Everlook Action Tutorial

We’ve released a new video tutorial!

We are often asked how we go about creating the characteristic appearance of our images. To answer that question, we’ve released ‘the’ action which we apply and modify to all of our images to achieve that look. This is your chance to use the action and to view the accompanying video which details how to create the action and modify it to suit your needs.  For the month of August, use the discount code STYLE20 for a 20% discount on this particular tutorial. Click on the link below for a detailed description of what you will get.

Everlook Action tutorial

The following video is a brief preview of the ‘simple’ part of the video which tells you how to install and use the action itself.

For users of earlier photoshop versions (eg photoshop 2015) , the action itself will not work as it utilises smart object functionality that will only work in photoshop CC. If you follow the second part of the video , there is only one step that you will need to change. When creating the ‘orton’ layer, do not make this layer a smart object but instead , use the following steps:

  1. Use Gaussian blur on a duplicate layer of the background image with the degree of blur matching the megapixel count of the camera
  2. Open a levels adjustment layer and leave it untouched for now
  3. Group the above two layers and change the opacity to 20%
  4. Now click on the levels adjustment layer inside the group and shift the right hand marker down to somewhere around ‘200’ and shift middle marker to the right until you have the right amount of ‘glow’

Happy editing!

ND filter checklist

The following are some of the practical aspects of choosing and using ND filters. This will hopefully be accompanied by a more in depth print article, but for now, here’s a summary!

What are they?

  • Dark glass (or resin) which allow a photographer to lengthen the shutter speed.
  • Screw on (circular) vs Square (slot in) – see below in accessories
  • Light blocking terminology:
Stops blocked 1 stop 2 stop 3 stop 10 stop
Exponential version ND2 ND4 ND8 ND1024
0.3 version ND0.3 ND0.6 ND0.9 ND3.0
Shutter speeds
No filter = 1 sec 2sec 4sec 8sec 1024sec

 

Accessory checklist:

  • Tripod : MUST be firm and steady
  • Cable release : essential to achieve exposures of greater than 30 seconds. Some firmware changes such as ‘magic lantern’ and some camera applications (such as for the sony A7r series) offer an alternative to a cable release but I prefer the former.
  • Filter holder and square filter set up. Allows 2(Lee default) to 3(Nisi default) filters to be stacked in front of the camera. Lee requires an additional slot for a 105mm CPL, Nisi system has a CPL attached to the default sized adaptor ring itself. Insert ND filter on the closest filter slot with padding firm against edges of the holder to prevent light leak.
  • Screw on filters need no filter kit. Minimises light leak but unable to ‘stack’ with other filters. Can be used with CPL but could lead to vignetting.
  • Optical view finder cover (to prevent more light leak). Can be on the camera strap itself (canon) or can be anything invented ! eg. Blue-tac, duct tape.

 Density recommendations (approximate)

  • 2-3 stop : for waterfalls, seascapes in bright light : target shutter 0.5-5 seconds

1 second foreground using a 3 stop ND filter 3 minute sky using a 10 stop ND filter

  • 6 stop : for fast moving clouds, seascapes in low light: target shutter 5-60-seconds

6 stop ND filter for 1 minute exposure at dawn , fast moving cloud

  • 10 stop: for elimination of water textures, slowish clouds: target shutter 1-5 minutes

10 minute exposure using a 15 stop ND filter after dawn with slow moving cloud

  • 15 stop: same target as 10 stop except in brighter conditions: target shutter 1-20 minutes
  • Vari-ND: limited by screw on setup and some brands have bad cross polarisation artefact.

 Camera setup :

  • Turn off long exposure noise reduction. (noise reduce in post processing)
  • Turn off autofocus . Leaving it on may result in the camera hunting in the dark for and lead to an out of focus image
  • Keep iso low. This is within camera limitations. I like to keep iso <400. (if going much higher, could you just achieve the same results with camera settings alone or less dense ND filter?)
  • Activate expanded iso (eg. Iso50 for canon users)
  • Adjust aperture according to given scene. At your lens’s sweet spot at f8, the exposure may not be long enough after minimising iso and placing your densest ND filter.

Shot at F11 with fading light. I worked for a 2 minute exposure after experimenting prior which meant using iso200 with a 3 stop ND filter.

