The background Milky Way photo was shot using the Meade telescope with a Canon 60D and 28-80mm lens (at 28mm). It’s a single 2-minute exposure at f/9 and ISO 3200.
Venus, Mars, Saturn, and Jupiter were captured with the Orion telescope and ZWO camera using 8,000 to 10,000 frames each that were then stacked in Autostakkert. Uranus was shot with the Orion, Skywatcher, and Sony a7 II using a single 30-second exposure at ISO 6400.
The ISS was shot using the Orion and ZWO with 25,000 frames captured (with 25 handpicked frames aligned and stacked). Comet 46p/Wirtanen was shot with the Orion, Skywatcher, and Sony a7 II with 60 separate 30-second exposures at ISO 6400.
The Moon was captured with the Orion, Skywatcher, and ZWO with 1,000 frames. The Sun was shot with the Orion, Skywatcher, and Sony a7 II as a single 1/200s exposure at ISO 50.
Once he had all the individual photos he needed, McCarthy arranged the objects over the Milky Way background using Photoshop. Here’s a closer look at the composite photo that resulted:
This 4K Timelapse is a Dazzling Tribute to New York City
Time-lapse photographer Michael Shainblum has released a new 4K time-lapse short film titled “Liberty” that beautifully captures the scale, beauty, and pace of New York City.
“I vividly remember my first experience of New York City as a kid, before I became a photographer,” Shainblum writes. “The sheer sense of scale, the incredible architecture and just the overall feeling I got walking around the city. That experience became one of the reasons I got into photography.”
“Ever since then, it has been my dream to recreate that feeling into a short timelapse film. From the sensory overload of standing on a busy New York street corner. To the tranquility of standing on a skyscraper, like being on top of the world. This is a dedication to my favorite city in the world.”
The timelapse (and hyperlapse) was created with roughly 15,000 still photos Shainblum shot in New York City between 2016 and 2018.
Dissecting the Shot: A Long-Exposure Photo of London’s East India Station
In this article, I am going to dissect how I took an image from both a technical and narrative standpoint. I hope this gives you some ideas for your own photography.
The photo above was shot at 10s, f/11, 32mm, and ISO 50 with a Canon 5D Mark III and a 17-40mm lens. It’s from a book I did on East London at Dawn. I love photographing the city at sunrise — the beautiful light is mesmerizing.
Let’s start with a look at the technical side, shall we?
I love this shot for the success of execution. My setup and exposure were well-timed and exposed. Slow shutter for effect. Sweet aperture (for that lens) and an ISO that gave me all the contrast and color my camera is capable of.
I was concerned that the train movement was going to mess with my sharpness, but the platform was really solid and had no vibrations.
This is something to consider when shooting long exposures — you can be stable with your tripod, but what about the place you are shooting from?
The f/11 gave me good depth of field from 3 feet to infinity. I focused about a third up from the bottom of the frame to make sure the close distance would be sharp.
I had a window of about 12 minutes where there was a perfect balance of both ambient and artificial light. I made about 10 shots and adjusted the shutter speed from 15 seconds to 8 seconds as the light increased. It was still too dark for a daylight white balance (5400K) so I settled for around 3200-4000K, which is why the sky is so blue.
In Lightroom, I boosted the contrast quite a bit to enhance the lines and separate the colors, which I then further controlled with hue/saturation/lightness. I put the vibrancy and clarity up high to give it added punch.
It is a high-energy image, with the lines taking the eye around the image and back again, bouncing off the buildings and looping around. The streaks created by the long exposure just enhance this feeling of speed and energy.
Now let’s look at the story that I imagine for this photo. I think creating stories within your images is important, and reflecting on what your images say is a useful exercise in developing your critical skills in photography.
When I am out shooting in the morning, I am out way before most people are even awake. I watch the sky changing, the light appearing, feel the beautiful calm. Then a trickle of people starts to appear.
Before long the trickle turns to a mad rush of people walking and in cars, buses, trains, boats even. The energy rushing through the city is intense and feels sometimes like it wells up from nowhere. A tap has been turned on full, a button has been pushed and released.
I like this image because it shows how intense metropolitan life is. It feels both hectic and crazy busy but ordered and organized at the same time.
