Night cityscape photography


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Feb 21, 2014
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I'm new to night photography and I'm going to Las Vegas in a couple of months. If you need more info, I own a canon rebel t3i and I'll be using the 10-22mm ultra wide angle zoom lens. Anyone want to provide some tips? It would be very much appreciated.


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Dec 4, 2011
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Western MA
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Perhaps most important with that camera and lens (f3.5-4.5) for night photography is you'll need more light. The good news is that an external flash will provide much needed light. The bad news is that the popup flash is useless beyond 10 feet, and the external flash will 'drown out' the brilliant lighting in Las Vegas. Also, I strongly doubt that a casino will permit indoor photography, especially with a DSLR and definitely using flash.


The alternative is get a decent tripod. Then practice, practice, practice doing long exposures outside, preferably somewhere with bright lights to deal with. Even downtown Smallville is better than practicing in your back yard. You'll need to figure out what is the highest ISO speeds you can 'live with' without getting too much noise, and, get a 'feel' for how long the shutter should remain open...perhaps 0.5 sec, 1 sec, even 5 seconds. Knowing ahead of time that shooting wide open will result in a thinner depth of field, if you're not familiar with the DOF tradeoffs, go to Online Depth of Field Calculator and 'play with it' using your camera and lens to get some 'feel' for the issues.



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Apr 4, 2011
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Yeah... Sure... More light for a night cityscape...
Better wait for a lightning storm and hope the lightning strikes right when you shoot the picture cause a flash that could light up an entire cityscape would be one heck of a monster. :p

On a more serious note: Bring a tripod.
My go on it would probably to stop down the lens aperture 2 or 3 stops from wide open (lenses are usually sharpest in that area), keep the ISO low and use a slow shutter speed.

Depth of Field (DOF) is probably not going to be much of an issue if you're standing about 8 or more meters from your subject (which for a cityscape you'll probably be).
You won't need a high ISO if you're going to be using longer shutter speeds. Higher ISO will just introduce noise which you'd be better to avoid unless you really need to get a shorter shutter speed.

Determining the shutter speed can be as simple as just trying it a couple of times. It's quite easy to get the hang of it.

One thing to note is that with the longer shutter speed all moving lights (like cars) will become lines. This can be nice, but if you'd like to avoid this then this is the part where you do increase the ISO so you can use a shorter shutter speed.
Just play with it a bit, it's not too hard and you don't have to be fast because your subject probably won't be walking away. ;)

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