Night pics


TPF Noob!
Feb 5, 2009
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So this picture was a 30 second exposure. I really thought it would be more exposed than it was. My fstop was as low was it would go- around 4. Should i have tried a flash, or did i just need to have a longer exposure? Do you need to use bulb mode to shoot the stars?
I used photoshop to increase the exposure. Is that maybe why there's so much noise? I shot in RAW.

I don't even know if i'm asking the right questions. Any advice would be appreciated.
And i know the subject may not be that great, but i was just struggling with getting it in focus and exposed.


Try shooting in Bulb, when i've shot the stars i've left the shutter open for 15 min or more sometimes. Just start at 30 sec and keep going longer and longer till you find the right shutter speed.
you should try using Bulb, get a remote switch so you dont have to hold it open with your finger, and just expose it for longer, how was the moon that night? looks like not much moonlight at all? and were you shooting outside from indoors? you will get a lot more noise the warmer the camera is, if you shoot outside at around 30˚F you will have very little noise.:thumbup:
What camera are you using? I have a sigma dp-1 and one thing it excels at is night time photos (stationary)

When I shoot with an exposure time of 15s, the photos come out looking as if the sun just set.

Are you using zoom? I find that when I zoom in when taking photos after dark the exposure time is usually 30 seconds, but each camera has it's own quirks.
Alright thanks! I'll try bulb next time.
I was shooting outside, but after i posted i remembered my iso was still at 400. You're right, there was no moonlight at all, i couldn't even find it tonight.

I'm using a d50. I just got it, and definitely still learning.
if you want to do bulb, but don't have a remote; hold something in front of the lens when you click the shutter, like a dark hat or something... then pull it away. Do the same when you hit it a second time to close the shutter.

All in all though, if you need to use bulb to get things to expose; the 1/2 a second your camera is going to shake isn't going to really yield much light that's blurred compared to the other 1+ minutes the shutter is open and recording.
I've also had pretty good luck with putting the exposure mode on Automatic. Choose the aperature you want for depth of field, or use F22 if you want starbursts out of any point of light. Then let the camera decide on shutter speed.

Some cameras will only keep the shutter open for so long, no matter what the meter is telling it, so this technique doesn't work in all situations. Something to try though.

For the bulb technique you are really going to want to use a cable release or wireless remote. While it can be done, touching the shutter button to start the exposure and then stop it is usually going give you camera shake that will ruin your shot.

Or, if you are using the auto technique described above, set the self timer on your camera. That way you aren't shaking the camera by touching it when the picture is being taken.

As was mentioned, low ISOs are usually the way to go on these kind of shots. Noise is a big problem, so finding the right combination of an ISO that doesn't create a lot of noise, but also a shutter speed that's not so long it creates noise, is the trick.

Lots of experimenting is the key. Good luck! :D

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