Time Lapse

I thought it was about time I tried my hand at Time Lapse. It’s pretty simple, really. Just a matter of finding a suitable subject such as a sunrise or sunset, setting the camera to Interval Timer and letting it run!

My first one, here, is of a sunrise over Oare Marshes, in Kent, taken just a few days ago. It’s a spot I know well and have visited many times over the years. When planning the sequence I wanted it to run longer leading up to the sunrise than after since this is when you get the most subtle changes of colour in the sky. 10 minutes after it has risen, the sky just burns out and overexposes the image. You need to bear this in mind when working out your initial exposure. With the camera on a firm tripod, set everything to manual – focus, white balance, exposure – and, after reviewing your initial test exposure, underexpose it by a stop. This will then take into account the increasing light levels as the sun rises. If you don’t, you’ll end up with the final part of the sequence being washed out. It helps if you shoot RAW as it has greater tolerances to exposure than jpeg. This may sound obvious, but make sure you have enough card space for, say, 200+ images and that your battery is charged!  The camera (Nikon D300 and 12-24mm) was set to take a picture every 5 seconds for 30 minutes. The time lapse between each image will ultimately be dedicated by your subject and and how many images you can put on your card!

I then processed the images in LR 3 and PS4 (remembering that any adjustments to a picture must be done to all) and converted them to jpeg (1024×768). I put it all together in Windows Live Movie Maker with the frame transition set to 5 fps. WLMM really is a piece of cake to use. Trust me, if I can get my head around it, anyone can! :) I guess you can do the same thing in Quick Time. Ideally, I’d like to have it set to music or the various marsh birds calling. The latter seems to be more realistic, something I could do on a mobile phone to begin with, as opposed to the former where there are copyright issues. I’m very much a beginner with TL but I’m looking forward to a steep learning curve over the following months!

It’s great fun and I can see huge potential with all manner of subjects. I’m currently compiling a list of possible sequences which will, of course, be shown here and on facebook. By the way, if you haven’t already checked out my wildlife photography page, please do, as this is where I show my images straight from the camera, so to speak. You’ll find the link to the page just on the right.

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Sunday, April 8th, 2012 Notes from the field, Techniques No Comments

Environmental Photographer of the Year – Highly Commended

Last week, I received some rather good news. My image, below, of a female glow worm, glowing has just been awarded Highly Commended in the Environmental Photographer of the Year and will appear in the exhibition at the SW1 Gallery in London. It’s the first time I have entered this competition and, with over 10,000 entries from 105 countries, I’m pretty chuffed! :)

Female glow worm glowing

Female glow worm glowing. Nikon D300, 105mm Micro Nikkkor plus Nikon 3T close-up filter, iso 400, 15 seconds, f16, manfrotto 055 tripod, mirror lock-up, cable release.

She was photographed at a local nature reserve, here in North Kent, where I have been an assistant warden since it’s conception in 1990. They only appear along one particular path which we have aptly named, and not terribly creatively, The Glow Worm Path! So, I spent a number of evenings this summer looking and “trying” to photograph them. They are extremely small and especially tricky to do justice to as you want to illustrate the glow while at the same time, provide just enough illumination to show what she looks like as she has the most beautiful pink markings.

After spotting one in a favourable spot (i.e. not in a thicket!) I then, over the next 30 minutes set up the camera and experimented with shutter speed times and flash output and angles. This is the one I preferred the most as it was as much about the shape of the leaf and lighting as it was about the insect. I hope you like it too.

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Sunday, October 2nd, 2011 Notes from the field, Notices, Techniques 2 Comments

Practical Photography magazine article

An extensive article I wrote for Practical Photography magazine titled “Discover Winter Wetlands” can now be read from my website by clicking on the image below.

In it Igo through the variety of subjects which can be found and techniques employed when working on an area such as this from using different lenses, hides and even appropriate clothing to keep you working in what can often be, in a such an open landscape, freezing conditions. I hope you enjoy reading it and perhaps, for some you, pick up a few useful tips along the way!

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Thursday, April 14th, 2011 Notices, Techniques No Comments

Dungeness and Romney Marsh

Update: I now run regular workshops at Dungeness which include an evening painting-with-light session. For more information, please visit the workshop page, here.

