Photographers! Night Shooting?

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Photographers! Night Shooting?

Postby Ashta » Thu Jan 28, 2010 4:04 pm

I have a Nikon D50 that has not yet been to Burning Man. I've read lots on how to deal with the dust issues (i'm not stressing-just gonna budget to send it away for a cleaning), but I'd like to hear what some people have to say about night shooting. It was so hard to get a decent shot with my p&s digital that last time i burned, and I do know it will be easier with a dSLR.

Any tips on night shooting?
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Postby teardropper » Thu Feb 04, 2010 9:04 am

First off, use a tripod. Must. And if you must bring your DSLR, cleaning it will be essential. I'm not sure about yours, but mine can auto time lapse shots. Shouldn't be a problem. Be sure to bracket your shots or at least take more than one. And maybe don't get it out during a dust storm.
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Postby Elliot » Thu Feb 04, 2010 9:53 am

:D
Yes, tripod, and any mechanism you have to minimize shaking, such as a cable release or self timer release.

And NO FLASH. The exception is if you have something in the foreground that you need light on, and then you will want the flash turned very low.

If you must use flash, see if your camera has a "second curtain synch" or whatever Nikon might call it. That means the flash goes off just before the shutter closes, as opposed to right after it opens. In some cases this will give a streak of light the more natural look of the light trailing behind the source. (The classic example is when you follow a moving car with the camera.)

Yes, bracket wildly, and shoot both flash-off and flash-on if there is any doubt. And different flash levels. And shoot both first and second curtain synch with the flash.

Also, Use different shutter-time and aperture-opening combinations. This changes the depth-of-field and can make a big difference.

Start practicing changing these settings quickly now.

With all this, you may take ten or more shots of any one scene. And you may get ONE good one. This used to be expensive with film!

Which brings us to setting the "film speed" on a digital. Try reading your camera's manual on that one.

Just my 2 cents. Other people's opinions may vary.
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Postby teardropper » Thu Feb 04, 2010 10:12 am

Yes, all that he said. I use a very short, easy to carry tripod. Gives a low level shot but useful. And, of course, the self timer to eliminate shake. I have an anti shake that works well for this, though.

And the no flash. It seems that no matter how hard I try, little bits of playa dust cling to my lens and make night, flash shots have little specks in them. so I really limit night flash.

Oh yeah, I hardly used the DSLR. Too worried about the dust. I did use my little Nikon P&S. It had a lens that came out os the body when it was turned on and moved in and out when focusing. This seems to be the weak spot, the lens moving in and out and dragging dust into the mechanism. I didn't shoot that much, really, but the night the Man burned was a bit dusty, a dust storm really, and it finally failed. Will have a Panasonic Lumix waterproof, dustproof and shockproof one this year. No more failures due to dust.
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Postby lambert13 » Thu Feb 04, 2010 11:26 am

My tip....

Go out at night now and start shooting photos. In lit city areas, dim backyard by moonlight, traffic, buildings. Everything you can think of to get you acclimated to how your camera works at night. It is not difficult to shoot at night with some practice. Learn at home rather than trying to figure it out on the playa.

Some settings tips from a fellow D50 owner....

- Disable the Long Exposure Noise Reduction if you have it enabled. It does not do much for you (though the manual says it will) and really slows you down.
- Experiment with different white balance settings. Auto works pretty well, but sometimes the other modes will make a big difference.
- Use ISO 400 or so. Quality is still very good at that speed.
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Postby dr.placebo » Thu Feb 04, 2010 11:51 am

I agree with the idea about experimentation before you go. Also agree with tripod and no flash.

Generally you should shoot at the highest ISO that gives you a decent image. This will vary from camera to camera. I use ISO 800 at night, but check out your own gear.

Also, shoot in raw mode. It requires some post processing, but it gives you more headroom to alter the exposure.

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Postby teardropper » Thu Feb 04, 2010 12:29 pm

The beauty of night shooting at the burn is that most of the things you're going to want to shoot will be lit up--lights, led's, e l wire, rope lights. Practice, yes. Learn what it does. But on auto it should shoot well at night.
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Postby epic_elite » Thu Feb 04, 2010 1:16 pm

i do alot of long exposures, it's just my thang. but you cant really capture a moving subject this way of course.

you could use more than one flash as well. one on the camera and the other strapped to your person.

sometimes when doing a long exposure i handle the light by hand and pop it off manually a few times as well. so you get as many flashes and your flash will cycle within the given time of exposure. this is similar to the 'second curtain synch' previously mentioned but you can get more flashes than just 2

so if your exposure is set to 10 seconds, you can pop off your flash manually 7 or 8 times. you can get different effects by moving the light and flashing it from different areas as well.

i plan on bringing my ND filters too for fun daytime effects.
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Protecting your camera

Postby zifra » Thu Mar 18, 2010 12:11 am

Step one: buy a cheap screw on lens filter.

Step two: take a large ziplock bag, put a hole in it that fits the filter. Tape it securely with vinyl tape.

