Taking pictures at night or in poor lighting...

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Zenquen, Jan 4, 2008.

  1. Zenquen

    Zenquen TPF Noob!

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    I currently own a DSC-F828 8 mega pixel camera. But the only times I seem to be able to use it to get nice pictures is outside in blazing sunlight. I really want to be able to get sharp and clear night shots as well or even just in darker more romantic lighting. Yet I can't seem to do so without the shutter speed being so low that everything is an absolute blur. I am not sure what I need to do to take good dark shots.

    Edit: Also When I purchased the camera the instructions did not come with it so I have had to figure things out by trial and error mostly.
     
  2. Mav

    Mav TPF Noob!

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    Tripod! :mrgreen: Or just use any old flat spot that you can find.

    Click the photo to get to my "Singpore at Night" album. These are all from a business trip a few years ago, all with my old Sony DSC-P100 (5MP). This was the last P&S I owned before upgrading to a DSLR.

    [​IMG]


    That photo was taken right from my hotel room. There was a metal beam running across my window which turned out to be the perfect ledge to park my camera on for all sorts of great night time skyline photos. Walking around the city at night, I just used any stable flat spot I could find to do good long exposure photos.

    - Narrow little edges of railing surrounding the water of the Boat Quay
    - flat tops of street signs
    - propped up on a plate at dinner with a colleague
    - road side utility boxes or signal control boxes
    - on top of a dumpster, lol

    No stinking tripod needed if you're a little creative. :p


    What you want to do is lock the camera in low sensitivity mode for a nice clean image and then make sure the flash is off also. That'll give a long exposure. Most digital point and shoots have a night scene "dummy" mode that does the same thing. If you Google I'm sure you can probably find a manual or some sort of guide for the camera. The other trick is to set the exposure delay mode, like if you set the camera down or have it on a tripod and want to be able to jump in your own photo. What this does for night shots is ensure that any vibrations or oscillations from hitting the shutter release have dampened out before it actually starts taking the photo. Usually you'll get blurred shots at night unless you do that, so you'll need to figure that out too. On my DSC-P100, the Night Scene "dummy" mode wasn't smart enough to set the exposure delay, so I had to do that manually.

    I walked all around Singapore at night watching other idiots try to get photos using their P&S in full auto mode with the flash and then scratching their head at the completely dark photos. Don't be one of THEM. :p I showed these to some of my Singaporean native colleagues and they had no idea how beautiful their own city/country could be at night. Beautiful place (very clean, lol), and a very fascinating place to go.
     
  3. Zenquen

    Zenquen TPF Noob!

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    Thank you but I should have mentioned I am trying to do regular shots of people or moving objects as opposed to long exposure shots. Places like in Night Clubs or on busy city streets. I can't really tell a crowd of people to stand extremely still so my camera can check them out.
     
  4. fatsheep

    fatsheep TPF Noob!

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    I can really understand where you are coming from. My house isn't the best lit of places and I've been trying to photograph some dogs. To get good pictures of them, even if there is a light on in the room, I have to either turn the sensitivity way way up or use a flash. I always have the aperture all the way open to try to get as much light as possible.

    I've found flash to be the best way to take pictures of these dogs most of the time. Some of the higher sensitivities can get really grainy which I don't like. However, I did manage a few decent shots without flash but they required some tweaking and a still (very tired) dog.

    I will be watching this topic for more ideas though as I don't think flash is an ideal solution. I would like to preserve the lighting of the scene and not blind my subjects so much! :)
     
  5. Mav

    Mav TPF Noob!

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    Well then you're hosed. Use the flash and crank up the sensitivity as much as you can. Long exposure night club photos with people moving around can still look pretty interesting though.

    Taken with my DSLR, a fisheye lens, and rear curtain sync flash.

    [​IMG]
     
  6. kdabbagh

    kdabbagh TPF Noob!

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    I feel you man. I once got offered a job to be the photographer of a club chain in Toronto and I had to turn it down because all my experiments in clubs didn't turn out good! Too dark, people are too frozen in place (lacks life), or just tooo traily that you can't tell if this is a person or not. I still hope one day I will be able to reapply for that job.
     
  7. Zenquen

    Zenquen TPF Noob!

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    That is another problem with flash, it ruins the whole kind of nighttime atmosphere and it creates this whole annoying "black wall" effect where everything beyond the flash radius seems to have been eaten by the black wall, so yeah I don't want to use flash either.
     
  8. am_photoer

    am_photoer TPF Noob!

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    get a film p&s, should be cheap on ebay, and a high isofilm like 3200. The film grain won't take away from the image like digital noise and you may be able to pull off some reasonable shutterspeeds
     
  9. fatsheep

    fatsheep TPF Noob!

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    Is shooting in low light situations an advantage of film over digital? I have also heard that film cameras with high sensitivity film isn't plagued by the graininess (or "digital noise" as you call it) that I have experienced at high ISOs (like 1600) on my camera.
     
  10. photogincollege

    photogincollege TPF Noob!

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    There still going to have some grain, but it will usually be 1, less prevalent, and 2, look more like an old time photo then just noise. If your really a stickler and have lots of cash you might be able to get ahold of the 50 mm 1.2. Or as someone else said get really high iso film, I took some shots with 1600 film but havent had developed yet. I would love to try some super high iso film like 3200 or 6400 or something.
     
  11. am_photoer

    am_photoer TPF Noob!

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    I've used ISO 3200 film and it works pretty well. Not really too much more expensive either, about $6 a roll on amazon.

    I created prints from the film in a darkroom so in my experience a 35mm negative produces an excellent image at around 5x7 size without cropping. However, enlargments beyond that become way too grainy, in my opinion, for a good print.

    You could even look into an entry level film SLR coupled with a nice 50mm. If you're patient you might find a good deal for film SLR cameras. Hey, i purchased a whole darkroom's worth of supplies for like $100 so its possible.

    I haven't tried it yet, but having iso3200 film with a f/1.8 aperture should work pretty well.
     

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