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Thread: Lit statue at night -- help critique?

  1. #1
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    Lit statue at night -- help critique?

    Hi Guys,

    I'm a (very) amateur photographer and I'm just learning the ins and outs of photography. Here's some photos I took of a lit up statue at night. I like the framing and composition, but somehow the sharpness seems to be missing. I'm hoping the fine experts on this forum can give me some guidance. I took these in RAW, so I also am capable of doing some post processing. These were taking with a Rebel T3i in Shutter Priority mode.


    10 sec
    ƒ/3.5
    ISO 100
    18 mm
    Lit statue at night -- help critique?

    15 sec
    ƒ/7.1
    ISO 100
    18 mm
    Lit statue at night -- help critique?


    I like them but somehow I feel like they're missing something. What could I have done to improve these shots? Whether it's post processing, adjusting the settings when taking a shot like this, framing, whatever.

    Full size images here:
    http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8075/8...0035ae1e_k.jpg
    http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8465/8...51fe7e23_k.jpg

    FYI the story behind the people in the shot can be found here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/92050588@N05/8367188840/

    Thanks!
    Last edited by ptrikutam; 11th January 2013 at 07:29 PM.

  2. #2

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    Re: Lit statue at night -- help critique?

    Interesting story. Indeed an engineering feat to get something of this size all balanced and freestanding on just that one foot.

    Paying to make an otherwise pretty drab looking place into one that would attract more attention? The people who run city property need their heads examined. It should be the other way round if you ask me.

    Thanks for sharing.

    As for the pics - will leave that to our more talented members.

    Btw, perhaps edit your profile and add a location and first name?

  3. #3

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    Re: Lit statue at night -- help critique?

    I don't know much about night photography other than to know that it can be difficult, especially when photographing large objects such as this that are strongly lit. Consider photographing the same sculpture during the day before advancing to the more difficult aspects of nighttime photography.

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    Re: Lit statue at night -- help critique?

    First requirement, lose the people. They totally ruin the scene, and obviously they have moved during the long exposure so are blurred.

    May be difficult to find a time without somebody being there, but that is the only answer.

    15 seconds is a very long time for something to go wrong. A shorter exposure with more Iso may be needed, Iso 400 should still work without too much problems. But if you can manage with 15 seconds that is good.

    The second shot certainly looks best to me, but the different colour light may also make a difference.

    Finally, I would consider a crop to a different size ratio and lose some of the left side to concentrate more on the statue. You may get away with still showing part of the bridge.

    However, without the distraction of those people your existing ratio may work OK.

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    Re: Lit statue at night -- help critique?

    If the people move around (and there are not too many of them), you could try and get rid of them in PP by combining several shots
    (tripod required, but with 15s exposure, you'll be using one). Just mask out the persons you want to get rid of...
    Changing light colours might make this challenging or time consuming.

  6. #6
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    Re: Lit statue at night -- help critique?

    Quote Originally Posted by ptrikutam View Post
    I'm a (very) amateur photographer and I'm just learning the ins and outs of photography. Here's some photos I took of a lit up statue at night. I like the framing and composition, but somehow the sharpness seems to be missing. I'm hoping the fine experts on this forum can give me some guidance. I took these in RAW, so I also am capable of doing some post processing. These were taking with a Rebel T3i in Shutter Priority mode.

    I like them but somehow I feel like they're missing something. What could I have done to improve these shots? Whether it's post processing, adjusting the settings when taking a shot like this, framing, whatever.
    Hi ptrikutam,

    OK, I would not rate myself that much of an expert, but I'll have a go at the softness issue.

    Firstly, welcome to the CiC forums, I think you'll do well here and I say that because you've already done so much to help by providing background, access to the full size images and shooting details - that all makes diagnosis much quicker.

    I am guessing this was shot with the kit lens, judging by the aperture and focal length of the first (green) shot.
    Shooting wide open with a kit lens is never going to produce the sharpest of images, stopping down to say f/7.1 or f/8 was a good idea for the second shot, but unfortunately that one is blurred due to camera shake (each distant 'point source' light has two bright spots at 45 degrees and a trail between them). Perhaps the shutter button was pressed a little too firmly, or the wind blew the camera+tripod?

    Using the self timer feature, set to two seconds, should eliminate the shutter button problem as the exposure won't start until after the vibration/movement has ceased.

    If you can re-shoot, or get another shot that doesn't have the shakes, that would be better, but the magenta one might be improved upon with specialist plug-in software.

    Did you sharpen after downsizing to 800 x 534px for display here?

    It would be nice to be able to use your first name, as Bobo requests.

    You may also find the tutorial here at Cic on Night Photography helpful.

    BTW, These still look better/sharper than some of the pics on the official website!

    Cheers,

  7. #7

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    Re: Lit statue at night -- help critique?

    Hi,

    Like yourself this is my first post and I am also a very amateur photographer.

