Night Photography

Night photography & long exposure.

Just because the sun goes down doesn’t mean you should put camera away, there are so many opportunities to photograph after dark that you should really give it a go. It will also help you understand light.

First of all you´ll need to understand your camera, whether it is a DSLR or a bridge camera or a  simple point & shoot you should understand the limitations and how to use it properly to get the most out of it.

Can you control it manually, (manual, aperture, shutter speed settings), if not find an option for night photography in the presets.

Can you change the ISO?

Can you use a remote release, if not there is always a setting for TIMER, this allows the camera to settle down before taking the photo therefore eliminating camera shake.

When you are taking the photo you will need to determine the amount of light there is and set the camera to the correct settings (for p&s shooters choose night mode in the presets and click away).

The light meter does a great job at this, so press the shutter button halfway down and on the screen or thought the view finder you´ll see a little chart.

Make sure you point the camera at the darkest part of the scene, or something midway towards the darkest part. If the lines are too far away from the center line you´ll need to adjust slightly the settings on the camera, but sometimes try the photo, see what comes out. It may be way to dark or black or way to light or white even, so change the setting appropriately and take another photo.

Do your very best to only use the lowest ISO you have available to you. I have 200, but there are also a couple of lower settings on my D90 L1.0, L0.7 and L0.3, you may want to use this is you have the option.

Aperture, this determines how much of your subject in actually in focus. So it mainly depends on your subject, so think about what are you taking and how much you want in focus.

Remember: smaller f numbers = less in focus = more light is let onto the sensor
larger f number = more in focus = less light is let onto the sensor

Shutter speed. As you are taking the photo after dark the chance is you´ll need a longer shutter speed than normal, right, so remember a tripod, or if you don´t have one, make sure you find something solid, like a trashcan, or even the roof of the car to get a steady shot. One thing I took across Africa with me as a tripod was out of the question was a bean bag. Think about making one of these, with some left over material, beans, rice or anything similar.  When you half press the shutter button you´ll see the meter on screen (if you don’t see this you may need to change you camera settings) As you have already chosen your aperture then you´ll need to change the shutter speed to be close to the center of the meter. Take a photo and see if you like it. If not change the setting and try again.

Flash: this is entirely depend on your subject, are you taking a photo of some people, for example? If you are you´ll need to use the fill in flash to illuminate them.  The flash also will illuminate a few meters; this depends on the flash and the camera. (You can read the manual to find out this).

Remote shutter release, cable release or self-timer. As the camera is on a tripod or any of the other options mentioned, there will also be camera shake if you just press the shutter button, so use the shutter release or if you don´t have one use the self-timer. I remember this from years ago, my dad, also a photographer, used to take family photo by pressing the button and running into the shot, I am sure loads of you will also have these memories, well they still work today and as far as I know every camera, even the cheapest little, simple p&s have them so put it to good use. The symbol looks like a little clock.
the best time is when there is still a little blue left in the sky, this will create the best shots.

Do you need ideas as what to take, because it´s not just architecture and landscapes, try taking the kids out and having some fun with sparklers, for example, or why not try taking the car out and taking a photo using the headlights, fireworks is always a good one if you have some nearby, and we all have a church close by, if not take a photo of your own home, turn on all the lights, go out and take a photo, take a torch and write something in front of the camera during a long shutter speed.

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Depth of field / Aperture

Depth of Field / Aperture
Depth of field refers to the range of distance that appears acceptably sharp. It varies depending on camera type, aperture and focusing distance.
On DSLR cameras and some more advanced point and shoot camera you can have full control over the aperture. While the shutter speed controls the duration of light hitting the sensor the aperture controls the amount of light hitting the sensor. The aperture is the part of a lens that dictates how much light is let through to the sensor – if it’s wide open, lots of light gets through. If it’s closed down, not much light gets through. In essence, it performs the same as the pupil of an eye. If you are in a dark room, the pupil is open; sunlight, the pupil is small.

Depth of Field always extends 1/3 in front of and 2/3s behind the point of focus. No matter whether the DOF is deep or shallow, it always follows this formula. This fact becomes more valuable when you do macro photography.

Depth of Field decreases as the distance between the subject and film plane decreases. You have VERY little DOF to work with when doing macro photography and are focused just a couple of centimeters away, but you have extreme DOF when focused at a point near infinity.

Different lenses can have different apertures – for example, a cheaper lens may only open to f4.0, not letting in as much light as a more expensive lens that will open to f1.6 or more.

