by Gerald Boerner
Today we are looking at the type of photographs you might be taking on New Year’s Eve. These photos will typically be taken in available light of the streets, but may also be supplemented with the use of flash. In any case, you will probably want to use a tripod, since you will need longer exposures on all but the top-of-the-class SLR (Single Lens Reflect) cameras. We hope that these tips will help you capture some great photos! GLB
“Photography is the beauty of life, captured.”
— Tara Chisholm
“I didn’t choose photography. Photography chose me.”
— Gerardo Suter
“Imagine a world without photography, one could only imagine.”
— Berenice Abbott
“Just remember one of Farace Laws of photography: Sucess is hard, failure is easy.”
— Joe Farace
“Photography is only intuition, a perpetual interrogation – everything except a stage set.”
— Henri Cartier-Bresson
“Photography is like making cheese. It takes a hell of a lot of milk to make a small amount of cheese just like it takes a hell of a lot of photos to get a good one.”
— Robert Gillis
“I photograph continuously, often without a good idea or strong feelings. During this time the photos are nearly all poor, but I believe they develop my seeing and help later on in other photos. I do believe strongly in photography and hope by following it intuitively that when the photographs are looked at they will touch the spirit in people.”
“To speak technically photography is the art of writing with light. But if I want to think about it more philosophically, I can say that photography is the art of writing with time. When you capture an image you capture not only a piece of space, you also capture a piece of time. So you have this piece of specific time in your square or rectangle. In that sense I find that photography has more to do with time than with light.”
— Gerardo Suter
The quotes included in this posting were taken from the public quotation site, PhotoQuotes.com, which does not indicate that they are covered by any special copyright restrictions. Likewise, the images included in this posting were obtained under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License from the Wikipedia.com web site. This blog makes every attempt to comply with the legal rights of copyright holders.
This posting is intended for the educational use of photographers and photography students and complies with the “educational fair use” provisions of copyright law. For readers who might wish to reuse some of these images should check out their compliance with copyright limitations that might apply to that use.
Night Photography Tips
Night photography refers to photographs taken outdoors between dusk and dawn. Night photographers generally have a choice between using artificial light or using a long exposure, exposing the scene for seconds or even minutes, in order to give the film enough time to capture a usable image, and to compensate for reciprocity failure. With the progress of high-speed films, higher-sensitivity digital image sensors, wide-aperture lenses, and the ever-greater power of urban lights, night photography is increasingly possible using available light.
In the early 1900s, a few notable photographers, Alfred Stieglitz and William Fraser, began working at night. The first photographers known to have produced large bodies of work at night were Brassai and Bill Brandt. In 1932, Brassai published Paris de Nuit, a book of black-and-white photographs of the streets of Paris at night. During World War II, British photographer Brandt took advantage of the black-out conditions to photograph the streets of London by moonlight.
By the 1990s, British-born photographer Michael Kenna had established himself as the most commercially successful night photographer. His black-and-white landscapes were most often set between dusk and dawn in locations that included San Francisco, Japan, France, and England. Some of his most memorable projects depict the Ford Motor Company’s Rogue River plant, the Ratcliffe-on-Soar Power Station in northern England, and many of the Nazi concentration camps scattered across Germany, France, Belgium, Poland and Austria.
During the beginning of the 21st century, the popularity of digital cameras made it much easier for beginning photographers to understand the complexities of photographing at night. Today, there are hundreds of websites dedicated to night photography.
Long Exposure Multiple Flash Photographic Technique
Long exposure means that the shutter of the camera is kept open for longer, allowing more light to be exposed to the images sensor or film of the camera. This causes the photograph to be lighter, and is good for night and dark photos.
This technique is often combined with using coloured gels in front of the flash unit to provide different colours in order to illuminate the subject in different ways. It is also common to flash the unit several times during the exposure while swapping the colours of the gels around to mix colours on the final photo. This requires some skill and a lot of imagination since it is not possible to see how the effects will turn out until the exposure is complete. By using this technique, the photographer can illuminate specific parts of the subject in different colours creating shadows in ways which would not normally be possible.
The camera shutter is opened. A person carries a torch around the scene using it to illuminate all the desired objects in the scene, then the shutter is closed. The result is a lit scene featuring lots of visible light trails. The person working the light is not visible in the photograph.
First, you must take into account what exactly you are taking a photo of, and what you want the resulting image to be. Do you want to see the subject exactly as is appears at night or low light conditions, show motion, or enhance the natural lighting? Determining how to shoot these different situations can usually be done by first answering a few simple questions:
- Is the subject either producing its own light or reflecting light?
- Is the subject already in motion? (and if so, do I want to capture the motion or not?)
- Is the subject going to move out of the frame?
- Do I have a tripod or other method to enhance stability?
After addressing these questions, it becomes less a matter of guesswork and more a matter of setting the camera according to the ambient conditions. If the object is producing its own light, or has been illuminated but an outside light source, depending on its brightness, a faster shutter speed is probably more appropriate. The aperture setting then can be set to have more or less of the frame be ‘in focus’ depending on your desires for the resulting image. Using a speed that is too slow can allow too much light in, and results in a completely white image. Conversely, if the subject is not illuminated or giving off light, (stars and planets are an exception) then a much slower shutter speed is desirable, and can extend into minutes if the subject is very faint. Beware of ambient light, as it can become overpowering if the shutter is left open too long.
Long Exposure Night Photography: Step By Step Guide
Adam Currie, in his blog: Night Photography & Stuff offers the following suggestions for night photography
In this article I am going to show you how to use a technique called Long Exposure. Say good bye to harsh lighting and dark backgrounds. Sort of. This article will show you how to take pictures of night scenes with no moving objects. Night photos of people I will show you later on in another article as that is another kettle of fish.
Firstly, let’s pick a subject. For this article our subject will be a lake. That is easy, it doesn’t get too much more difficult. I promise. Now you have your subject, you’ll need to get your equipment setup. For this article, I’ll use my equipment to show you what is needed.
The following list links to the equipment that I recommend and use. You can buy the items from these links.
- Digital camera
- Remote shutter release
- Something to do while exposing your shot
Now let’s get down to business. First, set your tripod up at the desired height, to save you any trouble later on make sure your tripod is level. You will thank me. Now, mount the camera on the tripod making sure it’s secure.
Setting Up Your Shot
Switch your camera to manual. OK, you’ve got this far it’s going good, time to set up the shot. Don’t bother composing your shot just yet as we have to sort some other things out first. Set your camera to auto-focus or AF. This may not work depending on the conditions but most of the time it will work just fine. Zoom in all the way and find a light source or light area that is the same distance away as the subject you want in focus, press the shutter half way down. Once the camera has focused on the light source or light area zoom all the way out (or however far out you want when you compose the shot, you can zoom in or out as far as you like it will always stay in focus) and make sure, without touching the shutter or the focus ring switch back to manual focus. Be sure you’re not touching the focus ring when you compose.
Now you have the camera focused you can proceed to compose the shot. This is something that no tutorial can tell you how to do, this is in the eye of the photographer. Be creative and show off your creative eye.
Tip: Wide angles create a bigger impact than longer focal lengths.
You’re almost there, the next major part is getting the exposure right, this is easy if you know how. The best way to expose your shot manually is to use your camera’s built in light meter as a rough guide, but not as a precise judge. When you first start you will need to follow it tightly but as you gain more and more experience you won’t need the meter at all.
Change the camera to AV mode(Aperture priority) Now, set the ISO to 1600. As a rough guide I recommend you stop down the aperture to f/8 to achieve maximum sharpness when using the Canon 18-55mm kit lens but you may need to keep it at f/3.5 depending on the conditions. Now, press the shutter half way and you will see the light meter, it’s a line with a small arrow, this will move around as you change the aperture. Adjust aperture accordingly so it makes the line stay in the middle. Once it is in the middle, press the shutter down half way. The camera will give you the shutter speed that you require, make sure you remember this number as you will need it to work out how long your final exposure will be.
For this next part you may need a calculator, depending on how good your mental arithmetic is. In my case I usually need to use the calculator on my phone, maths is not a strong point for me. Now we need to calculate how long we need to keep the shutter open for. As an example we will say the camera gave you a shutter speed of 10 seconds when we used the light meter, keep this number in your head. Now set the ISO to 100. Take your number (In this example 10 seconds) and multiply that number by 16. This gives us 160 seconds, Divide this by 60, this gives us about 3 minutes.
Now plug in your remote shutter release, set the camera to BULB mode (move the shutter down past 30 seconds). Get a timing device (Phone, stop watch or similar) and get it prepared to begin. Press the remote shutter release and lock it on. Start the timer.
If you want to be certain of good exposure then you can round it up to the nearest minute (In our case 3 minutes). Once you have reached the target time, unlock the remote shutter release and wait for the camera to proceed with noise reduction.
The end result will be a nicely exposed picture. The things I haven’t covered in this article are white balance and shooting in RAW format. I will be writing articles for this later on.
Background and biographical information is from Wikipedia articles on:
Night Photography can be found at…
Night Shots can be found at…
Night Photography & Stuff by Adam Currie can be found at…
BrightHub.com: Night Photography Tips…
BrightHub.com: Night Photography Tips…
PhotoQuotes.com on Photography…