Tutorials

Stacking for Star Trails

Ever wonder how images like the above were made? There are two main ways: 1)one VERY long exposure, or 2) stacking several long exposures.  In this tutorial post, I'll go through the planing, strategy, and technique of the second option - stacking. 

First up is planning (see my post on that here). After you determine the location, the right night, ascertain whether or not you have do-able weather, and select where to place your camera, then comes the fun part - guessing the exposure length, aperture, and ISO, and subsequently figuring out how many you need to take. Looking at your sensor size + lens combo should give you a good idea of how many frames of a particular length you need to make if your goal is a star circle (facing N to Polaris). I have a  whole separate post on this here. In this post, I want to focus on the post-processing portion of making an image like the above. 

So you have your frames, and (hopefully) your "plate" exposure that you shot for the foreground. Now what?

Step 1: get organized by placing all frames in  your stack in a unique Lightroom Collection. 

Step2: Synchronize ALL develop settings across EACH star trail frame so they are exactly the same.

Step3: Separately develop your "plate" frame to taste. 

Step 4: Select all frames in your stack in Lightroom's filmstrip along the bottom of the screen. Right-click on one of the photos, and choose "Edit In / Open as Layers in Photoshop"

Step 5: In Photoshop, drag the plate layer to the bottom of your layers, if it's not there already. 

Step 6: In the layers panel, select ALL star trails layers, and change the Layer Blending Mode to either "Lighten" or "Screen." Choose one based on which looks better - if shot on a moonless night with dark sky and bring star trails, I find "Lighten" to work better. This should allow all the trails to add up and create your finished blend OF THE SKY ONLY. 

Step 7: Merge all the star trail layers together via the "Merge Layers" command

Step 8: Add a layer mask to the merged star rails layer. Use regular mask-painting techniques with different brushes, hardnesses, opacity, etc. to cover over the foreground of the star trails layer with black paint (remember: white reveals, black conceals). The black paint on the mask will "conceal" or cover up the part of that layer, allowing the part of the next-lowest layer (in this case your foreground plate) to come through to the top in your photograph. Take care to make the blend look realistic. 

If you find gaps in your trails, they will need to be dealt with. Stephen Christensen of the Star Cricle Academy has an excellent post on how to manage this scenario - here

That's it in a nutshell! Any questions, feel free to leave a comment or shoot me an email. 

 

Night Photography Workshops - Summer 2015

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I am pleased to offer several night photography workshops this summer in Truckee's beautiful Martis Valley.   

Lightning Strikes Verdi

 

Dates:

  • August 8th 2015 - How to shoot the Milky Way (New Moon)
  • More dates and classes will be announced through the summer - stay tuned to my newsletter (sign up here).

 

Details:

Each workshop includes a minimum of two hours of shooting time, and at least an hour of post-processing the following day in my gallery/studio in Downtown Truckee.

The rate for this workshops is $275 per person. Maximum class size for these workshops is 4 students.

Curriculum:

I will teach you the basics of shooting landscape photos at night, including but not limited to:

  • - How to focus at night
  • - Strategies for star dots versus star trails and proper Milky way exposure.
  • - How to shoot the milky way or moon (depending on which class you are in)
  • - High-ISO low-noise approach
  • - Proper exposure and camera settings for night astrophotos
  • - Basic post processing in Lightroom and Photoshop

 

You will need a DSLR, tripod, and cable release to take one of these classes. If you elect to come to the post-processing workshop, you'll get much more out of it if you bring your own laptop with Lightroom / Photoshop installed. Demo versions are available via a trial version of Creative Cloud at Adobe's website.

If you want to learn more, contact me through this blog or give me a call at 530-386-6492.

 

May 2015 Sierra College Photography Classes

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I'm pleased to offer three different, exciting photography classes at Sierra College in Truckee this May. Details are below, feel free to email me at grant@grantkaye.com for more information.

