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Thread: How to: Take night pictures/Low light.

  1. #1
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    How to: Take night pictures/Low light.

    The need for this thread is growing bigger and bigger by the day. It seems many of you guys are enjoying taking night pictures, I guess it's the new IN thing as far as car photography goes. That's all said and good, however, to be blunt, a lot of your night pictures are not very good. So i've decided that I will help you guys out, and combined with some of the more knowledgeable photographers on this board, we can make a thread that everyone can benefit from.

    Here's some night shooting tips.

    1 - Get a tripod. There is no reason you should attempt to take pictures at night if you dont have a tripod.

    2 - If you dont have a tripod see if there is a stationary object that you can set your camera on so that it doesn't move during the exposure. There is 0 chance your hand will ever be steady enough. If you use this method, another tip would be to put your camera on a 3 to 10 second delay, so that when you push the button, your camera wont take a picture right away and you'll have time to move your finger and not disturb the image.

    3 - Ok, now those two were pretty obvious. This one is important. Most digital camera's have an option to set the ISO. The higher the ISO the better the camera does at night. So, it would make sense to raise this setting. But that is NOT the case. What happens when you raise the ISO is picture noise is made a lot more visible. The higher the ISO the noisier the picture. Some of you may be thinking that your camera has an AUTO option for the ISO and that it would be best to leave it there. Well that's also incorrect. A lot of the noise seen in the pictures are because the camera has automatically raised the ISO for you, that's why your picture looks like crap. If you have to raise the ISO to get a decent shot, then please, for the sake of everyone here, run it through a free program like neat image (http://www.neatimage.com) and get rid of the noise.

    4 - Try not to have to use the flash. If you can find a relatively well lit area to take pictures at night without the flash, that will make your pictures turn out that much better. If you use the flash as your single source of lighting you will not be able to take a good picture.

    5 - The reason why you need a tripod, or stationary non-moving object to set your camera on is because for night shots the "eye" of your camera needs to stay open longer to suck in as much light as possible. This is called shutter speed. The slower the shutter speed the more light that will be in your picture. Experiment with this, on most camera's this is adjustable. If you have a setting on your camera to adjust only the shutter speed, use it, set the shutter speed to as long as possible and start experimenting.

    That's all I can think of off the top of my head. I hope it helps some of you because the quality of night pics on this forum could use a boost!

    If anyone wants to jump in and add their own tips that would be fantastic.

    Here's a link to an anantech.com write up for night shots.

    http://www.anandtech.com/digitalcame...oc.aspx?i=2351
    Last edited by cleoent; 02-22-2005 at 02:50 PM.
    BFC Nikonian #1

  2. #2
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    Awesome post, thanks for the info .

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by doodle
    Awesome post, thanks for the info .
    No prob, when you get out and take some damn good shots make sure you post em up!
    BFC Nikonian #1

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    Good thread. Also, take into consideration aperture. On SLR cameras, this can be changed by rotating the dial on the lens. On other camera's it may be only controlled by an LCD display.

    Aperture is measured in f-stops, which are numbers that represent how large the "opening" of your lens is. The smaller the opening, the more in focus your image will be. Think of it as squinting your eyes. The more you squint, the better you can see something. Experimenting with aperture can make your foreground in focus, and background out of focus, or the background in focus and the foreground out of focus.

    Often times, F-stops range from f/1.4, f/2, f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, f/8, f/11, f/16 etc up to around f/32 or higher, depending on your camera. These numbers determine how small or large your camera's lens opening is and how much light your camera is taking in. The larger the f-stop number, the smaller the aperture and vice versa.

    ie: f/1.4 is a larger aperture than f/11. Which means the hole is bigger.

    Combinations of aperture and shutter speed can give similar lighting results than another aperture and shutter speed combination.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by 6i9
    Good thread. Also, take into consideration aperture. On SLR cameras, this can be changed by rotating the dial on the lens. On other camera's it may be only controlled by an LCD display.

    Aperture is measured in f-stops, which are numbers that represent how large the "opening" of your lens is. The smaller the opening, the more in focus your image will be. Think of it as squinting your eyes. The more you squint, the better you can see something. Experimenting with aperture can make your foreground in focus, and background out of focus, or the background in focus and the foreground out of focus.

    Often times, F-stops range from f/1.4, f/2, f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, f/8, f/11, f/16 etc up to around f/32 or higher, depending on your camera. These numbers determine how small or large your camera's lens opening is and how much light your camera is taking in. The larger the f-stop number, the smaller the aperture and vice versa.

    ie: f/1.4 is a larger aperture than f/11. Which means the hole is bigger.

    Combinations of aperture and shutter speed can give similar lighting results than another aperture and shutter speed combination.
    Fantastic post!

    If you have a lense that has an f-stop as low as 1.4 then you are in good shape to take night pictures. Lens' with low F-stops like 1.4 and 1.8 etc, are sometimes referred to as "fast" lens' because they can take excellent pictures in dim light with faster shutter speeds. They are perfect for indoor parties and even sports.

    Thanks for the addition!
    BFC Nikonian #1

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by cleoent
    Fantastic post!

    If you have a lense that has an f-stop as low as 1.4 then you are in good shape to take night pictures. Lens' with low F-stops like 1.4 and 1.8 etc, are sometimes referred to as "fast" lens' because they can take excellent pictures in dim light with faster shutter speeds. They are perfect for indoor parties and even sports.

    Thanks for the addition!
    Exactly.

