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General photography questions and answers: Discuss Night Photography...Okay so I went out again last night, couldn't get the moon as missed it due to the cloud cover ...
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Old 20-01-2011, 12:37   #1 (permalink)
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Night Photography

Okay so I went out again last night, couldn't get the moon as missed it due to the cloud cover and wasn't as bigas the night before, so i though I'd try out some night photography and settled on a path near our church which is lit and looks really lovely as I drive past each evening on my home. I used all my tripod which I attached to one of the street lamps and focused as instructed, set it to manual and then used a shutter trigger to take the pic on

Tv(Shutter Speed)
6Sec.
Av(Aperture Value)
F7.1
Metering Modes
Evaluative metering
Exposure Compensation
0
ISO Speed
200
Lens
EF-S18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
Focal Length
30.0 mm
Image size
3888 x 2592
Image Quality
RAW
Flash
Off
White Balance
Custom
AF mode
Manual (MF)
Picture Style
Landscape




I haven't edited as I think its a total loss.
What went wrong
Mims
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Old 20-01-2011, 12:39   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Night Photography

The second one I took was the Police Station:
Tv(Shutter Speed)
8Sec.
Av(Aperture Value)
F7.1
Metering Modes
-
Exposure Compensation
0
ISO Speed
200
Lens
-
Focal Length
31.0 mm
Image size
486 x 324
Image Quality
-
Flash
On
White Balance
Shot settings
AF mode
-
Picture Style
-


Another disaster.

Mims
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Old 20-01-2011, 13:14   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Night Photography

I notice that you have custom white balance set in #1. You would be better using auto or maybe tungsten or fluorescent, depending on what the street lamps are. The red cast could also be due to noise.

Did you try a range of different exposures? For this scene I would start with one at 1 second, then 2 seconds, 3 then 4. Comparing your results will then give you another range to try that might be 1.5 seconds, 2, 2.5. Compare these to see if you are going in the right direction.

I think you are overexposing the shots, but it is difficult to judge as we don't know what the light was like at the time.

#2 shows that you used a flash. Not necessary with this type of shot, but it can add to some night shots to accentuate elements within the shot.
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Old 20-01-2011, 13:49   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Night Photography

Thanks Graham,
I think i'll keep going to this location until I get it right. Would it be wrong to shoot in auto mode and then look at the values?
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Old 20-01-2011, 19:19   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Night Photography

Quote:
Originally Posted by Midnightstar View Post
Thanks Graham,
I think i'll keep going to this location until I get it right. Would it be wrong to shoot in auto mode and then look at the values?
It is not ‘wrong’ to do anything really, but using auto in these situations to give you a clue as to the settings is not always the best way as the meter in the camera can be easily fooled by variations in the light caused, for instance, by branches waving in the wind and varying the light that might be shining through them. Different metering methods will certainly give different results too. You could try spot metering on the brightest part of the scene, but I don't think the 400D has spot metering. However, nothing ventured, nothing gained. Give Av a try and see how it does. Just remember that an auto mode may well place too much emphasis on the darker elements in the frame, so overexposing the shot.

Try using the same scene with the same aperture and just vary the exposure in either one second or half second increments. There is nothing like trial and error in these situations, and the more you trial, the fewer errors you will make.

Keep settings like white balance the same too; otherwise your results will not be consistant.
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Old 20-01-2011, 20:33   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Night Photography

I'd agree with Graham.

I think the biggest factor is over exposure creating the red cast. A couple of seconds max I'd say.

Fun though?
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Old 21-01-2011, 08:11   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Night Photography

yep the length of exposure will dictate how much light polution is showing up in your shots, and the orange in the sky at least is usually exactly that, light pollution.

if you were to take the same shot with the same settings out in the country somewhere., you probably wouldnt get half the amount of orange.
so start of with a couple seconds exposure and as has been suggested vary from there, oh and shoot in raw that way the white balance is recoverable after the shot.
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Old 21-01-2011, 08:59   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Night Photography

Over exposure won't create a colour cast but the wrong White Balance will. OK, the street lights are overexposed but the shot isn't overly so

I'd suggest that when you next go out, to set the camera to:
RAW
Auto White Balance (you can alter aftwerwards if the streetlamps are too orange)
ISO100
Av
f/8
Exposure Compensation -1.0
Manual focus @ infinity

letting shutter speed take care of itself. Think you'll get some OK shots with that - depending on available light, results will give exposures of 1 second to 30 seconds.
When in doubt about settings, simplify but retain overall control
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Old 21-01-2011, 10:10   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Night Photography

Thanks everyone for your advice. Fair weather girl that I am, I didn't go out last night. Lets see what the weekend brings to East London, if its dry and mild, I think I'll risk it again.

