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C.C.P.I.C.S. - Class 03 - Low-light Photography

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Welcome to:

 

 

C.C.P.I.C.S.



Cruise Critics Photo Instruction and Creativity Series

(No direct sponsorship by Cruise Critic or any employee therof.)

 

This is an independent effort by the regular posting community on the Photo Discussion board to provide instruction to new photographers just getting their feet wet and inspiration to experienced shutterbugs.

 

The original discussion thread is here if you want to take a look:

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=778546

 

Class 1: Introduce Yourself is still active, so feel free to post there too!

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=791007

 

Class 2: Rule of Thirds is still active as well!

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=791007

 

 

Class 3 - Low-light Photography



 

 

Let me start out by thanking those who have participated so far (and the lurkers "auditing" the class too!;)). This has been fun and has inspired me to open a few new doors in my own little photographic world!

 

Restrictions on the number of photos in a single post and a large number of example shots have forced me to post the class introduction on my PPTPhoto.com site, so follow the link below and let's have some more of that fun!

 

Class 3 intro: http://www.pptphoto.com/ArticlePages/Class3.htm

 

 

Happy shooting!

 

Dave

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"Prints of Darkness"...good one, Dave! Well that is a lot of information:eek: , I hope my little camera and I can at least learn some of the concepts. By the time I get my new camera, I should have some of this down. thanks for all the time you spend on this!

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Thanks, I have been looking forward to the next class. Now I just have to find something to shoot. There was just so much information there I am going to have to print it out. Thanks again.

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Dave,

Very nice article, I learned a lot just reading it. Many thanks for putting in all that time and effort.

 

Gotta go play with low light.

 

Larry

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I'm so happy to see another lesson! After the Rule of Thirds lesson, I have started to see it applied when I watch the really great photography on those national geographic and nature shows. Thank you so much for giving me so much already.

 

I look forward to reading this lesson and doing whatever assignment you have planned. Low-light situations come up all the time and, although I have read abit about it, I still struggle.

 

See you soon.

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Dave:

 

Can you provide a few tips to those of us that are "DLSR deprived"?

 

Basically, we P&Sers have some limited control over ISO and some "scenes" to bias speed and f, but not much more.

 

Example: I have been unable to get a shot of the moon without it being over exposed.

 

TIA

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Dave:

 

Can you provide a few tips to those of us that are "DLSR deprived"?

 

Basically, we P&Sers have some limited control over ISO and some "scenes" to bias speed and f, but not much more.

 

Example: I have been unable to get a shot of the moon without it being over exposed.

 

TIA

 

What camera are you using? Maybe I can work something out.

 

Dave

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I have more than one but use the Panasonic FX-12 the most.

 

Please make it general so that other P&Sers can gain some benefit from your efforts.

 

Knowing you also use a P&S, some low light tips you use with it would be handy. Or ways to "trick" the limited control we have.

 

TIA

 

P.S. - my (film) SLR has been sitting in the closet gathering dust since I discovered the ease and convenience of the new P&S cameras. A lot is given up, but maximizing what is available is interesting to me.

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Kane, I think most people's problems with moon shots come in thinking about it as a 'night shot' but you're really shooting a sunny day on the moon. So you don't need a 2-3 second long exposure, but a tripod really helps, and as Dave said in his excellent article, turn off the image stabilization if your camera has it. If you don't have a remote, use your camera's timer to take the shot to reduce vibrations. I shot the following moon shot with a p&s Sony H5. (It does have manual controls though.) 1/100s f/8 ISO100 (If you notice, it's exactly the same settings Dave used on his moon shot with a DSLR.) I probably shot 50 images that night, trying different apertures & shutter speeds, most of which were deleted. (I've also shot moon shots before & after this & not gotten any good ones.)

 

214851750_26TwC-L.jpg

 

(This doesn't count for the class, because it was shot last Oct.)

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Dashed out to our patio after the 400M relay gold medal to undertake the low light assignment.

 

The exposure values were f2.8, 15 seconds, ISO100. Provided by the time exposure feature (not under my control not under my control except for the time).

 

I used my LED flashlight to put some light on the plants for a few seconds.

 

CCP2-1000056.JPG?imgmax=512

 

CCP2-1000054.JPG?imgmax=512

 

The photos were taken at 21:00 hrs, not sunset ... the sky is just city lights reflected off the clouds.

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I also have a basic P&S and won't be able to upgrade (to a Canon with more features) for a couple months. I've been playing with it, tho, and have taken better shots after following these classes. So while my pictures won't be great, I am hoping to get the basic concepts down and use the information later on. And getting pictures of the dog without the red eyes was a big plus for me:) . So here goes with my first picture.....taken inside with no flash and a slow shutter. Next time I'll set the camera down and use the timer. Any suggestions, Dave? thanks.

DSCF1036.jpg.c083eb6796d4d124604e1e6603aaee70.jpg

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Dave:

 

Can you provide a few tips to those of us that are "DLSR deprived"?

