Gospel Shooting

Although I consider myself a musician and some kind of a singer, I never attended a gospel workshop. My wife Alice signed up for one of these the other day, but I decided to have a quiet weekend instead, planning to attend the final Gospel Concert on Sunday. Guess what happened ? On Saturday I was asked to photograph the rehearsal. Same on Sunday, and in addition I audio recorded the concert. That much about my quiet weekend….

I nevertheless enjoyed the two days a lot. I had never shot a choir like that and thought it could be a nice challenge. The conductor appeared on Saturday and taught the 60 amateur singers nine songs by heart and without any lead sheet. Impressive to see their great performance on Sunday. So how should I capture the dynamic event with still photography ? My final way of working was to shoot by selecting a fixed exposure time and let the camera choose the aperture [ S mode ]. Using exposure times of 1/15 to 1/40 of a second gave me nice smear fx. You can see people clapping their hands and moving while singing. But I needed a bit more definition in the final image. I added a flash, which fired at the end of the exposure [ rear mode ]. This helped me to capture the motion and froze the shot at the end of the exposure. The second challenge was to capture the size of the room with the audience during both the rehearsal and concert. I subsequently had to increase my ISO settings to 800/1000, which as a downside increased the noise a bit. Lightroom helped me to correct this by applying +20 noise reduction to the images across the board.

On Sunday evening I came home with 500 images and down selected 200. In the gallery you can see the best of them. Hallelujah!



Creating movies from an image sequence

Combining image sequence into a proves movie file

  • ffmpeg -f image2 -pattern_type glob -i ‘*.png’ -vcodec proves -profile 2 -r 25 -s 1920×1080 test.mov


  • Import movie into FCPX, delay by one frame and blend with darken
  • https://vimeo.com/85966287
  • http://joegiampaoli.blogspot.de/2015/04/creating-time-lapse-videos-mostly-in.html

Intervals (time between the start of each shot) where do I start?

-The easiest ‘one size fits all’ way around intervals is to get them as ‘tight’ as possible. So if your exposure is under 1 second simply take a shot every second BUT with many cameras (as mentioned in the ‘stills or video’ section) can’t purge the buffer quick enough (especially shooting RAW) so you’ll have to make sure your buffer clears before taking the next shot. On the other hand many bodies can do like 3 frames per second JPG continuous if you simply lock down the exposure button (most interval timers have this function).
-On the other hand you’re sucking up memory quickly by going as tight as possible and it can be overkill, so one approach is to shoot some sample frames and scroll review them on camera. This will give you quick feedback on the resulting footage so you can adjust… maybe longer intervals will be fine, maybe shorter will give you what you’re looking for…
-Some ballpark interval starting points to try out…
Fast moving clouds: 1 second
Slow moving clouds: 10 seconds
Sun moving across a clear sky: (wide) 20-30 seconds
Stars moving across the sky: (wide) between 20-60 seconds
Sunsets close up: 1-2 seconds
Crowds of people: 1-2 seconds
Plants growing eg cucumber vines: 2 minutes
Shadows moving across the ground: 10-20 seconds
Note these times can change drastically depending on the local conditions, and the aesthetic look you are trying to achieve, so the best answer is to get out there and practice for yourself to see what works for you. As a general rule of thumb, any tighter or telephoto shots need much faster intervals.

Audio/Video Commandline toolkit

As this site deals a lot with audio and video processing, I thought it was handy to have a few commands documented that ease my life tremendously.

Audio File Format Conversion

ffmpeg -i file.wav -ar 320000 file.mp3 file.flac -c alac

Audio CD creation from *.wav files

cdrecord -v -pad -audio *.wav

Video File Format Conversion

ffmpeg -i $1.mp4 -y -target pal-dvd -sameq -aspect 16:9 -s hd1080 $.mpg $.avi

In case of dct coefficient errors, -q [0-32] can help to reduce quality until errors disappear. 0 being max Q, and 32 being lowest Q. A value of 5, i.e. adding the option of -q 5 gave a very good compromise between quality and file size.

The Atelier – The Workshop


Places where people worked stretch our imagination on under which conditions work was performed in previous times. The retired steel mill, still covered with dust, makes you hear the noise of the machinery. At the same time, places look spooky without workers, although it feels like someone might come around the corner at any moment. Current workshops without workers are of similar appeal. Why did someone leave the hammer, where he left it? What did people work on before they disappeared? Verlassene Wertstätten sind sehr inspirierend und stimulieren unsere Vorstellung unter welchen Bedingungen Arbeit in vergangenen Zeiten ausgeführt wurde. Das stillgelegte und immer noch staubige Stahlwerk aus der Vergangenheit lässt uns scheinbar den Lärm der Maschinen hören. Gleichzeitig wirkt es ohne Menschen unheimlich, und man glaubt sogleich müsste jemand erscheinen und weiter arbeiten. Auch zeitgenössische Werkstätten haben ihren Reiz. Warum liegt ein Hammer an dem Ort, an dem er liegt? Woran wurde zuletzt gearbeitet?

