Year Two (04) – Pixel Stick, Light Stick and City Streets

Have you see the videos online demonstrating a pixel stick… do you know what one is? It is a light stick designed for light painting which can be used to project images infront of the camera which are not visible to the naked eye. They are really expensive… but when the opportunity arose to see one in action and to take some photos I had to pop along to find out more….

Pixel Sticks

A sample picture demonstration.
A sample picture demonstration.

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Day 328 – Abstract at Night

Dark evenings and the festive season approaching, so I thought I would pop along to the Garden of Lights and capture an abstract view of pods that have been generated to encourage evening visitors to the city centre.

Night time photography without a tripod is a challenge, longer exposure times I needed but for these images I wanted the ambient lighting to remain dark, and the lights of the installations was changing often, so to keep shutter speeds low I opted for a shallow aperture and a high ISO. Continue reading

Day 315 – Night Time Party

A great challenge to undertake – an evening party to celebrate Fireworks, in an unknown venue with an unknown schedule so it really was the opportunity to think on my feet and create images that captured the evening.

Night time Party
Night time Party

The evening challenge included: Continue reading

Day 314 – Early Mornings

I am not an early morning person… but life circumstances mean that to get outdoor images I need to be up and about early otherwise I cant get outdoor photos … this mornings early meant sunrise – and it is well worth getting up early for.

24-70 lens, ISO4000, F11, 1/80sec
24-70 lens, ISO4000, F11, 1/80sec

This is the view over the church yard with the light reflecting of the church roof, to get a good depth of field, i had to use a high iso as with dogs pulling I has to choose a quick shutter speed, Quality is fine for online though.

24-70 lens, ISO500, F5, 1/125sec
24-70 lens, ISO500, F5, 1/125sec

I dialed down the exposure to darken the shadows, reduced the ISO and captured the colour of the morning with an interesting silhouette, although I feel it is missing the story of the earlier image.

24-70 lens, ISO2500, F11, 1/200sec
24-70 lens, ISO2500, F11, 1/200sec

Half an hour later and the light has changed significantly – I am using a “sunny” white balance to bring out the orange colours, but the features of the landscape are now clearly visible and the light is changing rapidly. I miss some beautiful starts to the day by not being a morning person.

Day 305 – Halloween Party Highlights (part two)

Following on from my Bokeh experiments … I am sharing a collection of photos of Halloween highlights – we had a party, some people dressed up and I of course took some photos of their amazing creations. I shot manual… I had a flash on camera pointing upwards for the people shots, and for the sparkler shots too….

Halloween at the Renouf's 2015 - © Helen Renouf 2015.
Halloween at the Renouf’s 2015 – © Helen Renouf 2015.

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Day 305 – Experimenting with Bokeh

With dark evenings approaching and some lights up outside to celebrate Halloween, I wanted to see if I could create shaped Bokeh. I watched this video online and then I made my own lens cap to give it a try. The video did not detail what camera settings so I had to work that out for myself and I added up working in manual so that  I could have a go.

My top tips would be –

  • 50 mm lens
  • Wide aperture as possible
  • Shutter speed fast enough to avoid camera blur
  • Avoid focusing on the lights
First Attempt - ISO100, F1.8, 1/10sec
First Attempt – ISO100, F1.8, 1/10sec

As you can see some of the lights were pumpkins others small LED’s – the LED’s worked best, I then experimented with focusing distances and making sure that I kept the lights out of focus. On some of the shots I also played around with the white balance of the image and the hues in lightroom to see if I could create a different effect.

One of the other things I have been reading up on in a photography for bloggers course, was how to create a collage style image in the print module in Lightroom – print can not only be used to print images but to create jpgs, so you can easily customize images with watermarks, and design them to fit different social media platforms!

Bokeh collage created in Lightroom.
Bokeh collage created in Lightroom.

Day 304 – Happy Halloween

A quick play in the garden with pumpkins lit by candle light, manual mode on my wide angle lens, a splash of smoke and some coloured gels, a sparkler…. to wish you a Happy Halloween!

Straight out of camera
Straight out of camera

I started shooting with a wide aperture – F7.1, and a 3.2sec exposure on ISO100, to capture the ambient light of the pumpkins. I was surprised to see how much detail was reflected in the slate tiles that the pumpkins were sat on, so I choose to make the aperture narrower so I could record more of the texture, which meant as a consequence I had to increase the shutter duration.

Added smoke and green gel flash
Added smoke and green gel flash

I added smoke, and the flash behind on a 1/16 exposure. Flash outside is hard to control… it blows everywhere, but it adds a great texture to the image.

More Smoke and green gel
More Smoke and green gel

More smoke and the background looks very spooky.

Blue Gel flash
Blue Gel flash

Changing the colour gel on the flash creates a totally different feel – I have used gels before – in this set up with the pumpkin when I used an orange gel and here when I experimented with a variety of colours  – they do work really well with smoke!

Blue gel and unsatuated the orange!
Blue gel and unsaturated the orange!

Here I kept the blue but removed the orange colour from the image in lightroom, just to see how it changed the mood of the photo.

