and blue as evening fell.

What a shoot.  Conditions like this are rare, but this was the one occasion on which the big fish did not get away.

How Large is the Moon in a Photograph?

During the early morning of Saturday, 28 July, 2018, a special celestial event was to occur: a total lunar eclipse, resulting in a red moon — one like this:

Red Moon

Red Moon

I captured this particular red moon on 28 August, 2007.  Incidentally, it was the first and last red moon I captured!

For the most recent total lunar eclipse, I planned to rise early and capture the moon.

Unfortunately, due to cloud, I barely caught a glimpse of it, so no images were forthcoming.

The night before, however, I captured some images of the rising full moon in the early evening.

Now, there are different ways of photographing the moon.

Some people like to place the moon in the context of a broader scene, depicting trees, city architecture, animals or people.

Other people like to capture the moon in and of itself, with a view to depicting as much detail as possible.

I have historically fitted into the latter category, and I have photographed the moon numerous times with it being the only subject.

Naturally, when using only DSLR equipment and no telescopes or other space observation equipment, I like to use the longest focal length possible so that the moon in all its glory is more prominent, and therefore larger in dimension.

The maximum focal length I can achieve is 1,120mm by attaching both a 2x tele-converter and a 1.4x tele-converter to my 400mm lens.

People often wonder which focal lengths to use for capturing the moon.

Which focal length to use depends on the kind of image desired.  In my case, I want as long a focal length as possible.

Once a focal length has been decided, the next question is as follows:

How large will the moon appear in my image?

The answer is that it depends on several factors; namely:

  1. the focal length;
  2. whether the camera is a full-frame, APS-C or APS-H model (the latter two of which crop the view a full-frame lens natively provides on a full-frame camera); and
  3. the distance between the moon and the earth.

The short answer is that the moon is not very large relative to the frame.

If an APS-C camera is used, there is a distinct advantage, as the moon will appear larger relative to the frame than it would when captured with a full-frame camera.

In my case, I have only full-frame DSLR cameras.

Today I decided to explore and compare the size of the moon relative to my camera’s frame size, when shot at different focal lengths.

The night before the total lunar eclipse, I went outside to capture some test images.  I happened to capture images at both 1,120mm and 800mm.

Both focal lengths are considered extreme super-telephoto focal lengths in the DSLR world, but there is a surprising difference between them.

In both cases, the moon is not very large, relative to the frame.

I use a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, which produces a native image size of 6,720 x 4,480px (30,105,600px).

Let us take a look at how many times the moon can fit into that frame size when captured at the two focal lengths I used.

This is an image measuring 6,720 x 4,480px (the exact image dimensions a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV produces), depicting the size of a full moon relative to the size of the frame.

Moon Captured with Canon EOS 5D Mark IV at 1,120mm

Moon Captured with Canon EOS 5D Mark IV at 1,120mm

The full moon was captured in Sydney on 27 July, 2018 at 17:50, using a focal length of 1,120mm.

The moon, when captured at 1,120mm at this particular time, measures approximately 1,751 x 1,741px (3,048,491px).

With a frame size of 6,720 x 4,480px (30,105,600px), this means that the moon occupies approximately 10.1% of the frame.

Equipment used:

This is an image measuring 6,720 x 4,480px (the exact image dimensions a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV produces), depicting the size of a full moon relative to the size of the frame.

Moon Captured with Canon EOS 5D Mark IV at 800mm

Moon Captured with Canon EOS 5D Mark IV at 800mm

The full moon was captured in Sydney on 27/07/2018 at 17:54:19, using a focal length of 800mm.

The moon, when captured at 800mm at this particular time, measures approximately 1,267 x 1,258px (1,593,886px).

With a frame size of 6,720 x 4,480px (30,105,600px), this means that the moon occupies approximately 5.3% of the frame.

Equipment used:

As can be seen, despite using long focal lengths on a full-frame DSLR, the moon is still relatively small within the frame.

Here are those key figures again:

In this case, the size of the moon nearly doubled with the use of a longer focal length, despite that focal length not being twice the size of the shorter focal length.

It is not quite an exact science, particularly when considering that the image shot with the 800mm focal length was captured just over four minutes later, by which time the moon had risen marginally higher; but it is a substantial difference.

In both cases, while the moon does not dominate the frame, it is certainly large enough to show very pleasing details.

Photographers desiring even more prominence and detail would be likely to attach the camera to a telescope, but if, like myself, a photographer does not have a telescope, but does have long focal lengths, a very pleasing result is certainly possible.

My New Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM: Ideal for Cityscapes

Last week, I decided to buy a Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM lens.

It was a lens I had entertained — but not seriously — adding to my rig.

Until the addition of this lens, my two wide lenses consisted of my Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM  and Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM.

While I love a wide vista, sometimes 14mm is just too wide.  I never thought I would say so, but alas, it is true.

On the other hand, 35mm can sometimes be too long.

Twice in the past 12 months I have needed a focal length in between 14mm and 35mm, but did not have a lens of that focal length.

I have barely owned my Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM for a week, and I have used it on two separate twilight cityscape shoots.

So far, the 24mm focal length is proving to be very useful for cityscapes — particularly when shooting skylines across the water from a distance.  With a wider lens, the skyline can shrink into a vast expanse of sky and water; and with a longer lens, the framing can be just a bit too tight, whereby there is not quite enough sky.

My first shoot, on the same day I bought the lens, resulted in the following image:

Lavender Bay on a Summer Night

Lavender Bay on a Summer Night

This particular location does not seem to be hugely popular for cityscapes, but it was something different, and the 24mm focal length was absolutely perfect for this composition.

My second shoot with the new lens was last night.

After a few lazy days at home, I felt the need to get out for a photoshoot.

I decided to re-visit Mrs Macquarie’s Point.  The last time I photographed Sydney from this location was just over eight years ago.

Mrs Macquarie's View

Mrs Macquarie’s View

From this view, the skyline has not changed a great deal, but there are some buildings which did not exist in my previous image.

For this image, I opted for a wider focal length, and waited for the rich blue light of twilight to emerge after sunset.

I am enjoying the field of view this new lens provides.  Not having used the 24mm focal length for quite a while, it made for a nice change, and has been quite suitable so far for the images I have captured with it.

I am hoping to use it more next week, but I really need to invest in the NiSi filter holder which will fit this lens, as I need to be able to use my grads and ND filters with it.