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  #401  
Old 04-01-2011, 07:00 AM
RLI Electric RLI Electric is offline
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Now that this popped back up, Ken, did you get those winter shots? Apparently, it is still not too late.
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  #402  
Old 04-01-2011, 10:44 AM
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emby emby is offline
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Hi Bob,

This is one of those jobs when you have come back from Jan's class and you say to yourself "oh my gosh I need to change many things". With that being said I am scheduled to go back in for maintenance and add a few more fixtures in their backyard this spring. While I am on site I plan to change the position of all the fixtures within the two large trees. This will most certainly create more detail and contrast.
One problem with this design was that the in ground fixtures under the trees lining the driveway were being completely covered by dirt and grass when the lawn cutting season was going. My approach to this is to suggest along with the landscape company to have them create a garden all around the base of those trees. Some low lying ground cover will enhance this new garden and will eliminate the cutting machines from covering the lamps with debris.
The photos were taken before I met George so yes this spring I will be following the steps when taking photographs of the final composition. I will be sure to post but do not look for it until the summer time.
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  #403  
Old 05-14-2011, 12:23 PM
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Although I am still playing around with my camera settings here are some photos of that project. There are a total of 16 fixtures illuminating the large maple trees and a total of 24 fixtures illuminating the row of trees along the driveway.
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  #404  
Old 05-14-2011, 04:44 PM
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INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting is offline
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You do very impressive work Ken and your photography is coming along very well too. On a design note (and yes I do know where you are coming from *wink* ) you may want to take some care to not over illuminate your scenes / objects. Blanket coverage of the trees is not always necessary and can actually produce quite an artificial look. I like to work with light and shadow on the same object, using that contrast to build depth and intrigue. Using lower light levels in dark areas tends to look a lot more natural too. I try to always remember that "it is night and it is supposed to be dark" along with keeping in mind that "less is more".

For a practical suggestion, using the large maple trees as the subject. Try to block them into 3 or 4 zones of intensity just as you would with a full scale landscape. Just remember that one of those zones of intensity can be a zero (dark or nearly dark)

Obviously all design concepts and interpretations are highly subjective and ultimately it is our client's who must be happy and satisfied with our work.
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  #405  
Old 05-14-2011, 08:38 PM
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Thank you James as your thoughts are always welcome.
The camera always does silly things to me and is sooo hard to duplicate what is on site. In these examples it is over exposed totally and I am slowly trying to noodle out this photography thing.
The tall and narrow picture is very close to what the scene looks like in person but still is a bit hot. The drive way picture turned out way too bright and it does not look at all like it does in person.
When I was following certain steps, the camera would not shoot the picture because of low light. I find that when there is a combination of higher and lower light levels it simply will not take the picture. Its frustrating as you drive out to the site (which is an hour) spend and hour there to shoot and I end up with nothing looking like the real deal. Last night I had to wait an hour for the rain to stop to boot.
A little bit of work and I am sure I will get it. I like mucking around with this as I know most of us would just hire a professional. Its a hobby for sure and I suck at it right now but I will get it.
Thanks James as always.

Ken
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  #406  
Old 05-15-2011, 08:02 AM
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Ken, what camera are you using? Does it have the ability to bracket the shot (take several photos from one shutter activation at different F-Stops)? What are you setting your light balance to? I get best results by setting my light meter to evaluative most of the time but in areas with a lot of different intensities, using spot metering and picking a spot in the middle of the range can really improve the exposure. Also, if you can bracket, you really should (and shoot in RAW). You'll usually end up with one in the bracket series that looks pretty good but with the multiple exposures, if you decide you really like the composition of a shot, you can have a Photoshop person blend it for you and get it looking exactly the way you want it.

Nice work, I really like the trees down the drive. I did something similar not long ago.
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  #407  
Old 05-15-2011, 06:37 PM
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Hi Bernie,

I have the Nikon D60. Here are my setups.
Shooting in RAW
Exposure compensation was at zero (this maybe my problem)
White Balance - Tungsten light
Metering mode is on Spot Metering
I had the dial on the camera set to A. This allows me to control the Aperture. (Will check this to confirm with manual)
ISO was 200
I have it set to lock the exposure automatically right now.

I think that I need to learn the camera functions better so that when I am on site I can adjust as every project or scene will be different levels of light.
I appreciate you offering to help and I hope that you are using a Nikon as well as you might be able to help me understand the setttings a little better.
Thanks Bernie.

Ken
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  #408  
Old 05-15-2011, 10:55 PM
bcg bcg is offline
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Ken,

I shoot with a Canon so I'm not very familiar with Nikon but, a quick Google search shows that the D60 does not support automatic bracketing, which is going to be a bit of a handicap.

I'm not sure what Exposure Compensation does as it's not a feature in my camera.

A couple of things though, when shooting in RAW, it doesn't matter what you set your white balance to, RAW allows you to adjust that in the post processing in Photoshop (or whatever program you use). To me, the photos look most natural in the 2700k - 3200k range, basically in whatever color temperature the lights you're using are.

When using spot metering, it's best to meter on the brightest spot in the scene. This may mean changing the composition or the zoom setting of the photo some and cropping later but if you spot meter on a darker area, you're going to end up with blown out photos pretty often. I usually use evaluative metering and get pretty good results that way but I find it to be a hassle to get spot metering to work right in the dark since I'm not super familiar with where all the controls are on my camera.

Since you're setting your aperture manually and don't have auto bracketing, I'd suggest starting in no-flash mode first to see what aperture the camera comes up with and then shooting 5 pictures, one at the suggested aperture, one a full stop below, one 2 full stops below, one a stop above and the final 2 stops above. This will give you enough different exposures that you'll be able to find one that's pretty decent out of the body and have something to work with if you decide the scene is worth getting someone to blend it for you.

All that said, I'm no expert, this is just what I've learned from the photographer that took my contest photos. He uses a Nikon body that does support bracketing and was taking shots at 7 different stops for each photo. The 2 shots I posted on this thread are mine though and I had someone blend them for me. These were blended a little cooler than the scene appeared in person, almost looking like black and white photos but, I liked the artistic look of the end result so we went with it. For comparison, here's one of the same shots right out of the camera. I think the blended version looks a lot better.
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  #409  
Old 05-18-2011, 04:51 PM
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Thank you Bernie,

I have picked up a wide lense and will be playing around with the settings next week.
Here is another photo from a different angle.
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  #410  
Old 05-18-2011, 04:56 PM
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Be careful not to go too wide with the wide lens, it'll create barrel distortion on the edges, kind of curving the photo like a fish eye. Some people don't mind it but it bothers me a lot because it tends to make trees, buildings, etc look like they're bowed.
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