No smoke ... but added a sparker
No smoke … but added a sparker

A sparkler adds a lot more light to the image and flicks up sparks like the wire wool – my first attempt the sparkler was behind the pumpkins and they don’t really interact.

Sparkler, Blue Gel Flash and smoke
Sparkler, Blue Gel Flash and smoke

Waving the sparkler round in a spiral though adds depth with smoke behind and a blue flash… it is interesting what effects you can achieve, my final image below I added a couple of textures and experimented with different blending modes in Photoshop to create an image with a different feel. Happy Halloween!

With text and textures added in Lightroom
With text and textures added in Lightroom

Day 303 – Evening Light in London and HDR

Another challenge, this time low light photography without a tripod in London as dusk approaches.

I thought I would have a go at a couple of HDR images – where you take three images at three exposures – about a stop apart – and merge them together as an HDR image in Lightroom. I have shared the settings on the middle shot. For this to work, I set my camera up so it automatically took three exposures and multi images at the same time so there was less rick of ghosting and camera shake – ideally a tripod should be used. Continue reading

Day 271 – Lunar Eclipse – Chasing the Dark

Sunday night, the early hours of Monday morning – a lunar eclipse or super blood moon should take place. I tired to capture a Solar Eclipse earlier in the year, so this afternoon I have researched what I need to know to capture a lunar eclipse … if I remember to get up…

Essential Kit:

  • Tripod
  • Zoom Lens
  • Shutter release cable – to prevent vibrations
  • Flask of coffee and some warm clothes.
  • A dark location, clear skies with a interesting view

My research online included a number of articles:

Timings for the eclipse
Timings for the eclipse

I started taking photos where the Moon entered Penumbra at 1.15am and set my camera up to take a photo every two minutes and then merged them in Star Stax.


I was amazed how far the moon moved in two minutes – but it did not move enough … my moon’s overlapped. and in 15 photos – 30 minutes the moon had traveled completely across my frame. I amended the settings to 3 minute intervals and took a test shot.


The eclipse had started 2.15am onwards – the eclipse has started and I have something to share….

3 minute intervals
3 minute intervals

As the eclispe started to happen the sky got dramatically darker – I had to increase the ISO, widen the aperture, lengthen the shutter speed – just to get the shot … and the 3 minute gaps were too far apart… I switched to 20 secs …

ISO6400, F7.1, 1/4 sec - I exposure every 20 secs
ISO6400, F7.1, 1/4 sec – I exposure every 20 secs

I struggled to capture the orange glow – viewable by eye but not my camera … and then I did it – it is a bit noisy and fully zoomed it on my Sigma 150-500mm lens – but I am pleased with it!

During the eclipse
During the eclipse

It is amazing how quickly the moon moves across the sky – these were taken about 1min 20 secs apart during the full eclipse, over Lymington in the New Forest.

ISO6400, F7.1, 1/4 sec - Full eclispe over Lymington
ISO6400, F7.1, 1/4 sec – Full eclipse over Lymington

I zoomed out so I could capture the eclipse moving across the sky – with ISO6400 – it is grainy… but my F stop was as wide as it could get and my shutter speed as slow as I could risk it. It is amazing how far the moon moves in just 28 minutes. I am delighted with the timing between exposures – as each photo is separate from the one before – I then stacked the images in my editing software.

ISO6400, F7.1, 1/4 sec - every 2 mins 20 secs during the eclipse
ISO6400, F7.1, 1/4 sec – every 2 mins 20 secs during the eclipse

As the moon begins to leave the Umbra – my battery ran out …  and the moon had moved out of frame – so a quick change and to re-position the camera…  I am now not sure how long I will be able to track it for, and it is starting to get brighter. I already made the decision to reduce the ISO, but this time I wanted to capture the orange glow – would would mean blowing out the highlights. I photo every 2 minutes 20 secs and wow…  this is what I wanted to achieve.

ISO2000, F7.1, 1/4 sec - the eclispe begins to end.
ISO2000, F7.1, 1/4 sec – the eclispe begins to end.

My final combination… these are all edited jpg’s – I had to pause the camera and move it a couple of times and adjust the settings –  but this is the iconic shots I have always wanted to capture of an eclipse.

Tomorrow I might look at the raw files and add my best images … but I had an amazing evening – my three teens and my hubby slept through the night and I got to take photos in my p’j’s and share them…. It has been a long night … I got up at 1.30am … and took my last image at 5.35am … if you have enjoyed my images please follow my blog, share my page, click like and I would love to hear your comments below…. and you are welcome to sponsor me too (I am raising money for research into my son’s rare medical condition.)

The eclipse ending - captures between 4.46am and 5.31am
The eclipse ending – captures between 4.46am and 5.31am


How was it done – my laptop was tethered to my computer upstairs – saving jpg’s to the hard drive – I was then sync that folder with my main computer to do the edits during the eclipse and so I could alter my settings as I went along. I have never used live tether before … and it works great. Looking at these photos I think I am ready for the next eclipse – 31st January 2018 for me!

From start to finish ... amazing!
From start to finish … amazing!

And after looking at the raw file (the above were all jpg files) – I think this image sum up why we should should raw.

Processed Raw file of the moon
Processed Raw file of the moon