 

Basically, we P&Sers have some limited control over ISO and some "scenes" to bias speed and f, but not much more.

 

Example: I have been unable to get a shot of the moon without it being over exposed.

 

TIA

 

Do you want the good news or bad news?

 

Good news: After skimming through the manual, it seems that you have a great little P&S camera.

 

Bad news: After skimming through the manual, it seems that you have a great little P&S camera.

 

The only workaround I could come up with is to force the flash to "on" (lightning bolt only icon) in the standard mode (scene mode with just the camera icon) which should set the exposure to around 1/100s. Go into the setup menu and set the ISO sensitivity to 100 (page 60 in your manual). Focus on the most distant thing possible and give it a try.

 

If it's any consolation, the pictures you might see with a big ol' moon over a moonlit scene where you can make out the surface of the moon is likely going to be a composite picture.

 

Here is a moonlit scene with the foreground and the sea exposed properly. You will notice that the moon is a big blob of light due to the difference of about 12 EV between the scene and the moon. This photo would be possible with your camera.

medium.jpg

 

Good night scenes are possible with almost any camera, but a properly exposed close-up of the moon with the 105mm equivalent long end of a P&S zoom is beyond the scope of what the camera was designed for.

 

As for P&S tips, all of the tips in the intro article regarding holding the camera steady and using almost anything available to set it on, tape it to or otherwise steady it apply to the P&S as well as the DSLR. If you look at the captions in the example photos, you'll see whether it was shot with a compact or DSLR. Except in rare instances, I always leave my compact on ISO100 and "manual" mode (as manual as it gets...) My particular model allows me to lock focus at infinity for distant shots where a good focus point isn't available, choose whether to fire the flash or not and change from single to continuous to timer fairly easily. Almost all of the interior shots you see in my PBase galleries that were taken with a compact camera were auto exposed, sometimes with exposure compensation (+/-) if needed. With a P&S, the trick isn't always in the settings, but learning to use your particular camera and how to make it work for you, If the critical subject in a scene is off-center in one of the thirds and over- or under-exposed, A DSLR would let you set the exposure manually to compensate. On a P&S, you can put the critical subject in the center of the frame, half-press to lock focus and exposure and recompose. The resulting picture will have the composition you wanted with the proper bits exposed correctly.

 

It's been my experience that the biggest hurdle to overcome in low-light photography isn't the limitation of the camera, but camera movement. If you can steady the camera successfully, these amazing little machines will do most of the rest for you.

 

Dave

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Dashed out to our patio after the 400M relay gold medal to undertake the low light assignment.

 

The exposure values were f2.8, 15 seconds, ISO100. Provided by the time exposure feature (not under my control not under my control except for the time).

 

I used my LED flashlight to put some light on the plants for a few seconds.

 

CCP2-1000056.JPG?imgmax=512

 

CCP2-1000054.JPG?imgmax=512

 

The photos were taken at 21:00 hrs, not sunset ... the sky is just city lights reflected off the clouds.

 

I should have added light-painting with the flashlight to the list of cool things you can do!

 

Another idea would be to go out front and expose your street as cars go by, reducing them to streaks of white or red light. Freeway overpass?

 

It looks like you have the wheels in your head turning...keep it up!

 

Dave

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I also have a basic P&S and won't be able to upgrade (to a Canon with more features) for a couple months. I've been playing with it, tho, and have taken better shots after following these classes. So while my pictures won't be great, I am hoping to get the basic concepts down and use the information later on. And getting pictures of the dog without the red eyes was a big plus for me:) . So here goes with my first picture.....taken inside with no flash and a slow shutter. Next time I'll set the camera down and use the timer. Any suggestions, Dave? thanks.

 

You have a little motion-blur going on in the photo. Since it affects the edge of the rug and tile joints as well as the pup, it was camera motion, not the subject. Based on the angle, you might try pulling a chair over and resting the camera on the back to steady it.

 

Dave

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I'm not sure if these even quality as low-light photography so just ignore them if they don't.

 

The first picture was taken focusing on the dark areas in the composition:

 

2852675790065523202S600x600Q85.jpg

 

The second picture was taken focusing on the clouds:

 

2180938230065523202S600x600Q85.jpg

 

The appearance of the sky is quite different. I use this technique frequently when taking pictures where one area of the picture is much lighter or darker than another. (I also use the technique that Dave mentioned above to make sure that the right thing is in focus.)

 

I am using a Canon G9 set on Auto. I haven't played around with settings much yet but I did take a few pics on the Night Scene setting when the sun had set and just the colors remained. I didn't see a whole lot of difference.

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... clip ...

Another idea would be to go out front and expose your street as cars go by, reducing them to streaks of white or red light. Freeway overpass?

...clip...

Dave

 

You exposed my original plan ... to time expose an airliner going over our house (at about 8 Kft). I've done this before but, when I popped-out for the assignment last night, the sky had low clouds.

