Night time photo shoot issues. (DSLR)

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by zx6r1033, Dec 18, 2008.

  1. zx6r1033

    zx6r1033 TPF Noob!

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    I don't know if this is camera-specific or not, but I am assuming it is something I am failing to do, and all DSLRs would respond the same way. Here goes...

    I have an Olympus E-510. It's the first DSLR I have ever owned. I had it out tonight taking a few pictures of our christmas tree. We have a row of Palm trees out back of our house, and the skyline behind them is dimly lit. I decided it would be a cool picture, so I tried snapping a photo of it, but the camera won't take the picture. I have had this same problem before when trying to take pictures of dimly lit areas, so this isn't the first time. Even when I set the camera on full manual and adjust the settings, it still won't take the picture. I have tried on Auto as well as a few scene settings, too... just to see if it was the settings I was trying.

    I have an F3.5-F5.6 lens, so I had the F set at 5.5. I tried a number of different shutter times, 60s all the way down to 1s, and none worked.

    What am I doing wrong here?
     
  2. cbryan

    cbryan TPF Noob!

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    I have something similar that happens to me and my camera. It is due to my lens being set to autofocus. In really dim lit situations the camera has nothing it can lock in on. If you camera has AF this is probably your problem. The solution is to switch it to manual focus/ You should be able to take the shot then.
     
  3. dtornabene1

    dtornabene1 TPF Noob!

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    This is a simple issue of camera verses photographer! Actually, it's not that dramatic. The camera will not shoot because you are out of its' exposure range and more importantly, it can not focus.

    The last thing you want to do is set to automatic. You will hear this over and over and over again. Begin, right now, to learn how to shoot in manual mode. That means, scrap the scene modes as well.

    By shooting in manual, you are telling the camera how to take the picture, you are doing the thinking. Does this ensure a perfect or even great shot? Of course not, but you are in control.

    In the other modes the camera is in control. While there is more to it than this, I'll give you a brief summery of what I'm talking about.

    When you depress the shutter release button half-way, you are telling the camera to think. It focuses, changes aperture, shutter speed, etc. to get the shot right. If it can't get the shot within these parameters, it will not shoot.

    You may notice while looking through the view finder you see a flashing dot. That's the camera's way of telling you, this just is not going to work.

    Now onto manual mode. There are some tricks to get this nighttime scene, but the simplest is time.

    Being this is your first SLR, I am going to be basic. So please do not get offended if you already know any of this.

    Aperture determines your dof (depth of field). This basically is how much is in focus. Shutter speed determines how much light is let into the camera.

    The common analogy is a garden hose. Aperture is the width of the hose and shutter speed is how much water is going through the hose.

    Let's keep it simple. The best way to learn is by doing, right? So, go outside, set the camera on M (manual). If you want as much detail in focus as possible, set the A (aperture) on a high value, say F18. This is makes the "hose" very small and allows great dof.

    Now on to shutter speed. If you "hose" is small but you need to fill a bucket you are going to wait longer than say if you were using a fire hose. So, you need to keep that shutter open by setting the S (shutter speed) or Tv (Time Value, same thing) for a long period of time. Maybe as much as a minute or two.

    Now you will never be able to hold a camera steady enough for that time period, I don't care how steady you think your arms are. So use your tripod. Don't have one? Fine, put it on a chair, table, ladder, whatever.

    Lastly, ISO. This is the sensitivity of your camera's sensor to light. You will find increasing the ISO gives you a brighter picture. Don't let this temp you into believing you have solved the mysteries of the camera universe.

    Higher the ISO, the more "noise" introduced into the picture. The less smooth it is. You won't see this on your camera's LCD screen, but when you get inside, you won't like it.

    Anything you want explained in more detail, let me know.

    -Nick
     
  4. zx6r1033

    zx6r1033 TPF Noob!

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    cbryan - That worked perfectly. Thank you very much!!
     
  5. zx6r1033

    zx6r1033 TPF Noob!

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    dtornabene1 - Nearly all of what you explained I already knew... My only hangup was the auto focus. Actually, it was the switching on/off of the camera that did it. My camera resets to auto focus if I shut it off, and I was adjusting the settings under the light, then moving the camera/tripod outside. It was the only way I could see what I was doing. After the first reply to this thread, I payed more attention to the settings, and realized what had happened.

