• How Did You Get That Shot #6

    Photo by Mike Boening http://www.mikeboening.com

    I have always wanted to do a shot from the roof of a car trying to duplicate the “warp speed” effect you might see in a space movie and knew we had a great place near me in Metro Detroit in the city of Rochester Hills. Each year the stores down Main Street in Rochester Hills decorate their store fronts with over 1 million points of light and this happens to be the 10th anniversary too, which means it should be spectacular. It only happens between late November and first week of January and the streets are always busy with shoppers and those just coming to drive by. So, some planning would need to take place.

    untitled_20151205_22_43_29_IMG_9467_©mikeboening_2015First the car I am in needs to be going at a somewhat slow and steady speed. It can’t buzz through the city because it’s only a few blocks long and it can’t just sit there in traffic at the busiest times because the light effect may get shaky. So, knowing that the show is open till midnight, I chose a Saturday night after 10:00pm to start the shooting. It doesn’t take much equipment at all. A sturdy tripod quick release adapter screwed onto a suction cup for the car, a cooperative assistant to drive back and forth till you are happy with the shots and of course an Olympus OM-D model camera with Live Composite and the 8mm f/1.8 Fisheye Pro lens. I hooked the suction cup just outside the sun roof so I could reach the camera while sitting. I could have also used the OI Share app with its new update has the ability to do Live Composite through the Wi-Fi connection. I went with the more manual set up with me depressing the shutter to activate and stop the LC.

    untitled_20151205_22_37_02_IMG_9460_©mikeboening_2015Once I had all those in place I started to have my assistant, wife actually, drive in the closest to middle lane which centered me as best as possible and I would start the Live Composite feature at a stop light setting the base image so as we started to leave the light I would commence taking the actual shot. With Live Composite, the best feature is the ability to know you likely will not be losing much detail because of blown out areas as the Live Composite only records the newest highlights over the base image I made while stopped at the light. With the car moving, these newest highlights would blur into a sea of color with the road staying static from the center line while my wife held her spot in the lane the best she could. If you start to swerve at all or switch a lane you will get those blurs in your image and they just don’t have the same effect as your car moving fast in a straight direction.

    I know many cities at this time of the year that have very decorative store fronts whether in lights or displays that when passed by in a car can make some amazing images you might not be able to get any other time of the year. In fact if you want to practice a bit, try it in your own neighborhood. Find that street that almost everyone decorates their home for the holidays and start to run some tests from your own sunroof. Technology like Live Composite can really spark your creativity and the best thing to do I found is when that spark hits, let it burn. Have fun and share your results.

    Equipment Used:
    Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II
    8mm f/1.8 Fisheye Pro Lens
    Suction Cup Holder
    Manfroto quick release adapter

    Photo by Mike Boening http://www.mikeboening.com

    Photo by Mike Boening http://www.mikeboening.com

    Photo by Mike Boening http://www.mikeboening.com








  • How Did You Get That Shot #4

    Photo by Mike Boening http://www.mikeboening.com

    On my recent workshop in Toronto I was discussing and demonstrating the benefits of Live Composite mode which is available on all of the Olympus OM-D line of cameras.  We talked about how to choose compositions and what made an interesting image compared to a normal plain light streak image.  As usual, when you get a group of photographers together and talking, ideas continue to evolve.  The above image is an example of that.

    We had been walking for a couple hours around some very busy streets and found a few nice images but we wanted something different.  Something that made us say wow.  I remembered a busy intersection we had crossed earlier and wondered if we could view it from the elevated walk we were currently on.  Sure enough, when we got to the area we were quite pleased.  A busy corner with curve qualities.  Earlier the same day I gave a presentation that talked about the same point, curves in roadways when in a big city make for very interesting compositions.  The images below were taken with this in mind.

    Photo by Mike Boening http://www.mikeboening.com               OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

    After some time spent capturing images on the corner I started to experiment with the zoom effect during the actual Live Composite.  Earlier in the evening one of the workshop participants had reminded me of this option and I was quite appreciative.  Workshops have a way of creating this type of atmosphere between the participants as well as the host.  I think that is why I feel so strongly that getting involved with a workshop will always give your photography a kick start if you let it.

