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Author Topic: Help me get sharper 400mm long exposure landscape shots!  (Read 4047 times)
shadowblade
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« Reply #20 on: March 27, 2013, 07:48:43 AM »
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Looking at your gear list, it's unlikely to be the lens or the support.

Given that you're photographing at what appears to be mid-afternoon in Egypt's Western Desert, heat-related interference is the main suspect - you may have better luck early in the morning, before the ground and air heat up. When I was recently photographing volcanoes in Ethiopia, I couldn't get a remotely useable shot of the glowing lava even at 200mm and 1/2000fps, due to heat-related interference...

The other possible cause is depth of field - is it sharp anywhere in the photo, or is it blurry throughout?
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Ellis Vener
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« Reply #21 on: March 27, 2013, 09:20:14 AM »
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Along with a heavier duty tripod and head under the lens, mirror lockup and a cable or other remote release (i like the CamRanger so I can control the camera without touching it),  either use a second  tripod to support the camera or an arm attached to one of your tripod legs that comes up and supports the camera body.  A Manfrotto Super Clamp and Magic arm works . Also a small sandbag draped over the body of the lens helps as well.
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Ellis Vener
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David Sutton
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« Reply #22 on: March 27, 2013, 02:19:55 PM »
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One way of getting around the dangling-bag-in-the-wind problem is to not let it dangle.
I have a heavy canvas bag that I take with me when shooting outdoors.
On location I fill it with rocks - up to 50 kg - and attach it the tripod hook, but, with just enough of the weighted bag touching the ground to prevent any movement.
With such a big lens though I would employ all and any means to reduce movement that have been suggested.
Of course, depending on how strong the wind is, even these measures may not be enough.

Tony Jay
Yes Tony, that works fine. I have one of those as well and it attaches to the tripod legs but alas I lack the patience and the back muscles to use it.  Smiley
Thus the bungee cord.

Edit: Add to that a desire to leave the environment as I found it. Seriously, rocks and stones are an important habitat for many creatures. If I want to show show the beauty of a landscape it is hypocritical of me to then despoil it, even in a small way.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2013, 03:04:43 PM by David Sutton » Logged

Robert DeCandido PhD
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« Reply #23 on: March 27, 2013, 04:07:46 PM »
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Oh please...you got on an airplane to get to your location - that doesn't affect the environment? You probably rented a car or otherwise traveled in a vehicle that was not a public bus...You stayed in a hotel etc etc.

How much of your profits do you send back to the local community where you photograph or the scientists that study the critters you speak of wanting to protect?

Sorry, I don't like sacrosanct...whatecer we do has an effect. Moving a rock is like about the most minimal thing you can do...even in the desert.
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David Sutton
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« Reply #24 on: March 27, 2013, 04:47:14 PM »
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Oh please...you got on an airplane to get to your location - that doesn't affect the environment? You probably rented a car or otherwise traveled in a vehicle that was not a public bus...You stayed in a hotel etc etc.

How much of your profits do you send back to the local community where you photograph or the scientists that study the critters you speak of wanting to protect?

Sorry, I don't like sacrosanct...whatecer we do has an effect. Moving a rock is like about the most minimal thing you can do...even in the desert.
Complete codswallop.
First of all I think you mean sanctimonious.
Sacrosanct means sacred.
Secondly one environmentally questionable action does not justify another. YMMV. I am not telling you how to live.
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Tony Jay
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« Reply #25 on: March 27, 2013, 05:48:16 PM »
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I certainly agree with the 'tread lightly' principle but the only way to leave no tread is not to be there at all.
We are not apart from the environment but part of it like any living entity - and they alter their environment all the time.
Moving some loose scree is not an issue - especially once one sees the carnage wrought by a herd of stampeding African buffalo.
The key concept is sustainability - if the effect you cause does not cause long-lasting issues there shouldn't be a problem.

I do sympathize with your back issue though - I wouldn't wish my current back problems on my worst enemy.