Thanks
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Old 21-01-2011, 10:29   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Night Photography

Quote:
Originally Posted by Midnightstar View Post
Thanks everyone for your advice. Fair weather girl that I am, I didn't go out last night. Lets see what the weekend brings to East London, if its dry and mild, I think I'll risk it again.

Thanks
Mims
Dry and mild? LOL! This is the UK in the winter! You might, if very lucky, get one of them (forecast appears to be fairly cloudy so probably no frosts but could be misty/foggy). And anyway, there's a requirement to suffer for your art!
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Old 21-01-2011, 14:39   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Night Photography

Ahhhhhhhhhhh.............now you tell me.
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Old 21-01-2011, 16:28   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Night Photography

One further thing. I believe that the first image is suffering from flare. You are pointing your camera towards strong (relatively) light sources. In this situation, I would remove any filters and use a lens hood.

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Old 21-01-2011, 20:09   #13 (permalink)
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Re: Night Photography

I had the camera mounted on one of the Lamposts before this and then on the floor. Perhaps i should put it on a normal tripod and away from the lampost at an angle, I wanted to try and get all the lamposts into a curved shot, so i'll take another look. Would a polariser help here?

Last edited by Midnightstar; 21-01-2011 at 20:10. Reason: sentence looked wrong
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Old 22-01-2011, 12:59   #14 (permalink)
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Re: Night Photography

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Originally Posted by Midnightstar View Post




I haven't edited as I think its a total loss.
What went wrong
Mims
not sure what's wrong with it, ok so the white balance is 'interesting' but apart from that it looks about right exposure wize, have you tried shooting raw, it will give you more options for changing white balance later on and greater ability to tweak exposure

if you do prefer to shoot jpeg then you can do a pre white balance using something which is neutral within the scene (read camera manual!) and also the pre-set white balance (tungsten etc) you can try and evaluate to some extent on the back of the camera

PS, I kinda like the flare but agree if you are using filters then usually you are better to remove them (and use lens hood)
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Old 23-01-2011, 02:23   #15 (permalink)
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Re: Night Photography

The following should be in every photographer's handbook, so not new. Forgive me if it seems pedantic but it is difficult to deal with the subject other than to suggest a book to read.

From reading the exif data I gather you are using RAW, but that does not solve a very specific character of street lighting (non continuous or band spectrum lighting which give slices of colour, e.g. a slice of red and a slice of green). Graham (Dabhand) probably hit the nail on the head when he suggested you check your white balance and set it to tungsten (ordinary filament lamps with a continuous spectrum, that is all colours spread over a range from say red to blue, peaking in the yellow) or fluorescent (band spectrum compensated by phosphors on the inner side of the lamp glass to give as near a continuous spectrum as acceptable to the eye). Sunlight is a continuous spectrum and that is what we need in order that the camera can give the nearest representation of what we see.

Having thrown all this into the thread, and the fact you can alter a RAW photo on the computer, there still remains the information that the camera attaches (in this case white balance) to the RAW file, which tells the computer software what compensation to apply.

On my DSLR there is a white balance setting for fluorescent lighting which in turn has 7 settings for the most common types of band spectrum lighting.

Just to get deeper into this ... sodium lights, the kind you find on street lighting, have 2 bands very close to each other and are orange-yellow - so any object illuminated only by sodium lights will have various shades of orange-yellow only. The brain will compensate and try to fill in colours that it knows about, but will only see them in monochrome (heavy stuff lighting ), fluorescent lights use mercury vapour which creates several bands principally in the green, which is why when using film, where there is no in-camera software compensation, a magenta filter is needed to reduce the green.

Found a website with simple pictures http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~zhuxj/astro/h...ctrometer.html.

I hope this does not make the situation worse for you and more confusing.
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Old 23-01-2011, 08:49   #16 (permalink)
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Re: Night Photography

I notice that you have custom white balance set in #1. You would be better using auto or maybe tungsten or fluorescent, depending on what the street lamps are. The red cast could also be due to noise.
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Old 23-01-2011, 16:27   #17 (permalink)
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Re: Night Photography

ah - if you shot it raw then there's no real issue, just bring it into your raw converter and pick another white balance
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Old 25-01-2011, 18:11   #18 (permalink)
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Re: Night Photography

It may be helpful to show an example. The following shot was taken in sodium light and the result is just shades of yellow/orange light as others have indicated. No colour balance can make it look as if it was taken in white light:



However, you may think about producing a monochrome image which I think works better in this case:



If you would like colourful night scenes choose an area well lit by different types of lighting e.g. shopping street:

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Old 25-01-2011, 18:33   #19 (permalink)
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Re: Night Photography

Good examples Dave

I imagine that Mim's shot was taken under similar lighting as your first one, but if it was converted to Mono, I feel that there will still be over exposure issues with it. A better exposure would not have looked so bad and would probably convert better too.