 Composition tips:

  • Usual rules of composition apply
  • ND filters allow simplification of ‘chaotic’ elements eg random water motion, unattractive clouds. Use these to emphasise areas of detail within your image
  • Compose without ND filter on to achieve your desired composition and to find your focal point manually.
  • Don’t let the ND filter dictate the shutter speed. Use ND filters to achieve the shutter speed you desire for the scene.

Short exposure version of a scene (which allows many more options in changing light both with regard to shutter speed and compositions – this is a vertorama)

Biting the bullet and going for a long exposure can be hit and miss. More hits arrive with more practice!

Calculating exposures

  • For every stop of light blocked, exposure duration doubles. (See first table)
  • Use apps if you don’t mind bringing devices into the field
  • Alternatively, use this approach outlined in this link: https://everlookphotography.wordpress.com/2016/05/24/quick-tips-live-view-simulation-and-long-exposures/

This shot at Mannum Falls was taken with 10 stop ND filter – viewing through the viewfinder would be pitch black, hence composition using live view is a good work around.

How long do I want?

  • See the above section in ‘density recommendations’
  • Start with that filter and adjust iso/aperture accordingly to achieve the exact shutter that you need for the scene.
  • During your test exposures without the ND filters, take some dedicated shots with shorter shutter. You  might like them more!
Varying appearances of water and sky according to shutter speed and density of ND filter used.

Varying appearances of water and sky according to shutter speed and density of ND filter used. All images used the same settings in LR.

The 10 stop version was the pick of the bunch for me, but if I change my mind, I could use any of the previous images.

With or without filters?

  • Think about combining filters to achieve a single exposure result
    • Using an additional GND for the sky
    • Avoid stacking ND filters as the filter in the 2nd slot will almost certainly let light leak in
  • Think about taking an image for dark areas of the scene without the ND filter on as the ND filter will require a very long exposure for deeply shadowed areas. Blend them in post processing.

This 10 stop ND filter shot has some elements of shadowed areas blended from a shot with the ND filter. This was done in the field to save the time required to achieve a proper exposure with the 10 stop ND on.

Ultimately, repetition leads to reflexes and if the routine is a reflex, more thought can go into the art of achieving a result instead of the mathematical and technical processes of using filters. Enjoy!

Disclosure:  I am a Nisi brand ambassador who tries to write neutrally and objectively. If you are interested in purchasing filters after reading this article, feel free to email us dm@everlookphotography and I will be able to give  a discount code for Australian customers.

June Jaunting

June has been and gone with a trip to the gold coast to show for it. It was our first visit and we were lucky to be visiting during the off season which meant that accommodation was cheaper and we did not have to battle crowds (in most places). During this trip, I tried to film some ‘field’ explanations of what I was setting out to achieve from a given scene and hoped that this translated into final results! I have processed some of the images with many more to come. This was a brief travel diary of our trip .

Tuesday 14th June:

  • 5am wake up call, last minute packing and preparations. 6am kid rousing attempts. 715am departure for airport.
  • 11am : Arrival to rain and grey skies at Gold Coast airport. General loafing and shopping for groceries until 3pm check in to our house at Surfers Paradise.
  • 5pm: First sunset shoot from Evandale Park. The sky was nice but not spectacular facing west. I experimented with short exposures all the way to using 6, 10 and 15 stop filters to prolong the exposure by which time I ran out of light to play with! Plans to photograph twilight images were spoiled by a dump of rain and haziness. In the rush to pack up, my S3 fell into the Nerang river never to be revived! That kind of sucked since I had already downloaded my ‘viewranger’ (GPS app)  maps and routes for Lamington National Park. The following image was taken with a 10 stop filter. (All ND filter shots on this trip were taken with Nisi filters)

Golden Skyline taken at dusk with Nisi 10 stop filter

Wednesday 15th June:

  • 5am: Departure for Fingal head to arrive well before dawn. No star shots were possible due to rain , heavy rain and more rain. I spent most of the pre dawn time huddling under the vegetation there (with the fisherman you see in the image below) . Then just at dawn, it started to clear. No light at first, but I was happy to scout the location for future visits. And then, just as I thought the morning was done, the light finally did break through ! After a series of short exposures and attempted panoramas, this image was taken with a 6 stop ND filter for a 1 minute exposure (with rapidly moving cloud). The misty appearance of the water might give you an indication of the churn that was going on down there.

