Tag Archives: Night photography

Settings for overcoming hand-shake blur

Balance your settings to avoid hand-shake blur in low light.

First dance
Low light photography needs a careful balance of settings to ensure a sharp shot and avoid hand-shake blur.

Hand-shake blur and sharp results.

Hand held shots often return blurred results. While using auto-settings the problem does not seem to arise. What is going on and how do you overcome hand-shake blur?

Manual settings and auto

Your digital camera is a sophisticated computer. It has access to a range of powerful programs that make decisions about each shot. When you use auto settings you are handing the camera over to the control of its programming. The auto setting is selected with the green square on the program dial. It makes all the decisions and you just point and shoot. This ‘auto’ strategy is limited. It leaves you unable to make creative decisions about your shot. Depth of field, movement blur and the light or dark emphasis in a scene is beyond your control.

With any of the manual settings on the program dial things are different. Shutter speed (S or Tv), Aperture (A or Av) and ISO settings allow you to get control of the exposure. Once you control these settings you are able to make creative decisions about your shot. But if you get it wrong you might allow hand-shake blur to creep in. Equally, with the right strategy, you can also set up to prevent the effects of hand-shake blur.

What causes hand-shake blur

Low light, long shutter opening or low ISO can all contribute. Hand shake-blur is caused by hand movement while the shutter is open. To prevent it you shorten the time the shutter is open. With a shorter shutter opening any hand movement is not given time to impact on the shot. Very fast shutter opening, say 1000th of a second, freezes the shot. The hand has almost no time to move in that short period. So, no hand-shake blur.

However, short shutter opening time means less light reaches the sensor. A good exposure requires sufficient light. A shutter speed of 1000th of a second would leave the picture under exposed in low light conditions. On the other hand, if you select a 15th of a second, the shutter is open for a long time. Hey presto! Enough light. But, (boo!) hand-shake blur. The shutter is open too long. Your hands have plenty of time to move.

Over coming hand-shake blur is about balance

If you raise the ISO setting, the sensor becomes more sensitive to light. So, raise the ISO until you can set the shutter to around 200th of a second. At that speed it is easier to hold the camera steady.

Of course, if you have to raise the ISO a lot to allow 200ths sec. you will get a grainy picture. Raising the ISO reduces the quality of the shot. Ideally an ISO setting of 100 will give you the best quality photographic result. On an average day you may have to set your ISO at around 200 or 400 to get a 200ths of a second shutter speed. Up to about ISO 800 the quality from most good DSLRs will be fine. After that, the quality of the image will be affected more and more by grain or “Digital Noise”.

Pictures taken in a dark church, or at an evening dance will have very low light. So, as an example, an ISO of 1600 would possibly give you enough sensitivity to work with a shutter speed of, say, 160th of a second. That would allow you to get a hand-held shot without hand-shake blur, if you have a steady hand. But you might also get a little digital noise in the final image.

Getting the right settings between the ISO and shutter speed is a fine balance. You need to raise the ISO the right amount to give you the shutter speed you need. Too much ISO and you get bad quality in the picture. Too little ISO and you will be forced to use a shutter speed that’s too low. Hand holding under these low light conditions may cause hand-shake blur.

Hand-shake blur and aperture

With ‘auto’ shots the camera program takes account of the light conditions. The program sets the ISO, aperture and shutter speed to values that allow shorter shutter opening. So far we have only discussed shutter speed and ISO. But aperture has a part to play too.

If you open the aperture wider it lets in more light. So, you don’t need to raise your ISO so high if you also open your aperture. In our church example above, an ISO of 800 (not 1600), shutter speed of 200th sec. and an aperture of f4 (wide) could create a good exposure.

If your aperture is set at say f11 (small) less light will get through. So, again you are going to need to have higher ISO or long shutter opening (or both), depending on your light conditions. A small aperture, like f11, will give you a sharp picture to infinity. But, you may have to sacrifice picture quality (high ISO) or suffer hand-shake blur (from longer shutter opening).

