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Sunday, June 5, 2011

Long Shutter Night Photography (Series 1)

Equipment needed:

camera (one you are familiar with)

tripod (strong and sturdy)

sharp lenses (you are going to need that sharpness at hand.

flashlight (aid you with checking settings and making adjustments after dark).
Today I could not wait for the sun to set because I was anxious to shoot some landscape photography; in particular "long shutter or night photography". I have spoken about low light and just touched on the description difference between low light and long shutter shooting. Taking a look at the two photos posted to the left, you can have a go at it with these settings on your camera and attempt to create similar photos. Chances are, you'll create something totally original and worth bragging about: The settings are basically the same with only two variables between the two; a different lens and a larger ISO number. Yet looking at the differences, one can only wonder how did this happen? Shall we begin?

The top photo: shot with a 17-35 f2.8 set at f18 with a long shutter speed setting of 10.0 seconds. ISO setting is 800.
The second photo was shot with a 24-75 f2.8 set at f18 with the same exact shutter speed setting of 10.0 seconds ISO setting of 200.

Important note to remember for someone just starting out in photography or if you are unfamiliar with shooting this way, is that camera shake will be a big problem and therefore a tripod is mandatory. I used a manfrotto tripod with a manfrotto ball-head tripod mounted. The ball-head is my favorite for many reasons. The main reason is that I have never gotten any creep from my ball-heads, as I get from other models (especially when you need to flip that camera into a vertical mode. The joystick-head is the worst to use for long shutter). I say that because I have just never ever had any success with that head, no matter what I am shooting.

Moving lights are the best subjects for shooting long shutter, and for the record "long shutter may or may not be the term typically used for night photography, however it's a creative spin that I decided to call it as I was learning the technique". You can vary the amount of time you decide to leave the shutter open, and see how it affects the photograph. Infact I encourage you to tweak all the settings I just gave you because that is what I do.

So let me explain the higher ISO and different lens. By increasing the ISO, I just wanted to brighten the light to bring out the buildings and structures near the moving lights. Notice how the long shutter doesn't alter these structures at all as long as the camera is mounted on a tripod. If you want to put a person in the foreground, you can do so, and use a strobe to completely light that person. I recommend using the rear shutter sync on your camera if it have this function. I will shoot a long shutter with a person in the foreground and blog it in my 2nd series blog on long shutter shots. The different lens explanation is simple. I just want a different view of the same area. You know, just give it more of a up close and personal view with more detail than a bluebird's-eye view. (Get it, Bluestill, Bluebird LOL).

Yah, yah, I know this was sort of techie, and probably boring to those of you who like reading my blogs because they are normally a geek free writing style, but I really needed to explain these photos for those who might enjoy them and wonder how they are created. So with that being said, whenever I am going to post a technical blog I will always include a series number in the subject. Okay, the sun is shining and there is someone out there undiscovered awaiting the opportunity to get Bluestilled 101.

Note: I used Lightroom to slightly exaggerate the saturation of colors in these photographs but it isn't necessary and you'll love your finished results either way.

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