How do you take decent night time photos? [Archive] - Glock Talk


View Full Version : How do you take decent night time photos?

01-12-2009, 19:50
I'm a novice to photography. I have a Nikon and this chick showed me how to put it on bulb. So I put it on a wooden bench and used a remote to keep the shutter open for a couple of seconds and took these pics (with an 18-55 VR lens:

How do they look? Suggestions? I know I need a tripod. :whistling:

01-13-2009, 17:33
Exif IFD0

* Camera Model = NIKON D80
* Software/Firmware Version = Ver.1.10
* Last Modified Date/Time = 2009:01:11 22:24:25

Exif Sub IFD

* Exposure Time (1 / Shutter Speed) = 10/13 second = 1/1.3 second = 0.76923 second
* Lens F-Number/F-Stop = 53/10 = F5.3
* Exposure Program = n/a (0)
* ISO Speed Ratings = 400
* Exif Version = 0221
* Original Date/Time = 2009:01:11 22:24:25
* Digitization Date/Time = 2009:01:11 22:24:25
* Exposure Bias (EV) = 0/6 = 0
* Max Aperture Value (APEX) = 47/10 = 4.7
Max Aperture = F5.1
* Metering Mode = pattern / multi-segment (5)
* Light Source / White Balance = unknown (0)
* Flash = Flash did not fire, compulsory flash mode
* Focal Length = 360/10 mm = 36 mm
* Colour Space = sRGB (1)
* Image Width = 3872 pixels
* Image Height = 2592 pixels
* Image Sensing Method = one-chip color area sensor (2)
* Image Source = digital still camera (DSC)
* Custom Rendered = normal process (0)
* Exposure Mode = auto exposure (0)
* White Balance = auto (0)
* Digital Zoom Ratio = 1/1 = 1
* Focal Length in 35mm Film = 54
* Scene Capture Type = night scene (3)
* Gain Control = low gain up (1)
* Contrast = normal (0)
* Saturation = normal (0)
* Sharpness = soft (1)
* Subject Distance Range = unknown (0)

01-13-2009, 17:39
The post above is the EXIF data pulled from your first (landscape) shot. I deleted a lot of it that is totally
irrelevant for my use here.

First of all, get a STABLE tripod. It will give you much better results than a park bench, fence post, tree
stump or any other improvised prop. Believe me, I've tried them all.

Second, I would go for ISO 200 and a longer exposure but that isn't carved in stone. It's just the way I work.
Lower ISO means lower noise. I might even drop to ISO 100.

Third, use a remote (with a Canon you would have to for a bulb shot but I don't know if you have to with a Nikon).
Also, I've never used it but this is exactly what "mirror lockup" was designed for.

Fourth, shoot RAW so you can control the white balance. An off white balance is responsible for the orange lights.

Fifth, a longer exposure than that. When you drop the ISO you will automatically move to the longer exposure.

Sixth, are you using some kind of auto-program night mode? Switch to AV, TV or even better, Manual. The camera
doesn't always know what you are wanting with the auto modes but that's OK as you can tell it what it is you are
wanting with AV, TV or M.

Wow. That's a lot of info.

01-13-2009, 20:43
I was using a remote and I think it was in an automatic night landscape mode, where the flash doesn't go off. That was with no flash. Some pictures WITH the flash in bulb, manual mode with the remote didn't turn out very well somehow...
I will have to get the tripod! :)

Any lenses you can recommend?

01-13-2009, 23:32
I'm a Canon shooter. My favorites won't help you :rofl:

Stay away from the auto modes. It takes a bit to learn how to really use your manual modes but the results are so much better.

Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson is a great read for a photography newbie. I have it, Understanding Shutter Speed,
Creative People Photography (or something like that) and Learning to See Creatively. All four are great books, especially for
the newbie. Go to Barnes & Noble one afternoon and read them.

01-14-2009, 02:17
Here is the simplist solution:

Expose for the background. Your camera has an excellent meter, use it.

Use a tripod and either a remote, release or the timer.

Flash only illuminates objects in the foreground. Set it manually for the lowest setting. I will slightly freeze what ever is it lights up. Use your screen to see how it looks and adjust.

For night shots, canon rock for me because they generally have a better photo at higher ASA than similar cameras. Most major SLR's cameras do an excellent job, some new one's really excel, for me. Canon Cameras continue to pay my bills, so I love them.

I used to shoot this stuff all the time, here are some tricks I've learned.

As a general rule: (Cityscapes at night)
RAW if possible or highest JPEG
ASA 200/400
F8 or 5.6 (Wide angle lenses add depth of field so going all the way to F16 is not really necessary unless you just have a crap lens.)
1 second or less if possible

Review and redo. You are shooting to capture the lights of the city. They will cast a lot of light so shoot as if you where in a well lit area to begin with and add more light to your exposure as you go. Example: ASA 200, F8, 1/5th. Review go to 1/2 second, then 1 second or 5.6 or ASA 400. (All add one stop of light) Do your critical review on the computer and do a test print of each. You'll be surprised at the quality of each, and why you like (or dislike) each.

If to dark or even to light, adjust and do it again.

Even on a tripod, longer than 1 second can be a problem for SLR cameras because the mirror moves when the shutter is released, moving the whole camera slightly. If you want the highest quality images, use mirror lockup when shooting above 1/2 a second or so. (Read your manual about mirror lockup)

If mirror lockup is not possible, use a higher ASA. Noise is OK, blurry images are not.


01-14-2009, 09:27
For night shots, canon rock because they generally have a better photo at higher ASA than all other cameras. (I'm just saying, if you want the best images, buy the best gear you can afford)


I'm just waiting for the Nikon D3/D700 guys to show up...

01-14-2009, 16:28

I'm just waiting for the Nikon D3/D700 guys to show up...

Yep, same here. Jim's statement was pretty accurate at one time, but he obviously hasn't been following all the news about the D700 and its extremely low noise capability.

T. Harless
01-31-2009, 01:54

I'm just waiting for the Nikon D3/D700 guys to show up...

Yep, Canon's got nothing that can touch my D3s in low light

01-31-2009, 02:38
After reading up a bit on D3's and other OFF-BRAND cameras (snicker), I will admit they do an excellent job at low light work.

So I edited my above statement to reflect a more accurate truth.

The statement, "Buy the Best Camera You Can Afford" still holds true.


02-04-2009, 12:04
It's all been covered.... I just wanted to share these two that I took last night. Oh, and MK - I used my car as a tripod. :supergrin:

02-04-2009, 12:14

02-04-2009, 13:23
I can't let the D3/D700/5D crowd have all fun with night photos... ;)

Night over a canal in Cannaregio (

02-04-2009, 13:52
Nice hwyhobo. :)

02-05-2009, 13:04
It's all been covered.... I just wanted to share these two that I took last night. Oh, and MK - I used my car as a tripod. :supergrin:

You know better!!! :upeyes: :supergrin:

What the Taj Mahal looking place? I love that kind of building. :)

02-05-2009, 13:37
It's a Krishna Temple. Out here in the middle of BFE Utah. Who woulda thunk it. :supergrin: