Night Photograph and more on sharpness.
Lets really look at the problem of sharpness. There are so many small and important details to look into!
Should you use a large aperture or a small one?
I like to use F8, or F11. These two aperture will give me enough sharpness.
Where do I focus?
Now this will make a big difference! If I am photographing a scene that has a front, middle ground and a background I will do the one third rule. That usually works out pretty well. I will use an F11 and a F16.
Why do some people say that we need to set our lenses to infinity?
That will be another type of night photography and it will be more about the skies.
When you are photographing the stars, want to create star trails, just the moon and it’s all about the darkness and the contrast of the stars: Infinity will work best.
About the tripod?
This is where it is a good idea to do an investment. You really want a tripod that does not move! The heavier the better. Now…there is that issue of carrying it…so work with what you can but goes toward a really sturdy one.
What is a mirror lock up? Why do some people emphasize how important it is?
Many cameras have mirrors. When you press the shutter button the mirror goes up and down and when this happens it may shake the camera and cause your image to blur.
The best thing to do is to look at your camera manual and read the instruction on how to lock your mirror for night photography. Every camera has different buttons and dials and so I cannot give the instructions here.
A high resolution is the best one to photograph with. You may want to shoot in the RAW mode, RAW + JPEG, or a High JPEG. Aim for the highest resolutions!
Batteries: Take 3 or more batteries with you when you do night photography.
Do not use filters on your lenses.
Night Photography and Technical Information
I have had several people about how they use the white balance night shots. Some prefer to set it ot “daylight”. This will provide for whiter lights. Some like to use the “cloudy” to obtain a warmer light. Either and both are good. You can also play with the Photoshop and tweak the tones later. Lots of possibilities!
More talks on the ISO an noise reduction features. Our cameras , or some of them have a feature called “long exposure noise reduction” I will suggest hat you try this out and see how you will work with it. Not a good answer? Yes you are correct… But i have read and heard that noise reduction may produce gaps, blur images, make exposure take a longer time, may not do anything at all and there why use it! You may want to use noise reduction on Photoshop. And be attentive to see if it cause blurring.
As I started the Photoshop topic…let me go into it a bit more. Night exposure can be enhanced sow ell on Photoshop! You can combine images and get a tremendous amount of stars of many moons ( a little surreal but fun). If you are only photographing with stars then this can create an incredibly dynamic image. If yo are a purist and a naturalist, you may not want to manipulate your images an then all you would is a little tweaking.
There is always HDF and the combination of many layers and images. There are softwares that will do this for you and make you life so much easier. More time photographing and less on the computer!
There other ways to photograph. You can create star trails, shoot in a more static way, work with the city lights, move the lens back and forth for a quick and dramatic look and more..
Finding the right sky: That is the question! There are many types of skies and each one will create a different atmosphere, drama, background. Dusk will give you beautiful blues, night will be dark and if you have the moon or the stars or both: How lucky! If you live in a place that if far from the city lights you will see those stars! When you are in the desert, even better because you will get fabulous night photography. a place like New Mexico or Arizona is interesting because of the hilly backgrounds and beautiful rock formations. The northern skies will give you a light show. If you live in the city you will want to consider shooting with some sort of cityscape or shooting during a full moon. I like to add the moon because I get very dark skies. The moon will provide for unique backgrounds I can shoot the moon in frozen motion or I can add a bit of movement and create a surreal and ephemeral look.
I suggest that you get a moon app or jus look up a moon phase calendar so that you know the best days to photograph. Do not forget that the full moon is not the only time to photograph it. You may get wonderful photos on other phases of the moon too.
When you just want to photograph the skies, then you may do so on days when the moon is not full. The best thing to do is to test out different nights and see what you get. Yes, there is no magical formula! But you can start off wth a great base.
The secret is to work with a low ISO and very sturdy tripod.
Here are some tips for tripods.
The Exposure will be long during the night photography. It’s best to use the manual focus on your lens. Turn off the auto focus. It’s best to use a small aperture if you want your scene to be sharp. IF you are only photographing the sky you may shoot with an F8 and F11. That will also be good for nightscapes. About sharpness and focus: If it’s too dark to even focus, raise the ISO, set the camera focus to infinity take a photo, see if is shape and lower the ISO again and start your long exposure. The best lens is a fast lens: F1, F1.4, F2, F2.8. It’s also best to use a fixed lens. But…If you only have a zoom and it only goes to F3.5 then that will be the best lens!
Use a release cable. Do not touch the tripod nor the camera while you are exposing for your photograph!
