Happy with the idea... not so much the outcome.

mgirl

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Hi guys!

I will start with, the friend I took this for it absolutely, totally in love with this photo, and I am glad that he is, but I am not. Something just feels completely off. Don't get me wrong, this is hands down the best night photo I have ever taken. I love that I did not have to play with the colors, or do much post processing. The LED lights on the buggy made the awesome blue color all on their own. That being said, I think, more than anything, it's a focus issue, but I could use your advice here.

Let me start with this two fold... I took two pictures here, and joined them in photo shop. One of the stars, and no buggy, then one in the exact spot with the buggy. Below are the settings I used for each:

Without Buggy:
50mm Canon Lens
F/4.5
Exposure: 12sec
ISO-800

With Buggy:
F/4.5
Exposure: 7sec
ISO-800

 

Luke345678

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I think it is an interesting shot.

Not necessarily my style.

If your friend likes it that's what really matters. I shoot a lot of sports photography and there will be photos I do not like but I have learned to still share them with clients because in the end, they really care about the moment that was captured. They do not care if there are tiny little problems in the shot.

For your own personal critique, think about what you don't like about it and how you would fix it.
 
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mgirl

mgirl

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Tirediron, my fist reaction to your post was me thinking... wth is his problem... then I went back and read what I wrote. I didn't clarify anything in the form of a question. So, I guess I really just want to know from those that take shots at night, how does one get their focus so spot on? I struggle with this at night, is there a trick to it? I've taken several shots trying to get something close to this in the past, and this is my best one yet. Still the focus is off. I don't have this problem (when I pay attention) any other time.
 

wyogirl

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You said you think its a focus issue but I think its a sharpness issue. You could have used more DOF for the buggy pic but then you have to increase your exposure time or your ISO....both of which will effect sharpness. Already at f4.5 you needed a 7 second exposure. Its nearly impossible for your friend there to hold perfectly still for 7 seconds so its not going to be as sharp as you probably wanted. If you increase the ISO you can decrease the exposure time but you still need a little more DOF to get both the buggy and your friend into focus. Its a very hard combination to get just right.... and there may not be a perfect solution... just one that is close.
 
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mgirl

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Amanda - That makes perfect sense! Looking at the photo again, the DOF is definitely part of my issue. The front passenger tire is sharper... sometimes I just need another set of eyes. Thank you!
 

wyogirl

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The other thing that you could do.... instead of increasing the DOF, you could change your focus point. You focused on the front wheel... its the sharpest point. Move that focus point to the person in the seat and the tires will be a little out of focus but I think that would be a better look.
 

tirediron

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You said you think its a focus issue but I think its a sharpness issue. You could have used more DOF for the buggy pic but then you have to increase your exposure time or your ISO....both of which will effect sharpness. Already at f4.5 you needed a 7 second exposure. Its nearly impossible for your friend there to hold perfectly still for 7 seconds so its not going to be as sharp as you probably wanted. If you increase the ISO you can decrease the exposure time but you still need a little more DOF to get both the buggy and your friend into focus. Its a very hard combination to get just right.... and there may not be a perfect solution... just one that is close.
The solution is more light. There's two approaches. The first is to bring in lots of lights and set them up 'til you get everything perfectly illuminated, and take the shot. Quick, but not easy, and requires a fair amount of gear (I'd probably drag at least six, and possibly more lights out for this). The other solution is to light paint. Using a LONG exposure, a hand-held speedlight and a strong flashlight (and a lot of experimentation) you can create some really cool works. The upside is, cheap like borscht and no gear to speak of, the downside is, you'll probably need a few tries to get it right.
 
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mgirl

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This all comes down to more practice needed.... It's a goal, and I really do appreciate the help. They say practice makes perfect, and while that may be true, what I was trying was not working. I now have more tools to take with me, and implement! I have the ability to bring out more light, it just never occurred to me to do that. I thought "night shot, less light", but I essentially combined two pictures here to start with. It only makes sense. One with all the light, "quick, and easy" then shoot the background, as is. Does that seem like the right thing to try?
 

tirediron

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This all comes down to more practice needed.... It's a goal, and I really do appreciate the help. They say practice makes perfect, and while that may be true, what I was trying was not working. I now have more tools to take with me, and implement! I have the ability to bring out more light, it just never occurred to me to do that. I thought "night shot, less light", but I essentially combined two pictures here to start with. It only makes sense. One with all the light, "quick, and easy" then shoot the background, as is. Does that seem like the right thing to try?
That would definitely be the easiest. In order to maintain the basic lighting concept, I would start with my key light behind, using a 24" gridded (and possibly socked) reflector. I would have one small gridded light aimed at each wheel to illuminate the rim int he manner of the right front. I would place a speedlight on VERY low (~1/128) power behind each right-side tire to throw a little light into the ending and front bay, and I would use another small light, probalby a speedlight on low power on the driver's seat or footwell to throw just a little light on his face. I would base all light off of the ouptut of the ditch lights in front of and behind the cockpit, and ensure that they were properly exposed.
 
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mgirl

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Fantastic! Lighting is not my strong point, I "catch" good light often, but really struggle to create my own. I have access to most of what you listed here, and can find others that may work as well. Thank you so much for the suggestions! Now to get back out there!
 

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The light seems a little harsh or contrasty to me. And I might think about the angle and vantage point along with suggestions from others about the depth of field - if the focus is on the front tire, that's farther from you and your camera, and I find the opposite usually works better for me - to focus on part of the subject closer to me. This seems like the back end is angled more toward you and it's somewhat downhill which seems a little awkward looking to me.

If your friend would want to do some more trial runs of getting some more shots you're right that it helps to keep practicing and trying different ideas.
 

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