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Long Exposure settings

Printed From: OpticsTalk by SWFA, Inc.
Category: Photography
Forum Name: Cameras, Equipment and Settings
Forum Description: What it Takes to Make the Shot
URL: http://www.opticstalk.com/forum_posts.asp?TID=40072
Printed Date: November/30/2021 at 02:22
Software Version: Web Wiz Forums 12.01 - http://www.webwizforums.com


Topic: Long Exposure settings
Posted By: Skylar McMahon
Subject: Long Exposure settings
Date 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?



Replies:
Posted By: Rancid Coolaid
Date 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.


-------------
Freedom is something you take.
Respect is something you earn.
Equality is something you whine about not being given.


Posted By: cheaptrick
Date Posted: June/18/2014 at 10:36
So RC....you were creeping around a building on a moonless night.....in the shadows.....????? 



-------------
If at first you don't secede...try..try again.


Posted By: Bitterroot Bulls
Date 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.

-------------
-Matt


Posted By: RifleDude
Date 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


Money can't buy happiness... but it's much more comfortable to cry in a Porsche than on a bicycle.


Posted By: Bitterroot Bulls
Date 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


Posted By: Skylar McMahon
Date 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.


Posted By: Skylar McMahon
Date 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.


Posted By: Skylar McMahon
Date 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?


Posted By: RifleDude
Date 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.


-------------
Ted


Money can't buy happiness... but it's much more comfortable to cry in a Porsche than on a bicycle.


Posted By: Skylar McMahon
Date 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.


Posted By: RifleDude
Date 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.


-------------
Ted


Money can't buy happiness... but it's much more comfortable to cry in a Porsche than on a bicycle.


Posted By: Skylar McMahon
Date 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?


Posted By: RifleDude
Date 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


Money can't buy happiness... but it's much more comfortable to cry in a Porsche than on a bicycle.


Posted By: RifleDude
Date 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


Money can't buy happiness... but it's much more comfortable to cry in a Porsche than on a bicycle.


Posted By: Skylar McMahon
Date 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!


Posted By: RifleDude
Date 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


Money can't buy happiness... but it's much more comfortable to cry in a Porsche than on a bicycle.


Posted By: Skylar McMahon
Date 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.


Posted By: RifleDude
Date 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.


-------------
Ted


Money can't buy happiness... but it's much more comfortable to cry in a Porsche than on a bicycle.


Posted By: Skylar McMahon
Date Posted: July/02/2014 at 23:29
I did it!


Posted By: Skylar McMahon
Date Posted: July/03/2014 at 00:16
Here they are. The last one is my favorite. Was able to capture the moon as it was making its descent.













Posted By: RifleDude
Date Posted: July/03/2014 at 07:04
Good deal! So, was the "auto ISO on" the culprit as suspected?

-------------
Ted


Money can't buy happiness... but it's much more comfortable to cry in a Porsche than on a bicycle.


Posted By: Skylar McMahon
Date Posted: July/03/2014 at 09:35
It was.
 
I spent a while last night dissecting every setting on the body, but was able to locate where Auto ISO was and change the settings.
 
That last photo turned out very well.


Posted By: RifleDude
Date Posted: July/03/2014 at 09:44
That's a good start on light trails. I would lengthen the shutter time a little to get more prominent trails. You can always fine tune the exposure ("brightness") in post.


-------------
Ted


Money can't buy happiness... but it's much more comfortable to cry in a Porsche than on a bicycle.


Posted By: Skylar McMahon
Date Posted: July/03/2014 at 09:45
I was excited, I was able to pull it off man. I wouldn't have been able to complete this task without your help Ted. Thank you!


Posted By: Bitterroot Bulls
Date Posted: July/03/2014 at 10:21
Lookin' good, Skylar.

-------------
-Matt


Posted By: Skylar McMahon
Date Posted: July/03/2014 at 10:22
Thanks Matt


Posted By: Bitterroot Bulls
Date Posted: July/03/2014 at 10:30
Skylar,

Have you got the DX 35 1.8G for your D7000?

If not, you should definitely pick one up.  It is an inexpensive but nice lens.  Super sharp, big aperture for those shallow DOF effects and fast shutter speeds in low light.


-------------
-Matt


Posted By: Skylar McMahon
Date Posted: July/03/2014 at 10:39
No, but my next lens is ______, sorry, I cannot immediately recall. It's one of Ted's favs. I think it is Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED IF AF-S DX VR [Vibration Reduction] Nikkor Zoom Lens but I'm not able to get access to my wishlist right now.


Posted By: Stephanie
Date Posted: July/03/2014 at 10:55
Excellent Sweet!

-------------
"Always give people more than what they expect to get!"       



Stephanie.Price@SWFA.com   Customer Service/Sales


Posted By: RifleDude
Date Posted: July/03/2014 at 11:07
Originally posted by Skylar McMahon Skylar McMahon wrote:

No, but my next lens is ______, sorry, I cannot immediately recall. It's one of Ted's favs. I think it is Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED IF AF-S DX VR [Vibration Reduction] Nikkor Zoom Lens but I'm not able to get access to my wishlist right now.