    The zoom effect is essentially rotating the zoom on your lens while you are capturing the long exposure.  It creates an interesting motion effect that can add depth into your Live Composite images.  The key piece in doing this effect during a Live Composite is you are able to see it happen live and if you don’t like it, you can stop and start over again.  You aren’t waiting till the image is completed 40 or more seconds later, hoping you got something worth keeping.  So much of the guess work is taken out of the image by using Live Composite.

    To start you need to have your OM-D on a tripod with your composition selected.  If you haven’t used Live Composite or need a refresher please see my recent blog post on getting started here.

    TIP:  Look for tall buildings in the background that might have lights on in the windows.  (see image below)

    I would suggest that you shoot a few test Live Composites before you actually perform the zoom effect to analyze things like traffic flow and is the pattern of light pleasing with your frame.  Once you are happy with your selection it’s time to experiment.  Sample test shot before the zoom effect was used is below.

    Photo by Mike Boening http://www.mikeboening.com

    The lead image in the blog post was captured by watching the traffic flow and noticing when it slowed would be a good time to start the Live Composite working the zoom effect within the first few seconds of the image.  By doing that I ensured if I didn’t like the zoom effect then I could stop the Live Composite and start over instead of waiting for it to finish only to be unhappy with the results.  I start the first depression of the shutter of course to get the base image like in all Live Composite shots and then when the traffic slowed I would start the capture phase by clicking the shutter button a second time.  While doing that I had my left hand resting lightly on the lens barrel, over the zoom.  I would start turning the barrel slowly, but more important, consistently, all the way through the zoom from the front to the back.  This created the movement in the lights which were mainly the windows in the large office buildings at the back of my frame, see tip above.

    TIP:  When turning the zoom in or out be sure that it is done in one motion and at the same rate of speed.  If you start or stop too quickly it will leave jagged edges that may not be what you are going for.

    Now that I had the motion part of the image completed I would wait for the cars to start coming through the intersection around my already formed motion streaks from the zoom effect.  As soon as I felt I had enough light streaks I would depress the shutter one more time to stop the exposure.  That’s it!

    This effect is fun and creative.  It won’t work on every one of your Live Composite images but when used from time to time you will find that it opens an amazing creative ability in a function that’s already amazing in itself.  Give it a try the next time you are out shooting Live Composite and share the results with me.  I would love to see what you create.

    Gear used for the feature shot:

    OM-D E-M5 Mark II

    7-14mm f/2.8 Pro Lens

    Me-Foto tripod

  • Live Composite Workshop


    Have you ever wanted to know what that Live Composite mode on your Olympus OMD camera was?  Have you seen some awesome shots of star trails or cityscapes with all the light streaks of moving cars and wondered how are they doing that?  Maybe you have sat for hours in front of Photoshop while piecing together photos of cars or stars saying there has to be a better way.  Well, if you have ever asked any of those questions or just wondered about it, this is the workshop for you.  Join Olympus Trailblazer Mike Boening who will be working with you and your Olympus OMD camera doing night photography in and around some of the best places in Detroit with it’s great cityline working in the Live Composite mode on Saturday, August 15, 2015.

    For more detailed information and to register please click the link below.  I am looking forward to having a great night out with Olympus shooters exploring the night.

    This workshop is expected to give you the chance to unplug from your daily routine and focus on the hobby you love, photography.  You will meet like-minded people and find that the camaraderie built during the evening will last long past Saturday.  Give yourself the opportunity to experience a great time with some great people capturing great images.


    Photo by Mike Boening http://www.mikeboening.comOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhoto by Mike Boening http://www.mikeboening.comPhoto by Mike Boening http://www.mikeboening.com


  • How Did You Get That Shot? #1

    Taking a cue from fellow Trailblazer, Jamie MacDonald, I wanted to start writing a blog post that spoke to the question, How Did You Get That Shot?  I am often asked about different images that I have posted or shared and one way to let others know would be to let those questions work as motivation to write blog posts on the most talked about images.  I will try to share my motivation for the shot, the tools used and a bit about processing the image after the shoot.  So, without further ado, here is my first blog post for “How Did You Get That Shot”