The wide aperture does have a penalty too. As the aperture gets wider the depth of field gets shallower. So once again we are back to a balance. To hand-hold a camera we must make decisions about all three basic settings – Shutter speed, aperture and ISO.

Other strategies for avoiding hand-shake blur

Camera movement or hand-shake blur can be avoided in a lot of different ways. Sometimes you must work in situations where hand-shake blur is inevitable without more radical solutions. Then there are other things you can do to reduce hand-shake blur. Here are some of them…

  • Lens anti-vibration: Many quality lenses have anti-vibration systems. These sophisticated systems detect hand-shake blur as it happens and counteract it. This might extend your safe shutter speed down to quite slow shutter speeds (say a 60th of a second). While this many not solve all your problems it can help in less extreme light conditions.
  • Tripod: A steady platform will prevent camera movement. If you need a long shutter opening then work from a tripod to eliminate hand-shake blur.
  • Flash: If you are working in a low light situation you may need to raise light levels. A flash unit, on or off the camera, is one answer. An intense flash of light can raise the light high enough for you to work with settings that prevent hand-shake blur.
  • Studio lights: More controllable, but more expensive, these lights can accurately raise light levels to enable you to reliably avoid hand-shake blur and get a good exposure.
  • Reflectors: You can use these to bring more light to where you are working by, say, reflecting from another artificial light or natural light source. Reflectors are particularly useful in reducing the darker areas of a shot. You can reflect the light to just raise light levels in some areas bringing the over all light level up. As the light level across the shot is raised the hand-shake blur can be reduced since shutter speed can be faster.
  • Improve your stance: A better stance is a great way to improve your steadiness.
  • Go to the gym: “What? This is about photography not fitness”, I hear you say. Well, here is a revelation. If your arms are stronger you can hold the camera steadier. A DSLR is a heavy object. Especially after a long session your arms will not hold the camera steady. If your camera is too heavy for you – well, strengthen up. Actually, more strength gives you much better motor control of your hands in any case. You will be able to hold even a point and shoot camera or phone with a steadier hand after regular exercise. Photography, like all other pursuits benefits from a fit body. Improved fitness will reduce hand-shake blur.
The answer to avoiding hand-shake blur

The auto program in your camera may give good results and reduce hand-shake blur. However, it will only do so in average conditions. In more extreme conditions, or where you want to exert some creative control over your shot you need to go manual.

The use of manual settings gives you control. You can control depth of field, subject movement-blur and light vs. dark emphasis in your shots. But, to get the best out of your camera you will need to set it up to avoid hand-shake blur. In this article I have tried to help you understand that the settings you pick can help you control hand-shake blur. Overall, the answer lies in creating a balance between the basic settings of aperture, shutter speed and ISO so that your hand held shutter speed is around 200ths of a second or higher. Lower than 200ths of a second and hand-shake blur is liable to creep into your shots.

Of course there are other things you can do to help raise your shutter speed. I have mentioned some of them. But they all have the same effect. They either stabilise the camera (tripod) or allow you to get the shutter speed high enough so you can steady the camera. So, now you know. Get out there and try to get your settings so you have around a 200th of a second when you take the shot.

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Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photographer and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photogs.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
By Damon Guy see his profile on Google+.

Do you make these three style mistakes?

• Soaring •

• Soaring •
If you want to develop your style – see the world a different way.
Click image to view large
• Soaring • By Netkonnexion on Flickr External link - opens new tab/page

Your personal style defines your photography.

When you start out in photography your style takes time to develop. However, you can easily stifle your photographic style if you don’t develop your photographic skills. You can avoid the problem by paying attention to these three key issues.

1. Little photographic experience

You can take thousands of pictures and still have little photographic experience. It is easy to do lots of pictures about the same type of thing. After a while this becomes boring and your pictures will become mundane or clichéd. It is easy to get into a rut and find your personal style stops developing. This happens even if you are photographing something you really find interesting.

