Adam's Antics

November 30, 2012

A Global Perspective: The Time Warner Center

Filed under: Photography,Wandt-NYC — Adam Scott Wandt @ 8:51 pm

A Global Perspective of The Time Warner Center (08/25/12) Columbus Circle, New York, NY, USA. Canon EOS 5D Mark II. Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS. ISO 200. 65mm f/10 1/400

© Adam Scott Wandt.

 

September 16, 2012

Remembering Fallen Brothers

Filed under: Photography,Wandt-NYC — Adam Scott Wandt @ 10:49 pm

Remembering Fallen Brothers:  A 9/11 Tribute in Light. (9/11/12) Brooklyn, New York City, NY, USA. Canon EOS 5D Mark II. Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM. ISO 3200. 50mm f/1.4 1/13s

© Adam Scott Wandt.

September 14, 2012

A Tribute in Light

Filed under: Photography,Wandt-NYC — Adam Scott Wandt @ 1:57 am

 

A Tribute in Light: 9/11 as seen from the Manhattan Bridge (9/11/12) New York City, NY, USA. Canon EOS 5D Mark II. Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS. ISO 3200. 40mm f/4 1/25s

© Adam Scott Wandt.

August 28, 2012

Heckscher Ballfields: Central Park

Filed under: Photography,Wandt-NYC — Adam Scott Wandt @ 9:05 pm

The Heckscher Ballfields

Central Park, New York City, NY, USA. Canon EOS 5D Mark II. Canon EF 100-400mm 4/4.5-5.6L. ISO 200. 160mm f/5 1/125s
© Adam Scott Wandt.

Twitter: @Prof_Wandt

 

 

August 27, 2012

Imagine: 50 Years of Beatles

Filed under: Photography,Wandt-NYC — Adam Scott Wandt @ 9:46 am

Imagine: 50 Years of Beatles (8/26/12)

Strawberry Fields, Central Park, New York City, NY, USA. Canon EOS 5D Mark II. Canon EF 100-400mm 4/4.5-5.6L. ISO 200. 100mm f/5.6 1/40s © Adam Scott Wandt.

Twitter: @Prof_Wandt

July 17, 2012

Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Over the Hudson

Filed under: Photography,Wandt-NYC — Adam Scott Wandt @ 9:10 pm

Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Over the Hudson (7/04/12).

New York City, NY, USA. Canon EOS Kiss Digital X. Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L. ISO 200. 30mm f/9 10s
© Adam Scott Wandt.

Twitter: @Prof_Wandt

June 6, 2012

How to photograph the Venus transit, a solar eclipse, or just the everyday Sun.

Filed under: General Antics,Photography — Adam Scott Wandt @ 11:50 pm

How to Photograph The Sun: Venus Transit 2012

(Updated: 7 June 2012)

Venus Transit 2012 © Adam Scott Wandt

Venus Transit 2012 © Adam Scott Wandt

 

Venus Transit 2012 © Adam Scott Wandt

Venus Transit 2012 © Adam Scott Wandt

Adam Scott Wandt Photographing the Venus Transit.

Adam Scott Wandt Photographing the Venus Transit.

 

Disclaimer: If you follow my instructions, you will be putting at risk thousands of dollars of equipment. While this method has worked for me several times in photographing the Sun, you undertake this advice at your own risk. I bear no legal responsibility if you or your camera equipment are damaged. In addition, I strongly suggest you do not involve children, drugs or alcohol.

 

Introduction

Photographing the Sun on a regular day is not something that most people know how to do. Photography a celestial event such as a solar eclipse or a planetary transit is even more challenging.

Photographing the Sun is extremely challenging because the Sun’s rays are so powerful that even during a solar eclipse, when 99% of the Sun’s rays are blocked, a short exposure for a fraction of a second can cause serious damage to your eyes and your camera’s sensor.

There are many techniques that allow people to observe the Sun and eclipses: pin hole projections onto white surfaces, the use of welders goggles, or the use of commercially available “eclipse glasses.” Obtaining high quality photographs is more difficult.

The Venus Transit occurs when Venus passes directly between the Earth and the Sun and won’t happen again for 100+ years. Venus appears as a small disk crossing the Sun – about the size of a marble next to a manhole coverOn June 5, 2012, the Transit will be visible from earth. From New York City, the beginning of the Transit will be visible, from 6:03 pm until sunset at 8:24 pm.

