Old 12-18-2008, 03:18 PM   #1
mattyrob87
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Default Night Photography Help, Tips, Advice!

Hi All,

I went to do some night photography last week for the first time just to try it out and overall I liked what I was getting although I didn't really know how to shoot in the night, so I shot on auto for most of the night... Anyhoo, the shots came out very grainy, so I was wondering if anybody could give me some pointers for taking night shots.

Any suggestions or help would be much appreciated!
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Old 12-18-2008, 03:54 PM   #2
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With night shots, you should set the ISO setting as low as possible to reduce the amount of grain in the image. In some cases, you will have to put the camera in manual mode.

Also, you will want to play with the exposure setting. The longer the exposure, the more light is let into the picture, and the brighter the image becomes. If the exposure is too short, the image is too dark. If the exposure is too long, it can drown out the subject to the point you won't recognize what you were shooting.

If you are trying for action night shots (streaking), they work best if there is a fixed object or two in the frame to balance out the steaking effect.
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Old 12-18-2008, 05:04 PM   #3
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Set the ISO as low as it will go, use a tripod, and experiment like crazy. Try longer exposures with a wider apertures and shorter exposures with smaller apertures. If you're shooting JPEG, make sure you've properly set your white balance for the ambient lighting conditions. Take notice of where your light's coming from. Notice what an impact cloud cover makes... sometimes clouds are good, sometimes bad.
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Old 12-18-2008, 05:15 PM   #4
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Never EVER shoot on auto. Don't do it. Especially at night. You're smarter than that [piece of plastic you've got in your hands. Shooting on autro with a DSLR is like driving a sprts car but never first or second gear. You're simply not getting the most out of itthat you should. So stop it.

Right now!

Use the lowest ISO you can get away with. I almost rarely go above 200 with my XTi, but depending on the model camera you're using and the post processing software, you should try as many different settings as you can. Find an engine sitting alone somewhere or a depot and just shoot like crazy. If it ain'tmoving, it ain;t going anywhere andyou might as well practice as much as you can.

If you don't have a remote control or cable for your camera, put the camera on a timer so you don't move the camera at all when releasing the shutter. (Or rather you move the camera before you release the shutter.)


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Old 12-18-2008, 07:46 PM   #5
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I have a couple nite shots on the DB and I can tell you that I took at least 10 or 12 of each shot with different time l;aspe. AND Joe is right NEVER NEVER use auto at nite. I use Manual set on bulb, tripod, release cable, live view for focus, and lotsa practice. I can now get the exposure real close after 2 or 3 shots. Whan I got my camera in July, I went out in my area at nite and prcticed so I wouldnt flub a good shot later...........
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Old 12-18-2008, 08:55 PM   #6
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Get a remote shutter release (one that you can hold the shutter open with via the bulb setting on the camera). I'd also look into an E-TTL II flash with manual controls (one that you could mount on your camera via the hot-shoe so it can do double-duty). With manual controls, you can fire off numerous flashes from various angles (completely separate from your camera, I should add) like you'd do with a Lumedyne system - except it's a hell of a lot cheaper and more useful at the end of the day (plus it'll fit right in your camera bag...your typical Lumedyne system isn't what you'd call "small"). This can also help your cause with those pesky Sodium Vapor lights that cast a nasty orange hue, since these flashes are a nice, natural white.
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Old 12-19-2008, 12:32 AM   #7
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Boy Nick, that sounds familiar!! LOL!! SB-800's firing full tilt eh?!
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Old 12-19-2008, 12:47 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TAMR159
Get a remote shutter release (one that you can hold the shutter open with via the bulb setting on the camera). I'd also look into an E-TTL II flash with manual controls (one that you could mount on your camera via the hot-shoe so it can do double-duty). With manual controls, you can fire off numerous flashes from various angles (completely separate from your camera,
Are you saying that one can take a basic flash like a Canon 430EX, open you shutter, and walk around flashing the subject manually and it works? I've participated in a bulbs shoot but not a flash shoot. Is a 430 sufficient or does one at least need the additional power of the 580EX?
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Old 12-19-2008, 01:13 AM   #9
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Speaking for Nick, thats exactly what he is saying! He and I did that exact same thing on Sunday evening, except, with Nikon flash units. With Canon, same principal.

