Stargate – Rocca Calascio Milky Way

Stargate – Rocca Calascio Milky Way

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From the same location I talked last time here is another shot of milky way in the suggestive village of Rocca Calascio

To take this shot I moved to the other side of the ruin in order to capture the door illuminated by the light of the castle during the night. Through a series of shots I managed to decrease the strong brightness that characterized the door due to the long exposure necessary to capture the milky way

I followed the same editing steps of the previous post capturing several exposures in order to generate the output image as I had imagined. So I captured some shots with and without the subject and another with higher ISO to make the milky way better visible


WORKFLOW EXPLANATION

I started stacking all the images into Photoshop and worked with smart object and median, in order to obtain a noise free base shot. Nevertheless, after this process the milky way loses some details, for this I used another exposure captured to work specifically on milky way on Camera Raw. With this shot I made the milky way look its best, then with a layer mask I masked the milky way treated on the image obtained in median

After this I used another exposure to paste inside the subject in the frame, in fact I used all separate shots to make this kind of image in order to obtain the best clean result

With the final image obtained I started working on the lights and on the shadows with the help of luminosity masks selectively. With dodge and burn I pushed up brightness and colours on the milky way, than I darkened some part of the foreground to create a more concentrated focus in the center

As latest steps I fixed colours and general luminosity, warming some highlights and making a more uniform look with the lights of the horizon

I hope you will find this usefull. I like to ear this from you!


TECNHNICAL STUFF

Camera: Nikon D-850

Nikon 14-24 f/2,8 (used at 14mm)

Image Stack Median

ISO: 5000 at f/2,8

Software: Photoshop CC2021

Plugin: TTS Pro 2.0


Galaxian – Rocca Calascio Milky Way

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After three years I returned to one of the locations I know very well to shot milky ways. Rocca calascio is an enchanting village surrounded by nature where time has stopped. Here are the remains of an ancient castle and the village that stood at its feet, all destroyed many years ago by an earthquake. Nowadays a new village has been built for the people who live here and the old village has recently found new life thanks to a strong recovery work given by tourism

I chose the location of this ruin with this door inside which was characterized by having the milky way on the side. I took this photo with a friend, I first took the first shot by inserting the subject in the composition, then I took a series of images with the goal to stack them in Photoshop

WORKFLOW EXPLANATION

I started stacking all the images into Photoshop and worked with smart object and median, in order to obtain a noise free base shot. Nevertheless, after this process the milky way loses some details, for this I used another exposure captured to work specifically on milky way on Camera Raw. During this process I didn’t have to pay attention how sliders affcted the rest of the pictur because once done I masked out the milky way from the other part of the image

I used the image with the subject to insert it on the others with the help of a simple layer mask. At this point I started the general processing of the image which was essentially composed of dodge and burn on the milky way to bring out its colors and visibility in the best possible way

I adjusted the colors of the image, brought out the yellow glow more without taking away the original blue colors of the sky, I added some shadows details with the help of a specific flter of TTS Pro panel, I also fixed contrast, highlights and shadows using luminosity masks

As final steps I darkened the foreground a bit and I increased vibrance on the colours of the sky selectively

TECNHNICAL STUFF

Camera: Nikon D850

Nikon 14-24f/2,8 (used @14mm)

Image Stack in Median

ISO: 5000 f/2,8

Software: Photoshop CC2021

Plugin: TTS Pro 2.0


A Night at the Castle

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A night shot taken in one of my favourite places for night shots, I’ve captured several milky way shots here and you can more informations about this place in this post and here.

This photo is the result of that night at the castle where before making this startrail I was intent on taking the milky way in the surrounding area. That night was not a “new moon night”, so I had time to shoot only before the moon rising before ending this night session. So after capturing the milky way in the spots that I had set for myself in the remaining time I made this startrail

The lights you see on some parts of the location where I was is the moon starting to rise illuminating the rocks that were in front of me, luckily creating a beautiful lighting and atmosphere to the surroundings in some of my shots that I used for blending

WORKFLOW EXPLANATION

I captured the startrail from several expoures that I blended using Starstax Software, than I opened the image into Photoshop and I started editing lights and shadows using  luminosity masks, with the help of  TTS Pro I reduced noise in the sky and in some other darker parts of the image

I increased the glow effect adding orton effect and I lightened some darker parts of the rocks using dodge and burn with a white brus. I fixed some colors in the sky giving more blue to it and increasing some purple/yellow tones near the horizon

I inceased the color vibrances to give a more pop look to the picture and as final step I softly increased the whole illumination to give more results to the foreground

As always I hope you will find this usefull! I love to ear this from you!

