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Thread: Crows at night

  1. #1
    djg05478's Avatar
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    Crows at night

    Howdy all.

    Every night in our park in the middle of downtown (2 blocks), hundreds of crows roost in the tree tops. There is a ton of light pollution from street lights, but I think it looks cool and I would like to capture it, so off I go tonight and things did not go well.

    Besides the technical challenges, there were a couple of idiots in the park who had nothing better to do with their lives than scare the crows...does anyone care to guess what it sounds like being underneath a couple hundred crows circling overhead? SPLAT! SPLAT! SPLAT!

    This is the best of what I got, I haven't done any post-processing to it because I don't think its worth the time, I'm only posting it so we have a starting point. Nikon D90 35mm f/4 10s ISO200 spot metering.

    Crows at night

    I didn't have time to experiment with different settings. The first problem I encountered was, my camera was in manual mode using my AF-S 35mm 1.8. I was using auto-focus. The camera couldn't auto focus and wouldn't release the shutter.

    1- Is there a setting on the camera (D90) to override this or do I have to go to manual focus (which I did)? I went thru all my menus over and over and I just could not find such a setting. I have my manual and I thought that was something I could control - but I can't find it, or I'm looking at it and don't know it.

    2- Should I be following the advice of the exposure display the camera gives me for exposure? I would like the image to be darker. If I used a faster shutter speed the camera would have said the image was under exposed.....is the exposure up to me or is there a "proper" night time exposure?

    I do kind of like the blur of this image with some of the crows in flight, but I'm more looking forward to getting some hints from you fine folks and going back on a night with no clouds and no idiots and getting something worth post processing. I just couldn't stay there with all the crows circling around. I have gone through that park later at night when they are all settled and if you didn't look up you wouldn't know they are there, its really eerie, and there are so many (10 times whats in this picture) you can't barely see the tree.

    But, I do have a DNG file for this shot, I'd be happy to upload it if someone could recommend thier favorite upload/download site.

    Thanks Debbie

  2. #2
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Crows at night

    Hi Debbie,

    Well that story has got us hooked, now we'll want to see the second attempt (but wear a hat )

    1. I have the D5000 (almost same AF set up as D90), but it is not with me right now - I think you're right, there may be a way to disable the focus in the menus, but since flipping the switch on the lens barrel is sooo easy, why go to the menus? (am I missing something?)

    2. If you're using some kind of Auto and the results come out like this, I would just dial in a bit of negative expsoure compensation (-EC) to give less - just hold +/- button down and spin the wheel a click or two.

    How do you find the lens? it is one I am considering getting myself.

    Cheers,

  3. #3
    djg05478's Avatar
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    Re: Crows at night

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries View Post
    Hi Debbie,

    Well that story has got us hooked, now we'll want to see the second attempt (but wear a hat )

    1. I have the D5000 (almost same AF set up as D90), but it is not with me right now - I think you're right, there may be a way to disable the focus in the menus, but since flipping the switch on the lens barrel is sooo easy, why go to the menus? (am I missing something?)

    2. If you're using some kind of Auto and the results come out like this, I would just dial in a bit of negative expsoure compensation (-EC) to give less - just hold +/- button down and spin the wheel a click or two.

    How do you find the lens? it is one I am considering getting myself.

    Cheers,
    Thanks for your comments. I'm looking forward to going back too.

    In regards to the lens, I'm still too green to give you a real technical review but I love the lens. I wanted something that I could use indoors without a flash. It was pure ignorance that I went with a 35mm instead of the 'nifty fifty', but since this my first foray into this level of photography beyond a point and shoot, I honestly don't know the difference. I also took a chance and the reduced cost benefit and bought it as a refurb from B&H without any problems at all. I'm pleased with it because I've been able to get some decent shots of holiday parties and events under poor/low lighting situations that I never would have been able to get otherwise.

    At Christmas I was able to get a decent family picture, at first I was alarmed because my nephew, who was situated the furthest away, his head looked much smaller than everyone else, but a photographer friend of mine, said this was a normal occurence (but I can't remember the reason). Next time lil people upfront, big folks in the back

    Thanks again for your comments.
    Debbie

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    Peter Ryan's Avatar
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    Re: Crows at night

    Quote Originally Posted by djg05478 View Post
    I didn't have time to experiment with different settings. The first problem I encountered was, my camera was in manual mode using my AF-S 35mm 1.8. I was using auto-focus. The camera couldn't auto focus and wouldn't release the shutter.

