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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Shoot For The stars...

Scene Evaluation
One thing we could say is a constant in night photography is that it is usually dark, but how dark? Every night of the month the moon is a different size and as the brightest object in our night skies, its influence cannot be understated. The second huge variable is what we are shooting – snow, surf, waterfalls and light sand are obviously a lot more reflective than dark trees or rocks. This is where the futility of making any type of generalized “one size fits all” recommendation for aperture, shutter speed and ISO is so obviously wrong.

With a half moon in the sky, shooting surf or snow for 45 minutes at ISO 400 and an aperture of f4 would very likely blow out all the whites in the frame – not what we want at all.

So, what’s the answer? If we can’t give guidelines or recommendations, then what can we do? We can learn to evaluate light – that’s what.

The very first thing I do when I arrive at a night shoot is to evaluate the available light and secondly, the reflective power of the subjects. We will cover creative shutter speeds in a later article, but the very first step is to assess what is out there in the gloom. Your camera can see a whole lot better at night than you can, so let it show you.

1. Set your camera on a tripod with a wide angled lens fitted.
2. Open the aperture to its widest setting – f2.8 or f4.
3. Put the camera in M – Manual mode.
4. Set the ISO to 1600 (3200 if it is very dark with no moon).
5. Set the shutter speed to 30 seconds.
6. Put the lens on infinity focus, or if there is a something bright in the frame use AF (auto focus) to focus on the bright light (moon, very bright star, distant house or car).
7. Use a cable release to depress the shutter for the 30 seconds.
8. Review the Histogram.
9. Make any necessary changes and repeat until happy.
10. Convert the exposure numbers to your real shooting requirement based on your creative needs.

Read the entire article here: http://blog.topazlabs.com/shooting-for-the-stars/?mc_cid=75b02cdc00&mc_eid=0640b1e67b
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