Thursday, May 7, 2015

Opal Skies over Iceland by Jurgen Lobert

Opal Skies - Aurora borealis over Iceland, mid-March. One of about 400 frames in a time lapse
© Jürgen M. Lobert ~ Nikon D750 • 15mm Sigma Fisheye • f/2.8 • 8 sec • ISO 3200
Jürgen Lobert's passion for night photography began when he took a course at NESOP, taught by Lance Keimig. "[I] always had an interest in low light photography, but never knew how to do it. This course kicked it all lose and got me to invest heavily in photography as my now major hobby," says Jürgen.

Satisfaction and challenges: Jürgen finds profound peace in roaming the nights, and capturing the serenity of strange places. He is also drawn to its challenges. "[Night photography is] unorthodox, hauntingly beautiful, different and not mainstream," says Lobert.

His biggest challenge is time. "I have a daytime job and career, which prevents me from spending as much time as I'd like to spend, particularly travel."

Lighthouse Emissions - Aurora borealis over Iceland, mid-March. Distant lighthouse appears to emit the
aurora colors ~ © Jürgen M. Lobert • Nikon D4 • Nikkor 14-24mm @ 14mm • f/2.8 • 15 sec • ISO 800
Equipment, tools and software: Lobert's most valuable photography equipment for doing his night photography are his Nikon D4 (its illuminated buttons are perhaps his most favorite feature —no flashlights needed). Favorite lenses are his Nikkor 14-24mm and 24-70mm. He uses a Dincum lens shade for urban work. Apps include Sundroid, Tide Prediction and Stellarium.

Jürgen's most-bang-for-the-buck tools: a velcro strip to prevent your intervalometer from dangling, and a reflective strip on the tripod to find it in pitch black darkness. (He once searched for his tripod for half an hour in Death Valley's "Racetrack" area!)

3D Explosion - Aurora borealis over Iceland, mid-March. Clouds in the foreground, aurora in the middle
and stars in the background give this image a very three-dimensional feeling ~ © Jürgen M. Lobert
Nikon D4 • Nikkor 14-24mm @ 14mm • f/4.0 • 6 sec • ISO 2200
Jürgen Lobert, Ph.D. is primarily a scientist who spent 30 years in atmospheric chemistry to hunt down global warming and ozone depleting gases and solve problems in the manufacturing of semiconductors. To balance that nerdy side, he started fine art photography to capture places and moments in time, in unique ways. Jürgen specializes in night and daytime long exposure photography, light painting and astro-landscapes. He lives west of Boston and is an executive member of the Boston Camera Club, and the founder and organizer of the Greater Boston Night Photographers Meetup group. He has organized about 100 photo excursions and he is a lecturer, instructor and judge for regional camera clubs.

Although Jürgen is not making his living from photography, he considers himself a professional photographer, as every aspect of his photography is highly professional: equipment, approach, his teaching, lecturing and competition judging. More of Jürgen photography can be found on his website.

               Royce's 2015 NightScape Workshop Schedule

Monday, May 4, 2015

Special Pricing on Adobe Photoshop Elements 13 until Midnight!

Adobe Photoshop Elements 13 for Mac and Windows - Download or DVD version
Special pricing (only $44.95) Expires Tonight at 11:59pm -  While supplies last!
Special Pricing on Adobe Photoshop Elements 13 until 11:59 P.M. Tonight (May 4, 2015): Only $44.95! SAVE $55 (regular price $99.95). Mac or Window — Download version or DVD version.

I've seen discounts before as low as $79 or even $69, but never this low.  Although, I prefer to use Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom, Adobe Photoshop Elements 13 is still an amazing program, and at this price, it's a steal! This special offer is coming through B&H Photo Video.

Adobe Photoshop Elements 13 for Mac and Windows is a versatile and intuitive editing and organizing program for managing a complete digital imaging workflow. Beginning with a wide range of photo editing and enhancement capabilities, Elements 13 presents a breadth of tools for automatically optimizing the look and feel of select images and retouching unwanted aspects of individual photographs. Features to help accomplish this include Effects Variations, Crop Suggestions, Guided Edits for black and white photos, and Photomerge Compose.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Faking the Moonrise

This moonrise over Kailua Beach, Oahu, Hawaii is actually a sunrise: f/8, 1/400 sec., ISO 100 ~ © Royce Bair MMXI
When to fake a moonrise: It's very important that all my starry night landscape photography ("NightScapes") be as close to my camera raw originals as possible. Other than an increase in sky contrast, I resist heavy Photoshop manipulation. Editorial photography requires a high standard of ethics. Commercial and advertising photography is another matter. Here one is trying only to be illustrative and create an image that sells a product.

