Night Photography Help

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by BMW2002, Mar 20, 2008.

  1. BMW2002

    BMW2002 TPF Noob!

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    This is my first post to the board.
    I have been taking photos for about 10 years now on and off.
    Mostly with a digital point and shoot.
    I have taken some racing photography over the years with my 35mm SLR
    Now I am trying to expand my abilities and love taking night shots
    This photo was taken with my new Rebel XTI.

    My question is what should setting should I use to eliminate the blur around the building names? Example - on the left side of the picture the blue sight under the bridge is supposed to read The Miami Herald.

    Any help would be greatly apreciated


    [​IMG]
    A link to some data
    http://s225.photobucket.com/albums/dd23/E30M3CRAIG/?action=view&current=Miami_395_Bridge.jpg
     
  2. chinpokojed

    chinpokojed TPF Noob!

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    I'm by no means an expert, but I think you would need to do an HDR to properly expose both the buildings in the background and the neon sign properly.

    Hopefully someone more experienced in night shooting can chime in :)
     
  3. Flash Harry

    Flash Harry TPF Noob!

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    exposure in this pic is too short duration to render the light properly, either expose for longer, (I reckon triple the original exposure time) or as the other poster says try a HDR. H
     
  4. BMW2002

    BMW2002 TPF Noob!

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    I just barely understand HDR images at this point.
    All I know is that my camera can take them
    Remember this is on the beginers thread
    Is there a good like to understanding the basics of HDR , how to take them and the correct software needed to asemble them?
     
  5. BMW2002

    BMW2002 TPF Noob!

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    Otherwise thanks for the tips so far.
     
  6. perfik

    perfik TPF Noob!

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    HDR in theory is very simple. You take one photo like the one above and another that is underexposed so as to expose the lights or signs correctly. Then you just photoshop the two together substituting the correclty exposed pieces together to get a "corrected" or HDR image.
    That is a beautiful scene, why not try to go back and have another go reducing the exposure until you get the signs to show up a little better and try your hand at photoshopping them?
     
  7. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Bah, no HDR required to reduce blur... open your aperture to it's maximum to get deepest depth of field. Focus specifically on the buildings in the far back and you should be good to go. Your aperture was set to F/3.5 ... try F/16 or what ever the higest setting your lens supports.

    Just a note, increasing aperture to it's max will increase shutter time. Tripod is a must.
     
  8. Mav

    Mav TPF Noob!

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    I can't see much because photobucket is blocked at the office so I'm looking at it on my Blackberry (lol). For an overall sharper photo you might want to stop the lens down a bit from f/3.5 (wide open?) to maybe f/5 or even f/8. This will result in a much longer exposure, but will make things sharper. Which lens were you using and is it actually known to be sharp at that focal length and aperture? I can't tell if it's just soft or blurred though. If it's soft, stopping down will help, but if it's blurred make sure your tripod is extremely steady. Was there any wind? I'm not familiar with the XTi but if it has an exposure delay setting that will delay the start of exposure from when the mirror goes up you might want to try it. It'll let vibrations from the mirror going up settle out before it starts taking the photo which could have been part of the blur. Some cameras are more susceptible to this than others.

    Otherwise I don't think you need different settings or even HDR. Just better timing. Try earlier in the day maybe?

    My favorite night time city shots are ones like this from Singapore, taken on my old point and shoot.

    [​IMG]

    It's early enough that there's still lights on in office buildings and the city looks alive, yet late enough that it's getting dark that you have a bit of blue in the sky and texture in any clouds. The extra light floating around makes it easier to get some exposure on the buildings too. Later at night all the office building lights are out, there's no light in the sky, no cars whizzing by on the street, and it's just not nearly as exciting. At least to me. It's all art and subjective. You might have tried adding some exposure compensation to your photo above. Don't be afraid to blow out some of the lights to make everything else a bit lighter. You might actually like the effect.
     
  9. Mav

    Mav TPF Noob!

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    As for HDR, here's some stuff that a buddy of mine just did of downtown Atlanta after the storms blew through there.

    Downtown Atlanta Post-Tornado Damage (56K Bake a Cake) (warning, big photos! lol)

    HDR photos have a certain "look" to them. Some love it, others don't. My favorites are the very mild ones where you can't even tell it's HDR. Takes a lot of fiddling. My buddy does a lot of HDR stuff so he's pretty good at it. :)
     
  10. Mav

    Mav TPF Noob!

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    I think you meant "close to its minimum" lol. I wouldn't go past f/8 or f/11 though due to diffraction limitations unless you're trying to do something specific, like turn little light points into star shapes.
     
  11. Mav

    Mav TPF Noob!

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    Scratch that, it's showing up for me now perfectly. :confused:

    Yeah, try stopping the lens down from f/3.5 to f/5.6 or f/8 or something. You'll need a much longer exposures though, about 12 and 24 seconds. Make sure your battery is fully charged or have a spare. ;)
     
  12. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    :lol: Yup, thats right on both counts. :blushing: I often use high numerical apertures at night for that star burst effect. With lenses like my 10-20mm quality suffers a TOUCH, but not enough to detract from the pic. What can I say, I like the star burst effect... lol

    Each lens has a "sweet spot". For my Sigma 10-20mm, it is right between F/5.6 and F/8. If I want the best IQ, thats where I set it. If I want that nice effect without a huge drop in IQ, I close it right down. Finding out what that sweet spot is on your lens will make a difference.
     

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