When I first heard about the Venus Transit, I wondered if a terrestrial-based photographer with an SLR camera could get high quality solar images. I could not find a simple answer. After several hours of research and experimentation, I developed a method that I hope will successfully capture high quality images of the Venus Transit. This technique can also be used to photograph the Sun on any given day and to photograph solar eclipses. I hope this blog summarizing my technique will help those in need of answers that I had trouble finding.

This method is not inexpensive, but many photographers may already own a majority of the equipment necessary.

 

What You Need:

(1) A Fairly High Quality SLR Camera

The method I have developed should work with most SLRs as long as your SLR accepts professional grade lenses. I use a Canon 5D MK II.

(2) Professional Grade Lens (Minimum 300mm)

Professional grade lenses are needed because while the Sun is huge, it is very very far away. Even with a 300mm lens, the Sun will not be large enough in your image to make an impact. Ideally, one would use a 600-800mm lens, but the high cost ($7,000 – $15,000) makes it cost prohibitive for most people. This is where a device called a teleconverter comes in handy (see #3). To photograph the Sun, I use a Canon EF 100-400mm 1:4.5-5.6 L IS.

(3) Lens Hood

To prevent glare and ghosting, an appropriately sized lens hood is important.

(4) Teleconverter

A teleconverter is a small optical tube that fits in between the lens and the camera. Teleconverters come in optical magnifications such as 1.4x, 2x and 3x.  This means that if you use a 2x teleconverter on a 400mm lens, you get the equivalent of 800mm – a good focal length for solar photography. At a minimum, for good quality solar photography, you should use a 300mm lens with a 2x teleconverter. To photograph the Sun, I use a Canon 2x EF Extender III.

 (5) Solar Filter

Without a proper solar filter, the Sun will fry your camera’s sensor and your eyes. A proper solar filter is so dark, you can’t see through it with your naked eye. It filters out all but 1/100,000 of the light coming through. There are not too many solar filter manufactures in the world. The only two I know of are in Japan and they cost around $100-$150. To photograph the Sun, I use a Kenko ND 100,000 67mm filter with a 77mm step-up ring to convert it to fit my 77mm wide lens. This filter reduces the amount of light coming into the camera by over 13 stops, making the Sun the only thing visible in the viewfinder. Another option is a Marumi 77mm ND 100,000 DHG neutral density filter, although good luck getting one because they have been sold out for weeks.

(6) Tripod

This set up weighs almost 20 pounds, so you will also need a high quality tripod that can hold something that resembles a small telescope. Since the Sun moves (and rapidly at this focal length) a high quality gimbal mount or ballhead is also important to keep the camera steady enough to capture the images you want. I use an Induro AT313 with a Vanguard SBH-300 head. B&H Photo has a really good educator’s discount on this tripod. (Thanks B&H Photo!)

(7) External Shuttle Release

This is handy as it will allow you to automatically expose and time the shots, making your only job to track the sun in your viewfinder and analyze your exposure on your laptop. I use a Canon Timer Remote Controller TC-80N3.

(8) Laptop

I tether my camera to my laptop for automatic photograph import which allows me to instantly analyze my photographs on a 15” screen rather than a 4” LCD screen. I use a 15” MacBook Pro with an i7 processor and 8 GB of RAM.

For review, here is the equipment I use:

  1. Camera: Canon 5D MK II
  2. Lens: Canon EF 100-400mm 1:4.5-5.6 L IS locked in at 400 mm
  3. Lens Hood
  4. Teleconverter: Canon 2x EF Extender III
  5. Solar filter: Kenko ND 100,000 67mm filter with a 77mm step-up ring
  6. Tripod: Induro AT313 with a Vanguard SBH-300 head
  7. Auto Shutter: Canon Timer Remote Controller TC-80N3
  8. Laptop: 15” MacBook Pro with an i7 processor and 8 GB of RAM

 

Solar Photography Workflow:

(1) Finding the Sun

After the equipment is assembled and mounted on the tripod, the first step is to find the Sun in the viewfinder. This might seem easy, but it’s not! The solar filter is going to make everything appear black – just like you have your lens cap on. The only thing that will be visible is the Sun (when you eventually find it). You will be amazed at how long it will take you to find it and how often you will lose it once you find it… it makes me laugh every time.

