Night Photography: I'm in the dark...lol

Joined
Nov 28, 2012
Messages
257
Location
California
This is literally my first attempt at night photography. I'm new to photography in general, so I'd like someone who is more experienced to tell me what I am doing right and what I am doing wrong. I took 3 shots about 40 minutes ago using Bulb and Mup modes. I was messing around with the fstop (f16-f22) and different shutter speeds (10-30 second exposures).

The first shot is of a long street. I think it was f18 for 20 seconds.
The second shot was of a quiet street in the neighborhood f22 for 20 seconds (might be underexposed?)
The third shot has the best color, imo f18 @ 30 seconds.

All shot with the 24-70mm 2.8 nikkor

I uploaded 3 night shots here:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/

I'm planning on getting much more practice!!!

Thanks!
 
Joined
Mar 24, 2013
Messages
99
Location
Hampshire
Matt,

you are getting there - and you are choosing a difficult subject to start with.

They are all slightly underexposed and I suggest that your aperture is too small and ISO a tad low - you also need to set manual mode if you are not soing that already - the inbuilt meter lies to you in these conditions :)

I would used ISO400, f8 and somewhere around 20 secs as a start point. Key to this is looking at the histogram and ensure that you have everything in in and that you are not clipping out detail.

If you look at Bath or London in my web pages (below) you will see the sort of settings that I use.

Hope this helps
 
Joined
Nov 28, 2012
Messages
257
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California
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This is exactly the kind of help I need! Thank you.
Excuse my complete ignorance, but what am I looking for in the histogram (I have some homework to do)? Will increase iso and go with a wider aperture. I'm not in manual mode, either...lol

I have sooooo much to learn.

Your Bath and London shots are great!

EDIT: Found info on histograms in the manual. I'll read into it more later.

Matt,

you are getting there - and you are choosing a difficult subject to start with.

They are all slightly underexposed and I suggest that your aperture is too small and ISO a tad low - you also need to set manual mode if you are not soing that already - the inbuilt meter lies to you in these conditions :)

I would used ISO400, f8 and somewhere around 20 secs as a start point. Key to this is looking at the histogram and ensure that you have everything in in and that you are not clipping out detail.

If you look at Bath or London in my web pages (below) you will see the sort of settings that I use.

Hope this helps
 
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Joined
Jul 29, 2005
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9,532
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Pittsburgh, Pa.
Try shooting fully manual including manual white balance. Watching the histogram for exposure is a good idea, of course the peaks are going to be mostly on the left side of center.

For manual WB, Use Live View and set WB to K. Watch the LCD, adjust WB in ºK to make the colors match the scene. Shooting at dusk is easier and you may like the results. Here's an example of a little past sundown.

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Joined
Aug 12, 2005
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1,547
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Famington Hills, MI
And then there is HDR which works well for night. And then there is rear and front flash sync, light painting...lots of fun stuff can be done in the dark. Although I learned to hate sodium vapor lights.

I like long exposures of moving lights like cars and night. Key is to capture something fixed to give perspective to the shot. It's fun to experiment.
 
Joined
Mar 24, 2013
Messages
99
Location
Hampshire
Try shooting fully manual including manual white balance. Watching the histogram for exposure is a good idea, of course the peaks are going to be mostly on the left side of center.

For manual WB, Use Live View and set WB to K. Watch the LCD, adjust WB in ºK to make the colors match the scene. Shooting at dusk is easier and you may like the results. Here's an example of a little past sundown.
Firstly - love the clarity and crispness of your image, stunning.

Secondly, thanks for the excellent tip on colour temperature - never thought to do it that way and have always done it in post processing.

Thanks
 
Joined
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Windsor, Co
Your question about using the histogram - Desmond (here on the Cafe) has the best explanation I have ever seen (for me) in his e-book Master Class - which he graciously made available for free. Don't know if it still is though.
 
Joined
Mar 15, 2009
Messages
7,500
Location
Los Angeles, CA
This is literally my first attempt at night photography. I'm new to photography in general, so I'd like someone who is more experienced to tell me what I am doing right and what I am doing wrong. I took 3 shots about 40 minutes ago using Bulb and Mup modes. I was messing around with the fstop (f16-f22) and different shutter speeds (10-30 second exposures).

The first shot is of a long street. I think it was f18 for 20 seconds.
The second shot was of a quiet street in the neighborhood f22 for 20 seconds (might be underexposed?)
The third shot has the best color, imo f18 @ 30 seconds.

All shot with the 24-70mm 2.8 nikkor

I uploaded 3 night shots here:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/

I'm planning on getting much more practice!!!

Thanks!
I really like the third night shot.
It looks like you're off to a great start. Did you do any processing at all?

The D800E sure looks fantastic, man.. those are sharp! i think I want a D800E :biggrin:
 
Joined
Apr 1, 2007
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2,157
Location
Queens, NY
Definitely shoot in manual mode. I typically start off with f/8 and adjust my shutter speed accordingly. Also, having a shutter release helps as well as shooting with the mirror up. I too hate sodium vapor light! Here are a couple from me.

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Joined
Nov 28, 2012
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257
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California
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  • #12
I don't have a clue as to what I am doing. LoL I don't even own editing software yet, but I did invest in an external hard drive to save all my NEF files for later processing. I'm so glad my d800 looks to be solid. I don't see any issues with the AF (knock on wood).

I really like the third night shot.
It looks like you're off to a great start. Did you do any processing at all?

The D800E sure looks fantastic, man.. those are sharp! i think I want a D800E :biggrin:
So, from what I am getting, a lot of night shooting is hit and miss when it comes to shutter speed, aperture, etc...

