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Night shot 1st attempt

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  • Night shot 1st attempt

    Hi guys,

    here is a RAW image of yesterday's spotting (this one took about 30 sec) to render:

    I am a tad happy with the result but bear in mind my stand was weak and there was a lot of winds plus there was no remote control to be used

    any tips to improve? mode P is the program I used.

  • #2
    Hi there,

    In all honesty you're not very likely to get good results shooting night shots without a slightly different approach. Night shots require certain things and without them, there's simply no real point in trying. The first thing you need is a very sturdy tripod. The slightest bit of camera shake will ruin your images, so you need to make sure the tripod you get will keep the camera steady. Secondly, you need winds that arn't strong. Strong winds will shift the camera even on quite steady tripods and again, ruin your images. Third, use the self timer or get a remote shutter release. From then on, try this technique...

    Bear in mind night shots can take a little time to set up, but time spent getting settings right will mean you nail more shots in the long run. Set up your camera on the tripod. If you can place the tripod on a wall or something else raised up a few feet, you won't need the legs as wide and it should be slightly more stable. From there, select ISO 100, Aperture Priority at around f/8 and compose the shot as you want it.

    Check the shutter speed you're getting. Most modern DSLR's will have a slowest shutter speed of 30 seconds before you need a remote shutter release and Bulbflash mode but in all honesty, that isn't really a common or appropriate technique for aviation shooting; more for doing 10 minute exposures of stars, etc. If the shutter speed is less than 30 seconds, you're fine. If it flashes, saying you need more than 30 seconds, change to ISO 200. This will halve the shutter speed and should in most cases bring it below 30 seconds.

    Focus the camera on your subject (or one equal distance away), then click the lens into manual focus. Quite often the camera will hunt for focus much more at night than it does during the day (due basically to there being less contrast in the scene you're trying to shoot), so pre-focussing avoids the camera trying to re-focus. Remember not to zoom in or out once you've pre-fosussed.

    Take a photo and Custom White Balance. Night shots will be illuminated more often than not by tungsten, sodium of other lighting that has a very cold temperature compared to normal daylight. This leads to nasty colour casts on the aircraft that look un-natural. Read the instruction manual for the specific camera you have on how to do this. As an example, here are two of my night shots from Funchal. Without Cuntom White Balance, the aircraft would have a very yellow colour cast, but with custom it appears natural white.

    When you want to take the actual photo, put the camera onto a 10 second timer, make sure the composition is OK and level, and press the shutter release. You're obviously relying on your subject staying in the same place long enough for you to take the photo, but for aircraft at gates, etc, that shouldn't be a problem. Using the 10 second timer allows the camera to settle down and stop shaking after you've pressed the shutter release, and in fact I prefer this method to using a remote shutter release that's connected to the camera. Fingers crossed, once the exposure is over you should have a reasonable image. From then on, just practice as much as possible and everything will start to feel very natural in time.

    I hope that helps. Night shots do take a little getting used to as the techniques are slightly different to simply pointing and clicking, but as with anything, practice makes perfect.


    P.S. With regard to your signature, believe me, it is a hobby. It's just one that requires a bit of practice.
    Last edited by PMN; 2008-12-28, 20:58.
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