PDA

View Full Version : Nighttime Photos?


Hanyaan
02-12-2006, 02:11 PM
My family and I have some relatively inexpensive but still pretty decent point and shoot style digital cameras. I would like to take some outdoor night photos and make it obviously night. The photos would be taken in a field so there wouldn't be an easy source of electricity for lighting; the only "lighting" we'd probably have is a flashlight or two. Does anybody have any advice for this sort of situation?

jtnishi
02-12-2006, 03:16 PM
Only 3 quick ones: turn off the flash, use a tripod, and if you have relatively moving subjects (read: people), have them stand still if at all possible. Pretty much, from there, with point and shoots, it's going to be pure luck. If you have an ISO setting on your camera, be willing to crank that up as high as it can reasonably go.

Good luck!

Edit: I will add one more thing: depending on the flashlight, it may or may not be a strong enough source of lighting. If the flashlight is one of those massive million candlepower deals, it might be enough. If it's a normal flashlight, I think you're going to be out of luck unless you have another source of relatively strong light nearby to light your subject/self. Keep in mind that even if it's a strong flashlight, it's probably going to have to be close to the person you're going to shoot to make it useful.

ZiggyB
02-12-2006, 04:45 PM
In addition to what jtnishi said, try and use the auto timer function. If you try taking the picture yourself you might shake the camera and make the picture blurry. But if you put it on a tripod and use the auto timer, the camera won't move and it should allow you to take a clear picture.

Oh also try using the night time mode in your camera if you can. Good luck. :)

TomodachiFriend
02-13-2006, 12:31 AM
Isn't it dangerous to point one of those more-powerful-than-sun flashlights towards a person who'll be staring back at you?

Hanyaan
02-13-2006, 01:39 AM
Isn't it dangerous to point one of those more-powerful-than-sun flashlights towards a person who'll be staring back at you?
No, because I'm the person who will be photographed (I'm getting these tips so I can set up the shots and have friends help out if I can ninja anybody into doing it), and I'm not going to be using a flashlight as bright as you'd think. I'm planning on using two dim flashlights, one standard and one with blue LED light to give me and whatever's near me the blue light-based color cast from the original source material. I have very sensitive eyes when it comes to seeing in the dark and far better night vision than most normal people, and I can assure you that if I had brighter than sun flashlights actually in my eyes, I'd be very very very saddened and probably screaming in pain.

jtnishi
02-13-2006, 10:24 AM
No, because I'm the person who will be photographed (I'm getting these tips so I can set up the shots and have friends help out if I can ninja anybody into doing it), and I'm not going to be using a flashlight as bright as you'd think. I'm planning on using two dim flashlights, one standard and one with blue LED light to give me and whatever's near me the blue light-based color cast from the original source material. I have very sensitive eyes when it comes to seeing in the dark and far better night vision than most normal people, and I can assure you that if I had brighter than sun flashlights actually in my eyes, I'd be very very very saddened and probably screaming in pain.

Probably true. I was assuming that such flashlights would probably not be directly aimed at a person's eyes/face anyway, but rather probably in an angle oblique to the person where the spread of the flashlight would light the face. Unfortunately, I don't have much expertise with working with flashlights as lighting for photographs, so it's hard to tell how well they'd work, or how strong they'd have to be. I've been planning to use 130-150 watt halogen flood lights to do backdrop studio-style lighting indoors on the cheap (thanks to some thoughtful comments on this forum addressed to someone else), and I do know that they tend to put out enough power to allow for use of lower film speed (ISO 100-200), since I did some testing of the lighting against a person's skin. Strength wise, they are fairly strong, but again, one isn't meant to look directly into the bulb, and it's not significantly stronger than a studio light would be at a distance of about 5-10'. It should be noted that most 1M candlepower flashlights have a halogen quartz bulb that is weaker than this (probably not much more than 65-70 watts).

Normal flashlights might be a bit weak for the situation, but since I'd be purely guessing without seeing the light, and since I don't know what might be an acceptable level of sharpness for the shots, it really is going to be a "try and see" type situation for this.

Just another 2 cents.

Tyrus
02-13-2006, 11:04 AM
As mentioned, a tripod using a timer to trigger the camera is probably your best bet, but nothing works better than testing the settings yourself. Go out to your location before hand without your human subjects, take a lot of trial shots, and write down what you did. Then you can look at your shots and see what worked best. You can try different camera setttings, flash and no flash, and the external lighting. You will still probably need an long exposure though so when you do take final shots your subjects will need to hold still.

Another thing you can try is to take the shots right at twilight, just after the sun sets. You have a very small window of opportunity, but during that time there will be some residual light that can light the background, but not brightly. So it'll look dark and may give the illusion of night and still provide some detail. If its completely black you won't get anything at all.

staereo
02-13-2006, 09:28 PM
Great tips already in here, but some cameras have functions made for this scenario. What type of camera are you using, perhaps I can assist finding out if you have a function like this?

other than that, tips already seem to cover what I was going to go over.

Bruce

Christy McGrath
02-20-2006, 12:43 PM
Hi Hanyaanfaery :)

All good tips here, especially the use of halogen (very bright, average 1000W) which will darken the background and flood the subject, but that's where you have the problem of over-exposure...

A tripod is a must for low-light shots, so again, good advice.

Early evening/sunset is a great time, but I would recommend filters. You can even use filters during daylight to give the impression of night time - that was a commonly used technique for movies in the 1950's and 1960's - deep blue filter plus polariser made it look like night time and the sun looks like the moon... No need for creeping around in the dark then, though a tripod would still be a good thing.

I wouldn't recommend flashlights (torches) in the dark as they will move the light around and produce lines and flashes of light on each frame, rather than illuminating your subject.

I'm presuming here that you want to show your subject in a field in moonlight? In that case, my first guess would be to go with dark blue filters, tripod and a long exposure (and a still subject) and 'fake' the night time effect.

Hope that helps.

Love Christy x