Night Photography

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by kend, Nov 11, 2010.

  1. kend

    kend New to Mu-43

    Apr 9, 2010
    I am currently in Hong Kong and each night there is a light show where the buildings are lit up lasers are fired off etc, this can all be viewed from kowloon across the Harbour
    I am looking to take some photos and would welcome some help on the best settings to use.
    I have an oly EP2 and a choice of 14-42 kit lens and 20mmm pany
  2. andy_jansen

    andy_jansen Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 19, 2010
    Herten, NL
    Hi, use the 20mm panasonic

    Camera in M-mode
    Aperture around 10 (so that will be 9,5 or 11)
    For best result you need to test with several shutter speeds (between 10 and 20 seconds, but that depends on the light level)

    And try different White Balance settings. I found out the the auto-mode on my E-PL1 doesn;t understand the light level of a laser :p

    Please post some pictures, always very interested in night photography, specially when there are lasers involded
    Made this one last week
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  3. starlabs

    starlabs Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 30, 2010
    Los Angeles
    I love night photography! It's so much fun... I am still a newbie though.

    First and biggest suggestion: get a tripod. You will need it.

    If you know the choreography and execution of the night show, you can plan for it. For example, for the lasers and fireworks (if there are any), you'll probably want cool looking streaks. For that you'll need a long exposure time, something at least 3+ seconds and more. You'll probably want to keep your ISO low, otherwise you'll blow out your exposure.

    For explosions you might want a short exposure time, in which case you'll probably want to use your 20mm, set it to f/1.7, bump up the ISO and try to get in the quickest/shortest shutter time you can while still getting enough light in.

    Just experiment and see what you get. Experience is the best teacher. And luckily for you, you can practice each night. I'm jealous! :2thumbs:

    This was taken this past Sunday with a 4 second exposure (I think 5+ would have been better), using the 20mm, ISO 200, f/5.6, shutter priority.

    PB061862 by starlabs, on Flickr
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  4. andy_jansen

    andy_jansen Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 19, 2010
    Herten, NL

    Brilliant shot. You might want to try it on F11 or higher. You'll get a sharper image on the horizon and clouds.

    On that aperture, shutter speed will need to be a lot higher (20+ sec)

    But still love your picture ;)
    • Like Like x 1
  5. Danny_Two

    Danny_Two Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 30, 2010
    I enjoy a bit of city night photography, I find small apertures and exposures of about 2 to 3 seconds get the best results for me. Any longer and you start to get to much light saturation. Obviously you will need the camerato be still, either a tripod or use a wall/bin/pint glass to sit it on.

    Some night pics in my zenfolio link if interested, all from my G1.
    • Like Like x 1
  6. jambaj0e

    jambaj0e Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Aug 31, 2010
    Shot the 118 West freeway over in Granada Hills, CA with the Olympus E-PL1 and a Konica Hexanon 57mm f1.4 at a 2sec shutter at f8, I believe, on an Induro tripod with a Gorillapod ball. You can see the faint, blurred chainlink fence =P




    On this pic, I think I left it open for 4-6 sec. What is that blue flaring, though?

    • Like Like x 1
  7. andy_jansen

    andy_jansen Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 19, 2010
    Herten, NL
    I've experienced the same problem with the blue flare.
    Don't know what it is, but I think it happens when white balance is set to 3000k instead of auto.

    You know the white balance the picture was taken on? Can't imagine that it was set to auto, since my E-PL1 makes pictures with a lot more yellow in auto.
  8. Dunkeld

    Dunkeld Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 24, 2010
    Trial and error.

    I don't have the panny, but I should think the same conditions apply no matter what lens you use. Firstly, a tripod is a must in most cases. With shutter speeds often exceeding 10 seconds or more, depending on light values, it goes without saying that a tripod is almost obligatory.

    Try to keep skies out of your shots. They are the biggest problem providers with noise being so evident. Try for lowest ISO possible.

    Self timers, also a must. But, it will be trial and error with light balances, f/stops, shutter speeds and even the programme you use. I use manual programme with a tripod and self timer for shots such as the pier shown here.

    Different lighting situations will call for different set ups, so there's no cut and dried system set up in my opinion. Personally, I've found the vivid yellow/gold in China my biggest problem since they often appear blown whilst everything else is fine.

    Attached Files:

    • Like Like x 1
  9. PetitP

    PetitP Mu-43 Regular

    Build personnal experience, try various settings.

    From my (little) experience, I found out that you can achieve a wide range of results depending on the settings you apply even for the same subject.
    Moreover, shooting conditions may vary so much that it seems to me hard to tell "for night photography, do this and that". So, also as said earlier :try, experiment, try, experiment,...

    Look at the attachments what kind of difference you may get for the very same subject (and I am sure that they are many others). Cam was on a mini tripod, trying different speed, aperture, WB settings.

    What I find the hardest when overall subject is to dark and when there are little area of lighted elements is to get sharp results (even if focus is fine). At the contrary, the end result with the crane is super sharp.

    The example with the crane is to show what can be done automatically by the cam if night light :)rolleyes:) is good, handled (!) using mode scene "night".

    Attached Files:

    • Like Like x 1
  10. ~tc~

    ~tc~ Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 22, 2010
    Houston, TX
    Tripod is necessary. One of the little ones like the joby will work though.

    I have found ghat using the exposure compensation reduces the trial and error as it affects the live view so you don't have to waste 15 seconds waiting for the picture to "develop"
  11. shoturtle


    Oct 15, 2010
    And make sure you remove any filter on your lens when shooting at night.