(2) Aperture

Aperture normally effects depth of field, light entering the camera, star-bursting, and distortion. In all of my experiments with solar photography, aperture does not seem to make much of a difference in context of a single photograph. I get the same great quality photography with f/8 as I do with f/22 (with different shutter speeds of course). However, there are advantages and disadvantages to using different apertures.

Advantages of f/22 (small aperture): Using a smaller aperture may limit the amount of light and heat reaching the sensor. Your camera will be pointed directly at the Sun for a long period of time and using a smaller aperture may provide some degree of protection to your sensors. See below for an additional method on how to avoid overheating or damaging your camera.

Advantages of f/5.6 (large aperture): If you plan on making a time lapse video of the solar event, all of my research shows that it is critical to open your aperture all the way to its maximum possible setting and leave it open the entire event. Leaving the aperture fully open is a method that will help prevent flicker that is common to time lapse photography. For more information on time lapse photography, go HERE.

 (3) Shutter Speed

As to shutter speed, there is no easy answer. Since you will be using your camera on the manual setting, you can experiment with shutter speed to determine your optimal exposure. Keep in mind you will need to adjust your shutter speed as the Sun changes azimuth and altitude (the angle of the Sun above the horizon). Less light will reach your camera at lower altitudes meaning you have to increase the exposure times as the Sun get’s closer and closer to the horizon.

(4) External Shuttle Release

The advantage of using an external shuttle release is that you can set not only shutter speed, but also interval. This will help you take your photographs at regular intervals, making your only job tracking and evaluation. I use the following settings:

  • Self timer – off
  • Interval – 5 seconds
  • Long – 00.00
  • Frames – maximum setting (mine is 99)

(5) Tethering

There are no “redos” with an event like the Venus Transit, so it is important to be able to evaluate the photographs as they are being taken so you can make adjustments. Since you should be using a timed shutter system, you can’t evaluate your photographs on the LCD screen. It is also hard to evaluate using the LCD screen because it is small. To mitigate this issue, I hook up my SLR directly to my MacBook and stream the photographs right into Aperture (I also recommend Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4). In Aperture, I am able to do live evaluations of the photography and adjust the shutter speed as needed.

(6) Protecting Your Camera From Light and Heat

Even when using a solar filter, my research shows that prolonged focusing on the Sun can still damage your camera. This is because heat will build up over time between the elements of the lens or in front of the camera’s sensor. The method that I use to prevent this is by having an assistant stand in front of the camera and on a regular basis cover the lens with an opaque object such as a piece of black cloth. I plan on keeping my lens covered for about 20 seconds of a given minute (1/3 of the time). While this method will make putting together a time lapse video difficult, it’s not worth destroying my camera. If you really want to do a time lapse video, you can try increasing the interval on the external shutter release to 15-20 seconds and have the assistant cover the lens during the interval.

(7) White Balance

I do not have a good answer for setting the white balance on your camera as I am still adjusting for it in post-production. If I come up with a good solution, I will update this blog.

 

Solar Photography Workflow: By The Numbers

 

  1. Be sure your batteries are fully charged.
  2. Assemble all equipment.
  3. Double check all equipment and in particular, ensure the proper placement of your solar filter.
  4. Set lens to manual focus and set your aperture.
  5. Take some test shots of the Sun to ensure everything is working properly. View your photos on your laptop to adjust shutter speed to achieve your desired exposure.
  6. Set your external shutter release to your desired settings and activate the system a few minutes before the Transit is supposed begin.
  7. Track the Sun while the camera is automatically taking photos.
  8. Ensure that your assistant is periodically covering the lens to allow heat to dissipate.
  9. Every few minutes, recheck exposure on your laptop and adjust as needed.
  10. Don’t stop taking pictures until a minute or two after sunset.

 

Conclusion

In order to take quality photographs of the Venus Transit, you will be required to conduct  a virtual symphony of precise steps. I hope that this blog helps. Please leave comments with additional advice or sharing your experiences.

Now, please pray for good weather on June 5! I will post some photographs from the Venus Transit on my blog on the CUNY Academic Commons for personal enjoyment. Media or commercial use is available. Contact me for licensing information.