You have the rush of people, but they are in lines, following the path, using the city efficiently to get to their destinations on time.
Because this shot was taken when it was still early you can see those who rise first, and I feel their energy to start the day and get moving are represented in the streaks of light. These people are active and in the chase.
There is also the glow of lights from the office buildings — people who are at work already? Or who never left? Perhaps they are the people who come to clean and care for the building, coming and leaving unnoticed, like whispers in the night.
So many stories could be told from the people you know are in this image but can’t see.
To me, this image talks about the energy you need in the pursuit of survival. The city is big and unwieldy and hard. But with desire and focus, you can command the city to your will.
About the author: Anthony Epes is a photographer whose work has been featured internationally; including on BBC, French Photo Magazine, Atlas Obscura and CNN. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. Epes is also a teacher – writing in-depth free articles on his website. Receive his free ebook on the two essential skills that will instantly improve your photos, and sign up to his weekly newsletter providing inspiration, ideas and pro-photo techniques. This article was also published on Cities at Dawn.
A Day in the Life of a Kiwi Police Officer Photographer
The Auckland, New Zealand police department posted this interesting 9-minute behind-the-scenes video that shows a day in the life of a Kiwi Police Photographer.
The video follows a photographer named Rhonda, who shows us the ins and outs of what a typical day looks like as a member of the Police Photography Section.
There are three cars in the department that are dedicated to photography gear — the trunk contains each photographer’s Canon 5D camera kit, accessories, and other items the photographers might need in the field (e.g. crime scene number placards).
The photographers wear plain clothes, but they carry along vests and gear that allow them to step into police roles when needed, whether it’s assisting at a crash scene or pulling over cars over.
Over the course of the day, photographers get called to different crime and accident scenes to help shoot evidence for police investigations.
And at sensitive scenes, photographers need to wear a lot more gear to prevent their DNA from contaminating the area.
Back in the office, the photographers load up Lightroom and make basic adjustments (e.g. exposure) to improve the photos.
“What I’m taking photos of is very different to what I was taking photos of for fun,” Rhonda says. “Obviously the nature of our photos is pretty gruesome sometimes. It’s definitely something that’s not for everyone.”
Louis Vuitton’s PF19 Look Book Flaunts a Fleet of Female of Powerhouses
The release of Louis Vuitton’s Pre-Fall 2019 look book also served as an homage to the Woman. Tapping seventeen notable women in the entertainment industry, the French maison displays a collection rich in sophistication and design on the likes of Indya Moore, Kelela, Michelle Williams and Chloë Grace Moretz. The crop of talent ranges in fame, but confidence is a standard across the board.
In a public statement, creative director Nicolas Ghesquière explains of the notable cast, “These women …
V Girls: Leila George Nominated by Ethan Hawke
In Mortal Engines, Peter Jackson’s recent adaptation of the YA classic by Philip Reeve, cities become moveable machines that “eat” other cities. While not quite as daunting as a cannibalistic metropolis, the set of the film was somewhat intimidating for Leila George. “It was the biggest thing that I’d ever done,” says the Sydney, Australia native, who traveled to New Zealand to play the part of Katherine Valentine, a socialite whose father oversees the “digestion” of a sm…
Friends Through Flames: Camaraderie on the Front Lines of Wildfire Photography
When historic wildfires raged across California last year, thousands of firefighters were deployed to combat them. And alongside those brave men and women were fearless wildfire photographers who raced to the front lines to document the devastation for the world’s eyes.
Warning: This article contains graphic and disturbing descriptions.
Through covering many of California’s biggest wildfires side-by-side over the years, some of these photographers have developed a close-knit camaraderie that provides both support and safety during dangerous assignments.
These photographers met while covering different fires and while shooting for various media outlets and news agencies. Berger “got hooked” on wildfires after covering the Rim Fire of 2013 alongside Sullivan, whom he has known for about two decades now. Berger is a freelancer who often shoots for the Associated Press, SF Chronicle, and NY Times, while Sullivan is a staff photojournalist for Getty Images. Both men started their photojournalism careers in the mid-1990s.
