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Thread: Seattle city lights and their trails

  1. #1
    jeeperman's Avatar
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    Seattle city lights and their trails

    This was my first attempt at trails, however I have been looking for a good spot in which to shoot for some time. Here are 3 in order to the light fading of the 40 that I shot. I would welcome C&C, thank you and I hope you enjoy. Please do give the lightbox a shot.

    Seattle city lights and their trails

    caught a helicopters lights here
    Seattle city lights and their trails

    This was the very last shot of the evening.
    Seattle city lights and their trails
    Last edited by jeeperman; 25th September 2011 at 05:00 PM.

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Seattle city lights and their trails

    Hi Paul,

    They look ok to me, however I am not experienced in this kind of shooting so am reluctant to say more.

    It might help if we knew the basic shooting info, it isn't in the EXIF.

    I probably prefer the composition of the last one, where we see the sweep of the highway across the foreground better (arguably the bridge is a distraction), but I also like being able to see a bit of landscape with lake/river behind, that we get only in the first two.

    I wondered if they were level, I believe they are (checking buildings) - what misleads the eye is the angle of the bright patch of sky and the slope of the highway in the foreground which, by coincidence, are similar.

    What do you want to improve next time?

    Good first effort,

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    jeeperman's Avatar
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    Re: Seattle city lights and their trails

    Thanks Dave, I varied and played with my settings and even a ND filter As the light changed. All of these were shot with a 3 stop filter. Iso 100....with the first shot at f22 and 45 sec. The second shot was f16 at 75 sec roughly and the third was F11 at 2 min. For the most part I am quite pleased. I did struggle some with noise, which I believe is partly due to A100 not being super strong in that area. The freeway has a bit of up and down to it and the light area in the sky was as you see and angled. Almost looked as if the freeway went around the city and up into the sky. I do believe all is level, and that is the sound {saltwater port} you see.

    What I would like to accomplish in the future is more sharpness in the trails....however from this distance it may be tough. I agree on your assesment of the composition although I like both as one shows more and the other is a bit cleaner around the borders and I think quite strong on its own had you not seen the other.

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Seattle city lights and their trails

    Hi again Paul,

    Thanks for the shooting info. and yes, I realise that's how things are with freeway and sky here, but another time, it might be possible to include something in the composition that avoids the feeling I get - if you know what I mean.

    I quite agree that the first composition stands on its own, the second is just my slightly preferred one

    More sharpness on the trails could be tricky, two things occur to me;
    The trails, being point light sources, might well over expose and 'bloom' into surrounding pixels destroying sharpness.
    The ND filter, with the extra air/filter surfaces, may cause extra reflections that affect the apparent sharpness of point light sources.

    Both effects should get averaged out with suitable down sizing for web and sharpen up after the downsize.

    I wonder whether a PP combination of an early evening shot for the landscape and a later one for the light trails (with less exposure) might be successfully combined in PP (assuming the camera doesn't move between shots) - just an idea, I have no experience trying it.

    One thing I noticed on some close up light trail shots posted here a while back, modern LED auto lights are often pulsed (not the continuous light of filament bulbs) and at faster vehicle speeds and certain distances from camera, can resolve as a succession of dots, dashes or other shapes (depending on lamp housing design and angle to camera).

    Cheers,

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    jeeperman's Avatar
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    Re: Seattle city lights and their trails

    I noticed that as well Dave about the LEDs pulsing while the others are solid. I think part of the light bleeding out may have been due to so much trafic. There was just to much light on the road.

    As for including something for perspective { I get ya...but}....in this spot, what ya see is what ya get. I was confined by large trees and a steep drop in front of me. It is beautiful here but it can make it tricky to get a clear shot. As I was leaving my little cubby in the trees I found 15 some odd people 25 yards up from me trying to climb blackberries to get a shot, even if they got through they would have had a poor angle. I Will find another place and shoot a different side of the city but I chose this spot for the light trails. Next will be the Space needle side.
    Thank you Dave for the comments, it is always good to hear what others see.

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Seattle city lights and their trails

    Quote Originally Posted by jeeperman View Post
    I think part of the light bleeding out may have been due to so much trafic.
    That begs the obvious suggestions;
    Pick a day (of week) with less traffic at dusk
    Pick a time of day in a different season - i.e. less traffic at dusk time
    Use a shorter shutter open time (but not so short that a car cannot complete the full visible path during the exposure)

    Quote Originally Posted by jeeperman View Post
    There was just to much light on the road.
    Less exposure (stop down more or use ND)

    You probably worked out all the above for yourself, but it may help someone else.

    Cheers,

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    Re: Seattle city lights and their trails

    Already sent a PM as per your horizon line being off kilter, but to add to all the other info above, it is a rare time when I shoot (san ND) a night shot with a time frame over 30 seconds. Most of this is due to not wanting to lose the crispness of foreground lights which I think provide the right amount of pop to help draw the eye deeper into the frame.

    Because you are working with freeway traffic, you don't have to rely on any one single car providing a light trail, therefore you can lower your exposure time. One of my recent shots of the bridge was only about 15 seconds and I was working with far less light.

    Good luck...it's lots of fun but rather time consuming. Here are two shots Ninanative and I made the other night...both of us used longer lens (55-300) than you did and higher ISO's (to compsensate for the slower lenses). Mine, the second one is a 10 second single car exposure, while hers (the first image) is 15 seconds, single car exposure...there are some other variations in the shots, but note that I have slightly better definition in my stationary lights because of the lower exposure time.

    Seattle city lights and their trails

    Seattle city lights and their trails
    Last edited by MiniChris; 25th September 2011 at 12:19 PM.

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    Re: Seattle city lights and their trails

    Those are pretty nice CHris. I did try 10, 15 and 20 sec but due to the expance of trail distance...even with traffic I was getting some breaks in the line. I will check for level, I did move things a couple times and probably didn't get back to level....eeerrr. lol

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    jeeperman's Avatar
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    Re: Seattle city lights and their trails

    Chris and Dave, Thank you both. You were right about the horizon being slightly ascue. I think my eyes were crossed by that time last night, and I will revisit these.


    Adjusted
    Last edited by jeeperman; 25th September 2011 at 05:01 PM.

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    Re: Seattle city lights and their trails

    Nice shots Paul.

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    Re: Seattle city lights and their trails

    Hi Paul

    Wow...makes mine look pretty tame I think all 3 are very good, love the colours in them, #1 to me is the best one, so envy you living somewhere like that,
    looking forward to seeing some more of your work.

  12. #12
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    Re: Seattle city lights and their trails

    Thanks Bobo and James, it is a beautiful place to live, no doubt. I have reworked the above images being I was asleep through the first go around and I must say...I am much happier now.

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