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Long Exposure settings

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Skylar McMahon View Drop Down
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    Posted: June/18/2014 at 09:33
This is something I have become fascinated with.
 
Especially with the new building I'm wanting to capture an artistic photo at night of the SWFA HQ all lit up with traffic buzzing by.
 
I have looked at several examples of this done on other landscapes, but wanted to really capture a moment of shock and awe.
 
So, I'm not intimidated with trying new things and growing the knowledge of photography. As Red tell me. Photography is a lot like golf, there are many things to do to improve you game, but you will never truly master it. It's a thing that you can also improve on.
 
Let's start this discussion off with Settings:
 
I'm thinking the best start would be to shoot in Shutter Priority.  Then what?


Edited by Skylar McMahon - June/18/2014 at 15:26
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rancid Coolaid Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/18/2014 at 10:24
This was once a huge pain in the pass: take the pciture, note the settings, send it off to be processed; however, with DSLRs now, you can try something, if it fails, try it again immediately with different settings.

Start with various shutter speeds and ISO settings and see what you like.

Another cool option, which I did many years ago, is set up on a clear moonless night, as little traffic as possible, as little stray light as possible, and walk around the building setting off a flash at close range.  The long exposure will catch shadows of you, but only shadows, and the flashes all look simultaneous in the final photo.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote cheaptrick Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/18/2014 at 10:36
So RC....you were creeping around a building on a moonless night.....in the shadows.....????? 

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Bitterroot Bulls Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/18/2014 at 13:06
Skylar go to manual mode, set your aperture to f8, and set your shutter to something really long, like 6 to 10 seconds. Use a remote shutter. Put it on a tripod. If the exposures aren't working out change the shutter to something longer (if the image is dim or the light trails are too short) or shorter (if the exposure is too bright).

A sturdy tripod and remote release are essential.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote RifleDude Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/18/2014 at 13:53
BB beat me to it. You can get away with Aperture priority -- sometimes if it's only marginally dark. Otherwise, your camera won't give you long enough shutter and will try to drive your ISO up too high.

Manual mode is your ticket, if you want to take good night shots. Aperture priority will not let you go long enough on shutter speed.

As BB said, a sturdy tripod and either a remote shutter release or delay timer are essential. Since your shutter speed will be several seconds, any motion in the camera will result in a soft image. Depending on what you're trying to accomplish, sometimes you want the blur for artistic effect, but in most cases, you want to let motion in the scene, not the camera, create any desired bluritude.

When you're in manual mode, you will have to set your aperture, your shutter speed, and your ISO; your camera does nothing for you automatically. I generally set ISO at 100 to minimize noise in the image, though the long exposure will usually introduce some noise. But, it's easy to remove that level of noise in post these days, with the excellent software available. The long shutter will compensate for the low ISO. You can sometimes increase your ISO to something like 400 to reduce shutter time, if desired. It all depends on whether or not you want motion blur in the scene.

As BB said, you can start out by setting aperture to f/8, unless you want shallow DOF for a particular scene where objects are fairly close-up, in which case you can set your aperture wide open. I usually have my aperture set at f/5.6 - f/8 for night scenes.

If you aren't using "back-button" focusing (where you decouple your autofocus function away from your shutter release button), then I think it's a good idea to switch your camera to manual focus only mode and manually focus before taking the shot. The reason is because your camera's autofocus is much less reliable in the dark, and you also don't want it trying to refocus on an object in the scene you didn't intend. Focus on something at or just beyond the hyperfocal distance.

With a DSLR, I like to first focus the lens, then switch to "mirror up" ("Mup" on a Nikon) mode before triggering the shutter. The reason for this is because a DSLR must pivot the mirror (that directs the view up through the viewfinder prism) out of the way on each shot before light can reach the sensor. This introduces a slight amount of vibration, which can rob a tiny amount of sharpness from the image. In mirror up mode. when you press the shutter release the first time, it pivots the mirror out of the way. Then, the second press of the shutter release opens the shutter. Again, you're using a remote shutter release here. BB has a mirrorless camera, so that's not a concern for his setup.

Turn your vibration reduction switch (called "VR" on Nikons, "IS" on Canons, not sure on other brands) off on your lens, if your lens has it. That goes for anytime you're shooting off a tripod.

Your shutter speed will usually be a minimum of about 3 seconds and as long as 20 seconds or more in some cases, depending on what effect you're trying to get and how much exposure you want. You just have to start with some value and check the photo on your screen to see if it's exposed the way you want. If over-exposed, reduce the shutter time. If under-exposed, increase the time.

Another option is to put the camera in "bulb" mode, where the shutter remains open as long as you hold the shutter release button depressed on your remote release. That's sometimes useful for doing "light trail painting" and other creative effects. Most of the time, it's not necessary.

It takes a little practice to get the hang of it.