Experiments by the sea, Part 2

Fishing in the darkness

Fishing at night at the shoreFishing BaitFishing at NightWriting in the night

Our kids went fishing at the sea at night, and I decided to take my tripod and camera along the coast. I tried to mix the night exposure with permanent light from their pocket lights. Fishing bait lit by a neon type light on the sand of the seashore. No long time exposure but taken at 1/30 of a second. Als die Kids nachts am Meer angeln, packe ich mein Stativ ein und versuche sie dabei abzulichten. Interessant ist der Mix des Lichts der blauen Nacht mit den Lichtern der Taschenlampen während des Angelns. Der Fischköder auf dem Sandstrand ist vom Licht von einer Neonlampe angestrahlt und wurde mit 1/30 Sekunde belichtet.

Experiments by the sea, Part 1

The Dutch Beach by nightAnchoring in the harbourThe Flying DutchmanTraces of Traffic

HDRI Experiments or Long Time exposure?

It’s that time of the year again. I sit by the sea and recognize that I have taken pictures of most things around the place I know since 10 years now. What next? I recently bought a little book that offered 52 weekend projects for the year, and the shots using long exposure and HDRI had the most appeal to me. While I did do some HDRI tests some years ago and wasn’t too happy with the results, I decided to give a go at long exposure shots first of all. The night by the sea with its deep blue colors and its shiny stars was a good way to start testing what I had in mind. F-stop 8 and 20 seconds exposure time gave me a good set of values to start with. The only nasty and difficult to determine factor was the wind. Funny enough, the wind stayed away while I was making my first tests with exposure. I subsequently modified the exposure between 10, 20 and 30 seconds while remaining at F8 to get a shot where the highlights still show structure. The first attempts gave me nice results with saturated colors, without the intensity going too far. I was astonished to see sparkling stars along the continuous change of color at the horizon. In a little harbour nearby, I could experience how the warm lights from the boats contrasted the blue color of the night. So far, the colors of the night were subtle and showed the quality of light I was looking for. The spooky atmosphere created by a a 30 second exposure caused a sailing boat to blur as it was gently pushed across the water by a soft breeze. The flying dutchman does exist after all. Around the harbour, I found plenty more interesting things to shoot with long time exposure. Streets where cars painted colored strips with their head and rear lights into the night. Click on the images below for a larger view of the shots in this chapter Es ist wieder soweit. Ich sitze am Meer und es wird mir bewusst, dass ich eigentlich schon alles um meinen Urlaubsort, den ich seit 10 Jahren kenne, fotografiert habe. Und was nun ? Vor meinem Urlaub ist mir ein kleines Booklet mit 52 Wochenend Projekten in die Hände gefallen, und ich fand die Landzeitbelichtungen und HDRI Techniken am interessantesten. Vor einigen Jahren habe ich Versuche mit HDRI Technik durchgeführt und war von den Resultaten nicht besonders überzeugt. Daher werde ich diesmal mit Langzeitbelichtungen beginnen. Die Nacht am Meer mit ihren tiefblauen Farben und den funkelnden Sternen ist ein guter Ausgangspunkt für meine Versuche. Blende 8 und 20 Sekunden Belichtungszeit bei ISO 100 sind gute Ausgangswerte. Stativ und Spiegelvorauslösung sind natürlich vorausgesetzt. Interessanterweise spielt auch der Wind mit und Langzeitbelichtungen sind heute Nacht kein Problem. Ich modifiziere die Belichtungszeiten auf 10 und 30 Sekunden um ein Bild mit möglichst viel Zeichnung in den Spitzlichtern zu bekommen. Die ersten Versuche ergeben Resultate mit schönen saturierten Farben. Interessanterweise funkeln auch die Sterne in der Aufnahme und die Farbe zeigt einen schönen Verlauf am Horizont.In einem kleinen Hafen in der Nähe sehe ich die warmen Lichter der Boote im Kontrast mit dem Blau der Nacht. Ein Boot wird von der sanften Briese über das Meer geschoben und erscheint wie ein Geisterbild. Der fliegende Holländer scheint also wirklich zu existieren.