Solution: Find new techniques to take photographs of your interest. To break out of a style rut you can easily change your technique. Here are some ways to do it…

  • Try a different lens… keep using it to force yourself to take new perspectives
  • Develop particular themes – Colour, shape, size, distance, angle
  • Use online tutorials to develop a new approach
  • Do a Google search on your image interests to see how others approach the subject
  • Discuss your interests with another photographer with different interests to get a new perspective
2. Limited range of photographic techniques

Lots of photographers beginning to develop their style are limited by the range of techniques they know. To take a different perspective it helps to extend your photographic skills. Here are some examples of techniques you can use change your photographic viewpoint…
Learn to manipulate Depth of Field – try these links to start you off:
Depth of field – a powerful photographic tool
An easy lesson in beautiful bokeh
One big change – one easy step forward (depth of field)
Controlling the Depth of Field (DoF) – Three Tips
Learn about action shots and panning – check out the resources here: Action shots – how to…
Try out night photography of your subject. Here is a resource page: Night Photography
There are lot of other resources on Photokonnexion. Check out the “Articles” section in the menu on the top of each page. Also you could try the “Categories” section up there too. They both offer different perspectives for resources on this site.

3. Poor understanding of composition and light

Both composition and light have a key role to play in your photographic style and how you approach your subject. You can follow up on some easy lessons in understanding light and compositional techniques from this site too. Here are some suggestions to get you started.
Key lessons in composition are:
Rule of thirds
Lines
Perspective
Key lessons in understanding light:
Six things to know about light
Three little known facts about shadows
Light, a Little Difference Makes a Big Impact (Hard and soft light example).
There are further links on the bottom of each page to help you follow up on more ideas.

Developing your style and skill go together

If you want to develop your own style, change your style if you are in a rut or just have wider experiences in photography – then learn more. As you develop your skills and take into account wider perspectives you will broaden your experience. You will have more fun too!

By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photogs.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
By Damon Guy see his profile on Google+.

How to do night photography when starting out

Night shots capture the imagination and the eye.

It is all about making sure that your viewer is drawn into your photograph. The rich colours and strong contrasts are really great for attracting the eye. In this post we will look at doing great night photography.

Night photography is simple

A lot of starters think night photography is difficult. Well it is not difficult, it is different. There is less light – obviously. There is also more light in some ways. This is because the difference between the light and dark portions of your picture are more extreme. In A quick tip to help you see the light (or darkness) we saw that the camera is not as good as the eye in distinguishing wide differences between light and dark. When shooting at night that is something we should remember.

We should not point our camera at a very bright light source at night. This is because it will over-expose quickly and the rest of the scene will remain dark. The darker parts expose slower. Try to find ways to expose your scene where the spread of light is of less extreme whites and blacks.

The concept of night photography is about exploiting light when the rest of the environment is dark. The aim therefore is to make sure you are exposing for the light you want to bring out in your picture. Almost certainly that will mean you need to do longer exposure than for the daytime. As you will see in the video this is not complicated to do. You will need to explore some settings you may not have used before. But photography is all about learning – right? OK…

Here is one idea that will simplify the thinking behind all sorts of exposure situations…

  • Picture a bucket in your mind.
  • Now picture filling it up with a hose.
  • At first you turn the tap a very little.
  • The water trickles out.
  • The bucket takes a long time to fill to the brim, but does get there.
  • Now repeat with the tap turned up more (twice as fast).
  • The bucket fills faster. In half the time in fact.
  • Now repeat again filling the bucket to the brim – tap open fully (speed x4).
  • The bucked fills half as fast again.

The bucket of water is like an exposure. To get the picture light enough you need to fill the camera with the right amount of light (to the bucket rim). At night you have to wait a long time for your exposure to fill to the brim (water at a trickle) because there is less light around. In early evening/dusk you have to wait for the exposure to fill in half the time (tap at half speed) because there is more light before sundown. During the day all that light pretty much zaps the bucket (sorry camera) full of light in double quick time.

OK, now you know all there is to know about exposure. That’s it. All you have to do is practice with the camera settings to wait for a while to fill up at night, wide aperture, long shutter opening to let in as much light as possible.

