MDSimages » Photography and HDR digital art by Michael Steighner

Quick Tip Tuesday – The Lunar Eclipse and how I processed the blood red moon

So I normally don’t get all “geeky” about these lunar sort of things, but I decided to stay up to at least see the beginning of what all the hubbub was all about. Just as the shadow of the earth started to inch its way over the moon, well, I got all geeky and quickly realized that I was in for the long hall.

2 hours, 2 cups of coffee, and 2 blood shot eyes later, I decided to retire for the evening…or shall I say morning.

I snapped a few as the sequence began, using the settings that I had blogged about in last nights post. Like I said, it was pretty cool to watch happen, especially when you start to think of the scale of what is actually happening.

Its when the moon was completely shadowed by the earth and when the sun started refracting its light around our planet to create that eire red glow when my settings got a bit messy. Could have been the blurry eyes and the empty 2nd cup of Joe, but thats a different story all together….
The sequence
Its not the best, but this is what happened after the sequence. I’m told that if I waited a few minutes longer, it was even more amazing. Maybe next time!

The Blood Red Moon
I recorded this Quick Tip video for todays post chatting a bit more about the process, my mistakes, as well as the techniques I used to create and finish off the image above.


Or watch then video here!

Another from the balcony – waiting on the lunar eclipse

Always find a comfortable place to park the tripod. Thats always a good start. For me, thats the patio. When anything “Lunar Related” happens, thats where you usually find me….and with a view like this, can you blame me?

So tonight, within the next hour, I’m told that we are to expect a lunar eclipse.

We the sticks are planted and the D800 is charged and ready for the capture. So what about the settings?

Lets have a look at those shall we….

Another from the balcony - waiting on the lunar eclipse-Edit-3I did a quick video about that before here, but this is where I am starting tonight…

How to Photograph the moon!

First Step – Grab your camera body and the longest lens you have and pop it on the ole tripod.

Second Step – Camera settings that seem to work well are 100 ISO, F8, and about 250th of a second. Oh yeah, make sure you are in manual and the auto focus is turned off. Unless you are using spot metering, the camera will try to compensate for the dark sky and render a rather nice large glowing blob of over exposed light. Not good….

Step Three – Use the live view and digitally zoom into the moon to manually set your focus and check exposure. If you do not see the detail you want or if the moon seems to bright, raise the shutter speed or check out a smaller aperture like f11 or 16. Again, you should be in manual and that includes staying away from “auto ISO” as well. Shooting in raw is also recommended as you will have a lot more latitude later in post

Step Four – Turn off live view and make your exposure by either using a cable release or using the self timer.

Step Five – Edit, crop, and refine in photoshop or lightroom. Again, shooting with raw should give you a lot more dynamic range to work with.

So here are a couple of quick grabs out of the camera (that is waiting so patiently to capture this event). Both it AND I are hoping for the clouds to clear. We will see!

Captured with the above process as seen un-cropped with a 70 to 200 lens set all the way to 200

The moon - small

 Captured with the above process as seen cropped and tweaked in Photoshop CC with a 70 to 200 lens set all the way to 200

The moon - large

Ill let you know how it all turns out in tomorrows post!

An here is that video I mentioned that I did before. Good luck!

Or watch the video here!

Viewing the scene with a different perspective and then Meet the Artist – Brendon Burchard

“Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.” - Brian Tracy

My tendency when setting up for a shot is to bracket…..alot. You most likely know that if you are a follower of my work here. I have often said that the capture is simply just gathering the foundation that I fully intend to process later before sharing the creation. Capture, process, and refinement….my usual journey thru the HDR or High Dynamic Range and tone mapping work…..its where I have found comfort.

Sometimes you have to break away from the comfort zone however….

Michael Steighner - 1

My personal challenge during the workshop was to escape and do just that. To see how I might be able to capture the light with one click with a fresh eye and a somewhat unfamiliar approach. Out of that zone…..

I know I blogged about it here, here, and also here, but I have a couple more I have yet to share from that experiment. I am doing that in the hopes that it might help you in your artistic journey.

