Newbie needs tips on taking good nightshots

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by mochaokra, Aug 21, 2006.

  1. mochaokra

    mochaokra Guest

    I have a basic 3 mp digicam (SD200 or IXUS 30). When I take pictures
    of the skyline at night, it's blurry and sometimes it has fuzzy dots.
    After reading the manual, I understand I have 3 choices in fixing my
    problem. Turn on the 'long shutter' option, but the manual states that
    it would add noise to the picture. The next option is the ISO speed.
    I understand that the higher the ISO speed, the more image noise it
    creates. The third option is 'exposure compensation', I'm not sure if
    this applies.

    I think I would need a tripod for night shots don't I? Then turn on
    the 'long shutter' mode then move the ISO speed to the slowest speed as
    possible. Is this all I could do for now? Thanks for the help.
     
    mochaokra, Aug 21, 2006
    #1
    1. Advertisements

  2. mochaokra

    bugbear Guest

    You NEED a tripod.

    All the options you mention are good.

    One final one is to take multiple photos
    and "stack" them.

    You'll need to google on that.
    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q="image+stacking"&btnG=Google+Search

    BugBear
     
    bugbear, Aug 21, 2006
    #2
    1. Advertisements

  3. wrote:
    : I have a basic 3 mp digicam (SD200 or IXUS 30). When I take pictures
    : of the skyline at night, it's blurry and sometimes it has fuzzy dots.
    : After reading the manual, I understand I have 3 choices in fixing my
    : problem. Turn on the 'long shutter' option, but the manual states that
    : it would add noise to the picture. The next option is the ISO speed.
    : I understand that the higher the ISO speed, the more image noise it
    : creates. The third option is 'exposure compensation', I'm not sure if
    : this applies.

    : I think I would need a tripod for night shots don't I? Then turn on
    : the 'long shutter' mode then move the ISO speed to the slowest speed as
    : possible. Is this all I could do for now? Thanks for the help.

    You are on the right track. First you do need a tripod as it would be very
    rare that a night scenery (not in a well lit room) shot would be hand
    holdable. Depending on the camera (I'm not experienced with your
    particular camera) you will probably have to both increase the ISO and use
    a (very) slow shutter speed. But one more problem that you didn't cover,
    focus. Your description mentions fuzzy dots. This makes me think that it
    was dark enough that the auto focus could not find anything to focus on.
    There are a few suggestions. You might try to find something like a
    lighted building or a streetlight that is lit bright enough that a line
    can be seen by the camera. Most auto focuses use an edge to focus on and
    so if you center an edge or brightly lit line in the image it will focus
    on that. Then continue to hold the half press and re-aim the camera to
    compose the image. Or if your camera has manual focus try setting the
    camera to infinity. Most lenses are at infinity beyond 12 to 20' and
    scenery shots are generally well beyond that.

    Unfortunately most P&S type cameras are very poor at night shots. This is
    why many of us who like to occasionally "play in the dark" tend towards
    DSLRs. The more manual control you have the more options. For example an
    SLR set to bulb, set to the smallest f-stop (most open), manually focused,
    on a solid tripod, with a shutter speed of 30 or 40 seconds can capture
    some images that are just not possible in any other way.

    Randy

    ==========
    Randy Berbaum
    Champaign, IL
     
    Randy Berbaum, Aug 21, 2006
    #3
  4. mochaokra

    ASAAR Guest

    Do you want to find out if you need to get a tripod? Try taking
    the same shot during dawn or dusk, with the same long shutter speed
    that you needed for the night shots. This might require you to
    select the lowest ISO and the camera's smallest aperture. Take a
    couple of shots this way. Then take another couple with the same
    settings, but using the self-timer and with the camera propped on a
    bean bag or something similar to keep it steady. If the handheld
    shots are blurrier (they should be) then you need to use a tripod.

    If you think that you'll often take night shots, keep in mind when
    looking for your next camera that some have a special "dark frame
    subtraction" feature that can greatly improve night shots that use
    long exposures.
     
    ASAAR, Aug 21, 2006
    #4
  5. mochaokra

    Jim Townsend Guest

    You definitely need a tripod. It's next to impossible to hand hold
    a camera and get non-blurry shots at under 1/60 second.

    If your camera can provide exposure times of up to 8 seconds, you
    shouldn't need set the ISO high. (Not unless you want to minimize
    blur from moving subjects... cars pedestrians etc). Your lowest
    ISO setting will minimize noise which tends to get a bit worse during
    long exposures.

    With no tripod, in a pinch, you can place the camera on a solid surface
    such as a fence, your vehicle or a balcony railing. Getting it out of
    your hands will prevent blur from camera shake.

    If you don't have a remote camera release, then turn the camera self
    timer on so you won't be pressing on the shutter button when the shot
    is taken. Unless you have an extremely heavy duty tripod, pressing on
    the shutter button could create enough movement to cause blur. Most
    tripods have a little bit of 'give'.

    Finally, don't use the flash. If you try night shots in your camera's
    full automatic modes, the flash will fire at night. Set your camera in
    a mode where the flash doesn't go off in low light.
     
    Jim Townsend, Aug 21, 2006
    #5
  6. mochaokra

    bugbear Guest

    Agreed. And yet... someone I know took this:

    http://mikebeauchamp.com/dump/windmill1comp copy.jpg

    Canon A510, tripod, 100 stacked images...

    http://mikebeauchamp.com/images/show.php?set=chicago-2006&pic=20

    BugBear
     
    bugbear, Aug 21, 2006
    #6
  7. mochaokra

    Philippe Guest

    Philippe, Aug 21, 2006
    #7
  8. : Randy Berbaum wrote:
    : >
    : > Unfortunately most P&S type cameras are very poor at night shots. This is
    : > why many of us who like to occasionally "play in the dark" tend towards
    : > DSLRs. The more manual control you have the more options. For example an
    : > SLR set to bulb, set to the smallest f-stop (most open), manually focused,
    : > on a solid tripod, with a shutter speed of 30 or 40 seconds can capture
    : > some images that are just not possible in any other way.

    : Agreed. And yet... someone I know took this:

    : http://mikebeauchamp.com/dump/windmill1comp copy.jpg

    : Canon A510, tripod, 100 stacked images...

    : http://mikebeauchamp.com/images/show.php?set=chicago-2006&pic=20

    True. Skill with what you have (both camera equipment and post processing)
    can make up for many less than ideal situations. But for the newby we may
    assume that such skill may not have yet been aquired. :)

    Skill and knowledge (as well as persistance) can do wonders. for example I
    just saw a program on TV that talked about a photographer in a Civil War
    prison camp who built his own camera from a wooden box, a tin can, and a
    spyglass lens. And then using purloined chemicals from the hospital, made
    his own photographic plates and developer. He then ran a photo studio in
    an attic of the barracks, all without any of the guards knowing about it.
    This is a prime example of creative folks with knowledge will find a way
    to make something work, even under less than ideal circumstances.

    I have seen images taken with cheap cameras by young children that have a
    high "wow" factor. And I have seen LOTS of images taken with the most
    expensive equipment available, by very experienced adults, that could best
    be used to line the bottom of a birdcage. Heck I would classify many of
    MY images in this category. I'm just smart enough to not show them to
    anyone. :) That's one of the plusses of digital to me. I feel free to
    explore and try "questionable" shots. If it works, great. And if it
    doesn't, I learned something about what doesn't work, or maybe what might
    still work with a bit more experimenting. :)

    Randy

    ==========
    Randy Berbaum
    Champaign, IL
     
    Randy Berbaum, Aug 24, 2006
    #8
    1. Advertisements

Ask a Question

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments (here). After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.