Ted


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Bitterroot Bulls Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/18/2014 at 16:51
Excellent points as usual Ted!

I also use base ISO, since night shots can be pretty noisy.

Originally posted by RifleDude RifleDude wrote:


BB has a mirrorless camera, so that's not a concern for his setup.


I do have a mirrorless camera, but for something like this I prefer to use the D7000. And I do use Mup for these types of situations, and often for landscapes also.
-Matt
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Skylar McMahon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/24/2014 at 00:11
Thanks Ted.

I will be working on this technique and post my findings.

Matt, I also appreciate your insight.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Skylar McMahon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/02/2014 at 11:39
Originally posted by Rancid Coolaid Rancid Coolaid wrote:

This was once a huge pain in the pass: take the pciture, note the settings, send it off to be processed; however, with DSLRs now, you can try something, if it fails, try it again immediately with different settings.

Start with various shutter speeds and ISO settings and see what you like.

Another cool option, which I did many years ago, is set up on a clear moonless night, as little traffic as possible, as little stray light as possible, and walk around the building setting off a flash at close range.  The long exposure will catch shadows of you, but only shadows, and the flashes all look simultaneous in the final photo.
 
I can only imagine. Thanks for sharing that RC.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Skylar McMahon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/02/2014 at 11:40
Ted and Matt, I'm struggling with seconds.
 
I have looked in the index of the manual and tried to find where to make the adjustments for timing.
 
Would one of you be able to provide some insight?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote RifleDude Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/02/2014 at 12:09
By "timing," you mean shutter speed?

For your camera...
Put the camera in manual mode. Then, just rotate the "main command dial" (the knurled dial facing you on the upper RH side of the back of the camera... NOT the one on the front below the shutter button, which controls aperture). Note the numbers changing on the lower LH side of your viewfinder as you rotate the dial. That's the shutter speed. If the number is increasing and there is no "seconds" symbol (") to the right of the number, that means the shutter speed setting is getting faster (i.e. 500 = 1/500th of a sec., 1000 = 1/1000th of a sec., etc.). Rotate the dial to the right for faster shutter speeds, left to slow down shutter speed. Keep turning to the left until you see the " symbol after the shutter speed number. When you see the " sign after the number, that no longer means 1/X of a second, it means number of seconds. So, 6" means 6 seconds rather than 1/6 second. Experiment with 1 - 8 seconds or so at first. Depending on your focal length and aperture, you may need more, but you'll generally get a good night shot within that range if there is any light at all in the scene.

You do the same thing when in Shutter Priority mode, except that in Shutter Priority, you control the shutter speed and the camera controls aperture. In Manual mode, you control BOTH shutter speed and aperture... and ISO as well, if you have "auto ISO" turned off.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Skylar McMahon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/02/2014 at 13:59
Originally posted by RifleDude RifleDude wrote:

By "timing," you mean shutter speed?
 
Honestly, that's why I'm asking you. From what Matt posted:
Originally posted by Bitterroot Bulls Bitterroot Bulls wrote:

set your aperture to f8 (I have done that), and set your shutter to something really long, like 6 to 10 seconds (here's what I'm struggling to grasp).
 
Now I'm lost. I have looked through viewfinder and in the menu, but I'm not sure if I'm over looking something, but the shutter speed is still fast and I'm not getting images that I want.
 
 
Originally posted by RifleDude RifleDude wrote:



For your camera...
Put the camera in manual mode (I have done that as you suggested). Then, just rotate the "main command dial" (the knurled dial facing you on the upper RH side of the back of the camera... NOT the one on the front below the shutter button, which controls aperture). Note the numbers changing on the lower LH side of your viewfinder as you rotate the dial. That's the shutter speed.
When I do that, my ISO changes to a higher number...After what you and I discussed over last week with the wildlife images, I concluded that high ISO creates noisy images. Correct?
 
 
 
If the number is increasing and there is no "seconds" symbol (") to the right of the number, that means the shutter speed setting is getting faster (i.e. 500 = 1/500th of a sec., 1000 = 1/1000th of a sec., etc.). Rotate the dial to the right for faster shutter speeds, left to slow down shutter speed. Keep turning to the left until you see the " symbol after the shutter speed number. When you see the " sign after the number, that no longer means 1/X of a second, it means number of seconds. So, 6" means 6 seconds rather than 1/6 second. Experiment with 1 - 8 seconds or so at first. Depending on your focal length and aperture, you may need more, but you'll generally get a good night shot within that range if there is any light at all in the scene.
This is were I believe is where I'm getting lost.  I'm going to try and find some images of the view finder and circle the sections that I see to illustrate what I'm talking about.
 
I want to get the understand, because with the 4th coming up, I was thinking that taking some action shots of fireworks may be a neat image to capture.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote RifleDude Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/02/2014 at 14:20
Yes, Matt is referring to shutter speed.