1 minute exposure after dawn , taken with Nisi 6 stop ND filter and 3 stop hard edged GND

  • 9am : We headed out to Dreamworld in not so good weather. En route, picked up a new phone from JB Hifi which Marianne set up during the drive. The rest of the day was spent visiting the theme park until the kids were getting tired and just generally ratty. By 3pm, they were asleep in the car on the way home. The following is a trip video from which much of the kids footage was taken from the Dreamworld visit.
  • 5pm: we hit the seaside market at Cavell street. More fun with the kids and a dinner out and about. After dinner, the main task was prepping the phone for route finding purposes at Lamington National Park.

Thursday 16th June:

  • 430am : Departure for Lamington National Park hoping to arrive there in time for a dawn shoot at Moran’s Falls. After the very winding (but epic) drive in the dark , I missed the trailhead for Moran’s Falls and had to guess from viewranger  as to where it was. It turns out I missed the car park in the dark! It was too late for the ‘ole lantern illuminated selfie but the falls were beautiful from above. Walking in the cool water helped refresh my sweaty feet after a half jog to the top of the falls. The following image was blended from 18 shots (6 frames of 3 exposures).

Moran’s Falls panorama

Breakfast back at the trailhead at 730am and it was time to hit the Toolona creek trail! My turn back point was Chalahn Falls in order to allow me enough time to photograph some of the waterfalls and head back by afternoon to family activities. It took a TON of willpower to press on directly to Chalahn Falls instead of stopping at every turn to photograph the amazing scenery. Thanks to the GPS giving me some sense of destination, I arrived at Chalahn Falls to some beautiful muted light at 9am and spent the next hour photographing these iconic falls. I brought my waders to use at each of the waterfalls and did not regret it. The neoprene boots gave far more traction than boots or bare feet so I felt secure the whole time. Though 5 minutes getting in and out of hiking clothes and the waders for each falls was a bit of hassle! This is one of many frames I took of Chalahn Falls.

Reflections of Chalahn Falls

On the way back , I wanted to make a decent fist of Elabana and Box Log Falls knowing that it would be pushing midday ! Indeed, due to stops at Gwongurai Falls and Triplet Falls, I arrived at Elabana Falls in bright sunshine!

Gwongurai Falls ( I think!)

Pushing on to Box Log Falls, a mist rainbow greeted me around the corner. Rainbows are so fleeting that by the time I set up to take some shots and put my waders on, my initial shots were all that captured the rainbow while patchy light made shooting quite difficult here.

Fleeting rainbow at Box Log Falls

Elabana Falls was partially in shade by the time I returned from Box Log Falls and I spent a good hour wandering around various viewpoints there. My turnaround time of 1pm was already upon me and it was time to leave with a sad heart. I would have loved to take the Canungra creek route for more waterfalls but that’s for another day (full day). By the time I had half jogged back to O’reilly’s rainforest retreat, I had eaten my 4 trail bars and a coke and giant sausage roll disappeared in the depths of my growling stomach literally within 1 minute.

  • 5pm: After arriving back to the kids having woken from their afternoon rest (already), we headed to skypoint observation deck for some evening cityscape shooting. Marianne’s self invented lens skirt worked wonders for cutting our reflections as I took several long exposures to achieve trailing clouds and car trails at twilight and blended them using photoshop’s lighten mode . Thereafter, we ate dinner out at one of many asian restaurants there accompanied by pre meal grouchy 2 year old tantrums.

Exposure blend of 2 images taken from Q1 observation deck. Video explanation below

Friday 17th June:

A morning in for us all with a good sleep in to be had by all. Despite the grey morning there was still a little light breaking through. The plan for the day was to visit Springbrook national park to see how much we could cover with the kids in tow. We had a dinner date to be back for that evening with some friends from Adelaide who were coincidentally holidaying in the Gold Coast!

  • 1030am: The walk to Natural bridge was a short one and well managed by Charlotte while Jaime was ferried down in our child carrier. There was initial excitement for the kids, followed by restlessness and a growing dislike for the loudness of the waterfall within the glow worm cave. I had one shot at taking a panorama of this beautiful location before heading back up. Along the way, Charlotte spotted some interesting fungi to photograph too.