Edelson (then an amateur hobbyist photographer) met Berger while he was covering a small fire on the streets of San Francisco in 2009. After answering some of Edelson’s questions about his job, Berger took Edelson under his wing and became his mentor. Berger would go on to become one of Edelson’s closest friends and a member of his wedding party.
Lurie (an SF Chronicle staff photographer), Lam, Berger, Edelson, and Sullivan are all based in the San Francisco Bay Area, so they’ve known each other from covering news as members of the region’s close-knit community of photojournalists. Yam is an LA Times staff photographer based in Los Angeles who met the group while covering fires.
Bonding as Friends
Over the past several years, the group has spent many hours together, living and working side-by-side at wildfires that dominate national headlines.
“We give each other a lot of s**t,” Edelson says. “Sometimes the humor helps keep things light considering the seriousness of what we see out there.”
The photographers also share everything from food to hotel rooms (when they can get one).
“During the Camp Fire, a bunch of us actually spent a few nights staying at this Airbnb with 14 beds in one giant space,” Lam says.
“We all eat meals together, sleep in close quarters, and share with one another,” Lurie says. “It’s pretty great. They make me feel safe and like we’re part of a family.”
Even outside of work, the photographers occasionally get together for meals, drinks, and even things like community service.
“I think the best memory of camaraderie was when the fire photographers and a group of San Francisco Bay Area journalists who covered the fires in Napa and Sonoma County came together to volunteer at the Redwood Empire Food Bank in Santa Rosa,” Sullivan says. “We all felt the need to give back to the community we covered that suffered so much loss. We packed nearly 5 tons of food that were given out to residents who were directly impacted by the fires.”
“We have all become close and keep up with each other regularly,” Sullivan says. “We have a group fire text chain where we keep up fire activity throughout the state. When a new fire starts, the text chain usually lights up with activity.”
Competition and Camaraderie
Photographers covering the same events and subjects are naturally in competition to capture the best and most newsworthy photos, so it may seem strange to outsiders that this group of wildfire photographers has become the closest of friends. What’s more, they even go out of their way to share information and collaborate on the field.
“We each want to have the best coverage every day, but we strive for that while still sharing info and helping each other to a degree that wouldn’t happen among most groups of photographers,” Berger says. “For example, at the Valley fire, one of us (I believe it was Stephen Lam) found a dead horse lying beside a road. Most photographers would just keep this to themselves, but he told us so we could all shoot it. It’s really done out of a spirit of friendship and camaraderie.”
“We talk about logistics a lot,” Edelson says. “For example, there was a scene where rescue workers were about to carry a body bag up a hill. Noah, Justin, and I were there. We quickly discussed how to shoot it so none of us ruined the others’ shot by getting in the frame.”
Shooting alongside each other also pushes each member of the group in their work.
“Each of us photographs things differently, with various approaches, focal lengths and so forth, so it’s not as if the competition to capture a storytelling image just disappears,” Lam says. “In fact, it inspires me to be a better photographer.”
“I love that we all have our own vision and shooting style that allows us to shoot the same scene with different results,” Sullivan says. “Knowing that 2 to 3 extremely talented photographers are shooting the same scene as I inspires me to really think about what I am shooting and to think outside of the box at how I will approach my coverage.
“When someone in the group gets a great photo or lands a front page of a national newspaper, we make sure congratulate that person and are genuinely proud of their achievement. There are never hard feelings or jealousy.”
“This is not common in most markets, but that’s how we do it up here,” Edelson adds.
Safety in Numbers
In addition to sharing information, resources, and inspiration, one of the biggest benefits to working collaboratively as a close-knit group of friends is safety. Even though the group rushes toward fires that the general public is trying to flee from, none of the photographers have gotten any serious injuries over the years, and that has a lot to do with the ways they watch out for each other.
“Being with a group that is well trained and understands how to navigate these dangerous fires is so important to me,” Sullivan says. “Being in a car with someone when you’re driving down roads that have fire on both sides with trees and power lines falling all around is so much better than trying to navigate it on your own.
“Having two or three people in a car when trying to get through these areas allows the driver to keep his eyes on the road while others in the car can keep an eye on hanging wires and other threats. Regardless of the situation, I feel one hundred percent safe when traveling with the group. We all have each other’s backs and I think knowing that allows me to produce the best work that I can.”
