Sunday, 18 December 2016

The Darkest Hills

This is a post about evening/night photography in 'Los Cerros' Park (the word 'cerros' in Spanish means 'hills'), in Alcalá de Henares (Spain).

Yesterday I took a walk with my Nikon D810, my SAMYANG 14mm F2.8 ED AS IF UMC and my tripod. I started when the light was disappearing. These are some of the pictures of that session.

Firstly, I started in a near area, close to the Henares River. I wanted to explore the silk effect, but it is not maybe the better place for it because of the quality of the light and the serenity of the waters.

In a first moment the night had not fallen yet, so the skies were very clear then. I use for this photography kind a tripod and a remote radio control (you can view more info in 'Gear' section). I shoot in 'Mup' mode (mirror up) and with electronic (no-mechanic) shutter. In this conditions the shot is very stable. Blur images would be caused by the distortion of the lens in the borders or the movement of the light objects with the wind.

The next topic was the old excavator inside 'Los Cerros' Park, a monument about forest reforestation in the area. I had some questions about what is the better shoot parameters in this case.

ISO 100 - F/2.8 - 30s

ISO 800 - F/2.8 - 30s

ISO 400 - F/2.8 - 30s

What do you think? It is an old question (as we commented in the post 'Brief notes about night photography'), and I have not the answer. By one hand, high ISOs with wide apertures and short shutter times produce a large number of punctual stars. If we reduce ISO or close the aperture, we lost stars (because you will not capture the weakest lights), and if we increase the exposition time above 30 seconds the stars will draw its traces and they will be not punctual. By other hand, I've never liked the noise caused by high ISOs and you also should considerate the dependence of the depth of field with aperture. What is the optimum balance of all these parameters?

Due to the first considerations about the number of punctual stars shown, I used a wide aperture (F/2.8), a exposition time of 30s and I experimented with the ISO. The Nikon D810 is a good camera, and it support high ISOs. With a properly post-processing (remember the post 'Noisy pictures and other synaesthesias'), you can have images with an acceptable noise.

For me, the main referral in night photography in Spain is Mario Rubio. If you visit his Flickr page you can notice he has not afraid high ISOs. In this and this picture with punctual stars, he uses a very similar parameters I've used in this session (but with a Nikon D700): f/2.8, 14mm, 30s and high ISOs (even above 2000!). But he also explores star traces and longest exposure shots with narrow apertures.

Our next stage is 'La Casa de los Catalanes', a ruined rural work building close to Malvecino hill (a charismatic hill in the park).

In night photography you can use continuous light (a torch) to colour the scene. I've used that technique en several of these pictures, with the gadgets that I made in the post 'The way of illumination'.

After that, night became cloudy and stars disappeared behind the clouds. It was a good opportunity to show the movement with longer exposure times (2 or 3 minutes).

Finally, night finished in the castle. With a very cloudy sky and a lot of light contamination (hot lights of the city were reflected on clouds making the white balance very complicated).

I hope you've enjoyed!

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Lens Correction Profiles in RawTherapee

That's my first contact with ".lcp" files, so every comment to complete/correct this information could be positive for all us.

The no-perfect lenses (every real lens) could be affected by several lens distortions. These distortion effects are associated to the design and construction of the lens, and they could be more or less noticeable.

When you are processing a raw file, some image editing programs allow you to enable a lens correction profile. It is a ".lcp" file with information about how to correct distortion, vignetting, etc.

As I've comment other times, I've usually use Rawtherapee. It is a freeware and in the latest versions it allows to use lens correction profiles.

As you can see in the above image, you can select a ".lcp" file associated to your camera and lens model and allow the correction to the distortion or vignetting separately. I like the automatic distortion correction, but I think the automatic vignette correction is a little bad. You can enable or disable each one of them as you want.

By other hand, you have manual controls to set the distortion/vignette correction as you desire. 

Automatic control by profile

Manual distortion correction settings

Manual vignette correction settings
How I can have a ".lcp" with the correct correction parameters? Adobe offers much of them included in its software, but you can download much more with "Adobe Lens Profiles Downloader" (click here for Windows version). The application saves the downloaded ".lcp" profiles in:


With a codified name (where "****" is a text string related with your user).

Other way is looking in the lens webpage. For example, Samyang offers a download centre with several profiles for its lenses.

I hope it will be useful!

Monday, 12 December 2016

Temple of Debod

The Temple of Debod is an ancient Egyptian temple dedicated to goddess Isis. It was moved from Egypt to Madrid (Spain) in 1968. In 1960, the construction of the Aswan High Dam could make disappeared several places with a high archaeological relevance in Nubia. There was an international call to save that heritage and Spain took part in that project. The Egyptian State donated the temple (with about 2,200 years old) to Spain and now it can be visited in Madrid.

I've shown images of that temple before in this blog (made with a digital reflex camera and with a film camera). It is one of my favourite places in Madrid.

I hope you can feel the magic that this place emits.


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