 

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Sol © Adam Scott Wandt

Sol © Adam Scott Wandt

May 28, 2012

¿Happy? Memorial Day

Filed under: General Antics,Photography,Wandt-NYC — Adam Scott Wandt @ 9:30 am

NYC Red, White, and Blue: A Memorial Weekend Skyline

¿Happy? Memorial Day

A few hours ago someone said to me, “Happy Memorial Day!”  But is it really a “happy” day?

Memorial Day has its origins in Decoration Day, first celebrated during the Civil War in the 1860s to commemorate fallen soldiers.  It was not declared an official federal holiday until 1967.  Memorial Day is supposed to be a day to remember the men and women who died defending our Nation…

We celebrate with barbecues, heavy drinking, and totally awesome sales, which in my opinion, have nothing to do with remembering and paying tribute to fallen soldiers.

Memorial Day is one example of a great American holiday gone wrong. I don’t know whether commercialization or ignorance is to blame.

What I do know is that it feels wrong to me to spend Memorial Day drinking, partying at the beach, and shopping for the best deal on a new car or shoes.  I am not going to chastise those who choose to spend their day this way, but please remember why you have the day off to do so.

Hundreds of thousands of men and women have sacrificed their lives so you can have your Budweiser and BBQ Chicken.  So next time you want to say “Happy Memorial Day” to someone, stop and remind yourself what Memorial Day is really about.

 

Photograph:
NYC Red, White, and Blue: A Memorial Weekend Skyline (5/27/12) New York City, NY, USA. Canon EOS 5D Mark II. Sigma EF 15mm Fisheye. ISO 100. 15mm f/2.8 1.3s
© Adam Scott Wandt.

Twitter: @Prof_Wandt

 

May 27, 2012

Fleet Week 2012: Parade of Ships. BAE Guayas (Ecuador)

Filed under: Photography,Wandt-NYC — Adam Scott Wandt @ 6:37 pm

Fleet Week 2012: Parade of Ships. BAE Guayas (Ecuador)

Fleet Week 2012: Parade of Ships. BAE Guayas (Ecuador) (5/24/12) New York City, NY, USA. Canon EOS 5D Mark II. Canon EF 100-400mm. ISO 100. 400mm f/16 1/160. © Adam Scott Wandt.

BAE Guayas (Ecuador). Length Overall:  257’;  Draft:  15’4”. GUAYAS was built in Bilbao, Spain in 1976.  She sails for the Ecuadorian Naval Academy, teaching practical seamanship and navigation skills to naval cadets.

Twitter: @Prof_Wandt

May 19, 2012

Lloyd Sealy Library, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, The City University of New York

Filed under: Photography,Wandt-NYC — Adam Scott Wandt @ 8:00 pm

Lloyd Sealy Library, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, The City University of New York.

 

The Lloyd Sealy Library, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, The City University of New York, CUNY. New York, New York, USA. (02/7/12). Canon EOS 5D Mark II. Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L. ISO 100, 100mm, f/4.5, 1/100. © Adam Scott Wandt. Twitter: @Prof_Wandt

 

May 17, 2012

The Intersection of Architecture, History, & Technology. The Apple Store, Grand Central Terminal.

Filed under: Photography,Wandt-NYC — Adam Scott Wandt @ 9:53 am

The Intersection of Architecture, History & Technology. The Apple Store, Grand Central Terminal, New York City

 

The Intersection of Architecture, History & Technology. The Apple Store, Grand Central Terminal, New York City. Canon EOS 5D Mark II. Canon EF 24-105mm. ISO 100. 24mm f/8 1/100.

© Adam Scott Wandt.  Twitter: @Prof_Wandt

 

May 8, 2012

“Let’s Make Sure History Never Forgets the Name: Enterprise.”

Filed under: Photography,Wandt-NYC — Adam Scott Wandt @ 10:10 am

“Let’s Make Sure History Never Forgets the Name: Enterprise.”

In my blog “Heroes,” I openly confessed to being a Trekkie. I have seen every episode, of every season, of every series, multiple times. I don’t actually consider Star Trek science fiction; I consider it a blueprint for the future of mankind.

So, it should not be a surprise that when NASA announced the space shuttle Enterprise would be flying over Manhattan, that I was determined to get the perfect photograph. This was made easier by the fact that the flight plan showed the Enterprise would in fact be flying right past my building… three times. It’s as if the cosmos were speaking directly to me and ensuring that I could get the perfect photograph. I heard the cosmos loud and clear and was willing to change my schedule in any way that was needed to capture the perfect photograph of this historic event.