Berger recalls one incident during the 2015 Valley Fire that shows how traveling as a group in more than one car helps ensure safety:
“Josh was at a burning house and let us know. Stephen and I were trying to get there in two cars caravanning. At one point, there were a lot of rocks/small boulders in the road and there was fire on both sides of us. This was at night in an area with no firefighters around. Stephen got a flat driving over one of the rocks and his tire was losing air fast.
“We made it to the burning house in time to shoot it, but to get out we had to stop every couple minutes to pump air into Stephen’s tire. I stayed behind him, ready to throw him and his gear in my SUV if it because impossible for him to make it out in his.”
While in the midst of a wildfire, the group pools their eyes and minds together to spot dangers and weigh risks.
“We’ll point out power lines on the ground, motioning towards enclosing flames about to cut off our positions, calling attention to smoldering trees or power poles so we don’t stand under them,” Edelson says. “All these little seemingly benign comments aggregate into the bigger picture that keeps us all safe.”
“I don’t think any of us would leave the other in peril… even if it meant risking our lives,” Berger says.
Always Be Prepared
Wildfire photographers are well prepared in both their equipment and their training before going to a major fire. In the area of gear, the photographers generally wear what firefighters wear: helmet, respirator masks, gloves, goggles, fire suits, and boots.
But even more important than these safety items is knowing when to be where.
“You want to get in the ‘black’, land that has already burned, even if it’s still flaming, rather than being in the ‘green’, land that hasn’t burned,” Berger says. “There are still shots of big flames behind the leading edge, but the wind and fire are not as intense.
“One other strategy that we’ve learned from training and firefighters is to make note of safety zones. If you have a big enough clearing (asphalt, dirt, rock) with no vegetation, you can shelter in/by your car as the fire front burns over you. I think I’ve only used this when firefighters were in that safety zone — it would be scary to ride that out without them around.”
“We always leave our engines on and pointed outward in the direction we may need to go in case of escape,” Edelson says. “We also pay attention to the direction of the wind and ensure that we have at least two escape routes.
“Never stand or park under power lines or a tree. Even after the fire passes, trees and power poles continue to smolder, weakening them enough to fall at random. […] We also always assume power lines are energized even if we’re told they are not. Sometimes there can be surges of power coursing through downed lines. Better to not take a chance.”
With years of wildfire experience under his belt, Berger is a seasoned vet of the group that some of the others often look to for advice and direction.
“To be honest I’m not an adrenaline junkie,” Lurie says. “So I’m very cautious and I tell the guys when I’m nervous and we talk through things. They’re very cool about it all and we all make sure we’re comfortable.
“Noah is our barometer. If he goes up to shoot a fire, we follow behind. Noah is someone who wants to get the shot and push himself but he’s safe. Recently we talked about going down a road where we thought structures were burning but the wind seemed too strong and he said, ‘Nah, I don’t think we should do it,’ and I really respect that. He wants the shot more than anyone but he knows when to back down.”
The power of the group’s friendship goes well beyond the time and place of each wildfire, as witnessing and photographing death and destruction can leave a mental and emotional burden that can be difficult to bear.
“I was particularly hit hard [by the Camp Fire], as I gained unprecedented access to follow in the search for bodies and I came to see a gruesome scene that I couldn’t even file to my editors,” Edelson says. “I arrived at a burned residence where rescue workers had found a body. It was laying under a tin roof that had collapsed during the burn. When they lifted it, I’ll never forget the look on her face.
“I think it was a woman, but not really sure. She was completely charred and stiff. I remember seeing her face. It looked like the expression of fear she felt when she realized she was about to die was frozen on her face and stayed that way. She was gritting her teeth and her eyelids were gone. It was horrific.”
“The destruction of everyone’s property is pretty disturbing and hearing their stories is so sad,” Lurie says. “People have worked tirelessly their whole lives to create a home and then in a matter of hours, it’s all gone.
“After [the Santa Rosa fires of 2017] I was stoic for three weeks. Then one day I drove up there and just started sobbing for like ten minutes. I collected myself and kept going.”
In the aftermath of fires, the photographers continue to check up on each other to make sure everyone is coping well.