TECNHNICAL STUFF

Camera: Nikon D-800

Nikon 14-24 f/2,8 (used at 14mm)

Startrail

ISO: 3200 at f/2,8

Software: Photoshop CC2020

Plugin: TTS Pro


Digital Blending Using Color Range

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Among my favorite subjects there are certainly the cityscapes, during my travels in Asia I had the opportunity to explore urban landscapes like these many times, which offer beautiful shots from an architectural point of view, especially at dusk in these spots you can work with colors of city lights in contrast with the night twilight

In this article I want to talk about a very simple digital blending technique that I often use whenever I find myself managing an image like this. It’s very usefull to speed up and optimize the workflow, I recommend that small tip that in a few steps allows you to exposure blend two or more images in order to easily obtain an exposure with optimal highlights

So let’s start the digital blending using color range technique:

I captured a series of shots of this place and I selected this two exposures

Darker Exposure
Brighter Exposure

The darker expousure is nicely exposed along the lights on the buildings and a brighter exposure better for reflections and everything else. In this case we need to recover the highlights in the brighter exposure from the darker one

The first thing to do is to stack both layers as you normally do when you digital blend and make the darker exposure unvisible


After this create a mask on the darker exposure

Than navigate to to Select>Color Range and here select Highlights

In this selection the highlights are the brights parts and the shadows are the darker ones, we need to separate the brighter tones with the darker tones

When you’re happy with the selection press ok, than put the layer thumbnail visible of the darker exposure and you will see the digital blending using color range have recovered the highlights just with a click in the brighter exposure

Result image with recovered highlights

If you don’t want to affect some part of the exposure like this colored reflections on the foreground you can always select a black brush and paint those parts out as I do for the colored spot at the bottom 🙂


Seoul from the Sky

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View of Seoul from one of the tallest buildings in the city. I love photographing from these spots and more they are closer to the city with other tall buildings nearby, more they offer a beautiful view.

In my trip to Korea I photographed very much from spots like this, you will see it on the next posts… In the meantime I wanted to tell you about how I made this photo:

I climbed to the top of Seoul Tower after a pretty rainy day, I feared all the time to the last that the windows could be dirty and stained by the rain but incredibly (don’t ask me how) it wasn’t

To shoot the cityscape I always prefer a little glow of daylight before the total darkness falls, so I always prefer to start shooting from the blue hour.

Also mindful of last year’s experience where I took all my photos through glass covering the camera with a sweatshirt 🙂 this year I had a useful accessory that you find on the web for a few euros … it’s a sucker that is made pass through your lens and you can stick it to the glass with the lens, so as to completely avoid any reflection coming from behind you

In the picture there is a glare of sunlight that I captured through a series of long exposures and bracketing. The sky has a different exposure than the rest of the photo, this to prevent the lights of the city from being too strong-

For the city I take 3 bracketed shots that I used to correct the citylights and exposure of the builings and streets


WORKFLOW EXPLANATION

I blended the exposure for the city, using the dark exposure to decrease highlights on the streets and buildings. As I said before I also captured a series of long exposure for the sky that I blended with the first take of the one of the city of Seoul

I launched details enhancements using TTS Pro, I also added details to the shadows using the effect inside the panel. I made a series of colour correction to increase the blue color, decrease the red spot on the right, increase yellows coming from the city

With the use of luminosity masks I increased highlights and lights coming from the sky, giving more energy and light at the whole frame

I correct the horizon line and applied a free trasform to correct the wide angle distorsion on some building, than with the clone stamp tool I removed some spot of rain on the glass

The last passage was to add a soft vignette to emphatize the central part of the picture

I really hope you will find this usefull. I love to ear this from you!


TECNHNICAL STUFF

Camera: Nikon D-800

Sigma 24-70 f/2,8 (used at 32mm)

Three Exposures (-1; 0; +1) + Long exposure for the sky

ISO: 100 at f/14

Software: Photoshop CC2019

Plugin: TTS Pro


5 Useful Tips to Focus in Night Photography

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With the arrival of summer it is also the perfect time to start doing some night shots. Like many landscape photographers I also love night photography and some time ago I wrote this guide about how to plan and shot the Milky Way

While shoting for the stars usually we are completely in the dark and is not always easy to find the correct focus point, so I decided to write this guide to give you som tips for focus in night photography


Manual Focus

During the night and without any light point the manual focus is one of the most efficient way to focus in the night. To achieve it simply move the manual focus ring until the infinity symbol. When using manual focus we have to consider that the exactly focus point can vary from the symbol of infinity from lens to lens.