About photography, architecture and things to do in Miami!
For those of you who live in the Miami area there is an interesting event tonight at the Bookstore on the Grove.
Beth Dunlop and photographer Claudia Uribe have done a book together. It’s about the cottages in Coconut Grove.
Tropical Cottage At Home in Coconut Grove is the title of the book. The book signing will be at 7:00pm, May 3, 2013.
Here is the link for the bookstore.
The first time I went to this fabulous bookstore it was in a different location. Small, really friendly people. A nice coffee shop.
I went for a local author night and it was just great and fun to hear the different authors. Now the bookstore seems to be a bit larger due to all the windows
and the coffee shop has more goodies! A great place to spend time, browse, get good books.
For those of you who want to know a bit about Beth Dunlop: She write about architecture. She writes for the Miami Herald and many other places.
Claudia Uribe is a photographer, visit her web site for some knock out photos! Claudia Uribe.
Looking forward to hearing about how they came about this project and seeing the book.
This will be a great way to get to know Coconut Grove!
Tips for Night Photography: Lenses
Which lens should I use for night photography?
This is a tough question! Any lens and all lenses. But lets chat a bit about lenses. If you want to create some wonderful Bokeh (read more about Bokeh and more on Bokeh), you will want to have a lens that has a fabulous aperture of 1.8, 2.0 or 2.8. But having said that, you can create Bokeh with a f 3.5. But more about lenses. If you are photographing a cityscape you may want to get lots and lots of information in your photograph. A good wide angle will do. If you have a full frame camera you may want to use a 28 mm lens. Otherwise you may want to use an 18 mm lens. A fisheye can be fun but will change what the photograph is all about. If you want to photograph the scene as it looks or with a more serious tone it will be better to stay away from the fisheye.
For scenes that are about architecture I like to use the wide angle. A telephoto can be interesting for a detail but then we need to be very attentive about where the light is coming from.
Lately I have fallen in love with my Sony nex 7. I use the kit lens quite a bit. The kit lens: 18mm- 55mm. I also use the Nikon lenses with an adaptor. This allows me to use my old fixed lenses ( 135 mm and 35mm along with others).
I hope that you will enjoy my photo of my camera and my small tripod at work at the Vizcaya Museum in Miami. Just before dusk when the light is too fantastic for words!
Back to lenses: So for details when the light is not overwhelming…in other words when the lamps are not too close to the main subject I will use the 135 mm.
My favorite is the wide angle and the 35 mm. These allow me to get the whole scene and then a more narrow version of the scene.
When you are buying a lens the important thing to consider is how fast it is. What is the widest aperture on the lens? The wider the better. You will be able to photograph under low light and have sharp images.
A good and economical way to do this is to buy fixed lenses. A zoom that will have an f stop of 2.8 can cost quite a bit. If you buy several fixed lenses you will have great lenses for a more pleasant price!
If you are traveling this can get a bit heavy. Sort of like the tripod that after a few hours…it can be pretty uncomfortable. I travel with the 18- 55mm lens and sometimes will take the 135 fixed lens. The interesting thing about only taking one lens is that it will make you more creative with your photography. I am forced to work around the limitations and to create interesting angles no matter what. Adds a bit of adventure to the whole thing.
Night Photography: How to Choose a Tripod!
The most important photo equipment for a successfully sharp photograph at night is to use a great tripod. I suggest reading the specs about the tripod you will buy. How high will it go? How much does it weigh? Can you get a good carrying bag with it? What kind of a tripod head does it have? Is it easy for you to move it around? Or are you going to go nuts trying to figure this little detail out?
I have been asked to talk about a few tripods and so I shall start by describing my favorite one!
- I have an old Canon tripod that is about 5 inches tall. It fits inside most of my bags. It’s light and pretty sturdy. I say pretty sturdy because the other day I was surprised to see that it actually moved a tiny bit when it was on the grass. Well, I really should not have been too surprised as it was almost as tall as the grass and not on steady ground. I have not seen any tripods like this one but will add some similar ideas here.
This Magnus tripod looks pretty similar to mine.
Take a look at it at B & H. The price is quite reasonable too!
Adorama has one made by Manfrotto ( I love all tripods by Manfrotto!)
I would say that Manfrotto is a fabulous tripod maker! They have several different prices, weights and sizes.
A good tripod can cost around $ 200.00 – $350.00 +.
- Here is a good middle priced one that is not too heavy: Manfrotto
A really good tripod will be more expensive. It will depend on the material that it’s made out of. For example this Lightweight Adapto Technopolymer is super light!
