Monday, 30 December 2013

How to Take Photos in Low Light

How to Take Photos in Low Light

Link to PictureCorrect Photography Tips

How to Take Photos in Low Light

Posted: 29 Dec 2013 04:28 PM PST

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Images of night scenes never fail to impress. Night-time images have great ambiance, something which is often absent in flat, bright, daylight photos. Skillful low-light photos can look simply incredible and if you’re looking for ways to make money from photography, selling canvas prints of night scenes is one way to achieve this. They are very popular.

photos in low light

“New Graces” captured by ian newton (click image to see more from ian newton)

The main aim of this article is to highlight:

  • Night photography settings and techniques
  • Good low light cameras on the market

1. Exposure: The basics

Given the amount of available light, there is a “right” exposure, where just enough light is allowed onto the camera’s sensor to make an accurate representation of the scene – i.e. preventing the picture from looking too bright or “blown out” because there was too much light, or at the other end, under-exposing the picture through allowing in insufficient light.

Three camera settings can be altered to control exposure:

  • Aperture (or f-stop): Here is an inverse relationship – Low f-stop values mean more light is being let in
  • Shutter speed: At slower shutter speeds the sensor is exposed to light for a longer period of time
  • ISO / Sensor Sensitivity: At higher ISO settings the sensor is more sensitive to light

For any given scene, there can be more than one combination of the above settings that will give you a correct exposure. Your camera’s light meter tells you how to combine them. For instance, if you choose to fix the ISO and aperture, the camera will set the correct shutter speed. Or when you select ISO and shutter speed values, the aperture will be set accordingly.

If you set the camera to “auto” all 3 of these variables are set by the camera. Good night photos, however, require that we do more than shoot on “auto”

how to take low light photos

“Sea Wall” captured by Lorin Hughes (Click Image to See More From Lorin Hughes)

2. Night photography settings

Note: The one night shooting option omitted here is using a flash – but this is a completely different kind of concept for a “night scene” and I’ll deal with flash photography on its own in a later article.

a. Shoot “wide open” with a fast lens

This is a good option for street photographers who want to capture low-light (but perhaps not night-time) street photos.

Use a good lens which can go down to f/2.8 or even f/1.4 – i.e. a lens that can let in a lot of light! This will give you a nice shallow depth of field which adds dimension to your photos, whilst allowing you to shoot at decent shutter speeds (around 1/60th of a second). At slower shutter speeds you’ll most likely get blurry images unless you use a tripod.

This is an essential technique if you have an older camera that only delivers good quality at low ISO settings. Still, even when you have a good high-ISO camera you may want to exploit the nice shallow depth of focus brought about by shooting at a lower ISO and wide-open aperture

b. Use a tripod and expose for longer

This is ideal if you want to capture a night scene of a cityscape, for instance, where your subject isn’t moving, so you have time to set things up.

Ensure a wider depth of field by choosing a medium aperture such as f/8, fix the camera to your tripod and leave the shutter speed selection to the camera. Depending on the light in the scene it could be one second, several seconds or, for seriously low ISO settings, even several minutes.

Top tip: The best time to take photos of cityscapes is just after sunset, when there is still a little bit of ambient blue in the sky. If you’re using in-camera metering, point the lens at the sky to determine the correct exposure – you’ll be delighted by the good exposure you get in the end.

c. High ISO photos

This is especially useful (and sometimes unavoidable) if you’re taking photos at an indoors or night-time event where flash photography isn’t allowed, or perhaps you don’t want to use a flash because it will disturb your subject and ruin the photo.

You can force the camera to be more light-sensitive by increasing the ISO. This opens up the possibility of getting sharp photos in dark circumstances without having to use a flash or tripod. Why? You’ll be able to shoot at faster shutter speeds, which helps keep the images sharp..

Take note: There’s no such thing as a free lunch. Increasing the ISO means that you are more likely to get a noisy / grainy photo.

3. Which cameras perform well in low light conditions?

Certain cameras give you more low-light flexibility because they perform well at high ISO settings – leaving you full creative control over which of the three above options you choose to make your photos.

Because DLSR cameras tend to have bigger sensors, they generally take better high-ISO photos than compact cameras with relatively small sensors (it’s a bit technical, but it’s based on the laws of physics and electronics). The latest DSLR cameras have full-frame sensors achieving superb high-ISO performance.

night photos

“Union Station” captured by Torrey (Click Image to See More From Torrey)

About the Author
Matthew Foster writes for a publication, top10digitalcamerashq, which is currently offline.

