Night Exposures

Discussion in 'Exposure Discussion' started by mporter012, May 30, 2013.

  1. mporter012

    mporter012 Member

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    Can someone give me a run down of how to get started on shooting at night... I understand that some prominent night photographers like Michael Kenna open the shutter and then sit in their car reading for 5 or 6 hours, and then close the shutter!

    Thanks!
     
  2. bobwysiwyg

    bobwysiwyg Subscriber

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  3. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    I have used this for decades and gotten truly great results, including color slides.
     
  4. jeffreyg

    jeffreyg Subscriber

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    I haven't shot at night for very many years but I recall setting up the shot before complete darkness and taking a brief exposure with the shutter on "B", placing the lens cap, waiting for complete darkness, remove the lens cap and completing the exposure. You would have to calculate the total exposure desired and work backwards from there. Perhaps someone can expand on this or you can experiment to see what percentage of the total exposure will give you the best detail.

    http://www.jeffreyglasser.com/
     
  5. mporter012

    mporter012 Member

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    What is the ''this'' you speak of?
     
  6. mwdake

    mwdake Member

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    Get a copy of Night Photography by Andrew Sanderson, best book out there for this subject.
     
  7. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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  8. stephenbybee

    stephenbybee Subscriber

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    It depends on what you are shooting with...I have gotten pretty good results with Ilford's 3200 Delta film, assuming they still make it. Kodak also had a similar film, but alas, I doubt it is available any longer. It also helps to have a camera with a visible meter display...such as the red LED inside a Nikon FM or a Mamiya 1000S...this way you can see where your exposure is at night. I've used a Nikon F3HP for some night work, but the meter display didn't light up on mine, so it was very difficult to tell the exposure...this also makes it difficult to use some of the old needle displays in Pentax SPs, etc. I would start very simple with 35mm or medium format and see how it works for you before diving into anything like 5x7 at night. I also tend to photograph in areas with at least some light, such as a downtown at night, gas stations, neon signs, industrial areas, neighborhoods, etc. I haven't had as much luck photographing in areas that are pitch black or nearly so because it is so hard to focus. In most cities and towns at night, there is usually just enough light to get an image in focus and to get a meter reading. I've also had pretty good luck with Fuji's 400 speed black and white film at night, but it does make for a longer exposure. The nice thing about shooting at night is that the exposure doesn't have to be terribly precise...the night is very compensating. Unless you are dealing with a well-lit shop window, or a neon sign, it is pretty hard to OVERexpose a nocturnal image. Underexposure is much more likely. Good night work: Brassai, Micheal Kenna, most of the work on The Nocturnes website. Good luck!
     
  9. David Allen

    David Allen Member

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    Assuming that you have tested for your personal EI, and know the effect of reciprocity on your choice of film, night time exposures are fairly straightforward. The use of a compensation developer such as Barry Thornton's Two-Bath developer also simplifies things as it stops your highlights burning out.

    Basically you need a meter that is sensitive in low light and you need to make a reflected reading from the darkest area that you wish to retain good detail. You then take this reading (the meter believes that it is reading a scene with an average brightness equivalent to Zone V) and adjust it to to Zone III (i.e two stops LESS than the meter indicated so if the meter says 8 seconds at f11 you use 2 seconds at f11.

    You can view a few of my night images here:

    http://www.fenster61.de/portfolio/ds-allen-night-shift/

    In all cases, I applied a reciprocity factor. I only use Delta 400 rated at an EI of 200 and my tests have shown that the following reciprocity corrections work well:

    Meter indicates 10 seconds = Actual exposure 25 seconds
    Meter indicates 15 seconds = Actual exposure 50 seconds
    Meter indicates 20 seconds = Actual exposure 85 seconds
    Meter indicates 25 seconds = Actual exposure 130 seconds

    Best,

    David
    www.dsallen.de
     
  10. mporter012

    mporter012 Member

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    Hey David!

    Can you give me a rundown on testing my personal EI. I suppose I should do that first. I'm using a Nikon FE2 with Tri-x and T-max 100/400.

    Thanks!

    Mark
     
  11. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Use the box speed. There are very good reasons that the manufacturers supply them. Experience will tell you how to compensate for reciprocity failure. See the data sheet for Tri-X 400.
    Screen Shot 2013-05-31 at 6.41.37 PM.png
     
  12. mporter012

    mporter012 Member

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    So I do not need to do anything specific for my camera?
     
  13. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    A tripod and possibly a cable release.
     
  14. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    Tim Tams and Twinings is nice, too. :smile:

    We're none the wiser as to just what it is you are photographing at night: streetscapes, statues, desert, cityscapes, night sky, star trails, moonlit scenes... Each of these requires variations in technique and approach, and a couple (eg night skies, star trails) a bit of careful planning.
     
  15. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    However all those scenes are included the the newJiffy Night Calculator. See attached pdf.
     

    Attached Files:

  16. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    Of course you could go get the answer from the horse's mouth...

    See post 23 - Vaughn shared his notes based on a handout he got directly from Michael Kenna

    http://www.apug.org/forums/forum54/113809-how-come-michael-kennas-nighttime-shots-always-look-so-bright.html