One Year Of Photography by Howard Haby

70/365: They All Can’t Be Winners

Tonight’s photos are a failure, that is why I am showing them.

I tried my hand at some night photography, simple enough stuff. Pretty straight forward. So then I started messing around with my flash because I did it before by accident (as you’ll remember from another post – click here-) and it left a cool sort of ghost effect. I am not at all happy with the results I got tonight, however I did like the idea. So first I’ll point out the problem, and then I’ll try and tell you what went wrong. Interested? Then keep reading.

The problem: I am T-totally out of focus. Not even close to being in focus, that is why these photos are a failure. That should be pretty clear, if not, you may need glasses my friend.

What I did: First, I set my camera to 30 seconds for shutter speed and opened the aperture to 3.5. That was as wide an aperture as I could get, and as long as I can open my shutter for. I set my lens to manual (won’t focus at night because the lens can’t see anything). The problem with this? Well, 30s and shooting wide open lets in a fair amount of light, enough that I’m generally happy with. If I wanted or needed more, I could set my ISO higher, but I like ISO 100 because you get your cleanest photo. What I needed to do was set my aperture really high, like maybe 13 – 22 or something, getting as much detail in as I could and giving me a better chance at being in focus. Because your aperture will control your depth of field. But by setting your aperture high, you are also making that hole really small, and a 30 second shutter speed won’t let enough light in and you get a black image. As well, I should probably have brought a flash light, and maybe focus on that and stand in the same place and maybe I’d be able to get myself in focus.

Solution: So how can I get around this problem?

On your DSLR (and some point and shoots, but mostly cameras where you have manual control over your settings), you can  set your shutter to stay open longer than 30 seconds. After 30 seconds (on my canon camera anyway), something may pop up called BULB. When it does, it gives you the ability to press the shutter button and hold it down for as long as you want. Nice, right? Yes, but you can’t get out in front of the camera when you do this and you are fairly likely to shake the camera when you really want it to stay still. What I need is a shutter release cable (not sure if that is what it is called). It’s a shutter button on a cord, you’ll see them used a lot for landscape stuff when your camera is on a tripod. Ok, so what this does is press your shutter open, and it stays that way until you press the button again, closing it. This is important because you can set your aperture to 13-22 now and leave your shutter open for minutes now or all night if you wanted. This will allow enough light to get in with these small apertures and increase your chances of getting in focus. A flash light would have certainly helped me though. 😦

Anyway, this is a learning process so I thought I’d share.

That’s all for tonight. My wife and I did a maternity shoot after work today and I’m kinda tired now. You can check out some photos by checking out our SEDNA Photography blog here. Thanks for dropping by.

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4 responses

  1. Mandy Poole

    Night shots are really difficult. I never thought of the flashlight trick before, but i did use my car headlights once. I have an album on my facebook called “Nightwish” and it’s all night photography, some with flash some without. I like the look of the photo when the ISO is increased but it does make it pretty grainy too when you zoom in. The only trick that I know of which is most likely common sense is to turn down the brightness of your lcd screen when you’re trying to focus in, or just turn it off completely. Other then that I guess it’s up to luck 😛
    On a cheesier note, the top photo with you pointing up in the sky reminded me of the lion king, when Mufasa appeared in the clouds at night to Simba. DORK haha.

    April 15, 2010 at 8:37 am

    • Howard

      LOL!! Too funny, Mandy. I’m sure there are a bunch of tutorials out there for different types of night photography, but I always seem to try and reinvent the wheel first, and then start research and go, “Oh, I could have saved myself a few hours if I just researched a little first”. The good thing is, I learn from my mistakes, so it helps me if I make them, ;). I guess.
      I never use the LCD screen, but my car was parked behind me on the road, I guess I could have used that. It would have made sense. There, see!? I have a duh moment and now I’ve learned something!

      April 15, 2010 at 8:58 am

  2. Oh my god, dude, there’s three of you!

    April 16, 2010 at 8:28 am

    • Howard

      LOL! Oh my, Patrick…

      April 16, 2010 at 10:05 am

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