Still Not Clear

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by MDowdey, Aug 3, 2004.

  1. MDowdey

    MDowdey Guest

    Whats the best way to guage the exposure for night shots? you guys seem to have really good exposures at night, and i dont even know where to begin. whats the secret?



    md
     
  2. terri

    terri Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    First, break out the tripod. :wink:

    Seems all my night shots have been done on 100 ASA slide film. I have limited experience, but have always selected a single luminous surface and spot-metered off of it. Whatever the reading might be - 15 seconds at f16, say - I set my camera to self-timer mode and fire away. I always bracket by half-stops.

    This simplistic method does not account for instances of reciprocity failure, but I haven't encountered that yet. All my shots have come out fine this way, shooting traffic, neon signs, and buildings.

    I'll let heavier hitters weigh in at this point. :wink:
     
  3. malachite

    malachite Heavily Medicated For Your Protection

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    Everyone kinda has there own take on the whole thing but consistancy with technique is the key with everyone developing their own style and methods once you get the hang of it. But here's mine for one example.

    I started out not trying to reinvent the wheel and just followed in the footsteps of the giants in the field. What I have settled into is a little of everything from each person I modeled after. I shoot 100ISO only with Fuji 64T being my only exception, and a fairly new one at that.

    I shoot everything at f/5.6 so my only variable is time. For what I'm doing, there is a five day window to shoot each month. 2 nights before, the night of, and 2 nights after a full moon.

    My exposures all range from 5 to 15 minutes during a full moon and vary accordingly on the surrounding evenings by about a half stop each night on the average depending on what the moon is doing. It takes a few outings but you'll start to be able to judge the intensity of the moonlight and your own Twighlight Zone System will emerge.

    There are tons of variables but all are only really taught to yourself through personal experience and whatever style/method you lean towards. For the full moon stuff, far away from city light polution, start out with a 100ISO slide film you're familiar with, stick with one aperature for the whole night, and bracket like crazy. Something like 4 minutes at f/5.6 with 100ISO and go from there. Remember though that one stop more than 4 minutes is 8 minutes, and one more stop would be 16 minutes.

    Your first few rolls will be nothing but education and at these exposure times you have plenty of time to walk off, sit down, and log your exposure times with tons of notes. When I'm out solo my exposure notes turn into long, drawn out narratives, just like this post :wink:

    To compare, it's just like music, you struggle a bit and then all of a sudden everything you've been cramming into your heads just pops and makes sense all at once. I've heard, but not personally experienced, that learning a forgeign language is the same way.

    From there you just start experimenting with other things like light painting with flash lights and/or flash units. Basically just dump everything you know about exposing film during the day out of your head and start over :p
     
  4. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    Bracket a lot, take notes, and experiment. Every film is going to be different once your exposure times go beyond 1 sec. Some are predictable, so are trickier. Pick a film and stick with it until you can get a feel for it.

    I couldn't figure out why I was getting better results with Tmax 100 than Tri-X or Tmax 400, until I read that for long exposure times Tmax 100 is actually faster than the others.

    Another thing to remember is that reciprocity breaks down beyond 1 sec. This means a 1 min exposure is not necessarilly 1 stop more than a 30 sec exposure. You may have to go to 2 or 4 min or even more to get that extra stop.
     
  5. molested_cow

    molested_cow No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I was never bothered by any rule or whatever. However I heard from someone that you should always set it to TWICE the light meter's reading.

    For me, it depends. I will always bracket it. If I want to take a picture involving moving lights, like cars on the street, and I want a long continous line, I will just hold the trigger for as long as the car takes to drive from point A to B. It's very hard to over expose a night photograph, so just experiment!
     
  6. Digital Matt

    Digital Matt alter ego: Analog Matt

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    It all depends on what kind of shot you want. Do you want lots of shadow detail with blown out lights? If you expose longer you can get cool effects from street lights or whatever lights out there. As Matt said, experiement.
     
  7. mrsid99

    mrsid99 TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Buy a digital camera and then you can see what you're getting! :wink:
     

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