Moonrise over Kailua Beach was created purely to be a top stock photo seller, and I have succeeded so well, that it has also become one of the Internet's most often ripped-off images (that can happen, when an image goes viral).

How the illusion was created: To create the above image was ridiculously easy. I started out with a pretty sunrise. That camera raw image was opened within the Adobe Raw Converter (ARC), which is available for Photoshop, Elements, and built into Lightroom (refer to page 115 in my new eBook).

The un-cropped camera raw file opened in the Adobe Raw Converter (ARC)
The next step was to slide the color Temperature to the left —all the way to 2000º Kelvin. Some images may look better at around 2500º, and may need some Tint adjustment as well.

Sliding the color Temperature to the far left (i.e. 2000º) will suddenly give your sunrise a cool "night" look.
Once the image meets your overall tastes for a "night" image, open the image and continue to make adjustments in Photoshop, Lightroom or Elements. That's it!

               Royce's 2015 NightScape Workshop Schedule

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Dallas Texas NightScape Presentation April 14th

Stars over Hole in the Wall Arch. This is an obscure arch within the Courthouse Towers section of Arches National Park
that is no longer marked on any park maps. The wall is part of a huge, but very thin sandstone fin that makes this
feature very intriguing to me. I had planned this shot for over 20 years. The ‘hole’ is about 30 feet (9 m.) in
diameter, and is lit by an omnidirectional LED lantern with an orange gel, hidden inside the hole. The
main light (a diffused, 2-million candlepower quartz halogen spotlight) is being operated by my
son Chris, about 800 ft. (244 m.) from the left (more info available in my new eBook).
Canon EOS 5D Mark II, EF24mm f/1.4L II USM lens, 15 seconds, f/2.0, ISO 4000.
Dallas Professional Photographers of America (DPPA) presentation: I hope you'll join me in Dallas for a two hour presentation on April 14, 2015 about how to photograph Milky Way NightScapes. More information can be found on this Dallas PPA website. Dallas is one of my 13-city stops on my eBook "signing" tour.

               Royce's 2015 NightScape Workshop Schedule

Monday, March 9, 2015

NightScape Podcast with Royce Bair and Ron Henry

BlackRapid founder, Ron Henry, interviews NightScape photographer, Royce Bair
Podcast interview: Last month, while I was in Seattle, I had the opportunity to meet with BlackRapid founder, Ron Henry, and discuss my passion for NightScape photography. Ron does podcasts on a regular basis, and is a terrific interviewer. The way he guides this 39-minute podcast discussion will provide you with some great insights about how to do your own starry night landscape photography. (Note: if you are unable get the podcast to work for you, use this MP3 link.)

F.Y.I.: BlackRapid makes some of the best camera accessories on the planet. They are especially known for their unique camera straps.

13-City Tour: This interview is just one of several media opportunities I've enjoyed on my 13-city ebook "signing" tour, during the past three months. It's been fun sharing my love for NightScape photography with enthusiastic camera clubs around the United States. At the moment, I only have free tour seminars left to do in Salt Lake City, Los Angeles (Torrance), San Francisco (Palo Alto and Sunnyvale), Dallas, and Boston.

TV interviews: There were several television interviews during this tour and in the works, but my favorite so far was in Jacksonville, Florida last month on WJXX's First Coast Living.

A video frame capture from my First Coast Living interview (WJXX - Jacksonville, FL)
Video frame capture from my New Day Northwest interview (KING5 - Seattle, WA)

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

'Capturing the Night' by Greg Gibbs

"Beam Me Up" is a single 30-second exposure "selfie", using a low power head torch on a string to
spin around the photographer.  Canon 5D Mark II, 14mm, f/2.8, ISO 3200 ~ © Greg Gibbs
Greg Gibbs describes himself as an Australian based hobbyist photographer, who has a passion for capturing the beauty of the night sky.

"I'm not sure I have a particular style of night photography that is easily definable," says Greg. "If I do [have a style], it is constantly changing, depending on the mood I am in, or what I want to achieve in a particular image."

