Articles on photography: Night photography
By Shoot & Tellshoottell. Saturday, November 12, 2011 7:51:59 PM
Originally posted 8. October 2010 for Night theme by Orlando
It's late. Darkness all around us. Strange creatures lure in the dark, deformed bodies assume strange positions, in order to do who knows what... are they vampires? Are they zombies?
Well... most likely they are keen photographers, trying to catch the magic that exists between sunset and sunrise! Deformed bodies? Yes, with all that weight from our camera bags on our backs! Strange positions ? Yes, we have to frame properly the pic!
Ok, now seriously. First things first.
My first tip is about safety. Your own safety. Always have someone with you, never go out alone. Not only because of a close encounter with an "alien" trying to get your always expensive photo gear, but also because accidents do happen! Are you going out for a long time? Will you need food or clothing? Prepare yourself. Having this in mind, you must be... adventurous!
It's time to get adventurous! Does your camera have a B setting? Can it handle an exposure of more than 60 seconds? A DSLR is the most versatile camera for this job, but any camera that handles long exposure will do. You'll have to deal with low shutter speed (remember Speed Theme?), so that means a tripod is a must. If it gets windy, you can add stability to your tripod hanging your camera bag over the tripod. Believe me, it works. Or you can use a stable surface, to lay down your camera.
Use a cable release. It allows the shutter to open without touching the camera and causing vibration. No cable release? No problem, surely you have a self-timer on your camera and that will do. Use the flash for lighting the foreground, and the long exposure will do the background.
Don't trust your camera meter. It will be fooled by the bright highlights and deep shadows. Try to get an exposure (shutter speed & aperture) from a well lit mid-tone area. Shoot several photos, with different exposure settings, above and below the exposure suggested by the camera. It's cheap, easy and at least one of them will be well exposed! Or so we hope...
What to shoot? Look for floodlit buildings such as churches, cathedrals, castles, town halls. Look for neon signs outside shops, bars or restaurants. Look for a high spot over a road; with a 30 secs exposure you'll have perfect traffic trails. You got the idea?
Forget hand-holding the camera, except... if you change your ISO settings!
An higher ISO increases the sensitivity to the light. It will also increase the "noise" on your photos, but still producing great pics! And if you get 1/60 of speed, you can hand-hold your camera. Or 1/30, if you have a anti-shake system. In both cases, I hope you have a steady hand!
Conclusion: don't be afraid of trying. A tripod and long exposure, try to shoot a road wtih traffic; you'll get those fantastic trail lights from traffic. Look for neon lights, use reflective surfaces and you'll get odd and yet amazing pics. Shoot with flash. Shoot without flash.
And now, go out. With a friend! Have fun!