Tony Jay
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #26 on: March 27, 2013, 07:44:39 PM »
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I certainly agree with the 'tread lightly' principle but the only way to leave no tread is not to be there at all.
We are not apart from the environment but part of it like any living entity - and they alter their environment all the time.
Moving some loose scree is not an issue - especially once one sees the carnage wrought by a herd of stampeding African buffalo.
The key concept is sustainability - if the effect you cause does not cause long-lasting issues there shouldn't be a problem.

Indeed.

One SUV driving for one hour where it shouldn't probably has 10 times more impact than all LL photographers would have if we were all to put scree in bags to stabilize our shooting.

I agree that we need to focus on our own actions and that each of us has the power to influence, but I prefer to focus on things with a reasonnably measurable impact.

Cheers,
Bernard
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David Sutton
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« Reply #27 on: March 27, 2013, 09:05:41 PM »
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I certainly agree with the 'tread lightly' principle but the only way to leave no tread is not to be there at all.
We are not apart from the environment but part of it like any living entity - and they alter their environment all the time.
Moving some loose scree is not an issue - especially once one sees the carnage wrought by a herd of stampeding African buffalo.
The key concept is sustainability - if the effect you cause does not cause long-lasting issues there shouldn't be a problem.

I do sympathize with your back issue though - I wouldn't wish my current back problems on my worst enemy.

Tony Jay

Yes, clearly moving some stones is not in the same league as driving over nesting birds. But I find as I get older my eyes have become more sensitive to environmental disturbances. Whether it is cigarette butts or disturbed ground. As someone who is unusually clumsy in the natural environment (buffalo herds are nothing to what can happen when I'm holding an extended tripod) I have to make an extra effort. My rule of thumb is to try to make sure there is no remaining evidence of my presence after a week.
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ripgriffith
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« Reply #28 on: March 28, 2013, 04:49:17 AM »
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Edit: Add to that a desire to leave the environment as I found it. Seriously, rocks and stones are an important habitat for many creatures. If I want to show show the beauty of a landscape it is hypocritical of me to then despoil it, even in a small way.
Then you should just stay home.  Your tripod, to say nothing of your boots, creates scuffs and depressions in the landscape that weren't there before you came, and probably caused the demise of countless mites who live in the soil you just desecrated.
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David Sutton
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« Reply #29 on: March 28, 2013, 05:41:48 AM »
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An otiose comment. To misquote E. C. Mckenzie, for free advice it's overpriced.
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Tony Jay
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« Reply #30 on: March 28, 2013, 06:04:06 AM »
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I must admit that I didn't pick up on your post so that you could be insulted David.
It was an interesting discussion point and worth debating.
I can't throw any stones though since occasionally I am not as polite as I should be either.
I certainly got your point and I think you got mine.

Look forward to chatting.

Tony Jay
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tsjanik
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« Reply #31 on: March 28, 2013, 11:09:46 AM »
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...............I can't throw any stones though .................

Neither can David  Cheesy; thought I'd lighten the thread. 
I've seen threads go off on tangents, but this one might take top prize.

Tom
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NancyP
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« Reply #32 on: March 28, 2013, 03:33:54 PM »
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Say you carry 2 L water (and in the desert, way more than 2 L). Hang those bottles off your tripod hook.
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David Sutton
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« Reply #33 on: March 28, 2013, 04:13:07 PM »
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I must admit that I didn't pick up on your post so that you could be insulted David.
It was an interesting discussion point and worth debating.
I can't throw any stones though since occasionally I am not as polite as I should be either.
I certainly got your point and I think you got mine.

Look forward to chatting.

Tony Jay
Hello Tony.
I was referring to the post immediately above my comment. My apologies, I should have put it in quotes. I thought your reply a useful contribution to the question of the impact we make on the environment  we love. You are right, it is a matter worth chatting about.
I am certainly not insulted by any comments here, but rather woke woke up in the mood for a dust-up, and got one, however small.
I hope your back gets better.
David
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Tony Jay
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« Reply #34 on: March 28, 2013, 06:24:32 PM »
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Yes I had figured that but I felt bad that our exchange had given room for that rather sarcastic remark that did not contribute at all.
I understand and respect your position on the environment since these issues are close to my heart too.

