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08-02-2020, 07:43 PM   #1
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Waterfall long exposures and pixel shift.

Hi All.

I will be doing some waterfall photos is the Smokys and had a question about using Pixel shift function to take those images. I have used pixel shift in the past with landscapes, and I know there is a 'moving subject option, but if I say have a 5 second exposure and pixel shift with a waterfall, is it more likely to improve or messup the resolution of the images? Obviously I can experiment, but I figured I'd ask first by those of you in the know.

08-02-2020, 07:48 PM   #2
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I tried a couple of times and gave up; too many artifacts. Maybe I was doing something wrong but regular images were good enough for me.
08-02-2020, 08:41 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by stemked Quote
Hi All.

I will be doing some waterfall photos is the Smokys and had a question about using Pixel shift function to take those images. I have used pixel shift in the past with landscapes, and I know there is a 'moving subject option, but if I say have a 5 second exposure and pixel shift with a waterfall, is it more likely to improve or messup the resolution of the images? Obviously I can experiment, but I figured I'd ask first by those of you in the know.
Caveat: I don't have a camera with this feature.

You could potentially take a pixel shift image of the falls in their surroundings and merge this with a long exposure of the water made without pixel shift.
This merge would take place outside the camera to give higher levels of detail in the surrounding area and the smooth flowing water you want at the heart of the image.
08-03-2020, 12:09 AM - 1 Like   #4
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I don't believe using pixel shift will benefit you at all in this situation (though an initial frame without the water motion could perhaps be used for the rest of the background).


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08-03-2020, 02:56 AM - 1 Like   #5
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I have used pixel shift for waterfalls. Obviously you won't get any benefit from the water portion of the image. The rest of it depends on how still a day it has been. The rocks and things around the image are typically very still and will get nicely sharp with pixel shift.

I do use Raw Therapee for post processing and its motion correction is stellar for these sorts of situations.

Crab Tree Falls.



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08-03-2020, 05:15 AM   #6
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Morning, A year ago, a friend and I drove several hours out to a wilderness refuge arriving right at sunset. We bounced out of the SUV quickly to start shooting with whatever light was available. After sunset, across the various twilights, I shot a number of pixel shifted images. Nothing was moving - well other than the changing light levels and the creeping shadows. This was the first real time I had used PS - well other than experimenting with it.

The shots were good, however a bit disappointing in terms that PS didn't add a lot to the overall image set. In post processing, I learned a ton about PS (actually with raw tharapee which shows where the artifacts are). My thinking was very narrow - too narrow, in that it was a still life, the rock cliffs and faces weren't moving, however the light was. The transitioning light was the movement. In some of the areas of the image, PS I think worked to my advantage, while in other areas it didn't. Some what of a mixed bag of results, but I learned a lot.

Overall, in your situation - your only loss would be the shooting time spent on capturing an image set. If it's not going to prevent you from shooting something else, it may be worth the effort, as something may come of the resulting images. Yes, between the movement of the water and the varying light off the water column, you will have lots of artifacts to deal with. Depending on the situation and the particular scene, you might be able to capture a better overall image with bracketing.

I've considered shooting night landscapes with PS, but with the 30 second limitation - I would get 2 minutes of total exposure, I've determined that the 2 minutes would be better spent with a regular 2 minute exposure with LENR to reduce the overall noise (actually at times - I've had to go to 5 minutes to capture the amount of light to show some meaningful detail.

Now that you have me thinking about this, a friend and I were planning on going out last night to shoot a large open pit copper mine (lots of artificial light available at the dig) - actually so much that for night astro it shows up as a small light dome 40 miles away. With the constant lighting, PS in that situation may actually work pretty well. We kicked the can to tonight, so it will be an interesting endevour to see how it might work (or not).

08-03-2020, 08:20 AM   #7
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Thanks Y'all. Excellent info.
08-03-2020, 12:35 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rondec Quote
I have used pixel shift for waterfalls. Obviously you won't get any benefit from the water portion of the image. The rest of it depends on how still a day it has been. The rocks and things around the image are typically very still and will get nicely sharp with pixel shift...

I totally agree with this. This pixel shift image of Lower Yellowstone Falls was taken on a very dark, misty, rainy morning from Artist Point. I processed it thru Pentax Digital Camera Utility 5 with motion correction on which did a good job of removing the motion artifacts from the water. I processed the motion corrected image in Lightroom which allowed me to bring out much more detail, color, contrast, and saturation than the non pixel shift image.

When considering whether to use pixel shift or not, I always take a series of shots using raw, with pixel shift off and on, then decide which ones to use later.

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08-04-2020, 10:30 AM   #9
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My experience is that pixel shift adds unneeded complexity to landscapes and doesn't significantly improve images with flowing water, tree movement due to wind, etc. You might not spot artifacts on the rear LCD as you're shooting.

Any Pentax camera that has pixel shift has a good enough sensor to capture sharp, colorful images without using the feature. Pixel shift IMO is most reliably used in a controlled setting where nothing can move.

My usual routine for waterfalls is: Shoot in raw format. Instead of trying to get the perfect shutter speed, take some shots that seems too fast and others too slow; cull through them when you get back home and process the best ones. Have a 10-stop ND filter for sunlit water and maybe a variable ND filter. Learn how to use Pentax' multishot average shutter mode or Photoshop blending if you've forgotten the ND.
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