When showing our “best of” collection for the rest of the class at the end of the workshop, (one I HIGHLY recommend here), I decided to first show an HDR creation (yes, I couldn’t help myself) from each days location, followed up with a diptic or triptic (are those even words at all!?) of single exposures.

The image above and below is an example of just that. Self challenging assignments…I highly recommend it. I’ll share a few more ideas soon in another post:)

Michael Steighner - 2

Challenging yourself….

I thought of Brendan immediately as I started typing this post. I was lucky to attend a workshop and conference a little while ago to see him up close as he shared his “art”. Yes, like I have said before, “art” comes in many forms.

In the truest sense of definition, I see the artist as one who creates value for the world.

As a student who has been in a transitional period myself, I find great inspiration in the works of people like Brendon. His book The Charge is one I HIGHLY recommend you check out right now if you are in this period of personal adjustment and refinement in you life (and who isn’t really!) Check it out right here!

Again, an amazing artist…..his brush is his voice and the canvas is the mind of the student. Here are a couple of recent uploads of his work as well as a few other places and platforms to follow him.

Worth a few bookmarks I think:)

Or watch the video here!

Or you can watch the video here!



His Website

His Youtube Channel

His Facebook page 

His Twitter


My top five favorite places to research travel photography locations

“Travel brings power and love back into your life.” -Mawlana Jalal-al-Din-Rumi

A glimpse of the tower

A special part of the journey is the prep. The anticipation of what might unfold, what new treasures you might find, what neighborhoods you have yet to explore…..all of it. Paris for me is one of those destinations. Having been there several times, each and every time I go there, its a new experience. And of course, isn’t that what travel is all about?

Although this is of course not a complete list of all of the amazing sources out there, these are some of the places I like to start with when researching locations that I am traveling to.

Google Images! – For example, in the google search bar, type in “photos of Paris”, hit enter, then hit the images tab and whalla! (Like I said, this one is pretty simple) The image search has been recently bringing up some pretty amazing quality photos though. Its a great place to start!

500PX – Probably one of the best sites out there for quality images and inspiration!

Flickr – I’ve personally been a user on this site for a while. My channel is here. Again, I chat about it in the video below!

StuckInCustoms – Trey Ratcliffs amazing images and stories might make you want to book a trip immediately! He has been a mentor of mine for a while. Take some time to enjoy his work:)

Stuck On Earth App for iPad – One of the best apps I have found to do a map search for the area you are at of planning to go. Most images are geo tagged with the exact location that they were captured, so its a great source for finding that ” out of way location” that is hard to find. A brilliant app by Trey and his team!

Here is a quick video I did you ya explaining these places that I use to prep for my journeys.

What are your favorite tips for scouting locations?

Or you can watch the video here!

Listening for the Ice to Crack

“You know its cold outside when you go outside and its cold.” – said someone (I guess)

So I’ve got a pile of images I have yet to process from this trip, but I’ll save a more detailed post for another day soon.

I jostled into position to capture this view in hopes that the 2 other explorers would stay just out of frame and behind this monster column of water as the D800 fired off a bracket sequence. There were so many people out here mid day (record numbers flocked to this amazing place year!) that it was hard to escape the wandering bodies waddling around the place. I say waddle as thats what we all looked like, bundled up and trying to keep from slipping about the ice.

The trick of course (at least one of them) is to dress warm, have some patience, and hang out there till the herd starts to thin out. Just as the sun starts to hit the horizon is when that seemed to happen. The temperature dropped a few more degrees and it then became deafeningly quiet….enough to clearly hear the ice cracking and adjusting all around me.

Kinda spooky actually!

Listening for the ice to crack-3

Just another quick note about the processing for those that read the blog for that kinda stuff….

I’ve been processing a lot lately with the HDRfx2 plugin from Nik (now owned by google). I kinda like the tone mapping like I am getting out of that program. Seems like its easier to get a “Non Photomatix” look and a more “realistic” version of the bracket.

What do you think?

I’ll share a bit more in a future post and video soon.

(Man, I have a lot of videos I want to do!)

More on all this soon!

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