going soon to shoot at night - any words of wisdom?

Discussion in 'Exposure Discussion' started by jgcull, Jan 15, 2011.

  1. jgcull

    jgcull Subscriber

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    I'm meeting a few friends uptown (it's dark here) to try some night photography. I'm taking my Hasselblad, shooting Tri-x. I've never done this before. I have a Minolta IVF meter.

    I looked first in the chatroom to see if any of you more-experienced night shooters were there, but nobody's there tonight. It's 7:30 p.m., Sat. night (1/15/11), in case anyone wants to offer advice. Or here. I'll watch for a few minutes before I leave.

    I imagine lots of you know things I've not thought of yet. Thanks.
     
  2. Konical

    Konical Subscriber

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    Good Evening, Janet,

    1--Rock solid tripod
    2--Cable release (locking, unless your shutter has a "T" setting)
    3--flashlight
    4--watch
    5--warm clothes
    6--black card (Hold in front of lens as shutter is tripped, especially with SLR; wait for vibrations to subside; remove card for exposure.)
    7--T-Max 100 or Acros instead of Tri-X for better reciprocity response
    8--soft-working developer (Technidol, if you can find any)
    9--High boredom tolerance as minutes-long exposures take place
    10--Expectation that future trips with exposure/development fine-tuning will be required.

    Good luck, and have fun.

    Konical
     
  3. phaedrus

    phaedrus Member

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    EV -1 to -2 or same correction in manual.
     
  4. jgcull

    jgcull Subscriber

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    Konical - Gosh, I wish I'd gotten this before I left for town! But for #10, this will be great. I had TMax film, but was thinking it had less latitude so didn't take it. rats. And the black card idea is a great one I never came close to thinking of on my own. I'll try that next time for sure.

    #9 makes me think I may get nothing because I didn't have any exposures even close to a minute. You're right - further trips will be needed, and we're looking forward to doing it again. Thank you!

    Phaedrus, I'm not at all sure how the -1, -2 applies to my camera. I guess I don't understand, but it's ok. Thank you for replying. I'll look into that.

    Thank you both.
     
  5. Paul Sorensen

    Paul Sorensen Member

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    Another good use for the black card is if you are shooing near a road and don't want headlights in it, use the black card to cover the lens whenever cars go by. Just make sure to extend your exposure by the amount of time you cover your lens.

    As for number 9, were you shooting the film at 400? If so, depending on the kind of light you had where you were shooting, exposures will often be several minutes. I use T-Max 100 and get exposures from 1 to 20 minutes depending on conditions and the aperture I chose. Exposures of less than a minute are pretty rare for me, I would have to be shooting at 2.8 or below to get that and since I use an RB67, I don't have such large apertures.

    As for the -1 and -2, I am guessing that he is referring to adjustment for reciprocity failure. If you did not adjust for that, you will likely have severely underexposed negatives, especially with Tri-X. The tabular type films, such as Acros, T-Max and Delta, tend to do somewhat better with reciprocity failure. From the specs provided by the manufacturers, Acros would appear to be the champion in that regard.
     
  6. phaedrus

    phaedrus Member

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    You're welcome. What I meant was: don't be fooled by the metering system of your camera, it will try to pull something out of the deep shadows. If you want color (or detail) in you highlights, expose with an appropriate minus correction. Often makes hand-held possible again.
     
  7. phaedrus

    phaedrus Member

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    Nope, you'd *add* exposure time to correct for reciprocity failure. Agree with you about the uncannily good reciprocity characteristics of Acros, though. Even if he isn't a tabular grain film. :wink:
     
  8. jgcull

    jgcull Subscriber

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    >>If so, depending on the kind of light you had where you were shooting, exposures will often be several minutes.<<

    That makes me wonder if I'll see much of anything at all on my film. There was a little light in places (streetlights in a parking lot, and an occasional window light) but not much. I don't think any of my exposures were even as long as 1 minute. I'll see what I get when I get into the darkroom, and try again.

    I love the tip about the black card when cars pass. That was a challenge as we tried it without dark cover over the lens.

    Thank you all!

    Now off to photograph friends rounding up cattle to take to auction... in daylight.
     
  9. Rudeofus

    Rudeofus Subscriber

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    One more thing I would add: think of the extreme contrast you will encounter in most night scenes because of the dreaded 1/r² fall off of light. If you consider a scene with a few street lights, you'll essentially end up with a few bright spots in an otherwise black image. Unless you want just that, spend some time measuring light and make sure that at least some area of your image is neither bright white nor pitch black.
     
  10. jgcull

    jgcull Subscriber

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    >Unless you want just that, spend some time measuring light and make sure that at least some area of your image is neither bright white nor pitch black.<

    How would I do that without a spot meter? Should I overexpose it a bit?
     
