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01-18-2011, 05:04 PM   #1
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Night Shot Question for the pros or anyone that knows how to shoot @ night

I want to shoot a landscape night shot of the Santa Monica Pier at night. There is a ferris wheel and a lot of lights... I think it will make for a nice shot if i can get the right settings. I could go the easy route and use the night-shot setting on the K-X but wanted to pick the brains of those who have done a similar shot.

Any help on what settings i should be working with would be great.. Thank all!

01-18-2011, 05:10 PM   #2
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Hi there.
Seeing as though this is more a beginner's question, please use the appropriate subforum to post in in future.
It depends what effect you want to create: time lapse blurring of lights, or action-stopping shot; and whether you want to expose for the background also.

Best place to start would be to switch to Av mode, select an aperture of about f/5.6, try an ISO of 400 and an EV of +1, and seew what you get. This is by no means an authoritative series of settings for your scene, just something to try out without having seen what you want to capture.

Check the EXIF of these images for example:





01-18-2011, 05:12 PM   #3
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Moved from General Photography.
01-18-2011, 07:49 PM   #4
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Sorry about that... Thanks for moving the thread for me.

01-18-2011, 07:53 PM   #5
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Thanks ash... I am thinking of parking in the lot next to the pier and shooting from there. I wanting to get a more landscape night shot.. I will write down your suggested settings for tomorrows shoot.
01-18-2011, 10:11 PM   #6
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Don't forget your tripod and to switch off SR when using it.
01-19-2011, 03:07 PM   #7
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Like others mentioned previously, this is going to be a low-light shot, and really depends if you want to imply motion (continuous circles of light), or a stationary shot.

You will get best results from using a tripod and disabling SR. I would go with either Shutter Priority or Manual for this. For continuous light circles, this will require slow shutters speeds, so play around 1/3, 1/2, 1 sec, 2 sec ballpark for that. Depending on what depth of field you want, choose an ISO that will end up with a resulting aperture of around F4 - F8. For a stationary shot, a shutter priority of 1/125, 1/250, 1/500 ballpark should freeze action. Maybe start at 1/50 or 1/60 and work your way there.

Lastly, go on sites like Flickr and smugmug and search for "ferris wheels". Its a popular photographic subject. Look at the exif info and write a few of the settings down. Do it on a few and you will find that some of the settings might fall in the same range.
01-20-2011, 05:15 PM   #8
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Try this:

- Get a solid tripod, and set the camera to 2-sec delay. This will allow you to push the shutter button and have the vibrations settle down before the shutter opens. This should also turn off the Shake Reduction automatically.

- Put the camera in Aperture Priority, and set the aperture to about f/8 to start with. If shutter speeds are too short you can stop down more, like f/10. Don't go all the way stopped down to f/22 or whatever your lens goes to, you'll get degradation from diffraction.

- Set the ISO to its lowest setting (100 on K-X?).

- Depending on how dark it is you should see shutter speeds in the 10-30 second range. 30 seconds is the longest that the camera will go in Aperture priority automatic.

- Once you see what you're getting, as it gets darker you may need to dial in some negative exposure compensation as you bump into the 30-sec limit on the shutter (unless you are using Bulb, which is a pain without a wired remote). don't worry if the light meter is blinking to tell you that it is outside of the range, just shoot and see what it looks like. You may also want to experiment with both positive and negative compensation depending on how well lit the pier is.

- I would suggest starting at about 1/2 hour or so after sunset, maybe even a bit earlier, so that you catch that dark blue in the sky before it goes to black.

- I generally start out in Auto White Balance but sometimes switch to Tungsten depending on the sky. It's easy enough to take a shot in Auto, then pull up the WB menu and see what that last shot would look like in Tungsten or something else. It's easy to change and then go back as the light changes.

- You'll probably want to / need to use Manual Focus, as depending on how dark it is and other things the Auto Focus may hunt. Unless you are really close, and it doesn't sound like you will be, just manually set the lens at Infinity.

- All of this assumes you are not trying to freeze any action.

- Experiment with settings, that is the great thing about digital, you can see right away what is happening.

Hope this helps. Night photos are a lot of fun, and much more so now with digital.

01-20-2011, 11:25 PM   #9
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thanks... I am going to try it this weekend... hopefully it is not as foggy as it has been.
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