The depth of field does not abruptly change from sharp to unsharp, but instead occurs as a gradual transition.

All lenses have a Hyperfocal Distance (hyperfocal distance is a distance beyond which all objects can be brought into an ?acceptable? focus) for a given f/stop. If, for example, the Hyperfocal Distance happens to be 16 feet for a particular lens/aperture combination, everything from one-half that distance (8 feet) to infinity appears to be in focus. If your lens has a DOF scale, line up the infinity symbol with the f/stop you are using and you have just set your lens to its Hyperfocal Distance for that f/stop.

Less in focus                                A little more in focus                Even more in focus

Depth of Field sounds like a good thing and usually it is—but not always. If you want to produce dramatic portraits you’ll want to limit.

Bokeh.  In Japanese is means ?fuzzy? and in photography it’s used to describe the parts of a photograph that are not in focus. Anyway, some lenses are optimized to produce attractive bokeh. It is acheavied by using a wide aperture.

There are also various ways of calculating DOF online.    http://www.dofmaster.com/

Here you will find a variety of charts, downloads and online resources for DOF or hyperfocal distance.

Practice for DSLR users and bridge camera users (with manual options). Read on for those with point and shoots.

Practice: I would like you all to try this. Put your camera into Aperture mode.  This varies depending on the camera. Nikon is A and Canon is Av.

-Choose the largest aperture (the largest aperture is the smallest number).

The aperture will depend on the lens you use. Those you with DSLR will have a bunch of numbers on the lens. For example  AF-S NIKKOR 18-105 mm f3.5 –  5.6 G ED.  Note the numbers that are underlined. These are the limits of aperture or f stop on your lens. f3.5 is the max aperture at the widest zoom (in this case 18mm) and f5.6 is the max aperture on the long end of the zoom (in this case 105mm). Some lenses can go to f1.4 and usually the macro lenses are fixed f2.8 for example.

-Find a subject, could be a person, flower, see above picture. What you are going to take is a subject with plenty of background. It´s better if you can do this on a bright day or somewhere with plenty of light.

Take the photo with the different apertures. One with the widest, one with a middle aperture and one with the smallest aperture. Compare the differences on the computer screen.

You will see in the photo with the widest aperture the background will be blurred.

The middle aperture with be less blurred and the smallest aperture will have a sharper background.

When to use each aperture:

I am sure you have seen plenty of photos of people/portraits and the background is blurred. A wide aperture has been used.

A landscape will be an example of a small aperture. You have elements in the photo from close to far away and you want it all sharp. Here you need to use a small aperture.

You can use any lens that doesn´t have a fixed f/stop. You will get different results depending on the distance from your subject. I recommend you practice, go out there with your camera and play.

Point and Shoot users.

The cameras usually have presets. (sometimes called scene) These will help you learn the basics. Place the camera on the portrait preset, then take a photo of someone/ flower as described above. Then place the camera on landscape preset and take the same photo.

The portrait preset should give you a setting with wide aperture and the landscape with a small aperture, review the exif data (camera settings) in the camera or on the computer to compare as above.

RECAP:

A SMALL NUMBER IS A WIDE APERTURE. Normally used for portraits.

A LARGE NUMBER IS A SMALL APERTURE. Normally used for landscapes

Shapes in photography

When you are out with your camera and you are wondering about composition, yes you should be wondering about composition, think about geometric shapes, lines (vertical and horizontal) and the rule of thirds.

They can be a powerful element that can have a dynamic impact on your picture. Lines and shapes are helpful in adding mood and atmosphere to your finished product or creating a desired effect. They can be useful in leading the eyes from one part to another or leading the eye to a particular part of your image or another part.

Placing a shape against a contrasting background makes them more interesting. A great use of shapes are also silhouettes. The use of curved lines or circles and straight lines has a great ability to create tension in your picture.

Horizontal Lines
Horizontal lines can be powerful in creating photos that are peaceful. They may have the ability to convey restfulness and stability. The most common horizontal lines to be found in photographs are normally horizons, but be careful not to run the horizon directly through the centre of the photograph dividing the equal amounts of the sky and landscapes.

This may often have a negative effect and possibly create a dull image. Although this is not always considered the rule.
A great practice to pick out the more impressive part of your scene, for example sunsets with dramatic clouds. Also keep in mind that broken horizons may lead to a dull feeling photograph.

If you want to add rhythm to your photo, look for layers of horizontal lines. The rhythm can than become the focus or subject of the photo itself. Don´t forget diagonal lines.

