Night Photos

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by theheater, Feb 18, 2007.

  1. theheater

    theheater TPF Noob!

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    I have a Kodak P880. I have been very happy with the camera but do most of my image perfecting in Photoshop. I want to begin using some of the manual features, mainly for night photos, but I am not sure where to begin. I hate using the flash, and I am wondering what settings I should start with when taking evening photos, and then I can modify them using that benchmark depending on how well my camera takes to them. Any help at all would be great.
     
  2. Stevedevil

    Stevedevil TPF Noob!

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    Firstl is the flash you dedicated to the camera, also when you talk night shots, do you mean, people, landscape, stars etc
     
  3. loser101

    loser101 TPF Noob!

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    First of all if your shooting at night get a good tripod with out one it becomes use less. Then put it on full manual and play around with the settings thats how i learned so im sure u can too. Night photography is my favorite, i get too distracted during the day.
     
  4. EOS_JD

    EOS_JD TPF Noob!

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    Keep the flash off, use a tripod, lowest ISO you can. Remote shutter if you can if not try not to move the tripod when pressing the shutter. Take lots more care when shooting long exposures.
     
  5. Groupcaptainbonzo

    Groupcaptainbonzo TPF Noob!

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    Tripod. Mirror lock up (if available). tripod. remote release and or timer. Tripod. Lowest ASA/ISO speed. Tripod. If sky is included shoot JUST before it goes black. and you might like to try using a Tripod. You can use flash for "fill in" set it for a stop or two under exposeure and expose for the back ground. and maybe a tripod.
     
  6. LaFoto

    LaFoto Just Corinna in real life Staff Member Supporting Member

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    When you want to take your camera out at night (or dusk, which is the best time for nighttime photos, I find), get yourself a tripod first.

    You can, of course, rest your camera on anything solid, but that will limitate you in your composing the photo. Like if you rest it on a wall, railing or something like that, you'll always get that in your frame, you'll only get that one point of view - and often it is awkward to compose, mostly so if you have to look through the viewfinder or don't have a movable screen.

    That tripod given ... some sound advice has also been given: don't crank up the ISO settings only because it is dark. Leave them as low as possible. Also don't necessarily put your aperture (which is the opening in your lens through which the light can fall onto your sensor, and which can be wide open ... think of the pupils of your eyes in very low light! ... or narrower) to wide open only to let as much light reach the sensor as is possible. While a wide open lens will give you shorter exposure times, it will also give you a shorter DOF (depth of field), i.e. less things within your frame will be in focus and you must focus with much, much greater care. AND it will make light sources look like big, bright blobs.

    So it is advisable to stop down (make the aperture smaller).
    Watch out: a large aperture (big hole) has a SMALL number. Apertures are given in f-numbers, and a large one has like f2.8 or so (see, little number), whereas a small aperture has a higher number. I am not familiar with your camera. My compact camera can only go from f2.8 to f8 and not smaller. Maybe the same applies to your camera?

    My other camera can go from ... depending on the lens I use ... f2.8 or so up to f22 or even 32. F32 sounds big but is, in fact, only a tiny hole.

    If you only have a tiny, tiny hole in your lens, only very little light can reach the sensor. So in order to expose right, you must give that little amount of light a long enough time to "shine onto" your sensor.

    Therefore with narrow apertures you need to expose for a longer time. The smaller the aperture, the longer your exposure time. So soon enough you will no longer be able to keep your camera still enough for all the long period of time. You will get camera shake, unless you firmly rest the camera.

    Hence the tripod.
    Now it can still happen that the mere pushing the button will already give you some camera shake. That is why I found the hint (which also I only was given here on TPF some years ago) very useful that you best set your camera on timer, so in the moment it starts to release you don't even touch it.

    If you want to photograph a person against a lovely sunset sky after sunset and you want both things to show, sky AND person, then you must use the flash to fill in the person's face with the necessary light. Else your person will show as a black silhouette. That CAN be the desired effect, but need not always be. I am sure, if you study your camera closely enough, you might also find out where to determine the strength of the light given by the on-camera flash? For sometimes you don't need it as bright as the camera would automatically give it, then you can set the camera-flash to -2.

    You might be one of the "don't-like-manuals-much"-user of things (shake hands on that then! :D) - but some things are worth being read up in the camera manual, mostly so if you want to step away from "all auto" more towards manual operation of your camera (and for night photos you need to do that, i.e. operate it manually).
     
  7. theheater

    theheater TPF Noob!

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    Okay, I have taken your advice and experimented a little with my camera at night. I find I can get a photo taken, and I keep my shutter open for a long time, and the photo turns out well, but not as detailed as I like. I am actually taking a photo from across a lake to the city, and the city doesn't look as sharp as I want it. When I sharpen it on photoshop it looks pixely I find. I am using a tripod, and am really enjoying that... any ideas? Thanks so far for the help...
     
  8. EOS_JD

    EOS_JD TPF Noob!

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    What aperture (fstop)? you using a very steady tripod?
     
  9. sothoth

    sothoth TPF Noob!

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    This guy has a pretty good tutorial for doing star trail photos. Following his advice got me started on night photos pretty fast. I also branched into taking night photos of cities.

    http://www.danheller.com/star-trails.html

    Aside from what other's have said, you can also get a lack of detail due to atmospheric distortion of light over time as it passes thru the air... like the distortion that makes stars "twinkle," this can also make the city lights look fuzzy if they're far away. You can also be overexposing the city lights relative to the night sky depending on how you set up the shots, which can give you effects like that.
     
  10. Groupcaptainbonzo

    Groupcaptainbonzo TPF Noob!

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    The atmospheric "Fuzz" will only be a problem if you are talking about long distances. try with something nearer. if it works then you have found your problem. If not......
    If the image is not sharp, then you will either:
    not be focused on it properly. (Check that you have focused correctly, and try an aperture of f11 to f32, which will result in a L O N G exposure but should give a good depth of field. (To check for this look at the image. If any part of the image is sharp, then you are focused on THAT bit. and "camera shake " is not the cause. Refocus and off you go.

    or there is some movement while the shutter is open. In this case ALL of the image will be out of fucus or soft. For this you need to have a remote form of release as the action of pressing the shutter can move the camera, And it is not impossable that the mirror flicking up could also move the camera. Use the timer release to obviate the first (The 10 second count down that you use when you want to include yourself in a shot). and if you have it use Mirror Lock up. This will flick the mirror out of the way before releasing the shutter. There is also the possibility that the camera is being moved by wind or by traffic vibrations.

    if you post an image we can probably point you in the right direction.
     
  11. sothoth

    sothoth TPF Noob!

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    I thought the original post said they were taking a picture of a city from across a lake, which may be near or far depending on the size of the lake, but it made me think if was a ways off.

    I agree that nearer objects should be better, most night photography that I see uses reasonably close objects. But they also photograph things that are about the same brightness across the field of view, so they do stars with unlit horizon or in one of the pictures from the link I posted they exposed the night sky for 20+ minutes and then, from inside a tent, turned on a flashlight for a few seconds. More than that, and the flashlight would have overpowered the image. It can be a problem with cities from a distance that you get a diffused "glow" from all the lights and you may lose detail that way.
     
  12. theheater

    theheater TPF Noob!

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    I'm going to post the picture in a minute, along with all the settings, and perhaps you can all help me... so far you have been a great help. Thanks.
     

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