Blog Archives

Summer Fireworks

Reflections at Sunset

Reflections at Sunset

Reflections at Sunset

A sunset tends to make me stop and reflect on the day, a good time for soulful meditation. This image captures that feeling for me.

Around the Camp Fire

Around the Camp Fire

Around the Camp Fire

I nice moment captured at the end of a wonderful day.

For this shot I used a tripod, dragged the shutter and no flash since I wanted only use the fire light. I did have to wait for everyone to get quiet and not move too much. I did need to take several shots before I got this one.

Old Montreal at Night

Old Montreal at Night

Old Montreal at Night

Old Montreal is busy when the weather heats up. I like how this shot captures the feeling of the city as people start to emerge from winter hibernation.

I took this photo just after the sun had set. I did not have my tripod with me however I placed the camera on a ledge and set the timer and took this. I usually will carry my tripod as it makes life so much simpler.

Warm Summer Night & a Fountain – Light Painting

Fountain Light Painting

Fountain Light Painting

[click image to see larger version]

This weekend the weather was simply beautiful at night. The family took a walk together around a local park, my sons and I stayed back and took several photos of a fountain while playing with a flash. It was great to see both my boys getting creative and having a great time. I really enjoyed this special moment together.

Light Painting

Shelter in the Storm Photo Walk

Low Light Photography – How to

A recent question that was posted on the blog “what’s your advice in taking picture in the dark?” This is an excellent question and I thought it would make for a great post. There are a few things to consider when taking photos at night or in low light.

How much available light is there?
Whenever you pick up your camera you always need to consider the available light. Look for sources of light, the color and amount. The amount of light is a big influence on what your exposure will need to be set to.

Marengo Caves

Exposure 8 Seconds / f4.5

Exposure how long (shutter speed)?
The shutter speed (exposure) is the amount of time that your camera’s shutter remains open allowing light to hit the sensor. With digital photography, the shutter speed is how long we expose the sensor to the scene allowing the camera to produce an image. Shutter speed is also referred to as exposure.

Shutter speeds (or exposures) are measured in fractions of seconds such as 1/1000, 1/50, 1/15 etc. Exposures which are slower than 1/60 of a second require the camera to be perfectly still, if not you will have a blurry image. Some cameras will allow you to set your exposure in full seconds from 1 second all the way up to 30 or more seconds. With night photography, we will need to keep the shutter open for several seconds.

Take a meter reading to determine what your exposure should be. On my camera, I set focus to manual and switch to aperture priority and half press the shutter release. The camera will then display the exposure. Alternatively, you could use a light meter and get your meter reading.

For night shots, I like to set the camera’s aperture small (a large number) as I typically want  to keep my shutter open longer allowing for more light. I will set my ISO between 100 to 400 as I would like to have less noise in the image. With a low ISO, I will need a longer exposure somewhere between 3 to 30 seconds depending on available light. When the shutter remains open for a long period of time anything that moves will show up as a blur. This includes the camera or your subject, if the camera moves the entire scene will blur, this is known as camera shake. In the picture above, the exposure was set to 8 seconds, the people continued to move an appear as ghosts.

Camera shake how to avoid it
To avoid camera shake and ensure that your scene is sharp you will need to stabilize your camera. The best way to do this is to mount your camera on a tripod. If you don’t have a tripod place the camera on a stable surface. If the wind is blowing even the camera strap hitting the tripod will cause some vibrations and can produce blur.  Pressing the shutter release on the camera can cause vibrations and may produce blur from camera shake. To overcome this, you need to trigger the camera without touching it. You can use either a remote shutter release or set the camera’s automatic timer set to a 2 second delay.

Advanced steps include locking the camera’s mirror in the up position since mirror movement can cause some vibrations and have some blur. I will do this on occasion here is an example a stitched photo (3 photos in one) of the Toronto skyline.

Toronto Panorama

No tripod? Stabilize the camera by placing it on a stable surface like a bench, railing, table, etc. Here is a photo I took with the camera (Canon powershot SD500) setup on a garbage can.

Quebec

Quebec

How to focus at night?
When taking photos at night you may have a hard time using the auto-focus mode since the camera will not necessarily be able to see your subject.  There are a few options, first try to manually focus the scene, another option is to have a small light that you can place just in front of your subject then focus the camera on that light. Once you have your scene in focus, be sure to set it back to manual focus as the camera will try to refocus the scene when you press the shutter release.

Once you are all set, trigger your shutter and experiment, experiment, experiment that is where the fun begins.

Night photography

Night photography - ISO 400 / exposure 3.2 at f7

Summary:

I hope this has been helpful and now you have some useful tips to take better photos at night or in low light. The important thing to remember is that you will need a long exposure to get enough light for a good photo. This means that you will need to stabilize your camera either by using a tripod or stable surface (i.e.: table, bench etc.). Use a low ISO as this will help reduce noise in your photo. Take control of your camera, shoot in manual mode then experiment, experiment, experiment.

Enjoy!

Night Photo Walk Experiment

[Click any of the above images to see larger version of these images]

While on spring break in French Lick, Indiana. I attempted a nighttime photo walk experiment where attempted some light painting and general nighttime photography. All in all was a great time, I must say I am hooked on night time photography.

As always please feel free to leave me your comments or critiques.

Photography Playing With Light

TreeBoy

Tree Boy

When the sun goes down do you put your camera away thinking all the best light is gone? Being on vacation this past week has given me the opportunity to explore night photography a little more. Night photography and long exposures will require a little more gear and planning but the results are interesting and fun. With long exposures you need to have a stable camera any little shake will show up in the picture. The wind blowing the camera strap or pressing the shutter release can blur your picture.

Tree Boy: Here is what I did for this shot. I mounted the camera on my tripod (note: I could have used a near by pick-nick table) set the camera  exposure 30 seconds, apature f10 and ISO of 800. I set the auto timer to 2 seconds this will reduce camera shake of me pressing the shutter release.

Then using a flash my son and I ran around the tree triggering the flash on branches and it’s trunk. Then I had my son stand infront of the tree and trigged the flash once on him. The effect is that anywhere we used the flash appears lit.

My son loved doing this, he then tried this a few more times and has asked me if we can do this again when we get home.