And in a very different price range. So at some point it will depend on the budget too!
- The thing about tripods is that no one really wants to carry one around for too long. It gets heavier and heavier with time. This is why I love the tiny one. If I know that I will not be walking too much I carry a pretty heavy one. The reason being is that if it’s windy I do not want it to move I have tried taking a lightweight tripod and then adding my backpack or something to weigh it down. The backpack began to swing and then so did the tripod. So you see… This can be quite a serious matter!
About the lightweight tripod: If it’s a bit windy I do not make it very tall. This has suited me fine since I have been photographing from a much lower height lately. The lower it is the more sturdy it will be.
Photography Lesson: The difference between night and day literally.
Architectural photography is all about how to light the subject, angles and heights. Just like any other type of photography. Light is the most important element as you are working with large size subjects and need to emphasize it with shadows, light, color and texture. You can change how a building looks just by changing the time of the day that you photograph it.
This is part of the City Hall photographed around 6:00pm. The clouds were coming and going, sun was shinning once in a while but I was not obtaining a good exposure. The sky was over exposed and had no detail and the building looked ok – but nothing special.
By waiting for the sunset and testing out as I waited: I was able to get quite a beautiful exposure of the City Hall in Coral Gables!
Once the sky began to change its color and the city lights went on the building started to change its personality.
The dramatic sky frames the building and the enhances the mood. Thanks to the building’s light we can see the details in between the columns.
It was important to place the camera in position so that the columns in the front were not covering the columns in the back. Well, this was important to me. You may choose to do things in a different way. I liked that because it gave me a better idea of depth and I liked seeing the windows in different ways. Some windows are visible entirely and other windows are partial. It breaks the repetition a bit.
I used my small tripod. By small, I mean really small. It’s the one that goes with me in my bag, everywhere and all the time. It’s about 5 inches tall. I love working with it because it gives me a different perspective. It forces me to change the from my usual eye level photography and to deal with very different objects. When you shoot from ground level you get a lot of things that you would not when the camera is at a higher level. The detail that I love the most is the how the sky takes over and becomes so important.
We are going into what I call the cloud season in Florida. This is the summer, rains, storms and lots of drama in the skies that will make beautiful backdrops for our photography!
These photographs were taken with the Sony nex-7. Kit lens: Wide angle. F8. ISO 100. Shutter 1/4. AWB.
Photo Tips: Low Light Photography Part 11
On my last post I discussed photographing with low light and controlling the ISO to decrease noise.
Lets say that you do want to use a flash for your low light photography.
Flash photography is a lot of fun and you can create a very soft and natural look or you can go for bright and shiny or you can create some amazing surreal effects.
But..I am going to start at the beginning. The first thing about light is that we need to do something really important: Study the sun. I may have written this already but it’s worth mentioning again.
The best time to photograph is when the sun is rising and bit later, when it’s setting and a bit later. So… lets say that it’s when the light is at 45 degree angle.
The worst time to photograph someone is at midday. That is when the shadows seem to grow for under our eyes and make horrible designs on our faces. Flowers end up with different colors and anything white will get blown out.
If you photograph with the flash on your camera and point it towards someone it will create a terrible effect. Very similar to a midday sun. It will make the person look flat, it will create different effects on the face. This could be anything from a hot spot on the overhead to changing the true color of the make up or bring out an area that you do not want to.
What to do? What to do?
Put your flash at a 45 degree, pointing upwards. It will not be the most amazing light but it will be so much better!
The best thing to do is to photograph with a flash off camera. Place it to your (the photographer’s) right or left side at an angle from the subject’s nose (guess which: 45!!!) and make sure that the flash is a bit higher so that you will be imitating a sun setting!
If you are lighting up a place, chances are that one small flash will not be enough, you may need several small or several strobes. ( I did not light up this photo, I just love the subject and wanted to share!)
The rules will be the same. It will be important to place the light in strategic places so that the flashes will not appear on the photograph. You will also want to make sure that the light is nice, soft and diffused so that you have every thing looking natural. You will not want to create glare. It will take a bit of patience and trial and errors when photographing an interior.
So: For low light photography you can use the flash.
When you use the flash you may be able to keep the ISO low and work with a smallish aperture.
The camera will only synch with the flash up to a certain shutter speed and you will need to find that our on your manual. My camera will accept the shutter of 1/250 as the fastest speed for a flash. Anything faster will create a dark line and all sorts of unwanted things may happen.