So knowing your instrumentation is the key to the success of a manual focus. Write down or try to memorize then which is the optimal focus towards infinity on your lens so that you can easily recognize it in the dark

Live View + Zoom

This is also a recommended function during the day, it is about using the live view zoom to set the manual focus correctly. Just zoom in on a bright spot, such as the moon or the stars if we are shooting for the milky way and set the manual focus easily through the live view

Many mirrorless cameras have focus peaking as part of some live view systems, that shows you regions in the frame where the highest contrast exists by highlighting them in a bright color. Focus peaking consist to put focus very fast without any risk to wrong

Pre-focus during the day

This easy trick consist to focus your camera at a infinity subject during the day using autofocus. Then, switch the camera to manual focus and use a piece of gaffer tape to keep the focus on the lens from moving

Consider that using pre-focus which will be limited to the focus we set with light, so for every change of the subject it need to change method and focus

Target light points

Consists simply of focusing on a light source, if the moon is present in the sky it is surely the best point of focus to choose, instead if there is no moon you may be able to do it using a shining star

It is not always so easy to find light sources that can help us to use this function, in any cases can be very usefull light up the area with a lamp or laser pointers to illuminate the area, this may allow you to focus and set the desired shot

Hyperfocal focusing

Distance is defined when the lens is focused at infinity, where objects from half of this distance to infinity will be in focus for the lens. Instead, the hyperfocal distance may refer to the closest distance that a lens can be focused for a given aperture while objects at a distance (infinity) will remain sharp

Many lenses have hyperfocal markings on the lens barrel. This funcion allows you to set your lens so that, at a given aperture, you can determine at what distance objects in the frame will be in focus. So, without even looking at the viewfinder, you can set your focus

Here was the tip to focusing the dark, as you can see many relays to manual focus or with some experience in the field. And what about you? I’d like to know what methods you use to focus at night, let me know in the comments

If you are looking for more information on night photography, I suggest you to read more on the night photography guide or how to plan and shot the milky way




Tokyo Nights

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This is one of the possible views that can be seen from Tokyo Tower, is a telecommunications and panoramic tower located in the Shiba-kōen district of Minato. 333 m high, it is the second highest artificial structure in Japan, after Tokyo Skytree. The Tokyo Tower is a tower inspired by the Eiffel Tower painted white and international orange in order to respect the rules of air safety

Among the various possible views I chose this because I liked the close-up view of the skyscrapers in front, moreover as in all the photos taken in the evening in front of the windows you have to pay the maximum attention to the reflections

At this regard it is very easy that in the frame can enter lights from the back usually lit to allow visibility into the Tokyo Tower, or the screen of someone’s cell phone that takes the picture behind you, for this reason it is really very important to have not only a tripod behind to shoot with long exposure times and low iso but also something to cover these reflections

For the occasion I use a sweatshirt with the zip that open becomes big enough to be able to almost completely close the field behind the camera and minimize the reflections on the glass, probably someone will take you for a crazy while you’re with a sweatshirt open behind the camera stopped for 30/40 seconds, but the result does not wait … this is achieved with shutter speeds of 30 seconds and ISO 100

 

WORKFLOW EXPLANATION

I take two shots of this view, a brighter and a darker exposure that i blended using auto blend darks function inside TTS PRO. Obtained a definite image I worked on luminosity masks going to fix the darks and lights as I like, to lighten some shadows and decrease some lights too strongs

I increased details and i used dodge and burn over the darks, as final touch i applied a small vignette to emphatyze the central part of the frame

I hope you will find this usefull, I’m always happy to ear this from you!

