Saturday, 14 May 2011

Learning that I know nothing

... about night photography.

My favourite photo of the night. 'Scuse the artifacts from having a dirty lens!

I set my SLR to shutter priority (Tv setting on a Canon). I set the exposure times for 20 seconds, give or take 5 seconds. It was probably half an hour after sunset when I started taking these photos (I got stuck in traffic).
Waaaay over exposed in the sky. And yet barely light enough in the shadows. I probably should have underexposed more and tried to correct the shadows in GIMP.

I love the way the long exposure makes the water look 'foggy' - the tower looks as though it's floating on a cloud! A bit out of focus though.

Magically, my photos of the overbridge turned out quite crisp and colourful. It may have been aided by my sheltered position, given the flimsiness of my tripod.

Again, a little out of focus, but I really like the composition. I think I should have manually focussed on a distant light pole or something.

As usual, out of focus. It didn't help that my position was a little too breezy for my marginal tripod. And I wish that there wasn't a part of the overbridge in the shot, but my tripod was too short to see over the handrail!! I love the colours though, and the police lights echo the colour of the sunset (happy coincidence). I like how the motorway draws the eye up to the top of the photo.

Do you feel as though you've got vision problems yet?? I know I do. It's not a very good photo, but the light reflections actually look prettier here than in real life. Which gives me some inspiration and ideas for future photos.

Again, I love the foggy water. Next time I might try manually focussing on the lights in the houses, rather than the landforms.

What have I learned, in summary?

  • I should do more research about the right camera settings for night photography.
  • The LCD preview is not very indicative of how the photo will look.
  • My camera has a few hot pixels! Grr.
  • I need to clean my lens (done).
  • It is *really* hard to get my camera to focus at night - and I need to find out why. Forget even trying the auto-focus...
  • I need a sturdier tripod.
  • I need a tripod that I don't have to sit on the ground to use!
  • And the most important... I need more practice.
I'd love any thoughts, opinions, or advice!!


  1. The traffic ones are so cool!! I really need to reclaim my tripod (took it into work a couple of months ago so we could take long exposures in the gallery) so that I can try out some night shots. Although my tripod is probably even less sturdy than yours (it cost me $12!), so I wouldn't be surprised if a mouse breathing made the pictures blurry!! ;)

  2. The traffic ones are easy to do, as long as you can find an overbridge with a footpath where you can safely take the photos. The problem with this is that the bridges vibrate slightly...

    My tripod has some quite severe limitations. I sense a trip to the photography shop (and a lighter wallet) in my near future!


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