Monday, July 2, 2012

Photography Night Shots - Skylines

Photography Night Shots

This post is really for beginnners and folks that haven't done any type of night photography before. If you haven't got involved in it, nightscapes can be challenging, but the results can be more than rewarding and open up all kinds of new avenues for you. 

Unless you have manual controls on a point and shoot, this will involve using a DSLR camera. Since I live fairly close to Portland I shot their skyline to use as an example. But, it can be a skyline or nightscape anywhere.

Getting good results is not rocket science and there are a couple of ways to do it.  However, I'm only going to discuss one.

First, turn off all  the automatic setting on your camera.  Forget about the Night Mode, Flashes, Auto-Focus, Anti-Shake on your DSLR.  None of these settings will help you take good shots at night.  And, did I say turn off "Auto-Focus"?  All it does is get confused at night.  Use Manual Focus.

Personally, and I think the simpliest, while getting excellent results, is shooting in the Aperture Priority Mode (Turn the dial to the AV setting on your camera).  In essense, in this mode you simply set the desired f stop and the camera picks the right exposure time to get the photo.

In any mode, you have to be concerned about Depth of Field (DOF)...getting everything in focus that you need, or want in focus.  I'm not going to get in a lot of theory here.

On my camera, which is a Pentax DSLR, I found that certain setting in the AV Mode work very well for me at night.  I set my ISO at 100, period.  I set my f stop at 11, and that works for me for a good DOF, and works regardless of lighting conditions while shooting skylines.

Make sure your camera is mounted on a tripod, unless you have nerves of steel.  In the AV Mode, the longest exposure I have taken has been 30 seconds while photographing a skyline.  And, it was pretty dark out.  Anything over 30 seconds, you will probably need to be in the "Bulb Mode" setting, which is the infinite exposure mode. 

Use a self-timer or a remote on your camera.  I highly suggest getting a remote. 

Some of the photos in this post were converted into High Dynamic Range Photography through special software. 

I love HDR (High Dynamic Range Photography). Usually this is accomplished by taking three bracketed shots, meaning three different exposures of the same under-exposure, a spot-on exposure and an over-exposure and fusing them together.

Photography Night Shots

Photography Night Shots

Photography Night Shots

Photography Night Shots
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