Experiments in Night Photography

I have recently been inspired by to experiment with some night photography, predominantly through a book by Lance Keimig.

I have taken plenty of night photos before (here I mean, taking photos of things by night, not of the night sky), for example, this, this and this, but this has always used light which was available at the time. A key difference with what I wanted to do was try to use the ambient lighting and enhance this with additional lighting – flashes, torches etc. where you can’t get your desired exposure

Broadly my other aims were:

  • Limited or no post processing and retouching
  • Achieve good composition
  • Try something new

Here are some of the results:

Key equipment used: Timer Remote, several LED and Halogen torches, Flash manually triggered off camera.

Overall, I think I got several OK shots but I wasn’t completely happy with any of them. I had to retouch several of the photos for excessive lens flare, correct white balance and had to adjust exposure (I intentionally tried to shoot right) on several of the images, but generally managed to limit post processing. I wasn’t happy with the composition of either of the light sphere photos. I definitely tried some new stuff (car photography, light spheres)!

Lessons learnt:

  • Concentrate more on composition – it can be hard to gauge composition in bad light and in awkward conditions. Focus more on this.
  • Use High ISO to judge exposure – this was a really useful tool. General rule, on an ISO 100 native camera if you set the ISO to 6400 and expose for 1 second, this is equivalent to a 1 minute exposure at ISO 100 (at the same aperture). I could probably use this more for composition too!
  • Practice more with illuminating subjects with a torch – it’s hard to get this even, especially over large subjects.
  • Use a Timer Remote that works and doesn’t have a faulty cable so you have to fiddle with it constantly – I’m getting the unit replaced!
  • Most of all, have someone to help out – thanks to Darren for this! It really helps to have another pair of hands, especially when illuminating with multiple sources and also for providing creative suggestions!

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