Night city shots: auto or f-stop experiementation?

Discussion in 'Landscape & Cityscape' started by padrepaul77, Jan 28, 2009.

  1. padrepaul77

    padrepaul77 TPF Noob!

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    I recently picked up a canon powershot sx10; had very good luck with my s2 and like the 20x zoom feature on the new one.

    My question was with night photography. I live in the Minneapolis area, and we have a nice skyline and older neighborhoods that lend themselves to some very nice black and white nighttime pictures of churches, the downtown skyline, bars and pool halls, etc. I have a tripod; and my camera allows me to adjust the aperture and the f-stop or I can use it on auto. I'm hoping to go out later this week one night and have some fun; do you recommend doing both or am I better with the auto? I loved that thunderstorm picture from Arizona; do you get effects like that by keeping the shutter open a while?

    Many thanks,
    Paul
     
  2. LaFoto

    LaFoto Just Corinna in real life Staff Member Supporting Member

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    At night, you do a lot better when you set your camera manually than when you let the camera decide on how to set itself automatically. For the camera will try everything to overcome the darkness around it, disregarding any light sources, and will therefore most likely go to its highest ISO, widest open aperture and shortest shutter speed possible. For the automatic camera settings go with the assumption that otherwise the photo will go wrong (camera shake and whatnot). The camera on AUTO being only a tool, it does NOT know that highest iso will translate into highest noise factor possible, that widest open aperture will make each and every light source (street lights, for example) turn into big bright blobs of light which will probably also be overexposed since the camera will go for a "middle exposure", and that the short depth of field that goes with a wide open aperture might give you out-of-focus areas in a photo which you wanted to be in focus from foreground to background.

    Therefore: set the ISO to the lowest possible settings. Use the smallest aperture your camera has on offer (don't know if it is f8 with the Powershot? It is with mine. Maybe f5.6, but with city lights all around you you might get enough light for f8.). USE THE TRIPOD, and the timer inside the camera. Compose, focus, and try with an 8 second exposure to begin with. What is the longest shutter speed your Powershot allows for? With mine (very old model) it is only 15 seconds. Depending on where you are and how many light there is around you, you might need all of those. Let the camera take the photo itself, without your finger still touching it (timer!).

    Let's see your results.
     
  3. padrepaul77

    padrepaul77 TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the tips! I'm heading out tonight to get some shots. The maximum time is 15 seconds, and I'll try an 8 on the aperture. I'll do some experimenting; should be fun.
     

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