Another good trick when using horizontal lines is to try it to try to keep the lines square with the edges of you frame and to also shoot your image in a horizontal format.

Vertical lines can convey various different moods from grandeur and dignity to rigidity. Objects such as buildings and people represent horizontal lines. If you want to create a very powerful and dynamic picture combine vertical lines with horizontal lines.

If you really want to emphasize the power of the vertical line, try switching your camera to the vertical plane. As with all photography this is not always the rule.

If you want the lines to appear as if they are moving out of the top of the image, it then becomes useful to leave your camera in a landscape format. Take your photo so that the lines move from the top to the bottom of your image.

Diagonal lines that are used in your image are often considered the most interesting. They represent movement and speed. They can lead you into the frame of the photo and to the centre of interest. A good idea is to avoid splitting the frame of your image in two by running diagonal lines from one corner of the picture to the other.

This may cause the image to lose it’s drive. To achieve a more balanced photo within the confines of your frame try to create a diagonal that starts just to one side of the corner and travels to the one side of the opposite corner. Curved lines within your frame can also be representative of moods such as grace and dignity.
If you really want to add an interest look for different ways to incorporate interesting diagonal lines into your image. Keep in mind when you are taking photos that it is worth remembering the different moods and feelings that they can convey.

Next time you go out, come back with photos with these shapes in them: square, circle, triangle, diagonal line, vertical line, horizontal line, semi-circle, s shape, star (this maybe the hardest). Once you have done that, go back and break the rules.

Shapes in photography

When you are out with your camera and you are wondering about composition, yes you should be wondering about composition, think about geometric shapes, lines (vertical and horizontal) and the rule of thirds.

They can be a powerful element that can have a dynamic impact on your picture. Lines and shapes are helpful in adding mood and atmosphere to your finished product or creating a desired effect. They can be useful in leading the eyes from one part to another or leading the eye to a particular part of your image or another part.

Placing a shape against a contrasting background makes them more interesting. A great use of shapes are also silhouettes. The use of curved lines or circles and straight lines has a great ability to create tension in your picture.

Horizontal Lines
Horizontal lines can be powerful in creating photos that are peaceful. They may have the ability to convey restfulness and stability. The most common horizontal lines to be found in photographs are normally horizons, but be careful not to run the horizon directly through the centre of the photograph dividing the equal amounts of the sky and landscapes.

This may often have a negative effect and possibly create a dull image. Although this is not always considered the rule.
A great practice to pick out the more impressive part of your scene, for example sunsets with dramatic clouds. Also keep in mind that broken horizons may lead to a dull feeling photograph.

If you want to add rhythm to your photo, look for layers of horizontal lines. The rhythm can than become the focus or subject of the photo itself. Don´t forget diagonal lines.

Another good trick when using horizontal lines is to try it to try to keep the lines square with the edges of you frame and to also shoot your image in a horizontal format.

Vertical lines can convey various different moods from grandeur and dignity to rigidity. Objects such as buildings and people represent horizontal lines. If you want to create a very powerful and dynamic picture combine vertical lines with horizontal lines.

If you really want to emphasize the power of the vertical line, try switching your camera to the vertical plane. As with all photography this is not always the rule.

If you want the lines to appear as if they are moving out of the top of the image, it then becomes useful to leave your camera in a landscape format. Take your photo so that the lines move from the top to the bottom of your image.

Diagonal lines that are used in your image are often considered the most interesting. They represent movement and speed. They can lead you into the frame of the photo and to the centre of interest. A good idea is to avoid splitting the frame of your image in two by running diagonal lines from one corner of the picture to the other.

This may cause the image to lose it’s drive. To achieve a more balanced photo within the confines of your frame try to create a diagonal that starts just to one side of the corner and travels to the one side of the opposite corner. Curved lines within your frame can also be representative of moods such as grace and dignity.
If you really want to add an interest look for different ways to incorporate interesting diagonal lines into your image. Keep in mind when you are taking photos that it is worth remembering the different moods and feelings that they can convey.

Next time you go out, come back with photos with these shapes in them: square, circle, triangle, diagonal line, vertical line, horizontal line, semi-circle, s shape, star (this maybe the hardest). Once you have done that, go back and break the rules.

Photography on a Budget- Special guest post by Linda Pollock

Tiger Lilies. Photography by Linda

With being a single Grandma raising a 4 and 5 year old on a very limited budget I had to come up with some ways to get
close to the same looks that other photographers with more of a budget can get. Hopefully I’m able to give you some ideas.