I'll have to play with it more. Looks like the game plan is to shoot at f8, adjust shutter speed... Since my shots were underexposed I'll let more light in or increase the exposure...

I also kind get the histogram based off that old article listed above. I'll use that as a guide, too.

Thanks for all the support, guys! I'll keep you all posted as I figure things out. Please keep sharing your shots, guys, it inspires me!
 
Joined
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Los Angeles, CA
I don't have a clue as to what I am doing. LoL I don't even own editing software yet, but I did invest in an external hard drive to save all my NEF files for later processing. I'm so glad my d800 looks to be solid. I don't see any issues with the AF (knock on wood).
I recommend you try Lightroom 4. I've been using it for years and I can't live without it.


So, from what I am getting, a lot of night shooting is hit and miss when it comes to shutter speed, aperture, etc... I'll have to play with it more. Looks like the game plan is to shoot at f8, adjust shutter speed... Since my shots were underexposed I'll let more light in or increase the exposure...
No no, it's definitely not hit or miss. You need to pre-visualize what you want your final photo to look like. Are you exposing for moving objects? or do you just want a properly exposed static scene? Static scenes are easy since the camera will auto expose it for you on aperture priority. On a dynamic scene, you'd want to shoot in manual so you have full exposure control.

On this scene, I stopped down to f/16, ISO 100 because there was still plenty of light and I needed to expose for 30 seconds to get light trails from the cars. I shot in manual and metered off the top LCD. I never use histograms.. I rely on my eye and about 80% post processing. I like to underexpose by 2-3 stops to preserve highlights and then bring up shadows in post (much easier than un-blowing the highlights)

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This was shot on the roof of Disney Hall with my D700. The D700's DR wasn't as good as the D800's. On the D800, you can have a terribly bad exposure and Lightroom can still save it. With the 36MP, you can just shoot and crop later and still end up with plenty of usable image. Not advocating this, but there are times when you just need to get the shot ASAP and get the hell out of there. The D800 is a cheater camera in this regard that it is VERY forgiving of mistakes.

I also suggest reading the book "Understanding Exposure" by Bryan Peterson. A fantastic book that answers a lot of the things that you've asked.
 
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Great night shot everyone. How about joining this week's collective shoot which falls right into your interest? We would love to have your participation.
 
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Real Name
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I like shooting at night when there's some light still in the sky at
twilight or the nights preceding or following a full moon, especially
for cityscapes.

I like having blue skies instead of black skies as a background.

To get a ballpark exposure, I'll shoot manual mode, point the meter
at the sky and make that one stop below middle exposure and take
a shot and adjust from there.

If it's really dark outside, to determine a shutter speed, crank up the
ISO so the shutter speed is relatively short, take a test shot.

For your real shot, turn down the ISO (to improve image quality) and
adjust your shutter speed so the exposure is the same as your test
shot.

Say you shot at ISO 6400 for 3 seconds and you got an exposure
you like.

Change the ISO to 640 for better quality and multiply the shutter
speed by 10, so it would be at 30 seconds to match the exposure
of your test shot.

Use good steady practices like a remote shutter release, steady tripod
(adding weight to your tripod would be a plus), mirror lockup, and turn
off image stabilization.

Also, I like to shoot raw and process through Lightroom or ACR.
I'll mostly play with color temperature, shadow and hightlight
adjustments, nothing fancy.


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Joined
Nov 3, 2009
Messages
365
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Miami, Florida
Back in film days, I used 8 seconds at f/8 as a starting point, and used Fujichrome 100. Even with the shift to digital, I wouldn't shoot with an aperture much smaller than f/8 (I might go to f/11, but not beyond so as to avoid diffraction), and would shoot the lowest normal ISO for the camera (e.g., if the lowest ISO, without resorting to LO1 is ISO 200, then that's what I'd use). If the histogram shows that you're underexposing then I would increase the time while leaving the other settings.

If you're shooting a cityscape, HDR becomes a possibility, but any traffic trails (streams of light where the traffic runs) might make the approach difficult or require far too much editing to make it worthwhile.
 
Joined
Nov 28, 2012
Messages
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California
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Sounds like a course of action. I want to use the lowest iso I can, so I'll set to 100. Then shoot for F8 @ 10 seconds and see what happens. It's fun to try this out. Plus I have to figure out how to look at the histogram now that I know what to look for...lol manual here I come again! LoL

Thanks. :smile:

Back in film days, I used 8 seconds at f/8 as a starting point, and used Fujichrome 100. Even with the shift to digital, I wouldn't shoot with an aperture much smaller than f/8 (I might go to f/11, but not beyond so as to avoid diffraction), and would shoot the lowest normal ISO for the camera (e.g., if the lowest ISO, without resorting to LO1 is ISO 200, then that's what I'd use). If the histogram shows that you're underexposing then I would increase the time while leaving the other settings.

If you're shooting a cityscape, HDR becomes a possibility, but any traffic trails (streams of light where the traffic runs) might make the approach difficult or require far too much editing to make it worthwhile.
 
Joined
Nov 28, 2012
Messages
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Guys, just want to say great shots so far. If you have some more, please feel free to post them.
 
Joined
Nov 3, 2009
Messages
365
Location
Miami, Florida
Sounds like a course of action. I want to use the lowest iso I can, so I'll set to 100. Then shoot for F8 @ 10 seconds and see what happens. It's fun to try this out. Plus I have to figure out how to look at the histogram now that I know what to look for...lol manual here I come again! LoL

Thanks. :smile:
I wouldn't go beyond F/11, and if underexposed at 8 seconds at F/8, I would increase the time if necessary. Good luck.
 
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