 

TECNHNICAL STUFF

Camera: Nikon D-800

Lens: Nikon 14-24mm f/2,8 (Shot at 24mm)

Two Exposures

ISO: 100 at f/14

Software: Photoshop CC2018

Plugin: TTS Pro

 


Stars Zoom

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Hello guys! Here I am again with a night picture from the beautiful Rocca Calascio. What you see is the castle, with the path that leads to the slopes of the fortress. The way was glimpsed in the darkness and the atmosphere created by this photo was something that catch me imediately I like very much that mood and I also like the light pollution behind the castle that seems a daylight lighting

Speaking of the sky and the stars this time I tried to do something different, I enjoyed playing with the zooming and  Photoshop levels to create something original and slightly different from the usual, one created is a startrail zoom made by copying the same level multiple times and changing the blending mode into lighten, the sky full of point-like stars seemed to me too reductive for this beautiful castle 🙂

 

WORKFLOW EXPLANATION

After created the images stack I changed the blending mode into lighten to create a zooming effect, than i merged the result into a final frame. Using TTS PRO I launched luminosity masks with I increased the lights of the darks and decreased the highlights curves. I created contrast zones to fix the light and the contrast over the main part of the picture

The next step was to fix colors using auto correct, that give me a very good color tone, than I slighlty changed it by reducing blues and increasing yellow using a warming filter.

I used dodge and burn to lighten the path that lead to the castle, I also launched orton effect decreasing the opacity to 8% to create a soft and dark dreamy atmosphere in the image. The last step was to darken the image e and to launch a noise reduction with very low opacity just to give the last touch

All the effects I mentioned above are inside my brand new panel TTS PRO, that I recommend to download to  fasten your workflow and to have all the effect in one click application!

I  hope you will find this usefull. I love to hear that from you!

 

TECNHNICAL STUFF

Camera: Nikon D-800

Lens: Nikon 14-24mm f/2,8 (Shot at 14mm)

Single Exposure

ISO: 3200 at f/2,8

Software: Photoshop CC2018

Plugin: TTS Pro

 


Monolith

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Another shot from the wonderful location of Rocca Calascio, a fantastic place where I will definitely come back to do again other milky way shots  because I was pleasantly impressed

In this photo I did something different, since the milky way was to the left of the ruin in the center of the frame I did many shots in this direction but I could not totally miss the opportunity to photograph the castle with the milky way, the castle of Rocca Calascio is the main protagonist of this location. For this reason I took several shots to compose a panorama, from the left to the right vertical

 

WORKFLOW EXPLANATION

I Photomerged the shots to have a final frame, for first I edited the colors in the milky way to give more saturation and vividness. The following step was to dodge and burn the foreground and the milky way to push out details in the white part of it, with hue/saturation I edits the luminosity of the colors in the sky

Other edits are: increase sharpness, increase contrast and adding a glow effect using orton effect. I fixed hue/saturation around the rocks and on the milky way, to reduce saturated yellow and increase magentas. At the end I increased a little bit contrast using levels and decreased noise.

 

TECNHNICAL STUFF

Camera: Nikon D-800

Lens: Nikon 14-24mm f/2,8 (Shot at 14mm)

Three Exposures

ISO: 3200 at f/2,8

Software: Photoshop CC2017

Extensions: TTS Fast Panel

 


The Explorer

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Giuseppe Sapori - The Explorer

Night shot near the Rocca Calascio castle, the visibility of the milky street that evening was great and I composed this image from a series of shots

The result of the frame is a vertical composition of two images to get as much sky and foreground as possible, with the help of a third shot i put the subject in the picture, i wanted to avoid that the reflections of the light disturbed the other shots, the lamp in his hand projected a beam of light reflecting on the ruin at his side

 

WORKFLOW EXPLANATION

I Photomerged the shots to have a final frame, after a fix of contrast, highlighs and the other effects in camera raw I added the picture with my friend looking on the sky simply using layer mask

I launched dodge and burn with I increased lights around the rocks and on the milky way, with hue/saturations I fixed and increased colors around the milky way.

In all the photos of milky way I always like to add a nice orton effect, never too high but always useful to create a nice mood in the picture. If you try  using low opacity you will always find positive differences. I added more contrast and a yellow touch increase to the highlights, as final touch I added a little vignette

 

TECNHNICAL STUFF

Camera: Nikon D-800

Lens: Nikon 14-24mm f/2,8 (Shot at 14mm)

Three Exposures

ISO: 3200 at f/2,8

Software: Photoshop CC2017

Extensions: TTS Fast Panel


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Hi, my name is Giuseppe Sapori, a professional photographer and author of this website, created by yours truly to show my work and share with you the techniques I use. My expertise is in the field of Landscape Photography... (Read More)

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