    Photo by Mike Boening http://www.mikeboening.com

    Live Composite Mode set at 1 second @f/5.6 ISO Low for 90 seconds

    I want to discuss this shot above which happens to be taken with the Olympus Live Composite mode.  Anyone following me on social media probably already knows how much I love to talk about Live Composite.  It is truly one of the wonders in the Olympus OMD systems.  Long exposure or star trail photography has always been possible but it required many different setups along with some very intense post processing work after the shots were taken.  Olympus has cut that time tremendously, which in itself is amazing, but when you couple that fact with you can watch the scene develop before your eyes on the back of the camera, well now you are stepping into uncharted territory which opens up the creativity level tenfold.

    untitled_20150521_20_48_59_IMG_8719_©mikeboening_2015When scouting locations for Live Composite shots I am always trying to think of areas that can be shot either from above or down low where I can put some sort of object, building or statue in the background or foreground to give it perspective.  Taking images of light streaks or star trails is fun, but putting it into the real world by featuring a recognizable object makes it enjoyable.  I also try to imagine what types of light streaks am I going to get from this area?  Like the shot above, one of my concerns was the street lights?  When you shoot from bridges you always have to take this into consideration because many times you are at the same level of the glaring street lights.  Even though Live Composite can handle them in terms of not blowing out exposures, they can be distracting from what you want featured.  I thought if I could get a couple different exposures of the same composition than I could merge them in the new Lightroom CC HDR product to combine the street lights on and street lights off exposure.  So, I started by getting some shots with the street lights off just before dusk and the light streaks not so enjoyable because I was only going to use this shot for the blending of the darker image with better streaks..  I made sure that that I had found the composition which I liked for the shot because I couldn’t move the camera when I took the shot after it got darker and the street lights were on.

    LC TIP:  Be sure you bring as many batteries as you have and look into getting a battery grip which holds an extra battery that will switch automatically when the other runs out.  You will be taking images for long periods of time and batteries can run low.

    After getting the shots I wanted without the street lights on, I started to set up for the darker shots to capture the best car light streaks I could.  I may handle Live Composite settings a bit different than most so let me describe.  I first go into manual mode and start to expose for the scene if I were going to take a single image shot.  I set my aperture and shutter speed along with ISO at either 200 or Low.  Once I have found the settings I like they are remembered as I turn my back dial all the way to Live Composite mode.  From here I am depressing the menu key to set the base exposure shutter speed.  I have the base exposure rate remembered from the last set of test shots.  In this image those settings were 1 second at f/5.6, ISO 100 or Low.  I select the 1 second exposure time and be sure to depress the OK button to lock in that time.  If you don’t hit the OK button you will be left with the previous exposure time from the last time you used Live Composite.  Now my settings are ready and I can take my base shot.  I depress the shutter and let the camera take the base exposure.  When it is complete it will read ready for composite shooting. Once completed I move to the next phase which is monitoring the traffic and starting the Live Composite mode with the next depression of the shutter button.untitled_20150528_06_50_15_IMG_8806_©mikeboening_2015



    At this point I am checking traffic patterns and want to make sure there is a nice combination of cars, buses and large trucks if possible.  The varying heights of each lends itself to light streaks from the low of cars to the high of an 18 wheeler which makes for some interesting images.  Tonight it seemed it was just cars and every so often a truck.

    LC Tip from a bridge:  Try to find a bridge that has a curve behind you so you can see down the road and around the curve giving you the time to push the shutter button when you see a nice grouping of vehicles coming your way.

    I would depress the shutter a second time when I saw a large grouping of cars coming in both directions and hope for that stray truck or bus.  The next step is my favorite.  I get to watch the image taking shape right before my eyes on the rear LCD.  You also have the benefit of a small histogram on the bottom left which can guide you as to when you have taken a long enough exposure.  For the shot above I let it take 90 shots which in turn was 90 seconds total for the shot.  This part is up to you because you are watching the streaks come through.  If you like what you have after 45 seconds then depress that shutter button for the third time to stop the shot.  If you need to let it go to 2 minutes or more because you hit a lull in traffic than feel free to.  This is the wonder of Live Composite because you aren’t blowing out the highlight areas, your base has been set and only the new streaks are falling in on top of that base exposure.  A side note is you have up to three hours or until the batteries run out in Live Composite mode.  This part takes experimentation and you will not always succeed so I will take many images over an hour or so.  For every shot I share there are many that I didn’t like or the wrong group of vehicles came through making it a boring image.  I typically have my noise reduction set to Auto within the Custom Menu>E-Exp/ISO.