I usually shoot at 1/200 but will use a much slower shutter speed many, many times.
On the next post I will discuss the flash and ambient light.
Photo Tips: Low Light techniques Part 1
Photo lesson: Noise in digital photography.
2 ways to photograph under low light conditions:
I have been showing night photography and writing about how to photograph at night. I am thinking that the best thing is to understand how to photograph: Under low light.
We will encounter situations when the light is very dim and we will want to have some great shots. It always a challenge! Controlling light with your camera is the big secret to good photography!
If you do not want to use a flash, then you will have 2 ways that you can photograph.
The first is to do hand-held photography.
This will require you to use a high ISO.
The photograph inside St. Jude’s Church in Miami. The ISO was 1600. This was shot with a Sony nex-7, kit lens, F4.5, 1/60.
Getting to know the ISO on your camera is really important! There is a number that will start to show a lot of noise and that number is different for every camera.
Most cameras will start to show noise when you use an ISO of 400. Usually it’s just a bit of noise in the dark areas and not too distracting.
When you use an ISO of 800 or higher many cameras have tons of noise.
Oh…so what is noise in digital photograph? They are little dots. In the “old” film days they were grains. A photo taken with a high ISO would be called a grainy photo. These dots can be ugly and distracting but sometimes they can make the photograph look interesting.
There are no real rules about this. Here is the thing about noise: Sometimes it’s ok and other times it looks pretty bad. So you will have to make your own decisions about this!
Newer cameras will allow you to use a pretty high ISO before noise starts to show. That is why you have to test your camera.
Tips for testing for noise:
Choose a place with low light. Photograph the exact same thing with different ISO’s.
Make sure to change your aperture and your shutter so that you will have a good exposure every time.
Photograph with ISO 200, ISO 400, ISO 800, ISO 1600 and as high as your camera will allow you.
Look at the darker areas: ENLARGE the photograph! It will be better to view this on the computer!
Take a good and careful look at the darker areas and then look a the bright areas. Check which ISO has the most noise. Check which ISO has some noise and is tolerable to you.
This way you will know which ISO you want to work with and you do not want to work with.
There are some softwares that will fix the noise, but it never fixes this completely. Also bare in mind that some of these may make your image appear a bit blurry so that the noise blends. Again…these are some photography choices that you will have to make!
The other method to photograph under low light is to use a tripod. This will allow you to take some fabulous shots.
The idea is to keep the ISO as low as possible and only change the aperture or the shutter. It may happen that you will end up shooting with a slow shutter.
This can be great and give you some lovely effects but will not freeze motion…so you will do this more if they are cityscapes, night landscapes and interiors. Remember that a slow shutter will make electric light “act” in different ways. It can become a big soft light, it can become a start or it can appear to have movement!
Travel Photographers: Always take a light tripod or a small tripod. Depending on where you go, you may want to purchase a tripod upon arrival and sell it before leaving.
So to review: Get to know your camera and which ISO works best for you.
Raise the ISO for hand held photography.
Use a tripod if you wish to photograph with a low ISO.
Photography Tips: Photography with low light and Night Photography
We are going to meet at the Vizcaya on April 25 to do some night photography. It’s not a class and I will be happy to give some tips as I photograph from dusk to night.
I believe this will be the last full moon photography at Vizcaya as they do not seem to have any late schedules in their information. It could be that it’s the beginning of summer and bug season in Miami? Anyways I will do night photography in other areas in May and June.
So here are some important tips for night photography.
You will be more concerned with the shutter. Work with a slow shutter so that you can maintain a low ISO. Avoid noise. I start with an ISO of 100 and only change it when I absolutely have to!
I try to shoot with the aperture of f8, f11. I use a single focus point to make sure that the are that I want to be sharp will be sharp!
At times and in darker areas I will use a manual focus. This is sometimes a bit of a challenge for any of us to see and focus and that is just part of the night photography issues!
I use a sturdy tripod. That is the key to maintaining sharpness in the photographs. When I shoot with the iphone I also use a heavy tripod. I was asked about the importance of the tripod…
And the idea is that it needs to be a little on the heavy side so that it will not shake with wind.
I have been photographing with the Sony nex-7 camera which is surprising me every day. The quality of the photographs are great. The only issue that I am having with this camera, comparing with the Nikon D700 camera; is that I get noise with a high ISO.
So I just need the tripod all the time and I work around it. It makes me photograph slower which is something that I like. I stay in the place longer and study my scenes.
Photography composition works out best when we slow down anyways!