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Nightshot practice kinda hard

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by danieru, Sep 29, 2012.

  1. danieru

    danieru Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 6, 2011
    Today I went out shooting at night and found out that it wasn't as easy as I thought it would be, didn't get the results I expected.

    I'm using a Panasonic G3 with a 14-45mm lens.

    I followed instructions from a night photography tutorial I once read or viewed on youtube:

    1- when shooting use the lowest ISO possible
    2- use a tripod
    3- use a remote shutter or use the timer setting to prevent shaking of the camera

    I followed these instructions and failed, my expectations and the end result differed, a whole lot actually.

    I played with the following settings:
    - F between 4.5-5.6 also depending on zoom
    - ISO between 160-400 depending on how much light is needed
    - Shutter speed between 10-60 seconds, also depending on how much light is needed, using timer release of 2 seconds don't have a remote shutter

    Playing around, pics came out either too dark, too bright or not in focus and what really suprised me were pictures taken with a low ISO, 160, containing lots of noise.

    Will need some more practice sessions, some tips from people with same setup or night photography experience would be appreciated.

    I will post some sample pics as soon as I can.
  2. danieru

    danieru Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 6, 2011
    The first picture was taken in Aperture priority mode with autofocus and automatic ISO with max 1600, result is kinda blurry

    DMC-G3    ---    14mm    f/3.5    1/1s    ISO 1600

    From this picture on I changed to Manual mode, with manual focus set to infinity, didn't really work in this picture because of objects close by, had to change focus manually but in these conditions the EVF is kinda useless, screen is dark, can't see what I'm focusing at

    DMC-G3    ---    14mm    f/5.6    40s    ISO 160

    There was a full moon but it was windy which is causing the clouds to move in front of the moon which is a shame, nice cloud effects though, some flaring again visible

    DMC-G3    ---    14mm    f/5.6    13s    ISO 200

    Again nice sky and clouds, not sure whether I like the result, almost looks like it's daylight. early in the morning

    DMC-G3    ---    14mm    f/5.0    30s    ISO 200

    DMC-G3    ---    14mm    f/5.0    30s    ISO 160

    I like the color of the sky, looks almost like what I could see with my own eyes

    DMC-G3    ---    23mm    f/5.6    60s    ISO 200

    Some windmills in the distance

    DMC-G3    ---    45mm    f/5.6    60s    ISO 200

    You can see a long streak of light in the distance which is caused by cars passing by on the highway

    DMC-G3    ---    20mm    f/5.6    60s    ISO 160

    You can see me unlocking the car remotely causing the headlights to flash

    DMC-G3    ---    20mm    f/4.5    60s    ISO 160

    I still haven't found the right balance for right amount of light and focussing is an issue when there are objects close by, it's best to just use infinity and focus on far away subjects like the sky
  3. ~tc~

    ~tc~ Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 22, 2010
    Houston, TX
    One thing I've never had to complain about is the screen not being bright enough at night ... Usually the opposite is the problem, you think you have enough exposure only to find out the image is black.

    Manual focus, with magnification assist, can be required if there is not enough contrast for it to lock on.

    All that said, I'm trying to figure out what you were hoping for ... From a subject standpoint, I don't see what "should have been there" in these images. Usually, there is some light source - building, street lights/car lights, stars ... Something ...
    • Like Like x 1
  4. Spuff

    Spuff Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Dec 5, 2010
    Berkshire, UK.
    I'm not an expert in night photography, but if you are seeing a dark vista then if your camera is set to pick up general details of the scene it is going to show that scene lighter than you saw it.
    For the photo with the gate it it, you could have shone a flashlight/torch on the gate to achieve focus on it, and then withdrawn the torch before you took the photo. Your camera will tell if it isn't locking focus, and if it isn't you need to do something about it.
    For your first photo your should have been able to focus on the moon quite easily.
    You need to use a tripod to do these kind of night shots, and as such you can force an ISO of 100/200 because you have the luxury of using any length of exposure you need.
    Darkness doesn't prevent you from reviewing the image you have just taken. If it doesn't look right you can lower or raise the exposure time.

    One handy thing for night photography is a headband torch/flahslight.

    I think you need some parts of the scene lit.
    When I took this there was enough light bits to focus on:
    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/safetytrousers/6208553265/" title="horse bridge by Safetytrousers, on Flickr"> 6208553265_75db606428. "500" height="288" alt="horse bridge"></a>
  5. Mellow

    Mellow Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 27, 2010
    Florida or Idaho
    It looks to me like focus was the biggest problem, which can be an issue at night, especially if the lens isn't fast.
    • Like Like x 1
  6. Mr.Kilawin

    Mr.Kilawin Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 23, 2012
    I am also trying to night photography but here are what I learned so far:

    For Panasonic GX1 and maybe G3 you need to enable NR LONG SHTR NR = ON to prevent/reduce noise. I usually look at EV as guide for exposure, I adjust shutter speed until my EV value is in the middle 0 and also look at the histogram. I use 25 area focusing (I think not a good idea) to have the camera select focus on far away object.

    I am pretty sure there's a lot of member here that can share their technique on this type of photography.
  7. melonbread

    melonbread Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 27, 2012
    Melbourne, Australia.
    I agree with what is said here. For me to get focus first on the point that I wish I have a bright flashlight which I use to pick up the shot. I almost always have it on Manual focus, and I have to make sure the setting is set so the camera does not continually search for focus when I hit the shutter again.
  8. BlairMacKay

    BlairMacKay Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 8, 2010
    Calgary, Alberta
    I agree with what ~tc~ said. Landscape photos at night are tricky, especially if there isn't a full moon. I would recommend that you find a subject for your foreground (house, bridge, etc) that you can manual focus on.