    However as an introduction I should add that my background is as a lighting director, I do a lot of event work so I see these type of installations regularly and they are very hard to shoot even for the pro folk. Looking at the two images I think you are going to struggle to get a good result without a fair amount of experimentation. But experimenting is fun..

    Why..
    First of all the subject has not been lit for camera, it has been lit to be seen from the surrounds with lots of impact. The impact is achieved (Lighting wise) with the choice of fixtures used to light the subject. I suspect they are 575w or 1200w HMI sources with dicrhoic class filters with 0 dimming, or set to "stun" as we say. These units typically produce very saturated unnatural looking light with a colour temp of 6k - 8k

    There also appears to be lamps within the statue (Image one shows hot spots on the left foot and breast plates) These appear to have a different colour temp to the external fixtures so getting the balance right between the two will be difficult.

    It looks like all of the external fixtures are colour scrolling at the same rate so the piece is all cyan or all magenta ect at the same time, this is also helping to make the subject a bit more lifeless. If I was lighting this with these fixtures I would have at some point programmed in a complimentary colour in one or two of the fixtures to add some dynamics.

    So what would I do..
    Remembering I am a rank amateur in the photography game...

    A) Play with my white balance settings to try and get a bit of life out of the subject keeping in mind the the lamps in the BG on the bridge are probably Merc vapour and are a lot warmer.

    B) Move, try and get another perspective if the BG permits it. I suspect that the bottom right hand corner of your images would be a good place to start as you will get less lens flair from the HMIs lighting the piece.

    C) If the BG does not suit moving around get down low and shoot up you might get some more usable shadows.

    D) Get in close and try and get some texture.



    I hope this helps a little.

    Robbie.

  8. #8

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    Re: Lit statue at night -- help critique?

    Wow, Robbie! You sure do have a magnificent way of writing your first post in the forum. I'm sure everyone agrees with me that I look forward to seeing you around here, including your photos.

  9. #9
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    Re: Lit statue at night -- help critique?

    First of all, wow, thanks for the overwhelming response. Everyone's feedback is really helpful, and I appreciate the welcome. Edited my profile with some info.

    I tried to respond to all the specific peices of advice given below


    Mike -
    As for trying something easier than night photography first -- I'm experimenting with everything now, so this is definitely not going to be my only focus.

    Geoff -
    As for the blurry folks-- yeah, the people ruin it. Thought it was cool because of who they actually are, but with a picture like this I'd rather have them be sharp in the shot or absent entirely.

    I originally set the ISO so low because I thought that would reduce noise and create a sharper shot. But I realize, 15 seconds means a high chance of something screwing up the shot. There were people walking around the tripod, it was windy, etc. I'll try upping the ISO next time and taking a shorter exposure.

    Part of the goal here was to capture the skyline in the background clearly as well as the dancer, but because it's so brightly lit it may not be possible to get them both.

    Dave -
    Glad I'm providing the right info. You're right, I'm using a kit lens. My first thought after looking at the photos was that the aperture was incorrect for the shot I was trying to take. I have since experimented shooting landscape / similar shots with f/8 and f/7.1 - both seem to turn out the sharpest when reasonably far from something. I had a 2-second timer set up on my camera but as I mention above a lot could have shaked the camera during exposure. I didn't do any sharpening. I uploaded the original JPG to flickr, and downloaded their resized version (I have Lightroom/Photoshop/etc but I was lazy). Thanks for the links.

    Rob -
    Wow, these are all things I never would have considered. Side note: I'm colorblind, so I second-guess myself a lot when it comes to adjusting/recognizing color in a shot.

    From what I could tell, the statue had 4 external lights (at each corner) and a number of internal lights, though I only saw 2 colors displayed from inside at any given time. Different patterns of light being displayed at different times (you should some of the other shots I have, it's like a kaleidoscope). I have maybe 10 more shots with completely different colors . I haven't done any postprocessing, but will definitely play with the WB.

    Thanks again for all the feedback, you guys are awesome.

    -Pav

  10. #10

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    Re: Lit statue at night -- help critique?

    Mike,
    Thanks for the warm welcome, I have been lurking for a few months now and have learned so much by just sitting in the the background and picking up little gems from the regulars who give advice freely and without the usual forum BS. When I saw this topic I had to jump in and give some advice on a subject I am familiar with... 'cause photography sure aint my strong point

    I had the best day today scouting out perspectives for an architectural shot I have had in my minds eye for ages now, lots of firsts for me, I will start a new thread soon, perhaps my "project one shot"

    Pav,
    I would love to see the other images you have, especially the patterned ones. Fixtures that project patterns or GOBOS are a different kettle of fish to what I assumed were just colour washing lamps.

    As to your side note, there are plenty of spectacular images on this site by people in the same position, do a quick search you may be surprised.


    Robbie.

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