With plans to run a workshop here, I visited these areas once again, over 2 days, earlier in the month. I found some new locations too including church ruins which will be fantastic when painted with light at night. My attentions, however, were firmly fixed on Dungeness and so I spent a very pleasant few hours on this vast shingle bank from late afternoon to twilight. The subjects in question were the old, rotting fishing boats that, with their decaying hulls and nearby fisherman’s huts, make for great subjects to shoot.

Shooting in the late afternoon enabled me to take advantage of the low, warm sunlight.

boat on dungeness beach

To retain detail both in the sky and boat, I took 2 images and exposed one for the sky and the other for the land, then merged them in photoshop. No different to using an ND Grad really other than that unlike a grad, you retain detail in the boat.

And then sunset gave me innumerable photo opportunities. I would have liked more cloud cover to add more atmosphere and drama and I can imagine that even on the most uninspiring, grey days, strong images are more than possible, especially in black and white.

Painting with light at twilight can be great fun but requires you to stay on until at leaat 30 minutes after sunset. You can use either a torch or flash light and in this instance I chose the latter. A 6 second exposure gave me just enough time to fire 3 bursts along it’s length. The image was composed to also show the nuclear power plant in the distance.

On another day I re-visited Romney Marsh. a wonderfully atmospheric location which I had the pleasure in being commissioned to shoot for Country Walking magazine. Please click on the link to read the article on my Publications page.

Fairfield Church, Romney Marsh.

I’ll be running a short, late afternoon workshop at Dungeness for Rye and District Camera Club over the next few months and have plans to run others. Should you be interested, please register your interest by contacting me at either or Tel: 07939 117570.

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Friday, March 25th, 2011 Notes from the field, Techniques No Comments

Prague in black and white

Given the weather in the south east over the last week, it’ll come as no surprise that I have done very little in the way of photography. I have moved the hide from the marsh harrier site to the barn owl place and attempted a different take on an image of a great-spotted woodpecker. So, I have been doing the laborious, but necessary, task of processing images for my agents and converting a number of my photographs of Prague to black and white. This is primarily for a forthcoming Prague prints gallery on my website.

Those of you that have visited my website will know that I have quite a substantial collection of images, taken in all seasons and weathers, of the city they call “the golden city” or “the city of a hundred spires.” Since the majority were taken 4-5 years ago on transparency I have had to scan them, then convert. I am no expert on Photoshop (and I hope will never be!) but a basic understanding of tweaking colours, levels, curves, and a bit of dodging and burning can really transform an image. Prague is such a colourful city and sometimes it’s sheer vibrancy can deflect from the beauty of the architecture and gives it a rather old-world, timeless feel. Indeed many of them could have been taken a hundred years ago and you would never know!

prague castle and mala strana by robert canis

Prague Castle, St Vitus Cathedral and Mala Strana or The Little Quarter. Photographed on the coldest day I have ever experienced in the Czech Republic. The large, digital road-side temperature sign read -15 C but with a strong wind blowing into my face it must have been close to -25. You really don't care what you like when it's that cold!

charles bridge

Statue on Charles Bridge (Karluv Most).

Steps leading from Prague castle

Steps from Prague Castle

charles bridge in winter by robert canis

West Towers in winter along Charles Bridge. Undoubtably the best time to experience this ever-busy bridge is to get there at dawn.

Taken during a blizzard. I added a vignette, sepia'd and cut down sharpening to give it that 'old' look. Matter of taste but quite like it. Good to try something different.

woman walking past billoard in prague

prague by robert canis

Buildings along Masarykovo Nabrezi, Prague. Taken moments before the sun set.

Tram moving across The Bridge of Legions (Most Legii) with the National Theatre (Narodni Divadlo) behind.

On the photographic side, over those years, my kit never changed. Nikon F5, 20mm, 28-105mm, 80-200mm, polarisers, ND grads, Velvia and Provia and a Manfrotto tripod. Everything was packed into a Lowepro backpack. Above all else, comfortable walking shoes! Prague is one cobbled street after another.

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Tuesday, January 11th, 2011 Past work, Techniques 2 Comments