March 11, 2009

Night photography

True night photos are tough to do, unless you've got gear - or the know how. There are some easy, cheap tricks anyone can employ, especially if your camera has a flash or flash attachment.

Tripods are relatively inexpensive these days, and there are even some for digital point-and-shoot cameras.

Tonight, though, I forgot mine. Out walking Apollo, I found an interesting looking tree, which I photographed with a flash while holding the camera. This is the result...
What happened? Because it was so dim, I used the flash, then the shutter remained opened long after the flash disappeared. Because I was holding the camera, my breathing moved it - and produced a slightly blurred image where the flash did not reach. If you click on the photo to see a larger version, you'll see that the details on the bark and that dried leaf are pretty sharp - those got most of the light. I kinda like this image. A happy accident.

Here's another shot of the same tree. I opted to tweak the setting so that the light spread on the camera was different (more on that later) and the length of exposure, shorter. Shorter exposure = darker image. But this time, I put the camera on a fencepost and set the self-timer so that my finger would not jar the camera. This resulted in a much sharper, more in-focus image.

Tips:
If you don't have a tripod, place the camera on something stable and solid - fence post, rock, ground, table.
Use the self-timer so that your finger doesn't move the camera when pressing the shutter button
If you're able to, play with the f-stops, iso speeds and the light meter, to try find an ideal balance. It might take a few trial and error attempts before you hit on a good mix.

2 Comments (Click here to comment):

Huckleberry March 12, 2009 at 3:28 PM  

This is actually something of a feature you can use to your advantage that most DSLRs have. It's called 'slow sync' photography:
http://digital-photography-school.com/slow-sync-flash

Jen March 12, 2009 at 3:48 PM  

Thanks!

I'm aware of this feature, but most beginners might not be. Or their cameras might not. I'll probably post more advanced camera features and techniques in the future, and this is on the list.

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