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Thread: Help Needed Capturing Night Scenes

  1. #1
    New Member roar4more's Avatar
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    Help Needed Capturing Night Scenes

    Hi
    I am new to digital photography and started out with a basic setup ( Nikon D40 ). I am more than happy using this at the moment because I am getting good results.

    I actively devour any books , tutorials etc and I am very keen on using Adobe CS4 to improve my exposures.

    What I currently have a problem with is taking shots at night ( example a street with yellow lights from lamposts ) My exposures are sull and washed out so any tips would be benificial. Look forward sharing with members.

    Brian

  2. #2
    The Blue Boy's Avatar
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    Mark Fleming

    Re: Introduce Yourself & Welcome Other Members (2)

    "What I currently have a problem with is taking shots at night ( example a street with yellow lights from lamposts ) My exposures are sull and washed out so any tips would be benificial. Look forward sharing with members."

    Brian,

    Welcome, mate.

    We'd need a bit more info to help you out, pal!

  3. #3

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    Re: Help Needed Capturing Night Scenes

    Quote Originally Posted by roar4more View Post
    What I currently have a problem with is taking shots at night ( example a street with yellow lights from lamposts ) My exposures are sull and washed out so any tips would be benificial.
    Hi Brian,

    Great to have you with us

    Some sample shots would help, but in a nutshell ...

    ... Modern cameras can still only capture a limited dynamic range (the range of brightnesses from the brightest to the darkest). In a daytime scene this is often sufficient (or close to being sufficient), and thus - with a correct exposure - we're able to capture both shadow and highlight detail.

    Night scenes however have a far higher dynamic range requirement - and the bottom line is that there isn't a camera in existance that will capture everything from pitch black to the filaments in the light bulbs; so something is going to have to give. But what?

    In general, it's the mid tones you'll want to display correctly and usually the shadow areas will fall in behind the mid-tones in about the right place ... it's the peak highlights that are the problem and the simple solution is "just don't worry about them" - they're usually quite small, and at higher F-Stops they'll often have nice star patterns anyway.

    Unfortunately ... cameras tend to expose to try and protect highlights - and the net result is quite severe under-exposure and subsequent noisy shadows and midtones when you try to correct (bad enough in RAW, horrific in a JPEG). Sound familiar?

    So - what to do?

    In summery ...

    - Shoot RAW - you'll have a lot more / cleaner shadow detail to work with in PP.

    - Avoid High-ISO's - they'll reduce your dynamic range by 3 to 4 stops

    - Expose for the mid-tones - usually just a quick check of the shot on the review screen is sufficient.

    - Post Processing WILL need to be more agressive than with daytime shots (levels - clipping points - fill lights - mid-tone adjustments).

    Is any of this helpful?

    Help Needed Capturing Night Scenes

  4. #4
    pixel pete's Avatar
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    Peter Phun

    Re: Help Needed Capturing Night Scenes

    Hi Brian,
    It sounds like you have the software and the camera needed. I'm assuming you have a sturdy tripod and some sort of cable release as well.

    As suggested by shooting RAW is a good way to go if you consider yourself past the beginner user.

    If you just want to try making images that are sharp well exposed, then try changing the White Balance as well. Most of the time the lighting is sodium vapor or too much of a cocktail of color temperatures.

    I wouldn't dwell on the color as much unless there is a strong color cast like yellow or green. Besides, if there aren't people in your night shots, who is to say what is correct but you?

    Look over these posts and see if they help.

    http://peterphun.com/blog/2009/01/01...t-photography/

    http://peterphun.com/blog/2008/12/28...istmas-lights/

    Best Regards,
    Peter

    Life is a Risky Proposition, no one has survived it--Russian Security Minister

  5. #5
    Amberglass's Avatar
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    Re: Help Needed Capturing Night Scenes

    Hello,

    The blog posted is the same recommendations that I would give. Low ISOs, tripod, remote trigger or self timer, tungsten wb, and etc. I am heading up to Niagara Falls to do some night shooting next week. I haven't done night photography in a while but absolute swam in it in my film days. (Having a family with young children can really cramp your photography style).

    If you're more of a visual person, here's a link tutorial:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m9pxPz_k4R0

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