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  1. #1
    Jared Pose's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Boston, MA

    Night Scenes/Exposure?

    I need some help with taking night shots, please. I'm new to photography, and due to my pretty messed up sleeping schedule (17, out of school ) I tend to have a lot of night photography opportunities. I have an Elan 7, 35-135mm lens, I use Kodak Max Versatility+ 800, and Fuji NPH 400 films.
    When I focus on subjects (near and far) at night, the recommended exposure leaves the shutter speed at like 1.5", and aperture at is there any trick to getting the right exposure, I should know about? Or should I just invest in a tripod, and accept these settings?

    Thanks, and forgive my ignorance..I'm learning .

  2. #2
    has-been... another view's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Rockford, IL
    With the low light levels that you get at night you will get long exposure times. Basically, it takes a certain amount of light reaching the film to make an exposure. Three things affect exposure (at least as long as we're not talking about flash): Film Speed (ISO), Aperture and Shutter Speed. It's like an equation - if the reading is 1 second at f4, you could get a 50mm f1.4 lens and you'd have 1/8 second at f1.4 which still wouldn't be possible without a tripod. If there's not much light to begin with, then even by using fast ISO film and setting the aperture wide open, you probably won't get a hand-holdable shutter speed. The combination of an f1.4 lens and 3200 speed black and white film might work without a tripod in some situations, but not often.

    With the tripod, also get a cable release or use the camera's self timer (set at a couple of seconds if possible). This will make sure that you don't shake the camera when you're pressing the shutter release. Since you'll be using a tripod, try using a smaller aperture like f8 or f11 for more depth of field and to see how longer shutter speeds affect the shot. Night photography is a whole differrent world but can give you great results. Like anything else, it will take time and practice (as in shoot alot of film!!) to get the results but it will be worth it.

  3. #3
    GB1 is offline
    Moderator GB1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    San Diego CA
    You'll have to get a tripod eventually if you want to do any good night work. In the interim, you might just prop your camera on the ground or a ledge and use your self timer.

    There's something called 'reciprocity failure' that affects both your film's exposure and color. In a nutshell, your camera's meter underestimates the amount of light the film needs to properly expose. I've yet to see or hear of a meter that properly corrects for this. Try bracketing until you get a feel for estimating the amt of light a scene needs. My own experience is that if the scene is pretty dark to double or triple the meter's recommendation.

    Some films also shift color during long exposures. Fuji Velvia seems to shift towards the yellows and looks like ^$%#@. Kodachrome throws in a slight greenish tint. Don't know about the other films, ea. has its own characteristics for long exposures (a lot of the time the manufacturers just say "not recommended" when listing specs for this). They sell filters to correct this, but since the amt of shift depends on exposure time you may under or over compensate, so its a bit tricky to master.

    Finally, long exposures drain batteries pretty fast, and cold weather makes it worse. Some cameras shift to mechanical operation when shooting on B, but most of the new ones do not.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Ronnoco's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Well, obviously it depends on what you are shooting. Considering the film that you are using f 2.8
    at 1/60 should cover a lot of situations. I did a panorama of lit buildings from the top of one using 1/8 of second, handheld and ASA 64 film. The blow-up turned out surprisingly sharp. A lake lit by moonlight, I needed a tripod for...15 seconds at F2. Christmas lights I have shot at 1/30 sec. at
    f. 2.8 as well.

    You can also brace your camera against something close by, in order to do a slow shutter speed. I have used a small hand tripod against a wall or on a car roof etc. Inside a church, I braced the camera on a pew and with a 28mm wide angle, I used f. 2.8 at 1/8 of a second.

    I was however using slower film than you. With 800 film, you should be able to do a lot of shooting handheld.


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