I've got some half decent pictures in New York's Times Square with my first digital camera (Nikon Coolpix 885 compact) taken at about 1/40th at f2.8 with ISO 100.
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Old 26-01-2011, 16:47   #20 (permalink)
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Re: Night Photography

Thanks for your comments Dabhand16. I always take multiple exposures for night photography even after establishing the "correct" setting. Many night scenes are High Dynamic Range and benefit from that treatment. The first two of my examples used a combination of two exposures but the third required three exposures. It is important that the scenes still look like night. The third shot is exactly as I saw it and was published in the local newspaper though it is not really competition standard.

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Old 26-01-2011, 16:56   #21 (permalink)
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Re: Night Photography

Dave - you have confirmed the wisdom of bracketing, particularly in difficult situations - something that most of us don't do enough of.
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Old 22-02-2011, 05:55   #22 (permalink)
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Re: Night Photography

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dabhand16 View Post
Dave - you have confirmed the wisdom of bracketing, particularly in difficult situations - something that most of us don't do enough of.
How about bracketing contrast for future editing such as Chromatix and such?
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Old 24-02-2011, 14:19   #23 (permalink)
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Re: Night Photography

Dave and Graham, would you kindly explain bracketing for me?

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Old 24-02-2011, 14:52   #24 (permalink)
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Re: Night Photography

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Dave and Graham, would you kindly explain bracketing for me?

Mims
Nothing to do with DIY you will be pleased to know!

It is taking several different exposures of the same scene. It is vital that the camera does not move in between exposures - or, for that matter, anything in the frame. You can then either select the best one, or combine two or more to make the final image using the best bits.

Depending on what you are shooting, you sequence might be three shots; one at 'normal' exposure, and then one shot one stop underexposed and another shot one stop over exposed. You can take the sequence in any order, and some cameras will have a bracketing control where you can set the number of exposures and how much difference between each one.

Another sequence might be 5 exposures with one half of a stop difference between each one.

In post#3 I described shooting the scene more that once with different times. This is bracketing. It is best to change the shutter speed rather than the aperture as there will not be any depth of field issues.
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Old 24-02-2011, 19:54   #25 (permalink)
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Re: Night Photography

Quote:
Originally Posted by Midnightstar View Post
Dave and Graham, would you kindly explain bracketing for me?

Mims
Graham has explained it so not a lot to add. As I use Raw files, I would typically use +/- 2 stops for bracketing for night street photography. If I used JPEG, I would probably take 5 exposures at 1 stop intervals.

You could just choose the best exposure or better still combine the exposures. Combining exposures can range from using special software like Photomatix involving a fusion or HDR process. Alternatively you could place each in a different layer in PS or Elements and use combination by layer masking.

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Old 27-02-2011, 20:05   #26 (permalink)
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Re: Night Photography

WB as a no. of members pointed out is one factor with which I agree... one more thing I wish to point out is lack of sharpness.. wht tripod are u using? And was it windy out there?
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Old 21-03-2011, 18:14   #27 (permalink)
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Re: Night Photography

Hi

finally managed to get back to shoot the lamposts at our churchyard walkway. I used photoshop to change it to black and white and this is what I got.

1.

Church Yard Walk by starst0rm*<(*?*)>*, on Flickr


2.

St Peters & St Pauls Church by starst0rm*<(*?*)>*, on Flickr

This is the actual church and is well lit at night, I took this shot just by the lamp posts and after a series of really bad ones, this is as good as it got. Not pleased with the results.

I eventually got a shot of the moon and listed it in the forum titled 'photographing the moon'.
I wonder if you all meet up on occasions? Having set off to take my picture's, I felt really uncomfortable in the middle of the night, especially around Epping Forest and Chingford Golf course where someone parked and watched me taking pictures until I got spooked, rushed what I was doing and finally left. oh....and dropped the camera. What do the girlies here do on these occasions?

Mims

Last edited by Midnightstar; 21-03-2011 at 18:19. Reason: wrong code - punctuation
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Old 26-03-2012, 23:15   #28 (permalink)
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Re: Night Photography

Hello,

i dont know if you've had a reply to your image query, but looking at it it would appear your white Balance has been set incorrectly. Youve used a custom setting. This can be corrected in photoshop.

If you like I could adjust it for you and email you the result.

Kind regards

Archie
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