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Thread: Night Photography and Iso

  1. #1

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    Night Photography and Iso

    Soo

    I've noticed that with night photography some people use an ISO higher than 100.

    Why?

    I probably know more about the back of YOUR hand than I do about night photography - so this isn't a critique .. its just a "Why?"

    Also, anytime I've ever shot at night - I get this yellowy pukey picture that looks like its spent its life in a smokers lung.............

    How do you get these vivid beautiful colours that some people seem to get?

    .....

    I will stop there because I have a million other questions - I probably could have started by researching night photography and if you want to tell me to stuff it and go do that thats cool too! haha

  2. #2
    dubaiphil's Avatar
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    Re: Night Photography and Iso

    Hi Samantha

    For point 1 - some people may have a camera with a native ISO of 200. My Nikon D700 has a native ISO of 200, but I can push it to 100 artificially in camera with apparent slight loss in quality (I haven't noticed any). If you don't have a tripod and you're shooting hand held then obviously your ISO will be higher than ISO 100. Also, creatively, just setting the camera to ISO 100 may cause problems which the user wishes to avoid. Maybe too long a shutter speed without a remote release available at the time.

    e.g. if you're shooting at f11 and ISO100 and your exposure is 2 minutes and you don't have a remote release you can:

    hold the shutter down for 2 minutes = blurred shot
    stop down to f5.6 to give a 30 second exposure rather than "Bulb" in camera - the user may accept this compromise on depth of field
    raise ISO to 400 to give a 30 second exposure or 800 for a 15 second exposure - the user may accept this increased ISO and resultant increase in noise.

    For point 2 - Manual White Balance. Either setting it in camera or shooting RAW and having the freedom to adjust using software after the shoot

  3. #3
    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    Re: Night Photography and Iso

    Simple answer Samantha - to get the image.

    You need a lot of light to capture an image at night, so we can either lengthen the exposure time or turn up the ISO and pay for it with increased noise. There is a lower limit to the shutter speed I can hand hold and still get an acceptable image (I don't always have a tripod along and even then, there are shots that won't work at those shutter speeds). Turning up the ISO is an acceptable compromise. My rule of thumb generally to shoot the lowest ISO value I can get away with, but at night that can be fairly high.

    If you are getting a yellow cast, you have a white balance problem. This is one reason I shoot jpeg + RAW, and in situations where I know that the colour balance will be tricky, I can get a pleasing result when I work the RAW image.

    This image was shot at ISO 3200 @ f/2.8 and I applied Nik Software's Dfine 2.0 noise reduction filter.

    Night Photography and Iso

  4. #4
    dje's Avatar
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    Re: Night Photography and Iso

    Hi Samantha

    If you're using a tripod, I can't think of any reason to use anything but the base ISO.

    As the others have said, shoot raw and you can adjust the WB in pp. Sodium vapour lights (eg in some street lights) have a yellow tone and I've had difficulty managing these. However I think there are not so many of these anymore.

    Dave

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    DanK's Avatar
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    Night Photography and Iso

    Without seeing the photo, it is hard to know, but a yellow cast in night photos is often from sodium vapor lamps. Even If there are none in the image, you can get this from their reflection in clouds.

  6. #6
    PhotoRob's Avatar
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    Re: Night Photography and Iso

    Agreed, it's important to keep the noise to a minimum and make up for the lower light sensitivity with long exposures...

  7. #7
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    Re: Night Photography and Iso

    I guess what was mentioned earlier is all correct, but when photographing a portrait you can not play with aperture and tripod will not help you. I think you will have to increase ISO.
    Also, in good cameras (Professional versions) moderately high ISO will not yield high noise. This is one of the important features of professional cameras like Nikon D3 & D4 ( Sorry, I am not familiar with Canon).
    Regards.

  8. #8
    dje's Avatar
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    Re: Night Photography and Iso

    Quote Originally Posted by mahfoudhhi View Post
    I guess what was mentioned earlier is all correct, but when photographing a portrait you can not play with aperture and tripod will not help you. I think you will have to increase ISO.
    Also, in good cameras (Professional versions) moderately high ISO will not yield high noise. This is one of the important features of professional cameras like Nikon D3 & D4 ( Sorry, I am not familiar with Canon).
    Regards.
    Hi Hafedh

    I assumed Samantha was talking about landscapes with long exposure. Portraits with low light are different as you point out.