  11. Konical

    Konical Subscriber

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    Good Morning, Janet,

    Some no doubt have been very successful metering night scenes, with or without a spot meter, and will disagree, but I've found that experience(especially!), a little bracketing, and some careful record keeping on the back of contact sheets will usually be adequate in most situations.

    Konical
     
  12. jeffreyg

    jeffreyg Subscriber

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    It's been very many years since I did any night photography so I will defer to those who have advised you as to film and exposure and make one suggestion. If your subject is stationary, you might consider making a partial exposure while there is still some light to capture some details that may not be recorded in the dark then cap the lens until you are ready for the rest of the exposure. Maybe someone can elaborate on that.

    http://www.jeffreyglasser.com/
     
  13. jgcull

    jgcull Subscriber

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    One roll is hanging to dry, and I am pleasantly surprised. Looks like they're alright with more than just some very bright and very dark. Another is washing now. They make me want to go try again, at least.
     
  14. bobwysiwyg

    bobwysiwyg Subscriber

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    This is one of the things I love about film. It seems both failures and successes have this same affect. :smile:
     
  15. Rudeofus

    Rudeofus Subscriber

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    Well, if you have no spot meter, you can still wander around with a simple reflected light meter and measure the scene. The important part is: this is not advice for choosing exposure but for choosing composition. You can't change the 1/r^2 law, so pick an image frame carefully. Find a place where light creates an interesting scene within some dynamic range. Look at chiaroscurro masters how they arranged scenes of bright light amidst darkness.

    One more hint from personal experience: our eyes see like a tele lens. Yes, our image circle is quite wide but the area we actually look at is pretty narrow. So we see details in a scene much larger than they will be if photographed with a normal lens. What looks like a nice street lamp some meters away may end up a tiny spot of light in your final image.
     
  16. jgcull

    jgcull Subscriber

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    I thought I would give you an update since I've processed the film. I did get pretty good images of not so interesting scenery. My longest exposures were around 30 seconds, so I was afraid there wouldn't be much there (after reading) but there was. So, I've got a good starting place for the next time I try. Thank you all.
     
  17. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    Hi,

    If you are talking about long exposures, I would bring snacks, drinks, warm clothes, and a folding chair or two if you can manage. A cable release if your shutter doesn't have a way to be locked in the down position. A table of recommended exposures for night shots and a reciprocity failure adjustment chart for your film. Paper and pencil to take notes. I would also use a film with better reciprocity characteristics, though Tri-X is beautiful in night shots. Fuji Acros 100 or Kodak T-Max 100 are good choices.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 24, 2011
  18. Galah

    Galah Member

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    I have read of two suggested approaches.

    One, shoot at dusk: while there is still light in the sky, but the lights are already on.

    Two, using a tripod and stationary subjects, make a double exposure of the same scene: one while its still light, and the other after dark.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 24, 2011
  19. jgcull

    jgcull Subscriber

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    >>>Two, using a tripod and stationary subjects, make a double exposure of the same scene: one while its still light, and the other after dark.<<<

    Galah, I'm trying to imagine what that would look like. I'd love to see an example. Do you have one?
     
  20. Galah

    Galah Member

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    I do, but it is a page in a book.

    It is a B&W shot, and looks very much like one taken at dusk, i.e. some lingering daylight, but the lights are already on.
     
  21. Konical

    Konical Subscriber

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    Good Evening, Janet,

    Contact me with a PM and supply a postal address; I'll be glad to send you an E-6 transparency which was shot using the double-exposure approach. Sorry I don't have a scanner which will work well with transparencies.

    Konical
     
  22. Diapositivo

    Diapositivo Subscriber

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    It is not clear here what you mean for "night photography". Do you take pictures of buildings, squares, statues etc. by night? Do you want to take images in moonlight? Do you want to render that it is night? (If you don't include the sky in your picture, you can take picture at night and it wouldn't show that it is night).

    This link has a table, down the page, with typical EV for night photography:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exposure_value

    I find EV 3 is a good starting point for something that is lit as a monument. More normal street illumination over buildings is probably around EV 2. Spot lights on statues etc. can arrive to EV 5. If you use B&W negative, for general street night scenes I think that EV 2 should give you something printable anyway.

    I do this kind of stuff with slide film and use a spot reflected light metre. I basically never feel the need to bracket. I point the spotmeter on the highlights that I intend to properly render as a texture at 2,3 EV "above" the grey point that the spot meter gives me for that spot, and that is all. With negative B&W you can even do, as said, without light metre as you have a certain error margin.

    As already observed, you can't mix in your picture zones with only star or moon illumination and zones with artificial light. If you intend to take landscape pictures under star light or moonlight, you should try to exclude artificially lighted places from your composition.

    If you just enjoy going around downtown taking pictures at night (as I do, but in summer) you will find that exposure values are pretty much similar, most of the time you are in the EV 2 - EV 5 range. Probably very brightly lit monuments can arrive to EV 6.

    Fabrizio
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 30, 2011
  23. Galah

    Galah Member

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