    1- Is there a setting on the camera (D90) to override this or do I have to go to manual focus (which I did)? I went thru all my menus over and over and I just could not find such a setting. I have my manual and I thought that was something I could control - but I can't find it, or I'm looking at it and don't know it.
    Hi Debbie. Like Dave I do not have my camera with me but there is an option in the Menus to be able to shoot even of the shot is not focused. It may be under Auto Focus options.

    Quote Originally Posted by djg05478 View Post
    2- Should I be following the advice of the exposure display the camera gives me for exposure? I would like the image to be darker. If I used a faster shutter speed the camera would have said the image was under exposed.....is the exposure up to me or is there a "proper" night time exposure?
    Exposure does not relate to focus so you can take a exposure reading even if your camera is not in focus and then use the aperture and shutter readings the camera gives you and dial them up separately in manual mode.

    Having said that you need to understand how your camera’s exposure meter works. Your meter is set to give you an exposure reading for the light reflecting off your subject at a tonal value of 13% on a scale of black to white. In this case your sky may have been darker than this so your meter will have lightened it accordingly. You can adjust it with Exposure Compensation, as Dave mentioned. Have a look at the tutorials here and have another go. I do think the idea and shot has potential.

  5. #5
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Crows at night

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Ryan View Post
    Hi Debbie. Like Dave I do not have my camera with me but there is an option in the Menus to be able to shoot even of the shot is not focused. It may be under Auto Focus options.
    It is, the one that chooses between AF-A, AF-C or AF-S also has MF at the bottom, that does it - I just tried it

  6. #6
    djg05478's Avatar
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    Re: Crows at night

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Ryan View Post

    Exposure does not relate to focus so you can take a exposure reading even if your camera is not in focus and then use the aperture and shutter readings the camera gives you and dial them up separately in manual mode.
    Ahhhhh....I was under the false impression metering didn't take place until the shutter release was pressed half way (along with focusing). I've just panned my camera across the room and I see the various reading without pressing a thing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Ryan View Post
    You can adjust it with Exposure Compensation
    Exposure compensation doesn't do anything in Manual mode, correct? It would typically be used with one of the priority modes?

    Thanks for your time and comments, I do appreciate it. I am a frequent visitor to the CiC tutorials, I have read many, if not all of them and more than once and I keep going back and a lil more sinks in each time. Especially as I take more pictures and run into problems or things don't turn out as I expect.

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    Re: Crows at night

    what an experience just to capture those hundreds of crows!!!!.. i'm still new in photography and member as well....though i don't know much about the principles of photography, for me your capture is fantastic...

  8. #8
    Peter Ryan's Avatar
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    Re: Crows at night

    Quote Originally Posted by djg05478 View Post
    Exposure compensation doesn't do anything in Manual mode, correct? It would typically be used with one of the priority modes?
    Depending on the modes available to you but normally Aperture, Shutter and I am pretty sure Program modes but not Auto or manual. Personally I do not shoot in anything other than aperture priority because it forces me to consciously consider DOF whenever I shoot.

  9. #9
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Crows at night

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Ryan View Post
    Personally I do not shoot in anything other than aperture priority because it forces me to consciously consider DOF whenever I shoot.
    Oh good, it's not just me then

  10. #10
    djg05478's Avatar
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    Re: Crows at night

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Ryan View Post
    Personally I do not shoot in anything other than aperture priority because it forces me to consciously consider DOF whenever I shoot.
    And I need to remember to go into this mode from time to time, I tend to stay in manual all the time

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Crows at night

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Ryan View Post
    Personally I do not shoot in anything other than aperture priority because it forces me to consciously consider DOF whenever I shoot.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries View Post
    Oh good, it's not just me then
    Which just goes to show that there's more than one way to achieve what you are after - I never shoot in anything other than Manual (although this is done via the three Custom Function Modes available on my Canon 40D; i.e. each one of the three being set the same except for AF & Drive settings).

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