    Dave

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    Re: Night Photography and Iso

    Samantha,

    Why use high ISO at night?
    Higher than ISO 100 is not for night photography per-se it is meant for low light photography. When shooting hand held in low light conditions and you find shutter speed is no longer fast enough to render blur free images at maximum aparture you will start turning up ISO to keep the shutter speed high enough.
    Some cameras, like the Nikon D600 will give you noise free images even at ISO 4000.
    My D200 starts rendering unacceptable noise over ISO 1600. I do not like shooting higher than ISO 800. When light conditions are such that I can no longer get a blur free shot at maximum settings i.e. slowest usable shutter speed (around 1/60sec. depending on focul length) maximum aperture, say F1.8, I will turn up ISO to a maximum of 800 and thereafter start using a tripod, lowering ISO and shoot at a much slower shutter speed.

    It is important to know how the exposure triangle works and you should read all tutorials you can find on it. If you know exactly how exposure works you will understand why higher ISO settings is used.

    Understanding White Balance is important, if you wish to shoot at night and under difficult lighting conditions. If your camera has a setting for Kelvin temprature and/or pre-set white balance it is advisable to get familiar with those settings as well. If you get a yellow image it means you need to cool down the Kelvin tempratute by reducing it(turn down the temprature) until you are happy with the result. If the image is to "blue" watm it up by turning up the Kelvin temprature.

    Vivid colours? Most DSLR cameras have a setting in the menu for "Normal" "Vivid" or "More Vivid".
    Vivid does not always work for all scenes. Portraits of people look horrible when shot in Vivid. Flowers can look great in Vivid. It also depends on the time of day. Early morning and late afternoon can render horrible looking flowers if shot in Vivid.

    If you are shooting with a P&S camera try out the programmed settings, "Sunset", "Flash", "Cloudy", "Snow", etc.
    Fiddle around with all the settings on your camera, not only the buttons but the settings in the menu as well. Change one setting take a shot and see the result. Do not make more than a single adjustment at a time while experimenting with settings. Dont' look at the result on the LCD screen - look at it on a computer screen.

    Asking questions is the only way of learning - asking stupid questions is best way to learn.
    Last edited by AB26; 21st February 2013 at 09:28 AM.

  10. #10

    Re: Night Photography and Iso

    Hi, I agree with everyone here. ISO simply means your camera's sensitivity to light. A high level makes for brighter images but also produces more noise, while a low ISO level is best for well lit subjects while producing less noise. Adjusting the shutter speed to a longer exposure will also produce brighter images but you need to be very steady or use a tripod.

  11. #11
    mahfoudhhi's Avatar
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    Re: Night Photography and Iso

    Quote Originally Posted by dje View Post
    Hi Hafedh

    I assumed Samantha was talking about landscapes with long exposure. Portraits with low light are different as you point out.

    Dave
    Sorry for the late reply Dave. I have just seen your reply. you are correct.
    by the way, I no longer get an email when my post or when I participate in a subject. I used to get email for every participation I make.
    I wonder why. any body has any idea.

  12. #12
    William W's Avatar
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    Re: Night Photography and Iso

    Quote Originally Posted by SomedayMyPrintsWillCome View Post
    I've noticed that with night photography some people use an ISO higher than 100. Why?
    My best general answer:
    To assist in the arresting Subject Movement and/or Camera Movement.
    The higher the ISO, the faster the shutter speed, which is available to use.

    A secondary answer:
    To allow a more suitable, smaller aperture setting to allow a greater DoF and/or better lens performance.
    For example a kit a zoom lens (i.e. 18 to 55) will notionally perform better at F/7 to F/11 than wide open (at for example F/3.5).
    This reason has a link to the first reason about wanting a shorter Shutter Speed, obviously.

    Selecting the ISO is usually ALWAYS predicted upon having a useable and appropriate SET OF Apertures and Shutter Speeds, to suit The Scene and the individual Conditions of The Shot.

    ***

    Quote Originally Posted by SomedayMyPrintsWillCome View Post
    anytime I've ever shot at night - I get this yellowy pukey picture that looks like its spent its life in a smokers lung............. How do you get these vivid beautiful colours that some people seem to get?
    As mentioned it could be a colour cast, caused by the colour temperature of some of the lights in the scene, or it could be atmospherics, such as haze or pollution, or something else, or a combination of issues – difficult to tell without a sample image.

    +++

    Quote Originally Posted by dje View Post
    If you're using a tripod, I can't think of any reason to use anything but the base ISO
    For the first reason – to arrest Subject Movement.
    As one example and keeping the context of the answer within “Landscape Photography” and not “Portraiture” or “Sports”: Night Scapes with Stars in shot when one does not want star-trails.
    Research “The 600 Rule”
    Typically, even using a fast lens (i.e. F/1.4 or F/1.8), one will still be using an high ISO to make good ‘The 600 Rule’.