    Once I have enough shots to look through I head back and start to think about the processing.  I’ll determine the 2 or 3 I want to work on move to the basics panel of Lightroom adjusting sliders in White Balance, Exposure, Shadows, Highlights, etc.  I often move to curves next to make sure the sky stays a consistent black or color it was when shooting.  In this image above though, I did do one thing before all this because I wanted to merge the non-lit street light with the lit one to make it a more pleasing composition.  I did this in Lightroom by right clicking>Photo Merge>HDR.  (There are other ways of doing this in Photoshop but I found the new merge function worked well for this image.)  With the new DNG file just made I adjusted my basics and then brought it over to On1 Perfect Suite 9.5.  I like to take my Live Composite images there after the basics are completed for additional Tonal Contrast or possibly some localized detail in the streaks.  Now that the image is where I would like it, I’ll bring it back into Lightroom for some noise reduction.  Don’t be scared of noise reduction, if you need it, use it.  Experiment with those sliders…

    After you have tried a few images with Live Composite you will start to understand this amazing mode which Olympus has put into its cameras.  It should open up some great possibilities for you in creativity which is what we are all striving to improve on when we head out the door with our equipment.  Go out, experiment, make some mistakes and share the winners with me.  I would love to see what inspires you…

    LC TIP:  If you want to see the number of composited shots in the final image, you can find it later by using the Olympus Viewer 3 Software that came with the camera.

    Bonus LC Tip:  When you arrive to your location it is normally earlier then dusk so you might have some time to kill before you start.  Put your camera in JPEG only mode and go over to Shooting Menu 2>Time Lapse Settings.  From there run a couple Time Lapses with 200 images of the traffic below.  Don’t forget to turn your file type back to RAW before you start your Live Composites and make sure you have a fresh battery.  You never know when these time lapses might come in handy, like here:)


    Equipment used for this shot:

    Olympus OM-D E-M1

    12-40mm f/2.8 Pro Lens

    Battery Grip HLD-7 (not pictured)

    Me-Foto Road Trip Tripod

    Click here to see more of my Live Composite work

    Shoot Light | Shoot Often




  • How I Made The Shot

    Photo by Mike Boening http://www.mikeboening.photography

    Star trails taken with Olympus OM_D E-M1 in Live Composite Mode with the Panasonic 8mm Fisheye lens.

    There is a very large church near my hometown in Michigan that shines nightly and I have wondered over time how nice it would look in a long exposure shot with star trails. After wondering this for the better part of this year I finally had a clear night where I could get out and try the image.

    Within the Olympus OM-D E-M1 they have installed a new function through their latest firmware update called Live Composite. It was previously available on the OM-D E-M10 but now it was on their flagship model so I wanted to get mine out there and try it out. Essentially the Live Composite mode allows you to set a base shot and decide how often the camera should take an image over an extended long exposure. By doing this it allows your base shot to stay consistent in exposure while not blowing out the highlights, which can happen in bulb mode on most DSLRs. Secondly, the feature takes all the shots and blends them in camera instead of you having to take all your shots into Photoshop and merge them. The times saving is amazing and the file is in RAW format so you have all the information you need to start your processing when back at your computer.

    This is a 42-minute image with the camera taking a shot every 6 seconds using the OM-D E-M1 and the Panasonic 8mm Fisheye lens. The camera settings were ISO 640 and set at f/7.1.

    I believe composition is key in these shots so it’s always important to find something that can make for a great visual while you perform the long exposure around your chosen subject/item. I am happy with my first attempt but am excited to get back out there to try it again with a few more tweaks to my settings. If needed I will update this blog post once I do that. After working with this feature on my OM-D E-M1 I am even more convinced of how much it has enhanced my creativity over my old DSLR system.

    (Tripod used to capture this shot was the Mefoto Roadtrip )