Beach photography at night

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by VaE39, Jul 15, 2009.

  1. VaE39

    VaE39 TPF Noob!

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    Hey guys I figured I'd ask you before I actually waste my time going out to the beach and getting crappy results. If I was to go to the beach at complete nighttime (2:00am) with no city lights in the picture. The beach would be a private one, not an ocean front sort of thing, so I assume it'll be slightly darker than normal. Would the moon serve as enough light to take a decent picture? Maybe 30 seconds with a low f stop? I'm trying to take this picture for a class that requires dark or serene pictures. Any examples would help too. Thanks for the help.
     
  2. Dwig

    Dwig TPF Noob!

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    Whether the moon will be of any help will depend on where it is and its phase. Checkout one of the many online sources for lunar data such as:

    Complete Sun and Moon Data for One Day

    SkyandTelescope.com - Sky Chart

    The moon, like the sun, appears to move (its actually the Earth thats spinning) 15 degrees in one hour. This means that it will be only 15 degrees above the real horizon one hour after moonrise at the most. Depending on season, the wobble in the moon's orbit, and your latitude it may well be noticably lower. At middle and higher latitudes you generally can't rely on decent light from the moon untill 2-3 hours after moonrise and only until 2-3 hours before moonset. Where I live (Key West FL, USA) beaches are on the southeast of the island and moonlight is strong within minutes of moonrise and lasts until about 2 hours before moonset since the moon generally sets out of sight behind the building and trees inland from the beach. In winter, the moon is sometimes visible from some of the beaches from rise to set since its enought south to rise and set over the water from the beach's viewpoint.

    A full moon or a waxing or waining gibbous moon can provide a decent amount of light provided its reasonably well above the visible horizon (trees, buildings, ...). You'll need a tripod as a rule but should be able to get some decent shots.

    Don't rely on you camera's meter too much. Light levels will be low enough that no builtin meter will be particularily accruate and they might be well below the meter's range altogether. Take test shots and review the histogram if you're shooting digital; bracket well if shooting film.

    You will likely be in low enough light that your camera's autofocus system, if it has one, won't work well or possibly won't work at all. Be prepared to focus manually.

    Also, it is vitally important that you start the shooting with a completely full charge on your battery or new batteries if your camera uses expendable ones. Long time exposures eat batteries for lunch.
     
  3. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    Most popular beaches are pretty close to big cities so even with no moon there will be a surprising amount of light around. If it's cloudy the city lights will reflect off the clouds.

    This type of image is pretty much made by trial and error if you haven't done it before.

    Like Dwig said use a tripod, plus I'd recommend a remote release and a middle of the road aperture like f/8, f11.
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2009
  4. VaE39

    VaE39 TPF Noob!

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    wow thanks for the replies. That was way more than i expected that comes into factor. I'll keep trying
     
  5. Josh66

    Josh66 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Bold mine.

    There are still a lot of beaches with no large cities anywhere near them.

    Depending on where you go, it can still be quite dark.
     
  6. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    Ya, popular.

    Thanks Josh!

    So I edited my post.
     
  7. benlonghair

    benlonghair TPF Noob!

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    The beach I go to in southern RI is dark enough to actually see the Milky Way from horizon to horizon (very early in the morning). In fact, if you let your eyes relax on a dark spot in the sky you can actually see the earth move against the stars.

    So, yes, there are beaches dark enough to pull this off.
     
  8. Beverly Stayart

    Beverly Stayart TPF Noob!

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    Why don't you go to this beach and actually take some photos at night? This is the only way to prove, one way or the other, if there is sufficient light. The cost will be insignificant and the quality, or lack of quality, of the photos will answer your question.
     
  9. osirus

    osirus TPF Noob!

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    depends on the area you are in, the light poullution ect.

    this was taken here at about 11pm, at night, about 30 second exposure , toronto is 30 miles away across lake ontario, but look at all the light polution created.
    makes for pretty pics..

    [​IMG]
     
  10. VaE39

    VaE39 TPF Noob!

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    Nice shot Osirus! I'm about 100 miles away right now at summer school so I was just debating going back home to the beach to take it. But if it were pointless I was just going to stay in the city. I think I'll go this weekend and see for myself. its kind of scary out there at night!
     

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