Panorama of 30 shots put together : explanation in the video below

  • 12pm: Lunch at the Springbrook road side of the national park was again accompanied by pre meal toddler grouchiness. By this time, the weather started to look quite threatening as we viewed the canyon below and took a walk to the top of Twin Falls. Some day I would like to do the Warrie waterfall circuit below as well, but not accompanied by children (until they are significantly older). While driving back, everyone else had a snooze in the car as we had made plans for a catch up with friends that evening.

  • 5pm: The ‘asian’ in us wanted to maximise the use of our three day pass to Dreamworld and Skypoint , so we headed up again to kill time before dinner. The plan was to shoot south with a similar approach to the previous evening. It was at that stage that two things happened. Firstly, I tripped and managed to fall on my 15 stop ND filter – gone, busted. Secondly I noticed that my filter holder was missing…..knowing that the Natural Bridge was the only location I had used it, I wondered if by some miracle it would still be there . Marianne gave it a 5% chance. After the disappointment, dinner at Sizzler (which is no longer in Adelaide) did pick things up somewhat for the relived novelty value.

This shot of Surfers Paradise looking south toward Broadbeach was taken with a sad face

  • 9pm: Kids were asleep and I drove out to Natural Bridge. 5% became 100% as by some miracle, no one had picked it up from the exact spot I was photographing the panorama above! I noticed that there were already busloads of tourists were already gathering to visit the glow worm caves. Mindful of fatigue and the fact that there were flashlights going off everywhere, I gave myself one hour to photograph some long exposures but would like to return without interference some day. It seems that a visit coinciding with clear skies and a full moon is a great time for viewing the cave as the waterfall is eerily lit while the glow worms glitter away. 12am and sleep came quite easy.

An attempt at photographing glow worms (focus stacked) with the waterfall beautifully lit by the moon above.

Saturday 18th June

530am : A brief sleep and a quick trip out to Currumbin. The rock formations there were amazing and I managed to get some shots of the rock, some water motion and the distant skyscrapers of Surfers Paradise in the background. It seemed a popular spot for a surf ! It was a good shoot to finish off the trip photographically.

Currumbin Rock(s) dominate the scenery

Waiting for the right wave at Currumbin (shot from on top of the smaller rock)

The rest of the day was spent taking the kids swimming followed by my return favour to look after the kids while Marianne took care of some retail therapy solo. I wonder if Marianne’s little trip to Harbour Town was more productive than my photographic two days prior! It was a quiet dinner in to finish our leftovers as the forecast for rain in the next 24 hours predicted up to 100mm of rain.  That night, I spent my time backing up all the images and keywording them in preparation for transfer back on to my working PC at home.

Sunday 19th June:

Transit to home and back to reality.

Brief notes on gear: 

  • Nisi filters were used for practically every one of these shots except for the rainbow shot. 9 months into the first set of filters and they are all going strong with little sign of wear and certainly nothing that would make me consider taking them off for fear of image degradation. To date, I have not had any issues with the filter holder falling off (which was an initial concern).
  • The Kaiser Baas x150 action cam was a quick replacement for our old gopro hero 3 since it had started to malfunction. At half the price of the hero 4, it seemed an attractive option. Unfortunately, the video quality and dynamic range is far less impressive than the go pro. You can see evidence of this in the children’s video above. It tends to randomly change white balance during video clips at times too. The positives are the price, its design which does not make it prone to turning itself on or off (or the wifi being accidentally activated), and its casing means that even in windy scenes or scenes with rushing water, I can still hear myself talking which is important for recording field videos.
  • Sony A7r2 : This camera is growing on me. The metabones jiggling is still annoying but not insurmountable. The processing of day time images is fantastic but I still have issues with the way the RAW files handle crimsons and magentas.
  • Caddis waders worked a real treat. This was the first trip that I really put them to the test and they passed with flying colours. Comfy, waterproof and the neoprene boot design has two advantages. Firstly, the kit weighs less than 2kg. Secondly, the boots themselves have better natural grip to wet rock than bare feet or hard soled footwear.

 

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