    Try an urban setting instead of the country, you'll get more light pollution and more interesting subject matter.

    Hope this helps, and keep trying!
  9. BlairMacKay

    BlairMacKay Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 8, 2010
    Calgary, Alberta
    I should also add that if you're doing landscapes, don't be afraid of bumping the aperture up to 12 or even higher. Since you are using a tripod anyways, you don't have to worry about shutter speed.

    When doing landscapes with a high aperture, the foreground and background will be in focus. This pic was taken with the same lens as yours, in the middle of night during an almost full moon at aperture f16.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/blairmackay/8038122980/" title="P1110739 by blair.mackay, on Flickr"> 8038122980_89f0fe9121_c. "800" height="600" alt="P1110739"></a>

    Again, the most important thing is to keep trying! Try different camera settings, different subject matter, and different setups. Guides and forums only do so much, you learn the most by practice and hashing things out for yourself.

    Good luck, and post more pics when you get a chance!
  10. danieru

    danieru Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 6, 2011
    To be honest, I sometimes have problems judging whether something is in focus, even when using magnification assist during daylight and using the evf, there's a lot of room manual focusing when you think it's in focus or not (in those cases a dslr works great manual focussing), anyhow, could just be me, but you can then imagine how hard I found it focussing manually at night when the moon just disappeared behind the clouds and theres no light available accept some lights in the far distance.

    What i wanted to achieve was the sky effect which turned out nice in some pics, but I wanted to be able to see the surroundings too with some detail. Most of the time the sky was ok, but the surrounding area was too dark or it was hard to make out things.
  11. danieru

    danieru Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 6, 2011
    Check! Will use a flashlight next time to focus on near objects, thanks for the tip, should have thought about that.
  12. danieru

    danieru Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 6, 2011
    Thanks I will look into this setting, going out at night made clear that I'm still not familiar with all settings of the camera, learning everytime.
  13. danieru

    danieru Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 6, 2011
    I will definitely try out a smaller aperture (larger f nr), for some reason I was stuck in thinking I needed to use a setting between f4.5 and 5.6 to get optimum sharpness (daylight thinking), but forgetting just as you said, a smaller aperture will make more of the foreground and background in focus, thank you,.
  14. littleMT

    littleMT Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 8, 2012
    Lucille Sanchez
    I dunno, I shoot lots of nightshots with the aperature wideopen, f/1.7 if I am using my 20mm or f/1.4 if using my PL25mm.

    I always use manual focus, with the assist magnification, I have a battery powered spotlight that I use to focus on something, in my case a car, once I have focus set I then mess with shutter speed, finding if I want stars to be clear I tend to shoot at 15 - 20 seconds.

    I wouldn't even consider a long exposure nightshot at f12.

    These were shot in the pitch darkness, wideopen with the 20mm..

    E-PL1    ---    20mm    f/2.2    15s    ISO 200

    E-PL1    ---    20mm    f/2.0    13s    ISO 320

    E-PL1    ---    20mm    f/1.8    20s    ISO 200

    Now with that said I realize you are talking about a landscape shot as opposed to what I am doing, however I think I can do the same thing, I would just lock focus on something in the background and fire away, even if it is the moon.

    I personally think you need a fast prime to do what you are trying to do, I
    find the 20mm to be excellent for pitch darkness/no light long exposure stuff.
    • Like Like x 3
  15. Just Jim

    Just Jim Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Oct 20, 2011
    I use an external 1 degree lightmeter, manual focus with a decent flashlight or led light, and an external shutter release.

    The lightmeter will tell me what's really going on in the scene and alows me to decide what should be exposed, especially in landscapes. With lanscapes I find there's alot of mixed lighting with the ambient and mixed lighting that's around, and the even the spot sensor on the camera isn't as exact as the lightmeter. If you don't have one, try spot metering through the lens the darkest object you want and set your camera 2 stops higher to start and then find out how much lattitude your sensor has by bracketing down in 1/3 stop increments. If you have it on full sensor metering the camera will try to adjust for everything going on.

    I tend to agree with Little MT that faster lens yields a subjectively better image... but if you need the DoF, that's fine too.
  16. danieru

    danieru Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 6, 2011
    I have a few primes, so I can try it out the way you shoot at night, by the way those are great pictures, looks like studio grade pictures, hopefully someday I'll reach that level, just gonna have to go out and practice.
  17. incabloc

    incabloc Mu-43 Top Veteran

    May 21, 2012
    Unbelievably impressive :bravo-009:

  18. dannat

    dannat Mu-43 Regular

    May 2, 2010
    Melbourne Australia
    If you want some foreground detail, try it when moon is at quarter- & at your back, the moonlight will illuminate the foreground for you
  19. ~tc~

    ~tc~ Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 22, 2010
    Houston, TX
    you may as well put it in P mode, then, because this is exactly what the camera will do itself. You can then program shift for the desired DOF or blur effect you want, and shift the exposure using exposure compensation as needed.

    Good point about the long shutter NR, I thought it was "on" be default?

    I can't agree with f12 - you are WAY into diffraction by that point, no need to go beyond f8 for these kinds of shots IMHO.

    No replacement for aperture in these situations - I assumed the reason you were using the kit zoom is that's all you had ...
  20. Bhupinder2002

    Bhupinder2002 Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Here are some my samples..lol

    E-M5    ---    14mm    f/16.0    20s    ISO 200
    E-M5    ---    23mm    f/16.0    20s    ISO 200
    E-M5    ---    12mm    f/10.0    10s    ISO 200
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