In the video the CameraLabs team have described the types of setting you might use and how to set them up. The explanation is clear and the settings simple. I think you will learn a lot.

DSLR Tips: Night Photography by CameraLabs
As an aside…

You notice in my bucket analogy how we tested fills? In photography each time you go up or down a stop of light you are halving or doubling the amount of light. Of course, in the bucket situation the timing and change-of-fill speed are not accurate – its only a thought experiment. But you get the idea. I am trying to show you how an exposure builds up over seconds (at night) or thousandths of seconds (during the day). And, the rate it fills is related to the amount of light around. That is measured in stops. Consider reading this article: Definition: f number; f stop; Stop. It will help you to understand the relationship between stops of light and exposure.

Night photography – let the sparks fly!

• Steel wool spinning •  by Steve Maidwell

• Steel wool spinning • In the tutorial you will see how to create images like this.
Click image to view large.
[Steel wool spinning • by Steve Maidwell]

Photography at night is an intense experience.

Not only is darkness powerful but the shock of light is even more invigorating. Put the two together and you have a formula for great impact. In this article Steve Maidwell gives us the tools to create incredible light shows.

What you will need
  • Steel wool – Get this get from any DIY store. I bought six bags, you will use a lot. Get Grade 0, 00, 000, or 0000. Don’t get anything at or above Grade 1, it won’t burn properly
  • Steel cable, rope or metal chain – Approx 1.5 M long, DIY store again. You could also use a metal dog lead with a clip at the end of the cable. I used the clip as a handle, but you can do whatever you wish. If you use a chain you won’t need the whisk or rope. Just poke the steel wool around the loops in the chain; it just takes longer to do that.
  • Whisk – I bought mine at a DIY store for £1. Make sure it is all metal, no plastic parts for obvious reasons.
  • Any D-SLR Camera and Tripod
  • A Lighter or 9 Volt battery – Use this to light the wool.
  • LED light or torch
  • Remote release for your camera (desirable, not essential).
  • All your clothes should be black if possible and you will need a hat or hoodie.

Next you need to build your cage to hold the steel wool. I attached the whisk to a steel cable. I looped the cable through the hole at the top of the whisk handle and then securely taped it on with duct tape. This cloth type tape is very strong so will not pull off when whisk is swung. Cut the cable/rope to about 1.5M long. I stripped the plastic covering leaving only the metal cable, again for obvious reasons. Then put two balls of steel wool into the balloon part of the whisk. Tease the steel wool apart to fill the whisk. This creates air pockets that allow more sparks to be generated. Put this to one side then set up the location in which you will take your images.

Out on location – ready to go

Set up the camera with the tripod, then…

  • Set camera dial to Manual (M)
  • Take the LED light or torch (flash light) and place it in the middle of the location you will be spinning your steel wool. Turn it on and point it so your camera will be able to focus on it.
  • Walk back to your camera, focus on the LED, then turn off auto-focus. This prevents the focus from changing when you start to expose the image.
  • Set a medium aperture F8-F11 and ISO at 100.
  • Set shutter at around 15secs. This may vary due to how dark it is when you take these. A good time is when you can just see light still in the sky but dark on the ground.
  • If you do not have a remote release button set the camera timer to give you a few seconds to move to the point of focus. You may need to practice this a few times before you light the wool.
  • Go to the torch (flash light) where you focussed your camera. Turn off the torch.
  • Push the remote shutter button (or wait for the camera to click on with the timer) and quickly ignite the wire wool with a lighter or battery terminals.
  • Spin the whisk. The faster you spin, the more sparks are generated.

If you have a partner helping out they can set off the camera or spin the whisk.

WhizThatWireWool - by Steve Maidwell

• Whiz That Wire Wool • by Steve Maidwell •
Shutter Speed: 16 Seconds
Aperture: F9.5
ISO: 100
White Balance: Auto
Click image to view large

In order to create the orb shape, spin the cable around in a circle. Then, while spinning, start rotating your body around the pivot point.