The shutter speed number is the number in the lower LH corner of your viewfinder view.

You are not changing ISO when you rotate the dial, only shutter speed. Shutter speed has nothing to do with ISO. The ISO number is on the lower RH corner of the viewfinder.

While it's true you do use the same dial to change the ISO, you have to hold the "ISO" button in while you rotate it.

This is probably why your ISO was set insanely high that day we were taking wildlife photos; you were confusing shutter speed and ISO and looking at the wrong numbers in your viewfinder for each.

If you're looking through your viewfinder, you will see this display directly underneath the view of what you're framing to shoot...



#6 is the shtter speed number. #7 is your aperture (f) number. #10 is your ISO.

If you want to set your shutter speed to, say, 6 seconds (i.e. your shutter stays open for 6 seconds), turn the main dial to the left until it reads -6"-. Make sure it has the (") after the 6, denoting "seconds." If it doesn't have the seconds symbol after the number 6, your shutter speed is 1/6th of a second, not 6 seconds. Remember what I was telling you about looking for the " symbol. Remember, turning the dial to the left slows down the shutter and turning it to the right speeds it up.

As long as you're either in manual or shutter priority and as long as you're not holding down any other button at the same time, turning the main dial ONLY adjusts shutter speed. To adjust ISO, you have to hold down the "ISO" button at the same time you rotate the main dial.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Skylar McMahon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/02/2014 at 15:53
Ted, I get what your saying, although what I see in my view finder is different.
 
The number next to the Aperture setting, increases and decreases with the rear knurled knob. That tells me that something is a miss with my camera body. There is no next to the aperture setting.
The numbers are represented like the ISO is, I.E. 100, 125, 160, 200, 250, 320, and so on and so forth.
 
One thing I do notice when switching from M to S (Manual to Shutter Priority), is that there are numbers, as you indicated, but the " sign is not there. After adjusting the knurled knob I noticed while depressing the shutter the speed decreased.
 
Why would it not do the same while in M mode?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote RifleDude Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/02/2014 at 16:06
Forgot to mention... If you have "Auto ISO" turned on, turn it off for night shots in manual mode. There are times when Auto ISO is handy, but low light photography isn't one of those times. Even though you're in Manual mode, if you have "Auto ISO" turned on, you still don't have total control over your exposure, as the camera will try to drive the ISO up too high due to the lack of light. You don't want the camera guessing what your ISO should be. You want full control of shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. Keep ISO at 100, and adjust only your shutter speed to get the exposure you want. Remember the stuff I sent you about the "exposure triangle."

As for aperture, f/8 is a good starting point for long exposures with landscapes as mentioned above, so just leave it there until the shutter speed thing becomes second nature. As you gain experience with low light photography, you'll learn when to set larger or smaller apertures and the reasons for doing so.


Ted


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote RifleDude Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/02/2014 at 16:11
Originally posted by Skylar McMahon Skylar McMahon wrote:


 
The number next to the Aperture setting, increases and decreases with the rear knurled knob. That tells me that something is a miss with my camera body. 
The numbers are represented like the ISO is, I.E. 100, 125, 160, 200, 250, 320, and so on and so forth.
 


That's probably because you have Auto ISO turned on. With Auto ISO on, the camera is automatically adjusting the ISO as you turn the shutter speed down, even in Manual mode, so it isn't letting you use a long shutter open time.

Make sure ISO is turned off, then check the screen again. If it still isn't working like I described, then you have something weird set in your menu settings somewhere.
Ted


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Skylar McMahon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/02/2014 at 16:20
That makes more sense now. The camera is on auto ISO.
 
I will turn that off tonight and try again. Will post my findings. 
 
Thanks Ted!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote RifleDude Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/02/2014 at 16:37
Originally posted by Skylar McMahon Skylar McMahon wrote:

There is no next to the aperture setting.


The " symbol pertains to the shutter speed number on the left, not the aperture number.

Ted


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Skylar McMahon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/02/2014 at 17:01
Right, but that is before the aperture indicator of reading from Left to Right, correct.
 
Because I don't recall seeing that.
 
But tonight, I'm going to turn the auto ISO off and then try to shot again and see if the results stay the same or if they change.  Based on everything you supplied, I have high hopes that the images will change and supply me with what I'm looking for.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote RifleDude Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/02/2014 at 17:11
Call me if you need to. It's easier to convey stuff verbally than in written form.

Also keep in mind that I'm recalling stuff by memory of the D7000 and relating it to the layout of my current camera, the D800. There may be some setting hidden somewhere in the D7000 menus that I've forgotten about that's causing a conflict that isn't present on the D800. The general concepts are the same, though.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Skylar McMahon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/02/2014 at 23:29
I did it!
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