Unlocking the Secrets of Mobile Phone Photography

April 29th and May 6th, 6-8 PM

Learn how to use the free Google+ Snapseed photography app available for both iPhone and Android to take and edit photos in the first session.  You will take photos on your own time between sessions, and then we will meet for the second session and learn how to use the free app Mosaic to assemble our photos into a printed portfolio book (cost included with class tuition) which students will receive in the mail 4 days later. Android or iPhone required.  Materials: $30 at class.
Please read: You will take photos on your own time between sessions, and then we will meet for the second session and learn how to use the free app Mosaic to assemble our photos into a printed portfolio book (cost included with class tuition) which students will receive in the mail 4 days later. Android or iPhone required. Materials: $30 at class.
Class ID: 56306
Tuition: $39.00   Materials Cost: $30.00

Link to Register for Mobile Phone Photography

Landscape Photography

May 12, 13, and 14th, 6-9 PM

Learn the foundations of digital landscape photography in beautiful Truckee! The first day will cover the basics, and on the second day we will meet at a location in Truckee TBD to photograph a sunset. The next night we download and process our landscape images in Photoshop Elements. Digital SLR camera with freshly charged battery required, tripod, remote shutter cable and graduated ND filters recommended. Recommended text: Digital Landscape Photography: In the Footsteps of Ansel Adams, ISBN 978-0-240-81243-4.
Please read: Recommended textbook: Digital Landscape Photography: In the Footsteps of Ansel Adams, ISBN 978-0-240-81243-4.
Class ID: 56307
Tuition: $69.00

Link to Register for Landscape Photography

Night Photography

May 20th and 21st, 7-10 PM

Stars do shine brighter in Truckee! Want to capture the night sky’s splendor with your digital SLR? Join night photographer Grant Kaye and learn the technique and art of photographing after dark. Fundamentals of night photography on the first night, then walk outside and photograph the night sky. Return the second night to download and process images in Photoshop Elements. Bring a digital SLR camera with a freshly charged battery, memory card, a tripod and USB/Thumb drive, a remote shutter cable for your camera is strongly recommended. Recommended text: Shooting Stars eBook may be purchased at http://philhart.com/shooting-stars.
Class ID: 56308
Tuition: $59.00

Link to Register for Night Photography

Lake Tahoe and Truckee Photography Workshops

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I'm pleased to offer private small-group and individual photography and timelapse workshops custom tailored to meet your needs. Whether you are a beginner hoping to learn how to use an SLR, or a seasoned professional looking to learn some night photography or motion-controlled timelapse tips and tricks - I'd love to work with you.  Please contact me by phone at 530-386-6492 or send me an email here to schedule your workshop today.

Eclipsed full moon setting over Tahoe Donner, 12/10/2011

I am fully insured and permitted in the beautiful Martis Valley in Truckee and at Sand Harbor in the gorgeous Lake Tahoe State Park in Nevada.

Summer 2015 Photography Workshops

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Learn the art of landscape photography at sunset in one of my small-group landscape photo workshops in the Martis Valley in Truckee or at Sand Harbor State Park on the beautiful East Shore of Lake Tahoe. In these workshops, we meet at the location, go over gear and techniques, and then shoot in the golden hour preceding the sunset, the (hopefully) colorful clouds after the sunset, and on into the "blue hour." Then, we meet the next morning for an hour of post-processing tutorial in Adobe Lightroom at my Downtown Truckee art gallery and studio.

Saturday June 27th - Martis Valley Sunset/Landscape Workshop Shooting: 7:30 - 9:30 pm (sunset is 8:27 PM) Post production / Lightroom: 10-11 am Sunday June 28th at my Downtown Truckee Studio $200 per person limited to 4 people

Saturday July 18th - Sand Harbor Sunset/Landscape Workshop 7:30 - 9:30 pm (sunset is 8:24 PM) Post production / Lightroom: 10-11 am Sunday July 19th at my Downtown Truckee Studio $225 per person limited to 4 people

Saturday July 25th - Martis Valley Sunset/Landscape Workshop 7:15 - 9:15 pm (sunset is 8:19 PM) Post production / Lightroom: 10-11 am Sunday July 26th at my Downtown Truckee Studio $200 per person limited to 4 people

Friday August 7th - Martis Valley Sunset/Landscape Workshop 7:00 - 9:00 pm (sunset is 8:06 PM) Post production / Lightroom: 10-11 am Saturday August 8th at my Downtown Truckee Studio $200 per person limited to 4 people

Saturday August 22rd - Sand Harbor Sunset Workshop 6:45 - 8:45 pm (sunset is 7:46 PM) Post production / Lightroom: 10-11 am Sunday August 23rd at my Downtown Truckee Studio $225 per person limited to 4 people

If you'd rather book a private workshop, just email me or give me a call at 530-386-6492 and we can set it up.