Nikon D5100 settings for night photography in the woods.

Dany6

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Hi guys,i'm new on here and i need an advice on which settings should i use for....

I'm planning to go for a quick camping with my friends,in the "woods",but it's not actually complete woods,covered with trees etc...There are still a few houses nearby.

So i'd like to take a night photo of us,of course with (almost) complete dark,a bit of light polution from the houses nearby,but not sure which settings should i use for that type.

I have (as mentioned in title) Nikon D5100,with 18-55 mm f/3.5-5.6 VR lens.Would max apperture (3.5),and let's say shutter speed of 1/15,1/30 do the job?

Could you guys give me an advice,and should i use the flash?



Edit:And yes,i'll be using a tripod,i forgot to mention that.
 

SquarePeg

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This question is impossible to answer without knowing what you’ll have for ambient light. Will it be a full moon? Will it be partly cloudy to reflect the light from the moon? How far away are these houses that you’re referring to? None of this can really be determined until you’re on site. Is there going to be a campfire or lanterns to provide some usable light that you can control? Using the tripod is great but if you’re photographing people in the dark they won’t be able to stay still long enough for a decent exposure with no lights. With a slow lens like that you’ll need a really high ISO which will lead to a lot of noise. That being said, a noisy pic is better than none at al. Consider using flash.
 
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Dany6

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This question is impossible to answer without knowing what you’ll have for ambient light. Will it be a full moon? Will it be partly cloudy to reflect the light from the moon? How far away are these houses that you’re referring to? None of this can really be determined until you’re on site. Is there going to be a campfire or lanterns to provide some usable light that you can control? Using the tripod is great but if you’re photographing people in the dark they won’t be able to stay still long enough for a decent exposure with no lights. With a slow lens like that you’ll need a really high ISO which will lead to a lot of noise. That being said, a noisy pic is better than none at al. Consider using flash.
Well since the houses are further away to actually get any of ambient light,as well no campfire where the pic will be taken.So it'll be almost pitch black (around 4am).
So any light there's gonna be is one or two flashlights,if i point the light at the subject i suppose it'd be better than nothing too hm?
 

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Not chance of getting anything usable in those circumstances without using flash or lighting your subject another way.
 

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Could you guys give me an advice, and should i use the flash?
Yes, the built-in flash would be better than nothing.

You might try modifying the flash somehow, either by placing a diffuser in front of the flash or reflecting the light toward some other reflecting surface.

A built-in flash will work, but your photograph will look somewhat like an "amateurish" snapshot, but it will give you a photograph.
 

adamhiram

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+1 for using the built-in flash.

A slow shutter speed on a tripod only works well for stationary subjects. A wide aperture will help, but f/3.5 isn't that wide, and if you zoom in at all with that lens, your variable aperture will quickly close down to f/5.6. You could also try raising your ISO - the sensor on the D5100 is pretty clean up to about 1600 and still usable but noisy at 3200 - but by 6400 it's a mess.

I would recommend opening the aperture all the way, raising the ISO to 3200, and using as slow of a shutter speed as you can without getting motion blur, which will typically be 1/focal length (i.e. 1/30s for 35mm). If that doesn't let in enough light, you could try halving the shutter speed (1/15s in this example) if everyone can stay still enough, but most likely you will need to just use the built-in flash. It won't be the most flattering light, but at least it will be exposed properly.
 
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Dany6

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Could you guys give me an advice, and should i use the flash?
Yes, the built-in flash would be better than nothing.

You might try modifying the flash somehow, either by placing a diffuser in front of the flash or reflecting the light toward some other reflecting surface.

A built-in flash will work, but your photograph will look somewhat like an "amateurish" snapshot, but it will give you a photograph.
Well i just want to have a nice decent photo,doesn't have to look professional where every detail is shown.
I'm sure it'd turn out to look better than if i shoot it with my Redmi Note 8 heh.

+1 for using the built-in flash.

A slow shutter speed on a tripod only works well for stationary subjects. A wide aperture will help, but f/3.5 isn't that wide, and if you zoom in at all with that lens, your variable aperture will quickly close down to f/5.6. You could also try raising your ISO - the sensor on the D5100 is pretty clean up to about 1600 and still usable but noisy at 3200 - but by 6400 it's a mess.