No, I have an FX (full frame) camera, so DX (APS-C or "crop" sensor camera) lenses don't work on my camera. The lens you used was the 70-200 f/4 VRII FX. You can still use FX lenses on your DX (1.5 crop) camera; you just don't get the full FOV angle at any focal length the lens is capable of. This isn't a problem, and in fact in some circumstances where you need extra effective "reach," it's actually an advantage. Zoomed to 200mm, you have 300mm "effective" focal length on your camera, which is handy for "closer in" wildlife photography. It's not the best choice to use for the type of photography we're discussing here, though.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the 35 / 1.8 DX Matt recommended is a good fast lens to have as well, for not much money (I believe it's around $200). It works well for "all around" standard photography, low light, action photography where you don't need much zoom, and for isolating a subject from the background (nice "bokeh" shots).


-------------
Ted


Money can't buy happiness... but it's much more comfortable to cry in a Porsche than on a bicycle.


Posted By: Bitterroot Bulls
Date Posted: July/03/2014 at 11:15
I have the 55-200 DX, and while it is pretty good for an inexpensive lens and provides plenty of reach, I would still recommend getting the 35 1.8.

I think the 70-200 f4 VR will be my next lens.  The VR on that thing is flat out amazing.  It is steadycam-like with video!


-------------
-Matt


Posted By: Skylar McMahon
Date Posted: July/03/2014 at 11:17
Interesting....I will have to look into that one as well.
 
The next lens I plan to purchase, is in fact the one that you allowed me to use while driving back from the trip. Already started saving towards that one.
 
But I will look into the one that Matt suggested. Bokeh intrigue me as well. But I lean more towards capturing wildlife images, because like many of us, that is where a lot of my time is spent.


Posted By: RifleDude
Date Posted: July/03/2014 at 11:42
Originally posted by Bitterroot Bulls Bitterroot Bulls wrote:

I think the 70-200 f4 VR will be my next lens.  The VR on that thing is flat out amazing.  It is steadycam-like with video!


Yep, that's it. It has Nikon's latest generation VR technology, and it's flat out amazing how low you can go on shutter speed and still get a sharp hand-held image! It's probably the most forgiving lens I've ever used from the standpoint of not only VR effectiveness, but also... for whatever reason, I seem to nail the focus with it more consistently than any other lens I have. And, when I do nail the focus, it's tack sharp. In fact, believe it or not, I would even buy it over the f/2.8 version, even if they were priced the same, due to the much lower weight and length. I seldom ever wish I had the extra stop of light, simply because with today's excellent sensors, you can get away with bumping ISO up much higher than ever before to compensate for the smaller max aperture. I'm seldom ever shooting wide open anyway for how I use this lens.

It's become my favorite Nikon zoom lens. I highly recommend it!


-------------
Ted


Money can't buy happiness... but it's much more comfortable to cry in a Porsche than on a bicycle.


Posted By: RifleDude
Date Posted: July/03/2014 at 11:44
Originally posted by Skylar McMahon Skylar McMahon wrote:

Interesting....I will have to look into that one as well.
 
The next lens I plan to purchase, is in fact the one that you allowed me to use while driving back from the trip.
 


Matt is referring to the same lens I have that you used on your last visit... the 70-200 f/4 FX.



-------------
Ted


Money can't buy happiness... but it's much more comfortable to cry in a Porsche than on a bicycle.


Posted By: Skylar McMahon
Date Posted: July/03/2014 at 11:55
Matt he's a picture I took with that very lens.
 


Posted By: Skylar McMahon
Date Posted: July/03/2014 at 11:55
Those guys were about 80 yards away?


Posted By: Bitterroot Bulls
Date Posted: July/03/2014 at 13:15
Yeah, the 70-200 f4 is great for wildlife, but also portraits, due to perspective compression.  Saving my pennies for that lens.

-------------
-Matt


Posted By: Skylar McMahon
Date Posted: July/03/2014 at 13:17
You and me both.
 
I started saving toward it last week.


Posted By: Bitterroot Bulls
Date Posted: July/13/2014 at 15:58
Deadwood, SD



-------------
-Matt


Posted By: RifleDude
Date Posted: July/13/2014 at 17:17
Really cool shot, Matt!


-------------
Ted


Money can't buy happiness... but it's much more comfortable to cry in a Porsche than on a bicycle.


Posted By: Bitterroot Bulls
Date Posted: July/13/2014 at 17:35
Thanks Ted.

The ghosts are from shooting through a hotel window, not the lens.

The 35 1.8G DX has amazing sharpness.  You can read the street signs in the original file.


-------------
-Matt


Posted By: RifleDude
Date Posted: July/13/2014 at 21:04
Thunbs Up

-------------
Ted


Money can't buy happiness... but it's much more comfortable to cry in a Porsche than on a bicycle.


Posted By: Skylar McMahon
Date Posted: July/14/2014 at 08:42
Great photo Matt.
 
Excellent sharpness, great contrast. Just a very cool photo. 


Posted By: sucker76
Date Posted: August/06/2015 at 03:58
This is an old thread but it's time to get you're long shutter settings tuned up.  The Perseid meteor shower is happening.  It will climax on about the 13th.  Look to the NE.  The best chance for seeing them is between midnight and dawn.



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