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Article from: PictureCorrect Photography Tips

Photographer Timelapses Winter Storm Moving Through the Canadian Rockies (Video)

Posted: 29 Dec 2013 01:20 PM PST

When Richard Gottardo set out to photograph fog in the Rocky Mountains via Jasper National Park, he expected something glorious, but the heavy, swirling winter scene that he discovered during his two day 1000km trip through the Rockies was, in his words, a truly "awesome sight"—one that he captured in a gorgeous timelapse video:

The fog was a product of a large arctic storm blowing across southern Alberta. Most people avoid the high mountain areas during winter storms, but Gottardo charged in and shot more than 3,300 photographs in a span of over 18 hours to create the timelapse.

fog jasper national park snow canada arctic wind

Gottardo is a Canadian wedding and "storm chaser/landscape" photographer whose photographs have been published and displayed all over Canada, the Americas, and the UK.

For Further Training on Timelapse Photography:

There is a COMPLETE guide (146 pages) to shooting, processing and rendering time-lapses using a dslr camera. Currently 15% off for a few more days until Dec 31, simply remember to use the discount code LearnTL. Deal found here: The Timelapse Photography Guide

Go to full article: Photographer Timelapses Winter Storm Moving Through the Canadian Rockies (Video)

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Article from: PictureCorrect Photography Tips

How to do Striking Composite Photography of Classic Cars (Video)

Posted: 29 Dec 2013 10:58 AM PST

Images of cars are everywhere, in advertisements, film, TV, even fine art. An alluring photograph of a car can represent wealth, freedom, speed, America, or all of the above. Photographer Lee Morris gave himself the challenge of photographing a 1968 Camaro, his father’s dream car, before surprising his father with the car itself!

Though giving someone a car as a gift may not be an option for everyone, a creative image of a classic car could be a great gift for the car nut in your life.  In this video, Morris shows us how he created his flawless images of the Camaro using creative shooting techniques and Photoshop:

A few key pointers from Morris’ lesson:

  • The camera must remain absolutely still, so use a tripod and a Pocket Wizard wireless transceiver for all your exposures.
  • Bracket, bracket, bracket! Take exposures for natural light at every time of day (even night time), with the car’s lights on and off. The goal is to properly expose every part of the image.
  • Use a large Octabank softbox to light the car from every conceivable angle. Light the grill, the sides, the interior, the wheels, etc.
  • Don’t forget to do the same for your background. Make sure you diffuse your flash– a bare bulb will create harsh shadows and specular highlights.

When finished shooting, be prepared to spend hours editing in Photoshop.  Morris breaks down the dozens of layers in his PSD file for us, showing us that creating the composite is primarily a process of trial and error, finding the exposure that makes each component of the image look its best and using layer masks to combine them all.

car composite

The resulting image is “almost not even photography,” says Morris, “it’s more about digital art.”

Morris also shows us a simpler method for photographing a car. Professional car photographers, he explains, often use 30-foot softboxes to light the entire vehicle from overhead, which can cost thousands, even to rent. For a more affordable way to achieve the same effect, Morris recommends finding an abandoned gas station (or even one that’s closed for the night) and using the white ceiling as your softbox.  Here are some tips for using this method:

  • Eliminate as much ambient light as possible, so that the strobe is the only source of light.  Use a fast shutter speed like 1/250th of a second.
  • Be sure to stand behind the car, not in front of it. You can photoshop yourself out, but your shadow will be more difficult!
  • Experiment with holding your strobe at different angles– angle it more towards the camera for more allover light, or point it straight up for a dramatic, “moody” effect.
  • Use a speedlight (Morris uses the Nikon SB800) to illuminate the wheels. If you skip this step, they will be too dark.

When using this gas station trick, editing is a much simpler job. You can combine all layers by using the “Lighten” blend mode in Photoshop, then cut out the car and the shadow beneath it and place it on whatever background you choose. It may even end up looking more realistic than the first composite shot!

car composite simple

The second image, despite having a completely new background, has a less manipulated feel than the first.

If you insist on doing as much in-camera editing as possible, Morris says, try a camera with multiple exposure mode– the camera will combine a selected number of exposures for you. Regardless of how you do it, though, getting an attractive photograph of a car need not be expensive or inaccessible.

“It’s really not about all the time you spend on location or shooting, you can get great shots with whatever gear you’ve currently got.” – Lee Morris

Go to full article: How to do Striking Composite Photography of Classic Cars (Video)

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Article from: PictureCorrect Photography Tips

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