Friday, November 11, 2011

Question to Juzno: I really need to learn to take pictures in the dark

Blue Moon... uh woooo

Rachael:  I really need to learn to take pictures in the dark.  All of my pictures are in the dark at a cemetery, but I can't seem to get them right.

Juzno:  First of all, you're weird.  I don't know of any person who shoots exclusively at the cemetery.

Looking at the lighting condition of your pictures at the cemetery, that is to be expected.  (We shall spare Rachael the embarrassment so we won't publish her pictures here.)

Photography, whether night or day shots, is all about capturing the light.  Obviously at night, you don't have enough light.  Once you understand that this is what you are dealing with, it gets easier to get around this hurdle.

There are at least two ways to get the decent image at nights: [1] increase the exposure time, or [2] use supplemental light.
The first option is you're basically allowing more time to capture light.  Think of a water faucet that gives off a few drops per second.  Well, it you want to fill a bucket, it's going to take a longer time to fill it as compared if you want to fill a shot glass.

The second option is you're supplementing light to where there aren't much to begin with.  This gets tricky because you need to know where to supplement the light.  Otherwise your subject could be getting too much light but your background may not.  Or vice-versa, your background could be getting the supplemental light and your subject is not getting much.

I would usually increase the exposure time if I'm shooting in this environment.  How much time?  It's trial and error.  Sometimes, I'll start with 5 seconds.  Then depending on what I get and see the result on the LCD screen, I readjust up or down.  When you shoot in this mode, everything that moves will either be blurry or it won't appear in your final image.  You would benefit from using a tripod or setting the camera on a stable spot.  Holding a camera for 5 seconds even with the most stable hands will guarantee a blurry image.

The second option is to use supplemental light, which is what most people do.  That could mean using your flash or bringing in an additional light source (like professional do).

You can also increase your ISO and shoot at an EV of +2 or higher.  But this usually makes the image noticeably grainy.  (I noticed that your camera is set at ISO 3200, which is already tops.  So I don't think you can further increase the ISO.)
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