"The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy" is a 16 image panorama (25-second exposures). The road sign is only a
couple minutes drive from where Greg used to live. The sign was lit during one of his exposures with the light
from his mobile phone screen.  Canon 5D Mark II, 20mm lens, f/2.8, ISO 6400 ~ © Greg Gibbs (click to enlarge)
Early History: Ever since Greg witnessed Halley's Comet at the age of seven he has had a background interest in astronomy.  Growing up, he enjoyed seeing things like lunar eclipses, meteor showers, and other bright comets.  But, it wasn't until he purchased his first DSLR camera in 2010 that he discovered a passion for photographing the night sky.

"I was playing around with the camera one night and I thought to myself, 'what would happen if I just went outside and held the shutter button down for a long time?  Could I capture a couple of stars on camera?'  The resulting image whilst completely out of focus and riddled with noise, blew my mind so much that I started devouring as much information about astrophotography as I could, and I have been hooked ever since," says Gibbs.

"For The Past, Present and Future Explorers" is a 9-image panorama of 30-second exposures. South is at the top of
frame, the middle of the image is directly overhead and the bottom of the image is North.  (It was while Greg was
processing these images that he heard of the passing of Neil Armstrong so the title for this came from thinking
about all his achievements.) Canon 5D Mark II, 14mm lens, f/2.8, ISO 3200 ~ © Greg Gibbs
Keeping it simple: Although Greg enjoys experimenting with telescope based astrophotography, his real passion is doing what started it all —using nothing more than a camera and normal tripod to capture the beauty of the night sky that surrounds us all.

I certainly like to keep things as simple and real as possible.  With the exception of things like panoramas and star trails, I really like the challenge of capturing as many of my images in a single exposure where ever I can.  Out of necessity, I might occasionally exposure blend or focus stack, but that is about as far as I go.

"Field Of Dreams" is a 6-image panorama of 10-second exposures.  A diffusion filter was used in front of the lens
at the time of shooting to highlight the brighter stars.  "A lot of people think this is a daytime shot of the crop and
windmill, blended with a star shot, but this was taken at about 1:00 AM and a 70% illuminated Moon is lighting
up the foreground," says Greg.  Canon 5D Mark II, 50mm lens, f/3.5, ISO 1600 ~ © Greg Gibbs (click to enlarge)
Equipment and software: Gibb's most valuable equipment is actually his astrophotography telescope equipment and he doesn't even want to think about how much that has cost him!  For most fixed tripod night sky-scapes, he feels wide angles lenses with fast aperture lenses are very important.  His favorite pieces of equipment are are also his two main lenses — the Samyang (which also goes by the brands of Rokinon, Pro Optic, and Bower) 14mm f/2.8 and 24mm f/1.4.  Coupled to his two cameras (Canon 6D and 5D MkII) they are hard to beat for image quality.

"I must be getting close to the only person in the world who has not yet got a smart phone, so I am still firmly computer based at this stage," quips Greg.  "I use Google Maps, Stellarium, and The Photographers Ephemeris extensively for location scouting and image planning.  I have a whole host of weather prediction sites that I use to check conditions; and being just a little bit obsessed with chasing Aurora Australis from mainland Australia, I always keep an eye on a number of aurora forecast websites."

"Midnight Rainbow" is a 9-image panorama of 30-second exposures.
Canon 5D Mark II, 14mm, f/2.8, ISO 3200 ~ © Greg Gibbs (click to enlarge)
Challenges: Greg feels lucky to live in Australia where really dark skies are readily found, but this often involves long drives, and fuel is not cheap.  Coupled with the fact that he has a regular day job on top of this hobby —having enough spare time to actually travel and photograph locations at night is one of his biggest challenges.

Another challenge he has is finding good locations.  Greg prides himself on trying to find the best composition, but some locations just don't work with night sky images.  "I have found myself doing a lot more time lapse imaging lately, with the view to releasing something, hopefully, early this year; and that has been a really challenging project, with steep learning curves.  I take my hat off to the people doing night sky time lapses full time," reports Gibbs.