  7. #7
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    I stole these pictures from a website I google'd. (http://www.photoxels.com)

    But these pics help illustrate the principles in this thread:


    UNDEREXPOSED
    Fujifilm FinePix E550
    Shutter Speed 1/4 sec., Aperture F2.8, ISO 80


    OVEREXPOSED
    Fujifilm FinePix E550
    Shutter Speed 3 sec., Aperture F2.8, ISO 80


    Perfect
    Fujifilm FinePix E550
    Shutter Speed 3 sec., Aperture F4.0, ISO 80
    Last edited by 6i9; 01-28-2005 at 07:30 PM.

  8. #8
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    they're not showing up
    BFC Nikonian #1

  9. #9
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    Oops, ate their bandwidth...

    FIXED.

  10. #10
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    Good examples, now if you could find some pictures with noise as the problem, that would be helpful too.
    BFC Nikonian #1

  11. #11
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    Ask and you shall recieve:


    ISO 50
    Shutter speed 1/5
    Aperture f/3.2


    ISO 100
    Shutter speed 1/10
    Aperture f/3.2


    ISO 200
    Shutter speed 1/20
    Aperture f/3.2


    ISO 400
    Shutter speed 1/40
    Aperture f/3.2


  12. #12
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    I think you should have posted this in the parked thread " ** How to Take Better Photos of your Bimmer: A Brief Primer ** ": http://forums.bimmerforums.com/forum...d.php?t=178447

    It's a great post. If you want me to merge it into the thread I mentioned before so it doesn't get lost with the old threads, please PM.


    Quote Originally Posted by ClintonM3 View Post
    the Audi A4 is a tweaked, cosmetically enhanced, cross platform, put-together overnight VW.
    Quote Originally Posted by joeuser528e View Post
    Staggard setups are for cars that you park at show meets. They go well with 5 screens and 3 12"s.

  13. #13
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    Daved, this thread is more night-photography oriented. The first link is taking pictures in general, not necessarily specifying settings for night shots.. But whatever

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    Quote Originally Posted by 6i9
    Daved, this thread is more night-photography oriented. The first link is taking pictures in general, not necessarily specifying settings for night shots.. But whatever
    I know. That's exactly why I think it would be nice to have in the the first thread, because it doesn't cover taking night pics specifically. Anyways it's his thread, so please let him decide if he wants it in the first thread or not.

    Let's go back to the topic...


    Quote Originally Posted by ClintonM3 View Post
    the Audi A4 is a tweaked, cosmetically enhanced, cross platform, put-together overnight VW.
    Quote Originally Posted by joeuser528e View Post
    Staggard setups are for cars that you park at show meets. They go well with 5 screens and 3 12"s.

  15. #15
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    Daved, thanks for the offer but i think keeping this one seperate would be good, maybe we can let it float for a couple days, or if you want stick it for a few days, then we can merge the two.

    I've seen a lot of people taking night shots, I want this to get around to as many people as possible.
    BFC Nikonian #1

  16. #16
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    wow..awesome post..i learned more on this than in the manual.....

    thanks,
    mike

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    Quote Originally Posted by e36
    wow..awesome post..i learned more on this than in the manual.....

    thanks,
    mike
    That's good to hear!
    BFC Nikonian #1

  18. #18
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    Yea Leo. You and Chris have covered the topic matter very well. I know because everything you two just posted is what I have been working on lately with my own photography. lol. Thanks guys...

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by 525iT_Feen
    Yea Leo. You and Chris have covered the topic matter very well. I know because everything you two just posted is what I have been working on lately with my own photography. lol. Thanks guys...


    Well, there's not really much else you can cover about photography other than these basics. After that, it's mostly experimenting with different lenses/filters. Or, technical things such as direction of light, noisy/neat backgrounds etc. But for the casual car photographer who just wants to take decent shots, these tips should be enough.

  20. #20
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    You guys forgot one thing that can make a major diffrence diffrence which is White Balance (WB). I have that FujiFilm Finepix E550 and I can tell you that all the pictures in 6i9 post were not taken with WB set to Auto. Prety sure it was set to Incandescent since that is the best one to use at night on that perticular camera.
    Last edited by Krieg; 01-29-2005 at 05:46 PM.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Krieg
    You guys forgot one thing that can make a major diffrence diffrence which is White Balance (WB). I have that FujiFilm Finepix E550 and I can tell you that all the pictures in 6i9 post were not taken with WB set to Auto. Prety sure it was set to Incandescent since that is the best one to use at night on that perticular camera.
    You're right, I did forget about white balance.

    But the pics I provided were set to Programmed Auto. I'm not sure if that camera adjusts WB automatically in that mode, but there was no mention of WB persť in the details under each photo.

    Refer:
    http://www.photoxels.com/tutorial-ni...otography.html

    EDIT: OT, but glad to see this is parked.
    Last edited by 6i9; 01-29-2005 at 06:08 PM.

  22. #22
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    More info on lighting and balance, something that's often lacking in night shots:

    http://www.photoxels.com/tutorial_histogram.html

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Krieg
    You guys forgot one thing that can make a major diffrence diffrence which is White Balance (WB). I have that FujiFilm Finepix E550 and I can tell you that all the pictures in 6i9 post were not taken with WB set to Auto. Prety sure it was set to Incandescent since that is the best one to use at night on that perticular camera.
    Good call, thanks!
    BFC Nikonian #1

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    6i9 you are a photography god

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    thank you for the tips!

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