“The fire group is very supportive and have been checking in on each other on a regular basis,” Sullivan says. “We have had several open conversations about the importance of being willing to talk through some of the horrific things that are seeing.”
“[W]e sometimes have a hard time getting re-acclimated to normal life after being in the fire zone for so long,” Edelson says. “Sometimes I’ll see a tree or a house just doing something normal like going to the store, and I find myself imagining what it would look like burning.
“It leaves a mark on you. On your mind. […] It’s nice to talk to people who have been through it. No one else really understands.”
Image credits: Header photos by Noah Berger (left) and Stephen Lam (right). Featured thumbnail/photo by Stephen Lam.
The New Lens: Rei Nadal Nominated by Nick Knight
As the Discovery Issue, V117 features our cast of the latest and greatest ahead, as nominated by the cultural forces of now. This editorial appears in the pages of V117, our Spring Preview 2019 issue, on newsstands today!
“I make films because I don’t like the way women are represented in film; I am bored of seeing the world through the eyes of men,” says director Rei Nadal, who stumbled into directing films by accident, through a digital-era discovery. “It sort of happened wi…
Self-driving cars widely use a technology called lidar (which stands for light detection and ranging) to “see” the world using laser pulses. These lasers are designed to be safe to human eyes, but it seems they may not always be safe for cameras. A man at CES in Las Vegas says that a car-mounted lidar permanently damaged the sensor in his new $1,998 Sony a7R II mirrorless camera.
He was then horrified to find that all his subsequent photos showed clear sensor damage — there were two bright purple spots with horizontal and vertical lines across the entire frame.
Here are the photos Chowdhur was shooting when the damage occurred:
“I noticed that all my pictures were having that spot,” Chowdhur tells Ars. “I covered up the camera with the lens cap and the spots are there—it’s burned into the sensor.”
Here are some photos Chowdhur shot afterward that clearly shows the damaged pixels on the sensor:
AEye CEO Luis Dussan tells Ars that his company’s lidars are completely safe for human eyes but didn’t deny that they are capable of damaging camera sensors.
“Cameras are up to 1000x more sensitive to lasers than eyeballs,” Dussan tells Ars. “Occasionally, this can cause thermal damage to a camera’s focal plane array.”
There may soon be an explosion of self-driving cars (and lidars) on public roads, so whether the lasers pose any danger to things like cameras is something that will need to be looked into.
Lasers have long been known to pose a risk to cameras, and there are many documented cases online of sensors being damaged by the types commonly used in concert light shows. Here are two videos showing expensive Canon 5D Mark II and 5D Mark III DSLR cameras being permanently damaged by direct hits:
AEye claims its lidar has more range than competitors’ systems thanks to the use of a powerful laser. Different lidar systems feature different designs and lasers, so many or most of them may be completely safe for cameras as well.
“This sensor damage was an effect of a combination of things — intensity, amount of time, spot size, wavelength, pulsing, [etc.],” Chowdhur tells PetaPixel. “I have tested and photographed almost all lidars up close without getting my camera damaged. Also, this may not happen at a distance.”
Chowdhur also notes that AEye’s lidar may not be the only one on the market that poses a risk to camera sensors.
“It is unfortunate that I discovered this with their lidar,” Chowdhur says. “A warning from them when I asked permission from them for photographing their system would have been ideal.”
AEye has since offered to cover the cost of Chowdhur’s fried camera, and the engineer says he says he will accept the “generous” gesture as his camera was only a month old and was a big investment.
“I do want all lidar companies to mention in specs how camera safe they are in some units, like say distance vs camera aperture, shutter speed,” Chowdhur says. “Or what kind of filters to use or if they have completely mitigated the problem.”
Image credits: Photographs by Jit Ray Chowdhur and used with permission
Flashback Friday: The Lowdown on Comeback Fashion
At 9 am, Friday, January 11, 2019, Opening Ceremony dropped knowledge about 90s-style dressing: A capsule collection that features Skidz official garments for men and women, popularized by urban legends Fresh Prince of Bel Air and singer Vanilla Ice, include plaid-printed tented tops and hoodies, graphic tees in bright yellow hazard and caution road signs, both un-tucked and paired with a choice of solid khaki flares, straight-legged plaid pants cuffed at the bottom to reveal a larger width …