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  1. #1

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    Exposure for night photography (from a noob)

    Hi all,

    I would like to capture atmosphere of very dark corners of the streets of my town at night.

    I want to exclude direct street light as a light source. I want to catch diffuse reflected light from windows, far lamps and sky.

    My problem is that I have very little experience with it.

    Can somebody tell me what exposure, blende and film I should use. If you can provide a link or give me some start position for it.
    Should I have to keep exposure 1 sec, 1 min or 1 hour?

    Thanks

  2. #2

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    Color or B&W ?
    Handheld or tripod ?
    Lee Frost did a really good book on Night and lowlight photography that will guide you a long way into it.
    I used to use slow slidefilm ISO 100 and tripod. I measured the light at fastest f-stop and counted dovn from that since the Olympus OM-1 I had then couldn't do it otherwise. I bracketed my shots on the + side because of the Schwarzschild effect (reciprocity failure) and found that it is difficult to overexpose night shots.
    Cheers Søren
    Send from my Electronic Data Management Device using TWOFingerTexting

    Technology distinquishable from magic is insufficiently developed

    Søren Nielsen
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  3. #3

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    Huh, I didnt knew that I dont know soo much.

    Ok... I will use tripod, and wish to try B&W and Color too. Prints do with machine at some photo shop.
    I have handheld light meter, but it works only at day. I have pretty old Canon with 50mm lens.

    About your folowing text I didnt understand a thing, maybe because Im using very old equipment.

    I was thinking to buy one slidefilm 100 ASA and experiment with exposure, but I wish to learn as much as I can this way.

    Thanks for the book, will try to find it

  4. #4
    Marc Leest's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Danilo
    Hi all,

    I would like to capture atmosphere of very dark corners of the streets of my town at night.

    I want to exclude direct street light as a light source. I want to catch diffuse reflected light from windows, far lamps and sky.

    My problem is that I have very little experience with it.

    Can somebody tell me what exposure, blende and film I should use. If you can provide a link or give me some start position for it.
    Should I have to keep exposure 1 sec, 1 min or 1 hour?

    Thanks

    Very quick rule:

    Use slowfilm
    Overexpose 1.5 stops + Schwarzschild
    Underdevelop 40%

    M.
    We cannot change how the cards are dealt, just how to play the hand...
    Randy Pausch

  5. #5
    Andy K's Avatar
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    I would say use HP5+, stop down to around f/16 or f/22, and expose for between 90 and 180 seconds depending on which type of street lightning you have (the longer time I use for the yellow sodium lighting, the shorter time for white lighting). Use a tripod and cable release. When developing use either stand or semi-stand developing. (That's where you do not agitate the dev tank, so the dev expires on the highlights and allows detail to develop in the shadows).

    I have links posted in this thread to examples of photographs I made using this technique.

    A very good book on the topic is Night Photography by Andrew Sanderson.


    -----------My Flickr-----------
    Anáil nathrach, ortha bháis is beatha, do chéal déanaimh.

  6. #6
    André E.C.'s Avatar
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    Yes, Andrew Sandersons book is excellent, for sure a great investment for someone interested on the subject.

    Cheers

    André

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Danilo
    Huh, I didnt knew that I dont know soo much.

    Ok... I will use tripod, and wish to try B&W and Color too. Prints do with machine at some photo shop.
    I have handheld light meter, but it works only at day. I have pretty old Canon with 50mm lens.

    About your folowing text I didnt understand a thing, maybe because Im using very old equipment.

    I was thinking to buy one slidefilm 100 ASA and experiment with exposure, but I wish to learn as much as I can this way.

    Thanks for the book, will try to find it
    I suppose your canon has a centerweight meter and you see a metering needle in your viewfinder. Your shutterspeedrange in manual may go till 1 sec open up to f/1.8 or 1.4 or whats the widest F-stop you have got and see if you get a reading. If you do it may read 1sec at f/1.4 if not change the ISO on your camera untill you get a reading.

    e.g. film ISO = 100
    reading ISO needed = 400
    reading @f/1.4 = 1 sec
    counting from ISO 400 to ISO 100 two stops from 1sec (1stop)2sec-
    (1stop)4sec
    (remember one stop double exposuretime)
    So if shooting at f 1.4 your exposuretime is 4sec
    (reciprocity not taken into acount)

    You don't want to shoot wide open but at e.g. f/8
    from f/1.4 to f/8 = 4stops
    counting from 4secs at f/1.4 = 8 - 16 - 32 - 64sec
    So at f/8 your exposuretime is 64sec
    (reciprocity not taken into acount)

    Now the rule of reciprocity don't aply at long exposuretimes. the film seems to be slower the longer time you need to expose so to overcome this you look at the film datasheet and find the curve telling you how much you need to extent you exposure or you simply bracket your shots 2 or 3 stops or maybe even more.

    So your first shot is 64sec at f/8 second 128sec(2min), third 254 sec (4.15min).
    The correct thing exposurevise would be to change your f-stop but since that change your image I never touch that when it's been set.
    In normal light I bracket in 1/3 - 1/2 stops but that is not necessary at night.

    Remember this is a fictive example.

    By all means when shooting color use slidefilm, the lab will probably ruin it all when printing.
    Does anyone understand this post ?

    Cheers Søren
    Send from my Electronic Data Management Device using TWOFingerTexting

    Technology distinquishable from magic is insufficiently developed

    Søren Nielsen
    Denmark

  8. #8
    noseoil's Avatar
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    I've had decent luck with color slide film at night. The Fuji 64t (tungsten balanced) is a good choice for night pictures, because it sees light differently than a daylight film. Use f11 and a tripod. Bracket your shots from 15 seconds (lots of light) out to 2 minutes (not much light) and take notes on the first roll, so you have a point of reference. You will get a feel for what works best if you will look at the slides and at your notes to decide what worked best. This will allow you to build on your experience as you go into more difficult lighting. There are a couple of night shots with this film in my gallery if you want to look. Not exactly the type of subject matter you mentioned, but the film is good for night lighting. Good luck, tim

  9. #9
    FrankB's Avatar
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    It took a little digging around to find it, but you may find this table useful. Other than that, I'd suggest you experiment, bracket like crazy, keep notes (so you know what you did when it does/doesn't work) and have lots of fun!

    One other thing - If you're having neg film processed at a lab, bear in mind that the automatic printer may adjust your shots to make them look the way it thinks they should. As it's generally set up for holiday snaps, night shots may confuse it and result in over/under exposed prints. To avoid this "help" it would probably be worth having a word with the operator and seeing if he can turn off its automatic exposure compensation.

    All the best,

    Frank
    The destination is important, but so is the journey

  10. #10

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    One other suggestion is that you start with a night scene close to home and very familiar to you ...or at least include one such scene in your first roll. That will allow you to make easy comparison of the results with the actual scene and also keep a well known reference scene in mind when shooting other locations.

    I have one location I use for testing any new film. I know the scene well, I know that HP5 requires 3 minutes @ f16 to get adequate shadow detail and since I have a good image of it in my mind, I can go to other places and fairly accurately judge, this is brighter, this is dimmer, etc...

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