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  1. #1
    ted_smith's Avatar
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    How come Michael Kenna's nighttime shots always look so bright?

    OK, so I've been wowed and amazed by the work of Michael Kenna (http://www.michaelkenna.net/). Inspired by his nighttime shots, I've headed out a couple of times at night, several hours past sunrise so it's properly black as night.

    On one occasion, I walked along some of the flood plains of The River Derwent as it winds through a fairly rural part of Derbyshire. As it had not been snowing or anything (I note a lot of MK's shots are taken at night but in snow. but not all are), it was basically just very dark (and wet as we have had heavy rain here recently), despite the full moon. My light meter couldn't register even 1 EV (I using Ilford Pan 50+, ISO50). And after a while, I started to get the creeps and I also had it in the back of my mind "I am 2 miles from the road...if this river starts to swell due to heavy rain further north, I might get stranded!!".

    So I took a few shots anyway using guess work (10 seconds, 15 seconds, 20 seconds etc) but I have no idea how they'll come out, if they'll come out at all. And I then hurried back to the road.

    So I found myself thinking "With the exception of the snow scenes, how does MK get such well lit scenes when taken at night?"
    Last edited by ted_smith; 12-28-2012 at 10:05 AM. Click to view previous post history.
    Ted Smith Photography
    Hasselblad 501CM...my 2nd love.

  2. #2
    Jon Shiu's Avatar
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    Some of the exposures are several hours long.

    Jon
    Mendocino Coast Black and White Photography: www.jonshiu.com

  3. #3
    dpurdy's Avatar
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    Yes the exposures need to really long in darkness like that. I did photos once at night with snow and city street lights and it seemed pretty bright but the exposure even with all that light was 15 to 20 minutes.

  4. #4

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    i don't know what MK does but you could set up on a tripod a little before dark and take a partial exposure and then take the rest of the exposure after dark especially if there are lights that come on after dark.

    http://www.jffreyglasser.com/

  5. #5
    DWThomas's Avatar
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    Just yesterday I viewed an exhibit of works at the James A. Michener Art Museum in Doylestown, PA, that included photos taken by Susan Fenton. She has done a whole series of still life arrangements that were recorded by moonlight in exposures ranging up to six hours! Selenium toned gelatin silver prints too, by golly!

  6. #6
    Steve Smith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffreyg View Post
    There is an 'e' missing in your link.


    Steve.
    "People who say things won't work are a dime a dozen. People who figure out how to make things work are worth a fortune" - Dave Rat.

  7. #7
    ted_smith's Avatar
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    Holy smokes! Several hours?! I've heard and understand to some extent the reciprocity failure rule for 30 seconds+, but how do you work out the exposure for scenes requiring exposure of several hours?
    Ted Smith Photography
    Hasselblad 501CM...my 2nd love.

  8. #8
    Vaughn's Avatar
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    Ted -- When MK was a faculty member of a workshop I assisted at, he passed out a sheet with suggested times based on the one's meter readings (times for Tri-X and Tmax400). And included were suggested times for both films at f5.6 under different night lighting conditions. I assume he created the times through personal experience. I hand them out to our students all the time...great starting points.

    MK would often have more than one camera making exposures at the same time.
    At least with LF landscape, a bad day of photography can still be a good day of exercise.

  9. #9
    ROL
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    Guess. Then experience. Unexpected, and sometimes wonderful, things can happen when the shutter is open for hours. Plan for the unplanned.

  10. #10
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    Search online and you can find some articles by him discussing his printing routine. He makes very liberal use of dodging and burning. I think that's part of the effect, too.
    juan

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