Spinning the wool in a circle without rotating around the pivot point will make a two dimensional Circle. It does tend to also light up the person doing the spinning. This creates a ghost image of the spinner. These are just as effective as the three dimensional orbs. Trying out different things is what it is all about!

You will need to test, and change, the settings on the camera to get the exposure right. It may take a few shots to get it the way you want it, but it is worth the effort. Don’t expect to get a correct exposure or final shot with the first try. After the first three or four shots you will get the hang of it.

Sparking Tower by Steve Maidwell

• Sparking Tower • by Steve Maidwell •

Camera settings for this image…
Shutter Speed: 30 Seconds
Aperture: F8
ISO: 100
White Balance: Auto
Click image to view large

Safety

Your safety is very important! For safety, wear a hat or hoodie, long sleeves, long trousers, shoes, gloves and goggles. This prevents your hair or clothes catching alight.

Allow the whisk to cool down before touching it, it will be very hot.

Have a fire extinguisher and a jerry can of water near-by, just in case a spark accidentally lands on a patch of dry grass. It can and WILL catch fire, especially if you are doing this in dry conditions. Very wet conditions are much safer.

Spinning wool in remote places helps because it draws less attention to yourself. You could attract unwanted attention from the authorities in public places.

Happy Spinning!

By Steve Maidwell (contributing author)

Steve Maidwell is a keen amateur photographer and active member of Marlow Camera Club. He has some superb images to his name and enjoys working with special effects. His website is imageinnation.com  External link - opens new tab/page. You can also see his images on his 365Project  External link - opens new tab/page

Night photography – beautiful images, new ways of seeing

Night image, night introduction.

Taking photos at night is interesting. Photographers normally deal with light. Night photographers deal with the lack of it. Everything is done in minutes, not 100ths seconds. Understanding night photography takes a new approach to dealing with light.

What is it all about?

Instead of working with the instant click-and-capture of light, night photographers manufacture light pools over many minutes. These light pools are often created by simple sweeps of a torch or the use of several lights over several minutes. By sweeping and re-sweeping the light intensifies. The camera picks up a building emphasis of light in the areas of the sweeps. Sweep many times and the final exposure in that sweep radius becomes bright. Lesser areas where the sweeps are few, or the light has just spilled are much darker.

The low light intensity over long times adds up to a full exposure in the lit areas which rapidly falls off to the dark of the surrounding night. This sort of light dark contrast leads to some striking imagery. However, we see things which are unlike our everyday experience. The result is both unworldly and at the same time a fascinating insight to our own world.

The video documents a Night Photography Workshop at Big Bend in West Texas led by photographers Scott Martin and Lance Keimig. In the film the leaders and their students create images of desert places. Some stunning shots are produced in the lights of the night photographers.

The video is six and a half minutes long. And, after the video some news about a forthcoming attraction…

Sparks will fly!

The post on Friday will be a guest post from photographer Steve Maidwell. His website is Imageinnation.com. He is very interested in night photography. The tutorial is about some great night photography effects. Make sure you have time to read that one!

Steve has done a tutorial for us once before. You can find the previous tutorial here: Creating a Fake Smoke Effect. Enjoy!

Five easy ways to learn about the light/shadow relationship

Practice blocks provide a great way to understand light/shadow relationship.

Practice blocks provide a great way to understand light/shadow relationship.
View large About the light/shadow relationship :: External link - opens new tab/page

Our first priority is light – second is shadow.

The relationship between them is one of the great pillars of photography. Learning about them is essential. The key to understanding the use of light is seeing the effect of shadow. In this article I am offering some ways to learn about the light/shadow relationship. If you have not already done so I recommend you read Three little known facts about shadows External link - opens new tab/page first.

The light/shadow relationship – a transition

When looking for a scene the right light and shadows can make or break a shot. We are looking at the light/shadow relationship so we can convey the right message to the viewer. Things with harsh and sharp shadow-lines tend to indicate hard, masculine, tight, dark, angular, tough, solid, artificial, technical. Things with soft shadow-lines showing gradual light-to-dark change are the opposite. They tend to be gentle, mild mannered, lighter, soft, rounded, meek, curved, natural and feminine in appearance. Using the wrong light sends conflicting messages to the viewer. The right light will help your message. The defining aspect of this relationship is the transition from light to dark. The shades between light and shadow are the definition of form. “Form” being the three dimensional shapes we see. The harsh sharp shadows of hard light are great for angular forms. The soft rounded and gradual shadows of a softer light are great for showing rounded three dimensional forms – like faces, eggs and balls.

