How To Take Photos Like Pablo

Photo by PoPville flickr user pablo.raw

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Pablo’s photos. And those who follow ‘ Photos from PoPville‘ can easily tell why. At any rate, after posting Monday’s photo, lots of folks asked how he did it. Pablo was kind enough to respond:

Thanks to the people who liked the moonrise photo and showed some interest on learning how I made it. I’ll do my best to explain the things you need to know:

1. I took the photo from the circle in front of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, I think it’s Maryland Ave., the distance from where I was to the Capitol is aprox. 1.5 miles. It works even better if you are even more far away. I used google streetview to find out if there was a good view of the building from this location.

2. Day of the month and time when the moonrise is happening and the azimuth. I get that information from here.

3. Weather. It works better when there is a full moon. I took this photo like 4 days after, because that was the day when the sky was clear, and the azimuth worked with the point of view I chose for that day. If on full moon day it’s going to be a mostly cloudy day, I don’t even try.

3. On Google Earth, click on the ruler and trace a line from the point where you are going to take the photo to the reference building. It will tell you what the angle is. If that angle is close to the one of the azimuth the day the full moon is happening (+ – 2 or 3 degrees), you got the right location.

4. You’ll need a DSLR (or SLR) with a 250 – 300 mm lens, ISO 100 to avoid getting noise, f8 – f11, a tripod and cable release or remote control. I used a Pentax K20D, not the most expensive DSLR in the market at all.

5. A little edition of contrast, brightness and sharpness with your favorite software.

It will be a little bit difficult for me to answer questions (if there are any) while I’m on vacation and have limited access to a computer, but I’ll do my best. Thank you Popville!

Photo by PoPville flickr user pablo.raw

12 Comment

  • This is certainly enough to convince me to leave the taking of impressive pictures such as this to those who know terms such as “azimuth” and “300 mm lens, ISO 100 to avoid getting noise, f8 – f11.”

    Great picture!

  • Bear

    I’ve got the photography terms down, but “azimuth”? Kinda lost me there.

  • I’m glad to know it takes a bit of effort to get these great shots! I had to look up the “azimuth” term as well. A bit of applied geometry:

  • Your ISO was set to 100 for that shot? How long was your shutter open?? ISO 100 seems really low for a night shot… but I’m no expert!

    • SouthwestDC

      I’m no expert either, but I think if you’re using a tripod there’s no reason not to use a low ISO, unless you’re impatient or in a hurry. Although I do think it would take something like 8 minutes at f8-11.

      • That’s the missing piece for me – shutter speed. Because even in broad daylight I usually use an ISO of 200 (standard if conditions are normal) but a fast shutter speed. So at night I’d want to use a slower shutter speed AND higher ISO… I wouldn’t even know what to do if my ISO was 100.

        But, I mean, I trust Pablo because clearly he is a better photographer than I am!!!!

        • Just as reference – many of my night pictures are taken at f16, using iso 100 film, and the shutter is open for as long as 15-17 minutes. Use a decent cable release with lock, and you should be fine. Of course this is dependent on your subject sticking around for that long. Good for buildings, but perhaps not so great for a fast moving moon.

          • Oh really? 15-17 minutes? I have honestly never tried that before. I don’t even know if my lens does that!! Very interesting… more to experiment with.

            I appreciate it 🙂

  • Does Pablo give photography classes? Cause I would sign up my hubbie in a minute!

    • The Hill is Home started doing a monthly photography feature– I think it would be neat if PoP had local photographers write guest columns, similarly. It seems there are plenty of us that would be interested.

  • pablo .raw

    Hi, the moon was really bright and the Capitol building is well illuminated, so the shutter didn’t need to stay open more than 1 second if I remember that right. Also because of that, I didn’t need a higher ISO. In cameras like mine, the higher the ISO, the noisier the picture will be, and I wanted to avoid that.
    About the azimuth, just make sure that the numbers from google earth’s ruler function and the Time and date website are more or less the same, and you’ll know you are on the right location.
    Finally, there are other possible combinations of ISO, speed and lens aperture; the one I’m explaining here worked for me this time with the equipment I have.
    Figuring this out is easier than it looks, it takes a little bit of trial and error but the effort is paid with cool pictures!
    Thank you all for your comments!

  • Very cool! Great write-up Pablo – thanks for sharing 🙂

Comments are closed.