focusing at night

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by imgrizzlybear, Jun 29, 2008.

  1. imgrizzlybear

    imgrizzlybear TPF Noob!

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    i just did a small photoshoot this friday and one thing i noticed from the photoshoot was focusing. it was so difficult for me to focus in the night with the canon 40d. i couldnt tell if the darn thing was in focus or not. i tried using auto focus but it wouldnt focus correctly. my question is, how on earth do you focus during night shots. i find it nearly impossible.
     
  2. deudeu

    deudeu TPF Noob!

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    This is where having a good viewfinder is important. Though when it is really dark it doesn't make that much difference.

    When I am at night and I can't tell if the pictures are in focus or not, I usually try to refer to the lens. I am lucky enough that the ones use most of the time have a focusing scale on them.
     
  3. Sw1tchFX

    Sw1tchFX TPF Noob!

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    do you mind explaining what the photoshoot was for, and why it needed to be at night? I'm curious.
     
  4. RacePhoto

    RacePhoto TPF Noob!

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    Autofocus reads contrast between points, so in the dark, there is usually nothing. You'll need to focus manually.

    Since I come from the days before auto-anything ;) through the lens metering was really special... find a point of light, and manually focus on that. This could be a bulb, a reflection, or something. If it's so dark that there's nothing to see to manually focus on, it's probably too dark to take a picture.

    Also you can use the markings on the lens, but that's kind of difficult, since it's dark and you can't see them.

    If you can find something that's the same distance as your subject, focus on that and then frame on the photo you intend to take.

    Since you didn't mention what it was, distances, subjects, it's much more difficult to give a better answer.
     
  5. TheJakeyl

    TheJakeyl TPF Noob!

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    If I ever shoot at night, I use my tripod, and 20-60 second shutter times. But you can't obviously do that for somethings you are shooting. Here I am at night drawing with a candle in my backyard.

    [​IMG]

    That was taken with my E-510 with a 60 second exposure.
     
  6. imgrizzlybear

    imgrizzlybear TPF Noob!

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    im using a canon 28-136mm USM w/ IS and it does have a scale. i just have no idea as to how to use it. im new to photography.

    i just wanted to build my portfolio i suppose. and i have a thing for night shots. i think its just so bad ass. it was just me and 2 friends driving around at night. we found a cool spot near my highschool so we decided to take some pictures. i had some softboxes but no outlet so too bad. i had a speedlite but ehh. im not too fond of flashes. we ended up using my car's headlights.

    it was basically pitch black. well almost. i was able to take the pictures with a speedlite. but it wasnt continoous lighting so i had no way to focus.

    heres a picture. it might give you a better idea.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2008
  7. imgrizzlybear

    imgrizzlybear TPF Noob!

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    i know i can get better lighting with longer exposure but haha i cant figure out a way to focus when my viewfinder is basically black.
     
  8. RyanLilly

    RyanLilly No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    You can set you camera not to fire the speedlight, but to emit the focus assist bean, its that little red IR light. You can focus in complete darkness. You should find these under menu>custom functions.
     
  9. Sw1tchFX

    Sw1tchFX TPF Noob!

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    You could have done this in broad daylight. If it's shady, a speedlight through an umbrella possibly could have blocked out the sun, if it was overcast, absolutely could have. If you have monolights, easy. Just need to bring in your light close and with as much power as possible. Shoot at your max sync speed and stop down.


    This was done at about noon with two 580EX's:
    [​IMG]





    This was 1 in the afternoon on a very sunny day with two SB600's:
    [​IMG]





    4 in the afternoon on an overcast day with one sb600:
    [​IMG]





    3:30 in the afternoon on an overcast day, pouring rain:
    [​IMG]


    With strobes you don't have to shoot at night to get that night look, that way you don't compromise image quality with high ISO's, motion blur, your models also aren't up till 2 am tired and irritated. There's also nothing wrong with hard light when you want that moody look.


    even if it's middle of the day, the sun can be a hairlight and you can have your speedlight bare as your key.

    I shot this with one of my SB600's in my left hand stretched out as far as I could, this is hard light, but the results are awesome.
    [​IMG]
     
  10. Mike_E

    Mike_E No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Nice!!!
     
  11. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Yes you did, but you may not have considered it. :D

    Carry a flashlight, shine it on the subject before you shoot, and since we shoot at night, a tripod is logical... flash the subject, press the button 1/2 way down... focus... turn off flash light... press shutter the rest of the way.

    Another way is to flash subject, pre-focus, set focus to manual... shoot as much as you want.
     
  12. imgrizzlybear

    imgrizzlybear TPF Noob!

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    haha thats a great suggestion with the flashlight jerry. i shall do that next time. and switch, all you did was shoot it in the day and stop down? they sure turned out really good.
     

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