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Old 12-19-2008, 01:17 AM   #10
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Let me take this further, set a portable hot-shoe flash on full power and manually pop away at the subject until you get the desired results. You can even use an off-brand (Quantaray, Sunpak, Sigma, Metz, etc...) and get the EXACT same results. Give it a try!

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Old 12-19-2008, 01:22 AM   #11
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OK, what sorts of subjects are good for this? An engine or car, no, one gets the reflective tape problem. A tower, I guess. Anyone have any examples?

Also, from my one experience with bulbs, the result was a fairly dull picture, I suspect because it lacked in contrast because the lighting was essentially flat and the repeated bulb flashes filled in any potential shadows. Any tips on doing a good one?
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Old 12-19-2008, 03:05 AM   #12
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I love shooting long exposures at night time. I always use ISO 100 and my exposures are from 10 to 30 seconds. I will say I have never shot a train at night nor have I been sucessful at a decent streak.

I took many long exposures while in Hawaii and recently on Haloween. The nice thing about digital, as you do know I am sure is that you can see your mistake and adjust exposure.

I sometimes take a mag light with me to assist in lighting or create shawdows.

I know this post may not help but I have a lot of fun with long exposures.
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Old 12-19-2008, 05:35 AM   #13
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I'll try not to repeat what the other guys said

My settings for action shots of a local switcher that stops only for 10-15 seconds at a time:

Setup #1: a fast lens (f 1: 8 ), a half mounted tripod, camera set in manual mode for exposure, aperture, white balance, iso and focus. I usually set the speed @ 1-2 seconds and adjust aperture accordingly. ISO 400 (remember, this is half-action photography). Removal of possible noise is done on computer.

Setup #2: 4 sychronised flashes held by helpers or tripods and a handheld camera. 1/100, f 2.8-4.5 iso 400

For long slow shots, same as everybody: remote, good tripod, low iso and experimenting.

Here are my two best in the DB:
http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=237695
http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=208521

Concerning the reflecting tape issues, as long as the lighting doesn't come directly from your camera, you should be ok...
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Old 12-19-2008, 07:52 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JRMDC
Are you saying that one can take a basic flash like a Canon 430EX, open you shutter, and walk around flashing the subject manually and it works? I've participated in a bulbs shoot but not a flash shoot. Is a 430 sufficient or does one at least need the additional power of the 580EX?
I'm not sure if this unit features manual controls or not...I believe I read on FredMiranda.com that it doesn't. You should be able to get a Sunpak flash for a lot cheaper anyway with manual controls, or so Kevin tells me...
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Old 12-19-2008, 07:54 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheRoadForeman
Boy Nick, that sounds familiar!! LOL!! SB-800's firing full tilt eh?!
-- Kevin
Like I said, when it comes to be tax return time, a decent flash with manual controls is on the list...funny how we can live without something for years, then suddenly feel as though we *need* it...cell phones anyone?
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Old 12-19-2008, 09:34 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TAMR159
Get a remote shutter release (one that you can hold the shutter open with via the bulb setting on the camera).

I bought one a few years ago, I don't know how I did night shots without before. One of the best tools you can have it you do night shots!
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Old 12-20-2008, 01:51 AM   #17
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Cable release, mirror lock-up, tripod and portable flash. Those are my bread winners for the night shots. This setup is not for everyone tho, some folk like the ambient light only. I however, like to carry the Sun with me at all times. I keep (2) Nikon SB-800's and (2) SB-600's with me.

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Old 12-24-2008, 08:19 AM   #18
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First off, a tri-pod is a priority. I usually set the camera on ISO 100, F8.0 and adjust the exposure according to the light I have around me, as others have stated. As for my new SLR, I haven't had the time to really work with it enough to tell what I like best with night photography.

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