Even before I knew what Macro was or any of the rules I thought I was a photographer and every photographer needs a studio..right? hahaha This meant rearanging my down stairs. Finally I was able to use a small part of the dining room..finally my own space!! I had bought an old desk for 5.00 at a yard sale. It really didn’t serve a purpose, the desk came in two parts, the top being quite large I couldn’t have my whole computer on it…..So, I turned the top part around. The other side having a thick piece of plywood. Which turned out to be great. I was able to use thumb tacks to pin up back drops. Now I needed back drops. There was a huge sale at the second hand shop, which was just across the street from me. I went right to the ladies blouses and bought a load of them..some had wacky designs, others where plain in colour…black, white, blue. Then to the bedding area. King size sheets for 2.00!! Oh got a few of those. Large table cloths ( wonderful textures) for 1.50. I walked out of there spending 15.00 and loads of back drops. Oh yes. I had bought a plastic shelf on wheels for 2.00. Yippeeee, I had my very own studio!!

Tip #1….Go to your second hand shops. They are full of treasures. If you wish to photograph smaller children, but haven’t a back drop, use a sheet. If your looking for texture, you could always pick up wool blankets, heavy cotton. I bought two beautiful king size blankets one dark brown and the other burgandy. They are thick and soft, so little ones can walk and jump on them and no rips. If your into Macro, then blouses, shirts work great. Another neat back drop could be your child’s finger painting.Or get them to colour on a very large paper. Their art work doesn’t need to be perfect, it’s going to end up blurred, whic makdes for wonderful DOF. Something I do more in the winter is tape a top to a wall. Being sure to keep the buttons and the arms out of the way. Sit a small table in front of the shirt, but not touching the wall. A simple vase and a flower, adjust for a blur back ground…Looks lovely. I’ve even won a few competitions with some of those photos.

Tip #2…Using old jewelry. Remember those very large pearl necklaces? Get a couple in different colours, work on a composition and there you have still life, abstract, simple macro with other fuex pearl blurred. If you see cheap earrings. Maybe something you’d never wear, but there’s a red stone or what ever. Buy it, take it apart. Once again, all of these things are bought at a second hand shop. You may pay .10 cents for them, so no great loss when taking them apart.

Tip #3…Yard sales. You can pick up almost everything cheap. Don’t be afraid to talk the person down either. It’s expected. A lady I know her son was getting married. Went to a yard sale and bought a vintage love seat for 5.00. They used the love seat in some of their wedding photos images. We all love to see our art worked framed…Hopefully by some one to purchased the image, but until then, we practice and frame out best. Yard sales are great for selling old posters that are framed. Usually can get them for a 1.00. You may come across some one who is getting rid of all those old framed pictures. Once your home take their picture out and place yours nicely in it’s place.

Tip #4…Flowers, with living in Canada sadly we don’t have blooms for quite a few months out of the year. During the winter, I will watch for 50% off on flowers at the grocery stand. They don’t last very long, but if you are in need of some bright colours and flowers, this is a cheap way to go. I also find that I am able to get better Macros while photographing flowers inside.

Tip #5…Lights. Lighting is very important when photographing indoors. I own three 120 wt light bulbs. The new style that use less energy, they are brighter and last longer. Oh yes, be sure to pick up “white” bulbs. They do come in many shades of white, and this does make for images that are not true in colour. The package will say “white” on it. Something else I picked up, which is the best find I’ve found and that is an umbrella lamp. Picked it up at the second hand shop for $ 3.00. I’m able to move the arms in many directions.

Tip #6…Extras. As a light reflector I us the back of a sun blocker that you would use in the window of your car. Bought it at the dollar store for a $1.00. A large roll of white plastic table cover. It’s about 3 feet wide, and the length is very long, will last for ever, even if I cut off the part that has been used. Bought this for $10.00, but is perfect for photographing children if you are wanting them to wear shoes and play. I did a fun shoot with my little ones with cup cake covered in different coloured icing. A quick wipe of a dish cloth and the mess was gone….the children how ever needed a bath. hahahaha. Hats of many styles, bought at the second hand shop and yard sales.

Hopefully I have helped in giving some tips in how to photograph on a budget. Loads and loads of ideas out there, if I come up with more I’ll be sure to add more. Thanks for reading and happy clicking.
For more information on Linda´s photography CLICK HERE.