kittykat23uk

How do you capture the magical light?

36 posts in this topic

~ @@Earthian

 

That's very thoughtful of you to post that.

Once I read it, I recognized the phenomenon, but had never heard the terms which describe it.

It has been the case that in all visits to both Meru and Samburu I've been out on game drives during the ‘magic hour’.

The resulting images have the color and luminosity effects as described in the article you posted.

Where I'm headed tomorrow, Sabi Sands, apparently also offers game drives during the ‘magic hour’.

It's one of Safaritalk's nicest features that members will take the time to patiently help out those of us with less experience and understanding.

Many thanks, @@Earthian!

Tom K.

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@@Tom Kellie

All the best @@Tom Kellie and have a safe flight and happy viewing.

Look forward to your TR.

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@@Game Warden

 

Can you see in the original post where it links to when in the edit function?

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@@russell It was from your old photoshelter account.

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Posted (edited)

I see a lot of lovely images of wildlife in really amazing light, like at sunrise or sunset but I never seem to be able to capture this magical feel myself. Does anyone have any tips? biggrin.gif

 

Get up very early and start your game drive as far before sun-rise as possible so that you can find and set up on your first shots (with sun behind) before the sun has started to rise above the horizon. In Kenya you have about 10 minutes once the sun has started to rise (06:45) until the really special red/golden light starts to cool and about another 30 minutes transition to normal good light. I have found that on days with no cloud cover, image quality starts to go by 09:30 as the light becomes increasingly harsh and heat haze begins to impact images. The best "normal" light is between 0715-0930, when images are soft lit and shadows are low or non-existant.

 

For me, there is little point in taking shots between 10:00 and 5-5:30pm - both lack of animal activity and the heat of the day take until at least this time to reset. The one exception is Cheetah chases during the migration - which happen almost anytime - or if it is raining/very cloudy. You have to be prepared to return to the camp in the dark.

 

Shooting in very low light is a challenge un-too itself -- You can expect to have to shoot at ISO's greater than 3200 very early in the morning or late in the evening before sunrise or after sunset. And you can get some good results, but they are no where as good as shots in first light shortly after sunrise and before the sun has completely set.

 

Set your White Balance to Cloudy (5,500 K) and leave it there all day. Please no not use Auto-WB otherwise the camera will vary the WB temp to a default value, and you will not see the golden/red, unless you change it back.

 

This is the time when the light differences can be the most significant -- You absolutely will have to recover shadows, reduce highlights, and change a host of other exposure settings, reduce noise etc.. So shoot RAW 14-bit compressed and do not use your jpgs - absolutely no point taking them.

 

I can unequivocally say that the quality of my low light images has improved with the help of the best technology I can afford. The combination of a Nikon D5 and 400mm f/2.8E FL lens provides extraordinary performance and gives me confidence that I will find focus and lock on in almost no light.

 

Here are a few examples - including extremes at each end

 

post-51374-0-84071200-1490530536_thumb.jpg

D5 with 400mm at ISO 5000 f/3.5 1/640th - taken 5 minutes after sunset started. Sunset completes within a minute or so - so these are very much last light OR blue images

 

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D5 with 400mm at ISO 100 f/4.5 1/500th - taken a few minutes after first light on sunrise.

 

post-51374-0-05158000-1490530521_thumb.jpg

D5 with 400mm at ISO 200 f/9.0 1/2,500th - taken a 25 minutes after first light on sunrise.

 

We were tracking Malaika's daughter who was hunting Tomi's and chose sunset as the time she chose to start her chase. Note how fast the light drops in Kenya around sunset. None of these images are useable, but it was interesting to try. The shutter speed was to freeze the action - which it did - but at the cost of IQ.

 

post-51374-0-19480600-1490531278_thumb.jpg

D5 with 400mm at ISO 9000 f/7.1 1/1,600th - taken as the sun was about to start to set.

post-51374-0-11568500-1490531024_thumb.jpg

D5 with 400mm at ISO 5000 f/5.6 1/640th - taken as the sun was about to completely set.

post-51374-0-11809900-1490531310_thumb.jpg

D5 with 400mm at ISO 72408 f/4.0 1/1,000th - taken a 21 minutes after sunset.

 

post-51374-0-97455800-1490530872_thumb.jpg

D5 with 400mm at ISO 102400 f/4.0 1/1,000th - taken a 23 minutes after sunset and it was very dark (black).

Edited by ajm057
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Posted (edited)

@@ajm057

 

I would not recommend people to set their WB to cloudy, as it can easily make pictures look unnatural.

 

I would assume you shot in RAW? At which point manually setting WB makes no difference to the image. It is generally considered better practice to start in auto and adjust the WB accordingly on post processing.

 

Shooting with a neutral WB is important when using the back of camera to review camera settings. The jpg produced often has less dynamic range, and pushing the WB can show results with blown highlights, when the opposite is true. This can be important for those that expose to right to capture as much detail as possible.

Edited by russell
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Posted (edited)

Russell:

Your photos do not show up and the links are dead too. Any chance of updating the links?

Thanks

Edited by Earthian

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Good to see you are still around @@russell (with others of professional/ expert photography standing) to provide advice to us here on ST. One only has to look through the trip reports to see the expertise of many members. Both you any many others have made a valuable contribution here

 

 

I have no doubt @@kittykat23uk has resolved her original query of 2011, as is clearly evidenced by her TR's. But it is always interesting to get the debate going again. particularly as technology moves on.

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I definitely agree with @Russell setting white balance to cloudy, at least with Nikon cameras, will give horrible results. In fact I always set my WB to daylight with a bit of an adjustment to about 5300K, on my Nikons this gives very pleasing results almost all the time. Nikon's auto settings are too cool for my taste. Of course I shoot RAW and can adjust when required.

 

One thing about the "magic light." Its a bit subjective and I think it can be overdone. I also like it better for some subjects than others. I do love it for most mammals,especially those tawny cats :) but I find that most often, for birds I do not like that "golden light" look unless I am aiming for something like a sunset, sunrise or silhouette. Generally speaking I like the real colors of a bird to shine through. I often color correct bird shots that look too warm, they just don't look right to me. But like I said, its very subjective!

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Posted (edited)

One thing about the "magic light." Its a bit subjective and I think it can be overdone. I also like it better for some subjects than others. I do love it for most mammals,especially those tawny cats :) but I find that most often, for birds I do not like that "golden light" look unless I am aiming for something like a sunset, sunrise or silhouette. Generally speaking I like the real colors of a bird to shine through. I often color correct bird shots that look too warm, they just don't look right to me.

 

Totally agree with this. Whenever I've taken bird shots at the point when I thought that late afternoon golden light was just perfect, in the end, they've never looked right and I've never been satisfied with them. But for just about anything else, it's the ideal light for me. Early morning comes in second.

 

I also shoot Nikon, and I always set my white balance to "daylight" as well, as I think this yields the most accurate colors in a scene. Auto white balance, at least with Nikon, produces photos that simply look too cool to my eye. I will say that I have, on occasion, switched to "cloudy," the most notable situation being when we encountered a pride of lions in high, dead grass on a very overcast morning, a very dull, monotone scene that needed some warming up. But "daylight" is my default.

Edited by Alexander33
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