I would recommend opening the aperture all the way, raising the ISO to 3200, and using as slow of a shutter speed as you can without getting motion blur, which will typically be 1/focal length (i.e. 1/30s for 35mm). If that doesn't let in enough light, you could try halving the shutter speed (1/15s in this example) if everyone can stay still enough, but most likely you will need to just use the built-in flash. It won't be the most flattering light, but at least it will be exposed properly.
Thanks you very much,i'll try with these settings and hopefully it'll turn decent.
 

dunfly

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Google light painting. You can get some really nice night photos with a good flashlight. You will just have to experiment with it. If you do not have anyone to do the "painting", then set up some flashlights shining on your group with the light coming in at angles. You will still have to experiment with exposure, but you should be able to get something useable. With a D5100, I would start with a 4f setting in aperture priority, an ISO no higher than 1600 and let the shutter speed go where in wants. Shutter speed will be slow so everyone will have to be real still during the shot.
 

mountainjunkie

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This was taken with a D750 @F2.8, iso 1600. Even with those settings and a fire to light up the subjects this shot was still 1.6 seconds to even get this much light them. (And still couldn’t get everyone still for the whole thing). So yeah, it’ll be tough to get much with the conditions you described without some sort of foreground light.

47610636952_da5c363e66_o.jpg
 
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Dany6

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I've taken a few pics,f 3.5 and shutter speed of 1/60.I used built in flash,and some led light,that did the job.
I used tripod ofc,i like how the pics turned out but they're still kinda a bit blurry.Maybe if i used manual focus and perhaps 1/15 shutter speed it'd turn out better.But all in all i'm satisfied,i edited them a bit too.
 

wfooshee

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Without adding light, you have no chance at a usable image.

Yeah, you could set the shutter to stay open for 30 seconds, and you'd get shapes that you recognize, but no mammal can be perfectly still for even a fraction of a second. much less 30 seconds.
 

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I've taken a few pics,f 3.5 and shutter speed of 1/60.I used built in flash,and some led light,that did the job.
I used tripod ofc,i like how the pics turned out but they're still kinda a bit blurry.Maybe if i used manual focus and perhaps 1/15 shutter speed it'd turn out better.But all in all i'm satisfied,i edited them a bit too.
That blurryness might be missed focus or camera shake, or both. Hand-holding the camera with a shutter speed of 1/60 second takes great skill to hold it steady.

Missed focus in those conditions occurs when your camera cannot find and settle on one thing on which to focus. The camera needs light, so that is why your camera has that small light on the front which sends a tiny amount of light toward your subject for the auto-focus to focus on. If you post that photo, we can zoom in and look at it closely.

There is no way you're going to be able to focus manually, especially in very low light. Also, don't mix light types. Having the LED light on will fool the camera's auto exposure into projecting less light from the flash to your subjects. So either use one flash by itself, or several flashes linked to fire at the same time.

When using your flash, the shutter speed will have very little effect on the outcome. Just don't go higher than your synch speed. Put both the camera and the flash into iTTL, and hold your camera steady or use your tripod.
 

Grandpa Ron

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Do not sell underestimate your camera's potential. A lot depend on how much you want to diddle with your camera. Here are some night shots and explanations. these were taken with Cannon T6 rebel, tripod, Manual settings, candid with no flash.

feast.jpg

18th century re-enactment event campfire, f4.0, 2 sec. 6400 ISO, 18mm lens setting.
Note how bright the candle lantern between the two women is.

feast4 t.jpg

Re-enactors tents and rain fly. illuminated by candle lanterns
F5.6, 2 sec. 6400 ISO, lens set at 49 mm.

sky glow.JPG

Night sky, no moon just light pollution. A lot happens when you do long exposures. These clouds were just visible to the eye but the star trails show the longer exposure time. was f 5.6, 30 sec. 3200 ISO lens set to 21 mm.

IMG_3826.JPG

Never underestimate the moon light. This is a clear night about midnight with a full moon.
f4.0, 3 sec, 6400 ISO lens set to 18mm.

I hope this give you an idea of what you can do at night with your camera and a tripod.

Good Luck
 

wfooshee

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All of those are either long exposures or added light. You can't get identifiable faces, either with long exposure (motion blur) or no added light (just too dark,) and he clearly stated he wanted to try to get a picture in the dark.
 

Grandpa Ron

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While it is true that shooting at night is a challenge, it is not like leaving the lens cap on; there is almost always some degree of usable light.

If you just want a picture of your friends around the camp fire, then just use the flash or wait until day light. But a night shot can offer more than just burst of light against a dark back ground.

Night shot generally try to capture the mood and ambiance of the world after dark. In the woods it is often a time of less noise and more solitude. A time to listen to the things that scurry in the safety of darkness. Night time, low light, photography offers a chance to capture part of that experience.

And then there are the stars and the night time sky, but that is a topic for another day.
 

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