Techniques for taking night shots

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by wwooden, Jan 22, 2007.

  1. wwooden macrumors 68000

    wwooden

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2004
    Location:
    Burlington, VT
    #1
    I bought a D50 about a month ago and am having a great time getting back into photography. I like experimenting and trying different setting to get more familiar with the camera. I've been having trouble taking good night/dark shots. I have a tripod so I don't have to worry about vibrations and blurs, but the colors never seems to come out right. The white balance is always off, I've tried auto and any others that would make sense. The whites always seems to have a brownish hue. I also try to keep the ISO as low as possible, I don't like going over 800 as I get a lot of noise.

    What are some suggestions for taking good night shots?
     
  2. trudd macrumors regular

    trudd

    Joined:
    May 27, 2004
    Location:
    Texas
    #2
    Tripod? Good.

    Low ISO? Good.

    Bad colors? What kind of objects are you photographing? Post some samples, please.
     
  3. spicyapple macrumors 68000

    spicyapple

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2006
    #3
    Shoot in RAW so you can later adjust for the best color temperature in a post processing application. If you don't have Photoshop, you can buy Nikon's Capture NX app (which is really good).

    Night-time shots of city streets with mercury-vapour/halide lamps have a really low color temperature of something like 1200º Kelvins (extremely in the red spectrum) so pictures will turn out brownish red.

    Incandescent color setting is the closest color temperature, although you may need to use a PRE white balance setting.
     
  4. eenu macrumors 65816

    eenu

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2006
    Location:
    Manchester, UK
    #4
    tripod, exposure time and iso number are essential.

    I still haven't fully mastered night shots....but then i am only taking city shots with nasty yellow street lighting....:rolleyes:
     
  5. pdpfilms macrumors 68020

    pdpfilms

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2004
    Location:
    Vermontana
    #5
    Keep in mind that your DSLR will never produce long exposures as cleanly as a film SLR will. Even if you set the ISO to 100 and shoot for a minute, you're still going to get lots of noise, simlpy by leaving the sensor on to absorb extraneous electomagnetic interference. But if you're staying under the 30-second preset, you should be fine.

    EDIT: I don't mean to be a downer, but wanted to make sure you knew that you might be unable to produce some of the cool star trails or similar looong exposure images you see in the media. Those are mostly made on film, or with advanced multi-imaging and compositing.
     
  6. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2002
    Location:
    Location Location Location
    #6
    ^^^Well that, plus sensor heating from exposing for so long. You should make sure that Long Exposure NR is on.
     
  7. pdpfilms macrumors 68020

    pdpfilms

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2004
    Location:
    Vermontana
    #7
    ^^^Good point. And keep in mind that Long Exposure NR usually takes about as long as the exposure length itself, and will be using battery the whole time. In other words, a one-hour exposure will take 2 hours if Long Exposure NR is on, and it will suck battery as if you were holding down the shutter release the whole time.
     
  8. jlcharles macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2006
    Location:
    Wenonah, NJ
    #8
  9. wwooden thread starter macrumors 68000

    wwooden

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2004
    Location:
    Burlington, VT
    #9
    Thanks for all the tips. I didn't have the NR on, I will try next time and see if there are any improvements. I don't shoot in RAW as the file sizes are huge and most of the shots I take are junk shots. But, I guess since I am just going to throw them away, I could just shoot in RAW and not worry about it.

    Most of the shots I am taking are outside in my backyard, usually just either the moon light or a street light, no city shots. Here are some shots to give examples of what I am doing. I'm not trying to take amazing shots, just trying to get comfortable with my camera.

    The first is my backstairs. This is what the camera took. It has a distinquisable red hue over it, giving it a dirty look when really it is very white and clean. The second is the same but converted to black and white, I think better represents what I actually saw.

    The second set in my basement. Again, the first one is heavily shifted in the red direction, I corrected this in iPhoto for the last one.

    Please keep the tips coming and I would love to see other peoples work.
     

    Attached Files:

  10. pdpfilms macrumors 68020

    pdpfilms

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2004
    Location:
    Vermontana
    #10
    Glad to see VT finally got some snow!!

    I was back east over break and it was 50 pretty much the entire time. Yuck.
     
  11. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #11
    Try some of these...

    1) Try the automatic noise reduction. The camera automatically will take a "dark frame" wit the shutter shut that can be substracted from the image frame. This helps remove the compenent of the noise that is due to "thermal electrons"

    2) shoot in raw format so you can do the color balance on the computer

    3) shoot a white card. Walk out into the scene and hold a white card in the same light as the subject

    4) color is really different at night. "Correct" is a matter of opinion. That's just the way it is. Lamps don't make sunlight. You have to deside what is "right". The camera captures reality but you don't want that in your print so you may just have to alter it by eye. I do this with my under water images. I want to show what it seems to look like not what it really looks like down there.
     
  12. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2002
    Location:
    Location Location Location
    #12
    Auto WB isn't spot-on on any camera. That is ALL I'm going to say. ;)
     
  13. Clix Pix macrumors demi-goddess

    Clix Pix

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2005
    Location:
    8 miles from the Apple Store at Tysons (VA)
    #13
    Snow is tricky to meter, too....either in daylight or at night!
     
  14. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #14
    For fresh white snow (no detail) spot meter on the snow and open up 2 stops. If it's a really overcast day, add half a stop.

    If it's not pure, or it is side-lit with some detail, then come down 1 1/3 to 1 1/2 stops and you'll likely be on point.

    If your camera doesn't spot meter, then it's trickier unless you keep a Sekonic in your pocket! ;)
     

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