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03-24-2008, 10:13 AM   #1
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Night time photography with the K10d

Hi all, I'm a newbie with DSLR and the K10D. I've been trying to do some night photography in city areas that have varied lighting conditions (such as Times Square in NYC) and other cityscapes. My problem is that I can't seem to find the right balances for exposure and the auto settings seem overwhelmed creating either slightly blurred/bleeding color renditions or really dark areas without detail. I'm trying to avoid a tripod and fully manual settings. Does anyone have any tips/ suggestions for initial settings or best settings for this type of photography? THANKS ALL!


- Carlos

03-25-2008, 09:30 PM   #2
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Since you didn't say which lens you use, I would suggest to get a fast , short focal lens (those 1.4 or 2ish lens). As long as you focus to infinity, f/1.4 would provide enough DOF. Blurred/bleeding color is probably due to vibration/shaking during the shooting or exposure is too long. I would crank up the ISO.

As for the dark area, you probably have to deal with that unless you have a flash.

I think Time Square usually has enough lighting. However, if you do want to capture all the details, I think you need a tripod and do an HDR shot (multiple exposure shot).
03-25-2008, 09:56 PM   #3
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This is one of my favourite photography subjects.

A few suggestions
- get a fast lens. An FA50 f/1.4 or f/2.8 will give you a more flexibility with shutter speed if you are trying to avoid using a tripod.

- bump up the ISO. You can still get low noise shots with ISO800. ISO1600 a bit iffy.

- Shoot RAW. Gives you more latitude to adjust later for exposure issues and avoid white balance problems.

- Night city shots with a mix of bright lights and many dark areas are always a compromise on exposure.
- Take a test shot of the overall scene first.
You need to decide whether you want to see more details in the bright areas or dark areas. If you want to preserve more detail in the dimly lit areas, you should set + E/V or switch to spot metering.

- Do consider a tripod. It gives a lot more flexibility on the brightness of the scene you want to take.
03-26-2008, 10:28 AM   #4
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Thanks for the tips. For now I'm sort of stuck with using either my Pentax SMC 18-55 Digital F3.5 or my Pentax SMC 50-200 Digitial F4.5. So I guess I'll try the tripod and tinker with the settings. I'm going to try again soon and if the results aren't too mediocre I'll post them. :-)

03-26-2008, 11:31 AM   #5
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I suggest you shoot at twilight, after the city lights come on but there is still light in the sky, rather than when the sky is totally dark. As for a tripod in Times Square, forget it unless you have a permit from the city.

Richard
03-26-2008, 11:31 AM   #6
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Did you consider taking pictures at dusk just before the sky turns completely dark? It might not make a big difference in Times Square but if lets say you are shooting Manhattan from across the river, having the sky not completely black helps. Plus if you are shooting from NJ side you can get the nice warm orange glow in the windows from the sunset.
03-26-2008, 11:33 AM   #7
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Old Timer 56 beat me

Do you really need permit for tripod in NYC? It is good to know before my next trip so I do not get cops interested in my photo equipment.
03-26-2008, 11:39 AM   #8
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Thanks to you both I hadn't thought about the "off-hours" before actual night! That may be my answer, though I am kind of going for some darker background. But baby steps lead to running! As for the tripod permit in Times Square, I'm not sure, but I wouldn't be surprised either. Thanks again!

04-02-2008, 12:19 AM   #9
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This is a recent attempt. I used my old Pentax 50mm at 1.7 and 1/160. I tried a whole bunch of other settings but I kept getting either too over-exposed or under. So I settled for this for now. PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE!LOL
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04-02-2008, 12:30 AM   #10
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You kinda have to just look at settings like that and decide what elements are most important to you and meter accordingly.

Have you been shooting raw and trying to play with the sliders in Adobe Camera Raw? I'm pretty new too to the DSLR world and am amazed at what leeway a Raw file can give you.
04-02-2008, 12:33 AM   #11
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That's a decent shot at night. Usually, I shoot in M mode. If my shot came out under/overexposed, i would adjust the shutter speed accordingly. Just 2-3 tries, and you would be able to get the correct value or at least the result you want.
04-02-2008, 12:47 AM   #12
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I usually shoot RAW in such a situation. You have full flexibility with White Balance, and a lot of room to correct for exposure issues.

That was a decent night shot. I gather the whole Diner was all pretty dimly lit.
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