My bad or how learning from mistakes is a joyous thing

The Wind Blows

I am trying.

Nothing would be easier right now than to say in my comfort zone and doing what I know. After years of shooting color landscapes during the early and foggiest parts of the day it is time for a change. Too many landscape photographers looking the same has given me a gentle nudge to move on.

The Formatt-Hitech filter that I blogged about has still not arrived from the United Kingdom. As you recall the filter, my second of this type was horribly flawed. Half of the image was out of focus.

I had wanted to do some more long exposures earlier today. The skies seemed right and there was a terrific wind blowing from the west so I convinced one of my daughters on break from university to make the short trip out of town.

Because I did not yet have my 16 stop neutral density filter in my hands I did the next best thing or so I thought I piggy backed a Tiffen 10 stop neutral density filter with a Marumi 8 stop variable density filter. The images came out sharp, the ones where the camera wasn’t shaken by the wind that was but there were some other weird things going on.

All of my photos had a strange red/magenta cast to them. The highlights in the sky were pink and the ground was a bright red. I had to check to see that I hadn’t accidentally used my camera body converted for infrared the colors were so off. There was also a dark streak down the middle of the frame kind of the opposite of vignetting.

After having discarded the images where the tripod had been blown by the wind I was left with THREE photos to use. The image was converted to black and white. Almost immediately things started to look better. I am not sure that I could have used the image as a color one if I had wanted to so bad was the red/magenta cast.

What you see in the upper clouds is the result of the wind blowing fiercely from my back towards the grain bins. I had some beautiful skies when shooting into the wind but those ended up being the ones ruined by tripod movement.

So what did I learn today besides a lesson in frustration?

I learned that stacking my two neutral density filters isn’t a good thing. It is also a good idea to weigh the tripod down with a heavy weight when the winds are so strong. The shakey image wasn’t visible on the back of my camera display. It was only at home on the computer that it became apparent how bad the shake was.

A few mistakes today that haven’t discouraged me today. Mistakes that serve to motivate and make me a better photographer. If you aren’t making any mistakes you are playing too safe and that is never a good thing.

Hopefully the replacement filter makes it here soon and is not flawed because I am looking forward to taking a few days trip around the province and into the next with the intent of trying out some more new ideas.

As always happy shooting,



~ by Dan Jurak on April 30, 2015.

7 Responses to “My bad or how learning from mistakes is a joyous thing”

  1. Wow. What exposure times you have used? Suppose, the combination of your two filters is equivalent to a 16-stop filter. This mens reducing the amount of light reaching the sensor by a factor of 2^16 = 65536. So, if without filter you would need, say, 1 sec exposure time then you would have to expose for over 65000 seconds, i.e. for 18 hours, with the filter. Is your daughter dedication to you so admirable or my math is wrong? What about the noise?
    I suspect that the colour cast problem might be caused by the fact that for such long exposures the “black” tint of the filter glass is really not black. There is also a possibility that the ambient light is affected by the light pollution at night and the clouds might reflect down lights of distant cities, which your eye would not be able to detect. Another factor is that the filters might slightly polarize the light which they pass through and stacking two polarizers (with not perfectly controlled uniformity of polarization across the filters’ surfaces) might lead to vigneting, banding, etc.

  2. Hi Zbigniew, exposures today were f8 @ 6 minutes @ 100 ISO. That is normal for daylight and a 16 stop ND filter. Noise on my Nikon isn’t a problem at least not noise in the traditional sense. At 1:1 there is the occasional white speck that is smaller than regular noise. I have read of other Nikon D800 and D800E long exposure photographers getting similar artifacts. Might be because the sensor is heating up? I dunno but the white spots are minimal and not a real concern.

    I think that you are right about the color cast and the filter not being a true black. That and the combination of the variable neutral density filter does funny things. Each filter by itself is fine but stacked and things go wonky.


  3. My guess is that the dark line in the centre is from the variable nd filter. It’s made of a pair of polarizers, so it often leaves big dark X-shapes in the sky on wider lenses. As for the magenta cast, are you shooting with auto-whitebalance? With so little light to guess from, your camera probably just made a weird choice

  4. Alan, you are probably right about the banding. As to the color, that is a weird one. I shoot everything RAW and suspect that the filters are actually filtering out a fair bit of infrared and leaving the pink cast.

    Because I had intended to process as a black and white it isn’t an issue for me.


  5. Hi Dan. I do not know why I thought that this was a night time photo. It certainly makes such an impression. Very dramatic, and beautiful.
    A note to Alan P: nice to hear from someone from my long forgotten past; all the best to you.

  6. They’re not counted as mistakes if you learn from them.

  7. Wow! Superb!

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