Tag Archives: night photography

London skyline

A couple of weeks ago, wandering by the river on the hope of catching the moment when the Olympic Rings in the Tower Bridge got lit up, I found a wide open stairwell going down to the river bank that is usually closed.

I managed to get right by the waterfront and take a few panoramic shots before the treachery grounds betrayed me and a tripod slip ended up with my lens smashed into the mud.

So, in a sense one could say that this shot costed me my lens*!

Hope you enjoy the panoramic view, the photo was obtained by stitching 9 photos with Hugin and then some final retouches with Photoshop, mostly to deal with long-exposure noise and dodging a little bit the underexposed areas.

* The lens is currently being serviced and will be back in business shortly

Full moon

Last summer we could enjoy some pretty amazing almost cloudless full-moon nights. Not far from where I lived in Bonn there is this little Gothic church that I could see from my window. The view of the crosses under the full moonlight was quite remarkable!

I had to cheat a little bit and make two exposures to get this one right. Taking pics of the moon is tricky, as it is way brighter than it looks. So I used one really quick (about 1/1000s) exposure to get the moon properly, and a slower one to get all the nice shapes and details in the sky and cross.

Walking towards the light

This photo was kind of a happy accident. Walking in the city center of Santa Marta, all full of colonial style houses, I had been playing around with some camera settings in manual mode. Now, if you are into street photography (or photo journalism), one of the basic principles to always bear in mind is always to keep your camera in some safe quick-shooting mode, in case something happens.

 

There is a saying in photojournalism (that some attribute to Allen Hopkins, some to Robert Capa, and some to Arthur Fellig) “f8 and be there”. This rule means that it is more important to be at the right moment and the right place than to worry about the technical details of the camera setup. Some take it as a hint to keep your camera ready to shot no matter what the conditions are.

Well, this photo is certainly not the best example of this rule. The street we walked by was dimly lit, and the settings of my camera completely scrambled when I put it to my eye and snapped the shot, resulting in a very weirdly underexposed shot. In my haste to reset the camera before the couple walked away, I didn’t pause to erase the faulty picture, and this was the result. There are so many things that are technically wrong with this pic that they are not even worth enumerating, but much to my surprise even with all the scrambled settings it still kind of makes for a strong image, so I decided to keep it as a remainder for the future.

Fireworks


Getting nice photographies of fireworks is quite challenging. First thing that need to be done is, of course, to know in advance when and where the fireworks are going to be displayed. For people living in the US, probably the safest bet is 4th of July; in the UK one might resort to 5th of November (aka Guy Fawkes Night or simply “Bonfire night”). Last May, I happened to be in Bonn during the Rhein in Flammen festival and decided to give it a go. This is one of the pics I got, and here are some of the things I learned that night:

  1. Location, location, location. My biggest mistake in this occasion was not scouting the area beforehand and getting to one of the sweet spots before it was crowded. A miscalculation on the firing place (firing takes place from boats) also ended up on having a tree partially covering the display for me. Not cool.
  2. Focusing in the dark night is almost impossible, so turn off the autofocus, as it will only slow you down. On the bright side, most likely the fireworks will take place quite far away, so focusing at infinity should work most of the time.
  3. Lenses: it is necessary to find a compromise between getting nice wide angle shots or zoomed in details. Since fireworks are actually quite bright aperture is not critical, so a lens with a good range (like the 18-105 or even better an 18-200 if you are lucky enough to have one) will cover most of the shots you may want to take. Changing lenses in the middle of the show is a no-no.
  4. Tripod. This is not negotiable. A remote release can come handy as well but is nowhere as important as the tripod.
  5. Metering will not work, as there is no way of knowing in advance the amount of light a particular blast will have, so switch to manual mode and experiment with a few shutter speeds. A good idea at the beginning is using continuous shooting mode together with some auto-bracketing. Once you have the light setting figured out, turn of the bracketing, though.
  6. Anticipating a nice blast can be very hard. I guess this is one of the things that comes with a lot of practice. I resorted a lot to continuous shooting, which resulted in a few good shots and many rubbish ones.

dPS also has some tips on how to photograph fireworks.

Flamingos by night

Picture taken in Singapore Zoo’s Night Safari. Even shooting at high ISO (3200), the 80mm focal length and 5.6 aperture forced a long exposure (1.5 seconds), which resulted in the motion blur due to the train (and birds!) movement. Even if the picture looks funny and a bit surrealistic, there is barely no post-processing here (apart from some cropping and the necessary noise reduction in order to fix the high ISO artifacts).

Hope you enjoy it!

Flamingos by nightPicture taken in Singapore Zoo's Night Safari. Long exposure, motion blur due to train.Flamingos by night

The Sphelix

The day I took this picture we had a particularly nice saturday afternoon in London, I took all my gear out to take advantage of the latest summer daylight and went for a photowalk around Battersea power station hoping for some dramatic skies and light effects. Once all the sunlight was gone and I had taken the compulsory twilight-at-the-Thames shots and played a bit with light trails, I felt like I deserved a beer, and so headed to Covent Garden piazza to meet a friend there. Continue reading The Sphelix