The Enterprise was originally scheduled to make its fly-by on Monday, April 23, 2012. I adjusted my schedule so that I could camp out on the roof of my building all morning. Then, due to weather, the fly-by was cancelled. The same thing happened on Wednesday, April 25, 2012. Finally, on Friday, April 27, 2012, the Enterprise, atop a specially retrofitted Boeing 747, left Washington D.C. Dulles Airport en route to New York. I watched the Enterprise take off from Dulles live on cnn.com, then started my countdown knowing it would take about 40 minutes for the Enterprise to arrive in New York City.

About 42 stories above street level, on the roof of my building, a small group of about 20 people gathered on a very windy morning to witness the event. Cameras, tripods, binoculars, iPads, iPhones, and videocameras abounded. It was cold and windy, but no one cared. Everyone was there to witness the end of an era of space travel. It did not matter to anyone that the Enterprise never actually flew in space; all that mattered was that it was the Enterprise and that in the next few minutes it would be within our reach. Finally, the moment came…

Looking South towards One World Trade Center, someone shouted, “There it is!” With my 400mm lens up to my eye, I confirmed the unmistakeable site of a space shuttle riding atop a jumbo jet. “That’s it for sure,” I exclaimed. Moments later, the Enterprise was flying North along the Hudson River at less than 1,000 feet, headed straight towards me. I snapped away and held my breath as the Enterprise flew just a few hundred feet in front of me. It seemed I could reach out and touch it… or hit it with a spitball.

About 10 minutes later, after turning around at the Tappan Zee Bridge, the Enterprise flew South along the Hudson directly in front of my building a second time! The only thing louder than the howling wind were the sounds of the cameras clicking away. I was surprised at how quiet the jumbo jet was flying past. The Enterprise vanished over lower Manhattan, only to reappear traveling Northwest over New Jersey. I noticed for the first time it was accompanied by what appeared to be a single F-18 Hornet (a fighter jet). I thought to myself how odd it was that the Enterprise was escorted by a single fighter jet; don’t these things fly in pairs?

After flying northwest over New Jersey, the Enterprise turned east towards Manhattan and crossed Manhattan just north of my building. It disappeared behind the skyscrapers and headed to its destination, John F. Kennedy Airport.  I ran to the east side of my building hoping to capture one last photograph of the Enterprise flying between the skyscrapers. However, to my dismay, the Enterprise did not reappear. But the story is not over yet…
I look forward to June when the Enterprise is brought to the Intrepid on a barge and is lifted by crane onto the flight deck. What is so spectacular about this story is that I have the perfect view of the Intrepid from my apartment, so day and night, rain or shine (but not severe fog), I will be able to see the Enterprise staring back at me. It serves as a reminder of the dreams of space travel I often have that I fully believe will be realized one day.

So, in the words of Captain Jean-Luc Picard… “Let’s Make Sure History Never Forgets the Name: Enterprise.”

The Space Shuttle Enterprise atop NASA’s Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Over the Hudson River. (4/27/12) New York, NY, USA. Canon EOS 5D Mark II. Canon EF 100-400mm. ISO 200. 400mm f/8 1/1000. © Adam Scott Wandt.
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 
Here is a second photograph taken that morning:

The Space Shuttle Enterprise atop NASA’s Boeing 747 Flying Past One World Trade Center

The Space Shuttle Enterprise atop NASA’s Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Flying Past One World Trade Center – The Freedom Tower. (4/27/12) New York City, NY, USA. Canon EOS 5D Mark II. Canon EF 100-400mm. ISO 200. 400mm f/8 1/1000. © Adam Scott Wandt.

See Adam Scott Wandt’s other NYC photography at Wandt-NYC

Twitter: @Prof_Wandt

May 5, 2012

Pre Perigree Moon Over NYC

Filed under: Photography,Wandt-NYC — Adam Scott Wandt @ 11:42 pm

Pre Perigree Moon Over NYC.

Pre Perigree Moon Over NYC. (5/5/12) New York City, NY, USA. Canon EOS 5D Mark II. Canon EF 100-400mm. ISO 200. 400mm f/5.6 1/125. © Adam Scott Wandt.

See Adam Scott Wandt’s other NYC photography at Wandt-NYC

Twitter: @Prof_Wandt

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