Tony Jay
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Quintin Lake
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« Reply #35 on: March 28, 2013, 08:20:55 PM »
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Many thanks for all the helpful and knowledgeable answers. I'm reassured by the responses that this is indeed a tricky technique and i'm not just being a muppet! I also asked this question over at DPreview so what follows is a compilation of the answers in both forums that I hope is useful for others struggling with the same technique,

For the sake of completeness my sample pic was after sunset hence why 4 seconds and heat not an issue, While the suggestions regarding heat haze and soft ground are good i know thats not the issue for me as I've had soft images on firm ground and cold climates at 400 mm for long exposure - its been an issue that I've ben having a couple of years. Wind, however is an issue many times where i'm working

Recap of my Original Technique

-Checked lens foot tight
-Checked all ball head knobs tight
-Checked all tripod adjustments tight
-Gitzo GT2541 with RRS BH-40
-RRS plate to lens
-Using mirror lockup
-Using cable release
-100 ISO for max detail in landscapes
-f8-14
-Canon 5DII
-Taking multiple frames with a few seconds between
-Hanging bag from centre hook

Good suggestions that I was doing:

-Turn off IS when using tripod
-don't extend center column
-don't extend legs to maximum
-Apertures greater than f/10 could cause diffraction blur

New techniques I will now try:

-Mike K's tip: Use Silent Shooting Mode 1 or 2 & live view rather than mirror lock up to reduce vibration further
-Use live view at 10x zoom to identify how steady the shot is
-Use 10 second delay between shots to fully dampen exposure
-Remove lens hood to minimise area for wind to catch
-Garry Lee's tip. Set camera on bulb, cover front of lens with black card or cap, remove to expose, count to expose manually
-Improvise wind break by body position
-Tony Jay's tip: arrange for weight bag hanging from tripod hook to touch the ground so not to swing.

Software technique if the above doesn't work
NancyP's tip: run a series of images through PS (focus stack option) to average blur. or use PhotAcute

Gear suggestions if the above don't work
(I'm always trekking and a long way from a vehicle so i'm loathed to add more weight but i'll add them as they may help others)
-David Sutton's tip: 2KG bean bag on top of lens
-Long lens plate to which both lens foot and camera are both attached
-use Gitzo series 3
-use BH 55 head
-Support lens with a second tripod

Thanks again for the answers to this complex issue!
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stever
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« Reply #36 on: March 28, 2013, 10:14:17 PM »
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pretty good list of information, particularly liveview.  I would add that in my experience the BH40 is marginal for the camera/lens combination (and i don't really like ballheads for landscapes as well) i think it's important to make sure the camera/lens combination is balanced on the head (whatever kind) and this may require a longer arca-swiss plate on the lens foot.  the 400 f5.6 is really not that big and shouldn't require an extra support and it's not really big enough to use a second tripod.
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Petrus
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« Reply #37 on: March 29, 2013, 01:29:59 AM »
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How would using the live view help? There is more shutter movement as it must first close, then open.
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #38 on: March 29, 2013, 02:31:26 AM »
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Hi,

There are different modes of live view, but what is most helpful is check lens vibration before exposure. If the pixels move you will know that there will be problems.

Best regards
Erik

How would using the live view help? There is more shutter movement as it must first close, then open.
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Ben Rubinstein
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« Reply #39 on: March 29, 2013, 05:38:53 AM »
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Neither the tripod or the head were designed for that kind of focal length. I have a 2542 and the BH-40 and would not begin to use them for lenses over 300mm and their manufacturers do not recommend over 200mm. Add long exposures to that and you're just asking for trouble I'm afraid.
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