 

I'm having great fun and learning a lot with C.C.P.I.C.S. and appreciate the time and effort you're going through on our behalf. Keep up the good work!

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I would like to thank Dave again for taking the time to prepare these lessons.

 

After reading the article on low light, I took a critical look at some of my low light photos. I quickly realized that I needed to do a better job of heeding his admonition to brace the camera. “Hold the camera steady, stupid, is now my RULE1.”

 

I did go out and make an effort to take some new pictures in low light, and I do think there was an improvement, if not in composition, certainly in the lack of blurriness.

 

I have prepared a gallery with the pictures, and please don’t hesitate to add comments, critiques or suggestions.

 

http://www.pbase.com/roffee/lowlight

 

Larry

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Okay, this is what I came up with; not the best, but I did learn a few things about the different features on my camera.

DSCF1031.jpg.18c6ed49f91c01a9fd65702cbcd35252.jpg

park.jpg.ddefcb12c0e216e8fa2b9cc81e7658bc.jpg

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We had a beautiful full moon tonight. This was taken on a tripod at f/8, 1/30 sec.

 

Bob

 

_MG_8848-Edit.jpg

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Looks like some folks are dipping toes into the low-light pool!:D

 

Question: Was the explanation of the relationship between aperture, shutter speed and ISO helpful?

 

It is a lot of information, but having some understanding of the mechanics of what your camera is doing can make it easier to work around automation on a camera with limited manual control. I struggle to outwit the tiny brain in my SD800 all the time!

 

The reason I'm asking is to get a feel for the usefulness of the science behind the lens vs. tips and tricks for the next class.

 

Thanks again to all for your participation and support for this series.

 

Dave

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We live about 20 minutes from the Butchart Gardens in Victoria. During the

summer, they have a fireworks show every Saturday night. I thought this

would be a good place to try some night/low illumination shots so we went

on August 16. There was hardly any wind, so the smole did not dissipate quickly.

 

Camera Fujifilm Finepix S700, 7.1mp, 10x optical zoom with multiple scene

settings. These were shot from a tripod at eye level while seated, using AUTO,

SUNSET, NIGHT and FIREWORKS settings.

 

1. The location - AUTO, f3.5 1/120 17.2mm

2heaqso.jpg

 

 

2. SUNSET f3.5 1/70 6.3mm

 

9ad4lw.jpg

3. NIGHT f3.5, 2.5s, 6.3mm

au9tog.jpg

4. FIREWORKS f13.6, 1s, 6.3mm

9t1vno.jpg

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Looks like some folks are dipping toes into the low-light pool!:D

 

Question: Was the explanation of the relationship between aperture, shutter speed and ISO helpful?

 

It is a lot of information, but having some understanding of the mechanics of what your camera is doing can make it easier to work around automation on a camera with limited manual control. I struggle to outwit the tiny brain in my SD800 all the time!

 

The reason I'm asking is to get a feel for the usefulness of the science behind the lens vs. tips and tricks for the next class.

 

Thanks again to all for your participation and support for this series.

 

Dave

 

Somewhat definitely ... an oxymoron.

 

I found the tech content to be great. Granted, I knew some of it but also learned some things which I attempted to apply in my submission.

 

I also gained benefit from your tips for the P&S shooters, which I am still applying.

 

Thanks for all the work, and I know it is time consuming work to prepare all of the info. We want it all, but don't want to get you burned-out and lose interest in the project, so some compromise needs to be reached.

 

Some tech will be appreciated ... maybe you can provide high level overview with references for further study. Make us do some of the work ... sort of like going to college. You could always make a follow-up post if some of us get stumped and ask questions ... easier and less time consuming that trying to figure out what everyone knows or doesn't know.

 

Tips are always good, and useful to everyone including those who may be non-technical. Similarly, provide a general tip and make us spend some time investigating our own cameras (which are all different anyway).

 

Again, thanks for all the effort.

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I agree, I can do a lot of research on my own and save you time if I have the links. I loved the p&s tips and did learn a lot about my camera. I have to admit some of the techtalk was over my head, but learning the basics has been so helpful. Thanks, Dave!

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Dave,

 

First of all, thank you again for taking the time to think about, research, and present the information in a clear way.

 

I found the technical explanation very useful. I have understood the basics from my film days, but it was nice to have the “trinity” presented again in a clear concise manner. It got me thinking and studying again. If nothing else I have been motivated to pull out the manual to the 30D and learn to use all, or at least most of, its features, like setting aperture priority.

 

I thought your article was a good mix of a technical discussion and providing simple tricks and suggestions for shooting low-light photos.

 

Larry

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My problem has been lack of time (why does work always get priority status :)) and place to practice. Haven't been any place except for my own screen porch recently...but will try, I promise. The information bears rereading anyway so I'm using my time to learn and relearn. Of course, I appreciate your effort and expertise and look forward to the next installment...but don't rush!

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