The NYC marathon runs through my neighborhood at around the 17th mile mark every year. On Nov 6, 2011 (tommorow), thousands of folks will run by again. Here’s a short flip-book animation I made back in 2009. That’s 480 shots in 48 seconds @ 10 frames a second.
So how did I do this? It actually isn’t so hard. You’ll need QuickTime Pro which is available for Mac or PC.
First, I set my camera up to shoot in burst mode. For this, I simply used “Sports mode” and let my camera do the work. You’ll need to take a lot of pictures if you want to use a high frame rate in the movie file. The more burst sequences you shoot, the cooler the animation will look. Remember to take all your photos in landscape orientation, or you’ll need to eliminate the portrait shots later.
Next you’ll need to export all those photos to a folder at a downgraded resolution. Remember, even full 1080p HD video is only about 2 megapixels. So which resolution to choose? For 1080p quality, export with the short-edge (the height in this case) at 1080 pixels, for 720p quality, export with the short-edge at 720 pixels, and so on. You should realize that outfits like Youtube will likely degrade the quality of your movie despite any high resolution.
To piece the images together as a video file, open up QuickTime Pro and go to File>Open Image Sequence. Navigate to the first image in your folder of shots. Click Open, and next you’ll be given a choice of frame-rates. Your choice will depend on how long you want your movie to actually be and how many photos you’ve actually taken.
Use File>Save As to export the image sequence as a video file. After you do this, you can easily use other programs (Windows MovieMaker, Apple’s iMovie, etc) to add a soundtrack.
But an even easier and lazier way to do this is to simply upload the silent version to Youtube. You can then use their AudioSwap feature to easily find an audio track that can match the length of the movie. You also won’t encounter any copyright issues since the stuff on there is royalty-free.
To advertise their TV show Boardwalk Empire (which takes place in Prohibition-era Atlantic City), HBO ran these subway trains from the 1920s every weekend in September on the 2/3 line. Pretty nifty promotional stunt if you ask me.
This car says it was in service from 1924 to 1969. That’s a pretty long life for a subway car, which is why my father said…hey I remember that train. This particular one is known as a Lo-V type.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lo-V_(New_York_City_Subway_car).
Shooting was a bit difficult in such a low light environment. Lucky for me I was able to jack-up the ISO settings in order to get a quick enough shutter speed for these shots. Pay attention to the noise reduction settings in Lightroom so you can minimize the effect of too much noise in your shots. It’s ok to live a bit of it in, it looks better than too smeary.
This is a shot I took of Coney Island at night. My DSLR was being fixed at the time, so I shot it with a Canon G7, which is an advanced compact camera. An interesting thing to note on this shot, is that the aperture is fairly wide at f/2.8. But despite that fact, notice how deep a depth of field we get on the shot. The reason for this is due to the smaller sensor on the compact camera.
On a DSLR in order to get the equivalent depth of field, you would need a setting of about f/13 on a full-frame camera and about f/8 on a cropped-sensor camera. This fact illustrates why it is near impossible to do blurred backgrounds with a compact sensor camera.
Here is a new shot of the Roosevelt Island Tram I took the other day. The Tram is actually one of the few aerial *commuter* trams in the world. It runs from 59th and 2nd in Manhattan to Main Street on Roosevelt Island. The cost is the same as a ride on the subway.
You might be wondering about the sky in this shot and how I got the clouds to pop out like that. Well, I used a lens filter known as a Circular Polarizer.
Sports mode is useful not just for sports. Anytime you want to freeze action, or you are unsure about whether something will move, you can quickly switch to sports mode.
It’s useful to understand exactly what “sports mode” actually does if you decide to use it on your camera. The reason why I like it a lot is because it quickly changes three key settings at once.
- It changes your autofocus to AI Servo. AI Servo will continually adjust the focus of your lens while your finger is half-pressing the shutter button. It is *very* useful for moving objects.
- It changes your autofocus to use all your focal points at once. Usually I use the single, center focus point to focus my shots so that I have full control. The issue with moving objects is that you usually aren’t fast enough to make sure the focus is on the center point.
- It forces your shutter speed to be very fast, so as to freeze the action. Usually this will also force the aperture to open to its widest.
Photosnobs will sometimes call the scene presets “dummy modes.” Well if they can help me snag a shot, then I’m happy to be a dummy.
So why did I do this to my camera you might ask? Well, I’m sure you’ve experienced poor results from your own-board flash. Direct flash usually creates ugly, harsh shadows and looks very unappealing. To remedy this, the easiest way is to bounce the flash light off another surface.
Normally, this involves buying an external flash for a few hundred dollars. That’s definitely the best way.
But the cheap way is to make a reflector for you on-board flash. I did this using Aluminum foil. If you try, make sure to grab enough foil that you xan fold it at least 3 times for thickness sake. Then simply mold it into the flash seat area so that it will stay in one place while shooting. To get the best exposure, you might need to change the flash-exposure compensation, or increase your ISO. Consult your camera manual on how to do this.
Oh and one last thing, be sure to close your eyes quickly when the flash goes off because it’ll be in your face.
Not too long ago (before 2008), in order to get this shot with an SLR, one had to look through the glass viewfinder. Now I don’t know about you, but I don’t enjoy looking directly at the sun, it’s not so good for your eyes.
If I’m shooting directly (or semi-directly) at the sun like this, I’ll try to use the LCD to compose my shot to avoid looking at the sun.
Another tip for these shots is that usually the sun will make the shot very hazy, but that is just the nature of the beast. In order to rectify this, I use high contrast and the blacks slider in Lightroom.
Golden hour is a magical time for photography. The light comes in at nearly a horizontal angle which seems to improve the clarity of shots and give them a rich, warm feel. Roger Moffatt, who runs an online calculator where you can calculate the hour for your area, defines it as: “the first and last hour of sunlight in the day when the special quality of light yields particularly beautiful photographs”. There are also golden hour calculators available for Android as well as iPhone.
Notice in this shot of San Marco’s plaza you can see how the sun affects the shadows in this shot. Many of my best photographs come during Golden Hour because the light is much clearer, and there isn’t as much glare as noontime.