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Author Topic: Night photography  (Read 7041 times)
Antarctic Mat
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« on: May 15, 2007, 04:25:15 AM »
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Hello.

I'm after some tips for getting the most out of night photography. I'm currently in 24hr darkness so don't have a lot of choice!
How do ISO speeds affect results, what about long exposures, do I need lower or higher ISO settings? I took a couple yesterday of some of the buildings here as that is pretty much all there is to photograph! How can I get a decent picture of buildings with lights on? Also stars, how do people record stars moving across the sky, just really long exposures I presume?
Thanks for any tips you can offer.
Mat.

An attempt from yesterday.

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marcmccalmont
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« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2007, 03:32:49 AM »
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Since at night you are using a high ISO and noise is higher than normal I have found noise ninja an excellent product to reduce the noise.
Marc
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Marc McCalmont
feppe
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« Reply #2 on: May 16, 2007, 04:43:05 AM »
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Here are some tips:

- always use a sturdy tripod, cable release and mirror lock-up. Latter two are not so indispensable with longer exposures, but tripod is essential.
- use the lowest possible ISO for lower noise. There's generally no reason to use higher than 50 or 100 ISO, unless you have some specific need to use a higher ISO (a faster shutter speed) - eg. to have moving traffic produce shorter trails or to freeze trees moving in the wind.
- play with f-stops, as it not only affects DOF, but it dramatically changes how light sources are rendered. Remember that most lenses are sharpest around 2 stops tighter than their widest setting, though.
- try to catch some light on the sky with longer exposures and/or shooting after dusk or before dawn. I'm guessing you're in Antarctica so that's not an option atm...
- bracket, bracket, bracket. Depending on the scene you might have vast overexposed areas with a lot of deep shadows. If you bracket you can later do some digital blending, or just pick up the one shot that is most faithful to your vision
- practice. Experience is the best way to learn

Google for astrophotography for tips on shooting star trails, lots of good info there - and yeah, it's basically just taking very long exposures. As for shooting buildings in the night, that's a bit tougher. As shown in the photo you posted, it's very easy to get blown-out highlights. Sometimes that's not a problem, but if you want to have more detail in the lighter areas, bracketing comes in handy. A more advanced technique is digital blending - google for that also, there's an excellent article here on LL on that.

Something you might want to try if you get tired of shooting lit buildings, is painting with light. A bit more involved, but I've seen some stunning photos done that way. Also, get someone to run around with a sparkler, painting figures in the air. Alcoholic beverages optional but recommended.
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DiaAzul
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« Reply #3 on: May 16, 2007, 04:51:40 AM »
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Quote
- bracket, bracket, bracket. Depending on the scene you might have vast overexposed areas with a lot of deep shadows. If you bracket you can later do some digital blending, or just pick up the one shot that is most faithful to your vision
- practice. Experience is the best way to learn

[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=117832\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I would second everything that feppe has said, and would add that blending the bracketed images to create an High Dynamic Range (HDR) image in photoshop will give you much better quality images. If you bracket 7 to 9 images and then combine them you will benefits from much sharper detail, much less noise and your highlights will retain their colour (not blow out to white as has happened in your example photo). With the increased dynamic range you may find additional detail in the shadows that you wouldn't have captured with a single shot.
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Antarctic Mat
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« Reply #4 on: May 16, 2007, 07:44:36 AM »
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Hey!
That's fantastic advice, really appreciate it. I have a decent tripod and have been experimenting with ISO settings, keeping them low is obviosuly giving me better images and having longer exposures is not an issue. It was a very clear day yesterday with a hint of colour on the horizon at midday so managed to get a couple of shots.



Thanks again for the advice, much appreciated!
Cheers.
Mat.
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framah
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« Reply #5 on: May 16, 2007, 08:50:31 AM »
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When you get tired of shooting the buildings, you might look at the buildings closer and closer. You will soon see another whole world of light and shape. Keep digging into the building and soon you will be looking at the basics of the image which is shapes and patterns of texture.  

A great exercise for the person who just happens to be stuck in one place for a long time.  

A lesson given me along time ago by one of my teachers was to go into a room and just sit there for 1/2 hour and DO NOT take a single photo. You can't shoot until the 1/2 hour is up. The first ten minutes is spent checking to see if the 1/2 hour is up yet because you have seen everything in the room 3 or 4 times!  The next ten minutes is spent actually discovering shapes and patterns of light and shadow, amazed that you hadn't seen them before!  The last ten minutes is spent going nuts because you can't take a shot yet and you see thousands of GREAT shots just waiting for you!!

See if that helps while the time away for you.
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framah
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« Reply #6 on: May 16, 2007, 08:53:29 AM »
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The first thing I saw in your last shot with the "sunrise" was the spiderweb of wires under the building. What would they look like silhouetted against the glimmer of color in the sky?  Maybe framed by the pilings?
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Antarctic Mat
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« Reply #7 on: May 16, 2007, 08:58:07 AM »
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Quote
When you get tired of shooting the buildings, you might look at the buildings closer and closer. You will soon see another whole world of light and shape. Keep digging into the building and soon you will be looking at the basics of the image which is shapes and patterns of texture. 

A great exercise for the person who just happens to be stuck in one place for a long time.  

A lesson given me along time ago by one of my teachers was to go into a room and just sit there for 1/2 hour and DO NOT take a single photo. You can't shoot until the 1/2 hour is up. The first ten minutes is spent checking to see if the 1/2 hour is up yet because you have seen everything in the room 3 or 4 times!  The next ten minutes is spent actually discovering shapes and patterns of light and shadow, amazed that you hadn't seen them before!  The last ten minutes is spent going nuts because you can't take a shot yet and you see thousands of GREAT shots just waiting for you!!

See if that helps while the time away for you.
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Hi Framah

Thanks for the advice, I'll delve a bit deeper in to the buildings, excellent plan! Everything is covered with amazing ice crystals at the moment so there should be plenty of scope there. Learning what to look at is obviously one of the biggest challenges.
Thanks again!
Mat.
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KAP
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« Reply #8 on: May 16, 2007, 12:20:56 PM »
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Hi Framah

Thanks for the advice, I'll delve a bit deeper in to the buildings, excellent plan! Everything is covered with amazing ice crystals at the moment so there should be plenty of scope there. Learning what to look at is obviously one of the biggest challenges.
Thanks again!
Mat.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=117874\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

You could also "paint with light" by using a light source handheld or even on a vehicle during the long exposure.

Kevin.
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wmchauncey
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« Reply #9 on: May 26, 2007, 03:50:39 PM »
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Got to say that I enjoyed reading the replies.  We get so wraped up looking at the big picture that we ignore the details and more often than not these details give us a more interesting photograph.  thanks
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