    ***

    Quote Originally Posted by mahfoudhhi View Post
    by the way, I no longer get an email when my post or when I participate in a subject. I used to get email for every participation I make. I wonder why. any body has any idea.
    Before you post your reply use “Go Advanced” and then select "Subscribe to this thread and notify me of changes".
    You can also subscribe at the top of the thread using "Thread Tools"
    You can also set up in you profile, for the subscription to be automatic for many thread to which you respond.

    WW

  13. #13

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    Re: Night Photography and Iso

    When I have photographed night city landscapes with brightly lit up buildings (Boston, MA) I have used ISO 100 successfully and usually just guess exposure times with the "bulb" setting.

    With backcountry landscapes at night, I have used ISO 1000 and use a battery powered handheld spot light and a strong flashlight to throw light onto foreground subjects (usually trees) using a 30 second shutter speed. I also set it on a delay so I can run off to the side of the camera, so the light comes slightly from the side rather than over the camera.
    I have a Nikon D7000 which has a setting that is supposed to help cut out noise at the higher ISO settings. The most tricky part is getting the correct focus. It helps to get to the scene a bit before it gets dark, so a foreground subject can more easily be seen to focus onto. If it is dark, I light up the foreground with a light so I can see what to focus on. It is tricky and I rarely get it right first try. It has not been an issue in the city, however. Street lights building lights and car headlights usually provide enough light for focusing. ( Almost always manual focusing works best at night. Auto focus gets confused trying to guess what the subject is.)

    http://www.cabelas.com/product/Hunti...3Bcat104599080

    Lots of light choices here!
    http://www.rei.com/search?cat=450005...%2CFlashlights
    Last edited by rambler4466; 25th February 2013 at 02:30 AM.

  14. #14
    Letrow's Avatar
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    Re: Night Photography and Iso

    Samantha, you can use low ISO or high ISO, everything works of course. As was mentioned, if your ISO is too high you might be able to do a handheld shot, but at the same time your image quality might degrade. If you use lower ISO (e.g. 100) you probably need a tripod and maybe a remote control.
    It is quite fun to experiment a bit with this. Long exposures and low ISOs give you great saturated photos, sometimes with an eerie look.
    Watch out for lights, first of all they will influence your WB and secondly if you have them in your photo, they will be dominant due to the long exposure they are getting.

    This is an example of something I tried a couple of weeks ago with my Ricoh GX200 on a very small tripod.

    Night Photography and Iso

    ISO64 at F/5.7 and 30 seconds exposure. You can see the effect of the long exposure in the slightly blurry trees behind the car.
    If you want to do a JPEG, take a white piece of paper with you, so that you can customize WB if needed.

  15. #15

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    Re: Night Photography and Iso

    Sorry for the delay in my reply! Thanks all! I should have mentioned I am a somewhat seasoned photographer and understand my exposure triangle. I should have been more specific in asking why ISO over more time - particularly when it comes to landscapes (I can get the whole ISO instead of more time when it comes to people - less motion blur etc).... Anyways - Everyone really gave me something to think about regardless! So Thanks!
    I've tried shooting away from city lighting and have noticed a HUGE reduction in that really YELLOW glare. I think the street lights were causing some issues for sure.


    Thanks all! I've learned something here and will post a photo from a recent wedding with a night shot I did as soon as I've edited it up

    That all being said , does anyone know of any awesome blogs or sites that are really push the boundaries on night photography? Or even that just cover the basics (I'd love to try some star filled sky shots with the nice streaks from long exposure times).

    Samantha

  16. #16
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    Re: Night Photography and Iso

    Not a blog, but the e-book The Light of Midnight on Mark Bowie's site (http://www.markbowie.com/latest.html) is full of very useful information. I did a workshop with him last summer and learned a great deal.

    Here is one I took a few days after his workshop. It shows up as ISO 200, 10 minutes, but I am almost certain it was 20 minutes. The yellow is not sunset; this was at 11 PM. It is glow from (you might guess) a few sodium vapor lamps in a tiny town about 6 or 7 miles away, reflecting off heavy clouds. The clouds are the reason the star trails are barely visible.

    Night Photography and Iso

  17. #17
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Night Photography and Iso

    Quote Originally Posted by SomedayMyPrintsWillCome View Post
    That all being said , does anyone know of any awesome blogs or sites that are really push the boundaries on night photography? Or even that just cover the basics (I'd love to try some star filled sky shots with the nice streaks from long exposure times).
    Hi Samantha,

    I think it was a Google search for Night Photography that first brought me to CiC in 2008.

    Have you read the tutorial here; COMMON OBSTACLES IN NIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY - don't miss the mouse over demo in the moonlight section and its effect on shadows.

    This may help others, if not you; CAMERA SHAKE WITH HAND-HELD PHOTOS, but see also Further reading sections at end of each.

    Cheers,

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