Creating the right light

Creating light of the right sort is the quickest way to understanding the different types of light and the shadows they create. So, we are looking to bring out the transitional light/shadow relationship through the use of different types of light. This will help us define form in our images and bring out the 3D feel that makes pictures appear to have depth.

You need to be able to create two types of light for these experiments. Hard light – created with an intense beam from a relatively small light source. A torch like this one is excellent for this purpose…

 
The ‘Lenser’ LED Torches

The ‘Lenser’ LED range of torches External link - opens new tab/page is available on Amazon. I personally recommend the excellent LED Lenser 8407 P7 (Black) External link - opens new tab/page torch (advert – left). It is excellent for all types of photography. At night you want a rugged and powerful torch for safety, lighting and to prevent losing equipment. Lenser also sell a coloured filter set for it making this torch great for light painting External link - opens new tab/page too. It’s the top seller (5 star) in the range. Experience has shown it to be an exceptional piece of technology.

You also need soft light – usually generated from a large light source like a window, softbox or photographic umbrella.

Make sure you are using only one light source for your tests. Multiple lights confuse the shadows. The hard and soft lights are best used at the same intensity so you can compare results between them later. If you have one, an off-camera flash with the appropriate modifiers would do the same work. Use a honeycomb or snoot to get the tight beam of a hard light. Use a diffuser or bounce the light off reflectors or walls to create a soft light.

For your first experiments with soft and hard light try out your different light sources. Place a simple object of your choice on a table. For the subject see a small vase, a simple ornament, a small box or something similar. Take a few photographs with both hard and soft light. Then open them on your computer and compare them. What you are looking for is the quality of the shadow. How intense is it – light or dark. How quickly does the light change from light to dark. Is it an abrupt, sharp change? Or, is it a slow, gradual transition? Study your shots to see which you prefer. The light/shadow relationship is best shown in gradual steps. So your shots should show very hard light right through to very soft light.

Experimenting with curves

The use of curved subjects is going to create gradual transitions of light anyway. But curves can also have quite hard shadow-lines if the light is also hard. Using something rounded will show the point. A small ball, an egg or something similar are great for testing the hard or soft light effects. I have several wooden eggs for this purpose. They make test subjects for thinking through individual or group portrait shots. They help in planning shoots and lighting set-ups. They are a very cheap way of making your mistakes before the shoot! Give them a try.

Using a rounded subject, try your hard and soft tests again. This time take shots from at least eight light-positions in a circle round your egg. You must stay in the same position to take each shot. That way you will see all the different angles of the light/shadow relationship as a graduation as you move the light round for each shot.

In your computer ask the same questions about the hard edges and soft graduations of light through shadow. Imagine the eggs are faces. Which will work best on a face – those hard sharp lines or the soft graduations?

Experimenting with lines

For working with more hard-edged objects I have 50 wooden children’s building blocks. I use these in the same way as the eggs. They help me plan lighting and sets/props positions for shoots.

Use one block to start. Repeat the exercise as you did with the eggs. Take eight shots using different light positions around the cube. Keep the camera and cube in the same position from the start. Just move the light to each of the eight positions around the cube. Repeat the exercise for the hard and soft light sources. You will see that the results for a hard edged object is very different to the soft edged eggs in the previous experiment. Concentrate on how the light transitions in the light/shadow relationship shown by each shot.

This time, you are asking the same types of questions… about the quality of the shadow. How intense is it? How quickly does the light/shadow relationship transition, and so on. Again, study your shots to see which you prefer. You will have a different type of result because the edges are much harder than the rounded eggs. The shadow shapes will be very different too.

