night light photography

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Although I much prefer light, bright, sunny photos, occasionally I love to experiment with nighttime photography - when I can 'paint with light'.

I'm no professional, so a lot of this kind of photography is hit or miss. I simply use a long exposure setting on my Nikon D90, and no tripod. I love the 'wobble' a free-hand night shot provides - sometimes you get lucky with some unexpected clarity, but most of the time, photos turn out washed and spattered, like an impressionist painting.

The less light you have available, the longer the shutter will stay open, to let the light in. I always test a shot first, composing it the frame and counting the seconds it takes to click over. I then take a series of shots, changing up how much movement I create with the camera.

If a picture takes 10 seconds for the shutter to release, I may stay perfectly still for 10 seconds. I may stay still for 9 seconds and then do a quick swerve upwards on the last second. I may keep it still 2 seconds and move the camera in a variety of ways for the last eight - sometimes slow, sometimes fast.

It's so much fun experimenting, then going through the resultant shots. Although most are unusable, you can uncover some real gems.

I took about 40 shots the other night - at about 9pm - and here is what I salvaged from the wreckage. Almost every image has been adjusted (oftentimes just auto-adjusted), but with no filters.

I love how, when you leave a shutter open for so long, even the darkest night can appear like day. The camera can see so far into a night sky - it's breathtaking.


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