Step 3: place camera in bag securing lens filter.

Step 4: close and tape bag. Only open in a closed vehicle with no outside wind.

My guy got amazing night shots last time. Message me if you want to chat with him.
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Postby Delrious » Sat Mar 27, 2010 12:15 pm

bring everything that you think you might use and don't be a pussy and you will get amazing shots.

a self cleaning sensor goes a long ways.
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Postby gyre » Sat Mar 27, 2010 12:57 pm

I have one of the better Fuji series point and shoot.
It does better than any other small camera I've seen.
I think it's an F10.

I've done shots where I couldn't really see what I was shooting by eye.
No comparison to the canons.
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Dust at night

Postby portaplaya » Wed Aug 11, 2010 3:43 pm

I also want to point out that the amount of ambient dust at night drops by quite a bit. The wind in the evening, staring about :30 before sunset, dies down. By the time it is night, the dust has had a change to settle.

Except, crowds (especially if they are dancing) do kick up some dust. Best to avoid them if that is your concern. But really, shouldn't you clean your camera ever year or two? Perhaps it's about time for that, permitting you to just go for it! (If you do, bring weather-proof lenses or stick to ones that are replaceable, just in case. A 50mm f/1.8 is barely over $100.)

The full moon this year is on 9/4, which means decent light with wide aperture and high ISO. Exposures will still require a tripod, but won't have to be that long. Or you can drop the ISO is your camera is noisier on ISO than on long exposures.

If you are going to flash, which has it's benefits, you must get your flash off of your camera. I tend to use a cable and just hand carry the flash, guesstimating the aim.

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Postby kman » Wed Aug 11, 2010 4:59 pm

Tripod is a must.

Also, consider a decent VR lens, to help you get the shots when you can't deploy the tripod.

ISO 400-800 should deliver pretty useable stuff.

RAW is certainly worth considering, but hardly essential. If you decide to play with RAW, practice at home first... the playa is not the place to learn new tricks cold.

Keep your camera tucked safely away as much as possible. The suggestion of a lens tube bag is a good one... lenses are more expensive, and more difficult, to service than camera bodies, and any zoom action is going to suck dust right inside the lens.

Some other good tips in this thread: viewtopic.php?t=32519
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Postby Eric » Wed Aug 11, 2010 6:13 pm

One thought on ISO- don't be afraid to go low for night shots. I shoot clubs, and never go higher than ISO 200, and I prefer ISO 100. You get richer colors, and you get less "noise". The caveat: you absolutely must use a tripod & a long exposure on the playa. The long exposure is key.
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Postby kman » Wed Aug 11, 2010 7:11 pm

Eric wrote:One thought on ISO- don't be afraid to go low for night shots. I shoot clubs, and never go higher than ISO 200, and I prefer ISO 100. You get richer colors, and you get less "noise". The caveat: you absolutely must use a tripod & a long exposure on the playa. The long exposure is key.


And no flash. Or, if you must, a separate flash that you can hand hold far off the camera's lens axis.

Backscatter is a bitch on the playa. (Nearly as bad as it is in UW photography)
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Postby gyre » Thu Aug 12, 2010 4:23 am

I just found a point and shoot that does tiff.
Good zoom too.

I knew they were out there somewhere.
Not expensive either.

They used to make many.

Have you guys tried using a rifle position (holding the camera) for shots that need a tripod?
I really love tripods, but I have taken shots of high speed action with slow film and settings, with great success.

Sometimes it's a convenience issue.
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Postby kman » Thu Aug 12, 2010 11:45 am

gyre wrote:I just found a point and shoot that does tiff.
Good zoom too.

I knew they were out there somewhere.
Not expensive either.

They used to make many.

Have you guys tried using a rifle position (holding the camera) for shots that need a tripod?
I really love tripods, but I have taken shots of high speed action with slow film and settings, with great success.

Sometimes it's a convenience issue.

Unless you're sniper-still, rifle position is only going to help but so much for shots that need 2+ seconds exposure.
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Postby gyre » Thu Aug 12, 2010 12:33 pm

I was quite surprised it works at all.

I think a technique intended to stabilize a ten pound rifle just works for a lighter camera, though the lighter weight is clearly an issue.
The lighter the camera I use and the smaller, the less effective.
I do lean, prop, lay or use anything rigid to help brace whenever I can.
Size is actually more of a problem than weight.

I have a heavy tripod I use whenever possible, but I thought it was worth noting there may be options.
Tripods are certainly less effort, other than toting.
And more sure.
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class

Postby zifra » Mon Aug 16, 2010 10:30 pm

The Lazy Lizard Lemonade Lounge at 9:00 and C will be offering the following:

Protect your DSLR camera from dust Bring your DSLR and we will show you how to make a camera condom to protect your camera from any harm from playa dust.

* Tuesday, August 31st, 2010 2 p.m. – 4 p.m.

Join us and protect your camera!

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