The wooden blocks are useful. The set I use for this purpose is advertised to the left. It has rounded blocks and a variety of shapes. This gives you the opportunity of trying out a whole range of effects and test lighting set-ups.

Experimenting with specifics

You have experimented with rounded subjects and hard edged ones above. Now it is time to look at the other possibilities.

Try mixing rounded and square edges. Try out a few scenes using the blocks to map out props. If you have other toys around use the blocks to create little still life scenes with the toys or other objects. The idea is to try and creatively use the toys, blocks and egg to make a scene. But you must concentrate on creating sympathetic shadows. Look always for the way you can understand the balance in the light/shadow relationship and make it complement your theme.

Suppose you depict a robot war. Your best light will be hard and very direct. The harsh sharp curves will help create a chaotic and harsh environment. Try depicting a love scene between two figures. You want to use soft, diffused light to carry the romantic mood.

You see my point. You are trying out in miniature what you want to do in the real world to emphasis your message.

I used to use several action figures for testing out scenes with people. But the kids broke them eventually. These days I use cheap wooden artists dummies. They are fun to use and give a very good idea how to set up lighting for poses. The one I use is advertised to the left. It is really great for lighting tests.

The Importance of Eggs

Finally, here is a video which I posted earlier this year. It focuses on the angles of light in the light/shadow relationship. It will show you the point of the eggs exercise. So you can see how it is all done. He shows you the principles. However, you will need to try out for hard and soft light and hard and soft edges – which the video does not show… Enjoy!

The Importance of Eggs (a previous post on Photokonnexion).

Shooting very long night exposures

Lights from any building generate a surprising amount of light at night.

“The Compleat Angler” – This hotel, pictured from Marlow Bridge, Buckinghamshire UK generates a surprising amount of light. Click image to view large.

Shooting by moonlight or other dim lights

It’s true. You can shoot in almost total dark with a digital camera. You make exposures of many minutes and use really dim lights – the moon, stars and low-level hand-held lights are enough for the camera to pick up.

Previously…

In other articles about night photography we looked at Planning and Preparing for a Night Shoot and Out on a Night Shoot – Night Composition. We also looked at Six things you must know for night shoots including the basics of controlling the camera and the sort of settings used. It is worth following up on these articles before proceeding.

Night light

Out of town, away from the urban lights, dark is really dark! Many urban dwellers don’t realise that unless the moon and stars are out our eyes are pretty poor in complete dark. Yet, when the moon is out, and the stars, we can see pretty well. In fact our eyes are not well adapted to this darkness. However, the digital camera can pick up amazingly small amounts of light. In the photograph above the EXIF data is…

Model – Canon EOS 5D Mark II
ExposureTime – 10 seconds
FNumber – 11
ExposureProgram – Manual control
ISOSpeedRatings – 100
Flash – Flash not fired
FocalLength – 25 mm
ExposureMode – Manual
White Balance – Manual – Cloudy
SceneCaptureType – Standard

Ten seconds is a reasonable time with all that light knocking around. Remember that an exposure is like filling a bucket with water. As light enters the camera it fills the exposure, making it brighter and brighter as the shutter is open longer. So, in very low light situations you can take photos with very long exposures.

One thing to consider is how to set the length of exposure. Most cameras cannot time your exposure if it is going to be longer than thirty seconds. You can buy automatic ‘intervalometers’ – devices which count intervals of time. They will be able to set your camera off for longer exposures than thirty seconds. However, on the camera there is normally a setting called ‘bulb‘. This will allow you to time a period yourself and close the camera shutter when you are ready. You can find out more about the bulb setting (B setting) in: What is the ‘Bulb’ Setting?

The video

In the following video, Mark Wallace takes us through the process of taking a photograph by moonlight. He is using a two minute exposure. Besides nearly getting eaten by coyotes (OK I exaggerate) he gets some well lit shots. Remember he is out in the country where there are no lights and is just using the ambient moon/star light.


Uploaded by snapfactory External link - opens new tab/page on May 1, 2011

By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photogs.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
By Damon Guy see his profile on Google+.