Night pictures and shutter speed: what to set it at?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by padrepaul77, Feb 6, 2009.

  1. padrepaul77

    padrepaul77 TPF Noob!

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    Hi gang,

    I have a Canon Powershot sx10; a solid camera that I enjoy. I'm trying to get more into night photography, and had a question on speed.

    When I am shooting city pictures, or say come summer when I want to get shots of thunderstorms, is 15 seconds a good speed to set it at? Obviously I use a tripod for this.

    Secondly, is 15 enough? I noticed that is as long as the camera allows me to keep the shutter open. Will I run into any problems? I did post a picture I shot at night and it seems to have turned out just fine, though it was 15 seconds.

    Thanks!
    Paul
     
  2. prodigy2k7

    prodigy2k7 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Exposure is kind of weird, for catching lightning, it only needs to be exposing for as long as you dont have a lightning strike, once you get a strike, you can stop exposing... Lightning is VERY bright and it should be perfect...It often lights up the surrounding areas too... Just play with it :) For night photography like cityscape, the shorter the better (the longer, the more noise is produced), but if you need to make it longer go ahead and try it... Also use ISO 100... Every situation is different...
     
  3. Torus34

    Torus34 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Consider, for a moment, daytime photography. Excepting the effects of cloudy skies, the light source is unvarying. Exposure is relatively the same from day to day, subject to subject. Rules can be followed and will usually work quite well. The most well-known is the f11 rule: in full sun, expose at f11 and a shutter speed of 1/ISO. Hazy sun: open one stop. Cloudy: open 2 stops. Deep shade: open 3-4 stops.

    Now consider the huge variation in the illumination of night scenes. Oof da!

    There are no simple rules which will work. Too much variation from scene to scene.

    What you will have to do is develop your own 'feel' for where to start in terms of exposure. With time, you'll get a pretty good idea of just what a specific scene will need. As you're working in digital, there's little problem in taking a 'test' exposure and then increasing or decreasing the exposure for the next shot as indicated.

    A tripod is almost a necessity.
     
  4. padrepaul77

    padrepaul77 TPF Noob!

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    Yes, I'm getting the hang of it. I was happy with some of my night shots thus far; and I do use a tripod for night shots. I was just a bit worried that if it only goes to 15 seconds this might be a problem, but I think it should work out. I'm hoping to get some shots of the moon rising over a lake (once the ice melts) as it gives a beautiful reflection off the water.
     

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