Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Night Photography with Meetup.com Photographers

Here are a few photos from tonight's outing with the Northern California Photography group, which organizes frequent outings through Meetup.com.

I used my Canon's Auto Exposure Bracketing function to take exposures darker and lighter than the automatic exposure recommendation, and I adjusted that recommended center exposure darker to reduce overexposure of the neon signs. I found that one to two stops underexposure seemed to produce the best results.

To spice things up a bit I decided to try some special effects. I had such good interesting results with zoom blur that I stuck with that for the evening. My best results seemed to be at ISO 100, f/16 or f/22, yielding an automatic exposure (after exposure compensation to make it a stop or two darker than the default camera recommendation) of 2 to 8 seconds, giving me plenty of time to make a slow, smooth zoom. For these shots I eventually tightened the bracketing to its small increments of 1/3 to 2/3 of one stop, not really doing much with exposure, just ensuring that I had multiple attempts at a given shot so I would have one with a smooth zoom and minimal vibration.

For night "cityscape" photos I processed my exposure bracketed files with Photomatix HDR (High Dynamic Range) software to extend the limited dynamic range of my digital camera and get better shadow and hightlight detail. Next time I want to use light sources (spotlight, flash), and try some handheld shots.

To get yourself out shooting more often, in a variety of environments and under a variety of conditions, in a productive learning environment sharing ideas and tips with other photographers, I highly recommend that you look into local groups through Meetup.com!