Detroit at dusk - unhappy with result - what to do?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by ArntorFTL, Jun 15, 2008.

  1. ArntorFTL

    ArntorFTL TPF Noob!

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    This is straight out of the camera so, of course, I know some cropping and a slight rotation are necessary. My biggest issues, however, are these:

    I'm unhappy with how the lights in the buildings don't really stand out like they do in other dusk shots I see. Is this simply an issue of underexposure? I feel like if I exposed it longer, certain areas of the photo would have gotten very distracting (the bright light 1/3 of the way up the building on the left and the GM logo at the top of the GM building). Looking at the particulars of the shot below, what could I do differently next time?

    The other issue, and it's probably more an issue of me overanalyzing than anything, is that I don't feel the shot is as crisp as it could be. It almost looks like the stuff nearest the water is a little blurry; I think I like how crisply most of the buildings turned out, though. I am a total photography noob so please pardon me if my rationale here is, well, noobish. I used a low (high?) f stop because I understand that the lower (higher?) the f stop, the bigger the DoF, which I figured would be handy given the circumstances here.

    I am, however, happy with how the various colors (sky, lights, etc.) turned out.

    tl;dr - I'm unhappy with how the lights in the buildings don't really stand out. Is it underexposed? What would you have done differently? Also, am I fussing over nothing by thinking that some elements of the photo aren't as clear as they should be? If not, how could I improve crispness in similar situations?

    Taken with:

    Nikon D40
    kit 18-55 lens
    ISO 200
    f 20
    10 second exposure

    [​IMG]
     
  2. Mav

    Mav TPF Noob!

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    Too early. :) It probably would have looked nicer in maybe 10-20 minutes. Also there's hardly a cloud in the sky, so nothing for the sun's rays to bounce under lighting up the sky. A lot of this is pure luck. Not all sunsets are going to be spectacular. The water looks blurry because it's a long exposure. And the buildings aren't going to look very crisp because you were shooting at an aperture of f/20. DSLRs are diffraction limited past about f/11, so don't stop down past there or else you'll get fuzzy results from diffraction.
     
  3. Crosby

    Crosby TPF Noob!

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    I think for you being new, like me, you did a great job. Other than the horizon being tilted a bit and like MAV said, maybe wait 10-20 minutes later in the day.

    I'd be happy with it for now. You already know what you don't like about it, so now, you can work on it and make it better next time. Isn't that what we do anyway?
     
  4. Moglex

    Moglex TPF Noob!

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    Certainly a few minutes later would have made a more typical 'city at disk' shot. In situations like this it's always a good idea to take several shots as the light changes as the change in effect is something that you can't easily achive in PP. Plus you may find the sequence has artistic merit in itself.

    On the sharpness front, is there any chance that some vibration was reaching the camera?
     
  5. Alex_B

    Alex_B No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    looks a bit underexposed.

    timing is not bad, but the lights are not really switched on at the buildings. maybe a couple of minutes later and one or two stops up in exposure...

    f/20 is quite an overkill here :)
     
  6. Alex_B

    Alex_B No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    it is called ripples on the water ... 10 seconds exposure give it all blurry then. that is why f/20 is a bit of a waste.
     
  7. Moglex

    Moglex TPF Noob!

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    No, I was refering to the buildings, really.

    There doesn't seem to be anything sharp in the whole potograph and I doubt the larger f no. has that much effect.

    Definitely agree that f20 is pointless. Especially at that distance.
     
  8. Alex_B

    Alex_B No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    ok, it does not appear super sharp, but to truly judge we would need a higher resolution. at least of a part of the image.
     
  9. djrichie28

    djrichie28 TPF Noob!

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    Not really a short term solution here, but if you wait for the winter time the sun sets much earlier and is a better chance of buildings being all lit up. But with that, there might snow and ice on the water which may not be as pleasant.

    Since your shot is quite a distance from the skyline, follow the other suggestions by waiting a few more minutes and cut back on the exposure time by opening the lens a bit more. Try an f4 or f5.6 and set the shutter speed accordingly to get a correct exposure.
     
  10. mrodgers

    mrodgers No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Certainly better than the photos I have of Detroit. I was there back in March for work and all I have of Detroit is boarded up houses.....

    I so much wanted to get photos of the actual city. But I was at the mercy of the driver and also had 2 others making the decisions of what to do and where to go as well.
     
  11. ArntorFTL

    ArntorFTL TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the replies. Am I correct in taking the following advice out of this for next time?

    1. Open the lens up a bit (no more than f11?)
    2. Expose the shot a little longer
    3. Possibly wait until it is slightly darker out

    Can someone explain briefly why f20 is a waste for this particular shot? Or possibly point me to a TPF thread or link that would explain it just as well? My noobie thinking was that by increasing the DoF, I would be able to get a crisper photo of the entire city skyline from the distance away I was.
     
  12. Moglex

    Moglex TPF Noob!

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    Plus make sure there is nothing that could cause your camera AND tripod to vibrate (which seems to me to be the most likely cause of the overall lack of sharpness).

    On the question of why F20 is a waste of time: You will not get the water sharp with the length of exposure you are using so the first thing that could be in focus will almost certainly be sharp with the lens set at infinity - certainly with it set at the hyperfocal distance at a much wider aperture.

    So using F20 will make diffraction effects worse plus exacerbate any vibration problems without getting you any useable increase in depth of field.
     

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