"Lookout" is an 8-image panorama of 30-second exposures, taken at Mt. Buffalo National Park.  Greg feels this
is the most amazing night he has yet to spend under the stars. "I had caught a few faint displays on camera before
but this was the first time I had ever seen the southern lights or Aurora Australis dancing in the sky with my own
eyes.  This panorama was originally only intended as a behind the scenes look for the multitude of other images
I took on the night, hence why you can see another camera in the hut and my car in the carpark, but when I
stitched the images together I fell in love with the result and it went on to win the David Malin Award
(Australia's largest astrophotography competition) in 2013 for best wide field image."
Canon 5D Mark II, 14mm, f/2.8, ISO 3200 ~ © Greg Gibbs (click to enlarge)
Satisfaction: "It means the world to me that so many people seem to like what I do, says Greg.  "If through my images I can inspire just one person to look up with a greater appreciation of the night sky, then I would be completely satisfied.  I'm certainly not in it for fame or fortune, and any money I do make from my hobby goes straight back into doing it.  As a hobbyist, I am only out to please myself when it comes to photography.  I am only out taking images at all hours of the night, because I love taking images at all hours of the night."

Greg hopes that through his hobby of photographing the night sky he can inspire others to get away from artificial lights and just look up at the night sky. Halley’s Comet will return to our skies in 2061. If you're in Australia that year, keep an eye out for an 82 year old man standing next to a camera on a tripod with a huge smile on his face!

Greg Gibbs is a 35 year old resident of southern New South Wales, Australia.  He's a horticulturalist by day and hobbyist landscape astrophotographer by night.  More of Greg's photography can be found on his website, his Facebook page, Google+, or on 500px.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Milky Way NightScapes eBook

The Milky Way over Lower Yellowstone Falls is the cover on Royce Bair's new "Milky Way NightScapes" eBook.
My new ebook, "Milky Way NightScapes" is now available: PDF format (53MB), 140 pages, over 33,000 words of text, with over 490 illustrative images. $19.99 USD. Please scroll to the bottom of this post to place your order.

Because my NightScapes have been widely published for three decades, many have copied my style. Although I'm not the first person to have ever used that label to describe my style of night photography, I was one of the first to use it extensively for starry night skies, with a landscape feature that has been enhanced by extra starlight, moonlight, or artificial light. Unlike other ebooks on night photography, Milky Way NightScapes concentrates almost exclusively on photographing starry night skies as points of light. There is only one page on star trails, and no instruction on how to photograph the moon, meteor showers, or other night sky features. This is book is very narrow-minded, and I think many will appreciate that.

The book is divided into four chapters: 1. Planning and Scouting, 2. Shooting NightScapes, 3. Lighting the Foreground (using starlight, moonlight, and artificial light), and 4. Post Processing. Here are some sample pages (Copyright Royce Bair 2015, All Rights Reserved):

What others are saying: "This is the only book you'll ever need for nightscapes. It is easy to read, easy to use and written by the world's foremost authority on night photography. The recipe on page 50 of how to set up the shot with clear step by step instructions is alone worth the price. Highly recommended for everyone who ever thought of doing this type of photography." — Jeff Clow

"Very helpful! I attended a weekend workshop last winter on night photography and I wish I had your ebook prior to that. I have some other books on the topic, and I find yours to be the most complete and best presentation of information on the topic. Your ebook has also filled in some gaps and is quite helpful with processing the raw files I have." — Donnie Fulks

"The book is well written, chock full of information and an inspiration for all of us doing “nightscape” photography.  Thank you for sharing your years of knowledge and experience."  — Bill Zombeck

Kindle warning: "Your original PDF is too large for folks to upload to their Kindle or Kindle app on iPad (my preferred method for reading ebooks).  The file size limit is 50 meg [the Milky Way NightScapes PDF is 53MB].  I was able to compress it a bit using Acrobat so I'm fine, but not everyone has access to Acrobat. It's a great read so far and your images are breathtakingly beautiful!" — J. Scott Crist

"This book is terrific. Royce, you've taken all the work out of pre-planning. I highly recommend this book it to anyone with only the slightest interest in night sky photography. I've purchased a few ebooks on photography, and this one is by far and away the most informative and best value. The layout is absolutely gorgeous. I appreciated all the information on lenses, and I’m so happy to have all the knowledge in one place." — Barbara am Ende

ORDER HERE: To place your order for my new ebook, click the ADD TO CART button below. You will be asked to pay $19.99 for each ebook (a 53MB PDF download). Payment is via PayPal. After payment you'll be allowed to download the PDF file to your computer. You'll also receive a email with the same download link, giving you five chances to download the file. Your license allows you to make one backup copy, and to make one printed copy of this copyrighted ebook. Do not share the PDF with others who have not purchased a license. Please email me if you have any questions or concerns.
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