    The only reason I even tried the scene modes was to try to eliminate the "User error" aspect of it. I always shoot manual. (just not always manual focus)

    Regardless... I take absolutely no offense to any advice offered, regardless of what I may or may not know. I always appreciate, and look forward to, posts like yours. Thank you very much for taking the time you did to reply. :D


    I took a bunch of pictures... I am going to try editing them with some software I have, but this is one of the 45 second exposure pictures I took, just so you all know what I was trying to take a picture of. (I only wish the power lines weren't there.)

    [​IMG]
     
  6. dtornabene1

    dtornabene1 TPF Noob!

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    No problem and you are most welcome. I try to spend time explaining because there are others will benefit from the advice.

    Just a thought though, try at least two minutes and large aperture. You may need to even use bulb mode for a longer shoot depending on your camera.

    Lastly, I would like to make a suggestion on composition. Get lower and reduce the grass and houses and get more tree and sky. I mean get on the ground if necessary.

    Just a thought. Either way, I really do like what you're going for.

    -Nick
     
  7. zx6r1033

    zx6r1033 TPF Noob!

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    Excellent advice on the POV for the picture, but I think I will look elsewhere for a group of trees without power lines first. I live in Fort Myers, FL, so palm trees with no surrounding obstructions to ruin an otherwise nice shot aren't difficult to come by. (Luckily.)

    There just isn't a good way I can see to get the shot without the power lines, too. To the naked eye, those lines aren't visible after dark. :gah:

    Anything over 60s, and I'll have to use bulb mode. I have no problems with that, though.

    I've been taking pictures for quite a while now, and have a reasonable amount of experience with Film SLR cameras... it is just the transition to Digital that is throwing me off a bit. There are a few new things I have to pay attention to that were never an obstacle before.

    Any other advice you can throw my way to help me with night/low light photography would definitely be appreciated.


    Wait until I start asking about advice on capturing hurricanes and severe storms. :D I just moved here in November from Maine, so there is a LOT for me to explore that I have never seen before.
     
  8. pulse

    pulse TPF Noob!

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    I really like the look of the trees in this photo.
    And nice camera by the way! lol

    wow...what it must be like to look outside in december and see palm trees
    *as i look outside and see my car barried in a pile of snow*
     
  9. dtornabene1

    dtornabene1 TPF Noob!

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    I get ya'. ISO is similar to film speed, but produces a different kind of noise. Something totally unique, well almost, to digital is white balance. You used to compensate for white balance by using different film.

    This is a huge advantage for digital. As I have posted many times, work with the WB in your RAW editor to get dramatic B/W photos.

    Lastly, make sure you are shooting in RAW. This captures exactly what the sensor "sees" at the time of capture. JPEG with loose information each and every time it is altered in an image editor.

    RAW is not a digital negative, it's better. A negative still has the short comings of what ever the film stock originally is. As stated above, not an issue with digital.

    I live in Chicago. There is a lot of snow on the ground and it has ranged from 40 degrees to 12 degrees. In a way, palm trees really aren't a problem for me either. ;-)

    -Nick
     
  10. zx6r1033

    zx6r1033 TPF Noob!

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    Thank you, and thank you!


    That isn't the half of it... I went swimming in the ocean yesterday! The water is still up around 68 degrees right now. The daytime temps are usually high 70s or low 80s, and our nights are right around 60-70. I grew up in Vermont, and spent the past 5 years in Maine, so this past month and a half has been quite the experience for me. My father sends me down pictures of all of the snow they are getting in the Northeast. I still don't know why, it just gives me more ammo when I feel the need to remind him how warm it is down here. (He hates the cold). The temperatures where I grew up would literally go from -40 in the winter, to 110 that very same year in the summer. Winters down here drop about 15 degrees and get more dry. I'm loving it!



    dtornabene1 - it never occoured to me that jpeg pictures lost quality every time they were edited. It definitely should have, since I know all about Jpeg compression... but it slipped my mind since I have done comparison photos of shq jpeg vs raw, and there was absolutely no difference. There isn't a difference in size either, so from now on I will definitely shoot raw only.
     
  11. pulse

    pulse TPF Noob!

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    .....
    I spent probly 5 minutes scraping the ice off my car on the weekend, car barely could start, and i almost got stuck trying to pull out onto the road, and then slid into the intersecting because of the ice...
    , Wanna trade? lol
     
  12. zx6r1033

    zx6r1033 TPF Noob!

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    lol... been there, done that... took pictures. :) I'll miss the snowboarding, but other than that, I can't honestly say I would ever want to move north again.


    [​IMG]
     

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