Camera hates night photography (HELP)

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Re: Camera hates night photography (HELP)

Unread postby ConrailMan5 » Mon Nov 23, 2015 11:38 am

J T wrote:
ConrailMan5 wrote:On that note, why do you want to take night photogrphs of trains anyway? I am not a huge fan of it. I know some people are but I am not.

You're not a fan of seeing a photo of a train photographed at night?

No it doesn't get my goat. most of the night photgraphs just arent very evocative because most people don't or can't put much effort into it. THere is one night shot that I do like, and If I can find it I will post it here.
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Re: Camera hates night photography (HELP)

Unread postby J T » Mon Nov 23, 2015 5:29 pm

ConrailMan5 wrote:No it doesn't get my goat. most of the night photgraphs just arent very evocative because most people don't or can't put much effort into it. THere is one night shot that I do like, and If I can find it I will post it here.

There are quality night photographs that make the ones that "most people" take irrelevant. But I would like to see the *one* that you do like. :wink:

But anyway, how can anyone not like/appreciate night photos like these?

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Re: Camera hates night photography (HELP)

Unread postby ConrailMan5 » Mon Nov 23, 2015 7:12 pm

Some of those are nice, but the wedgies are just standard 3/4 comin atchas... EXCEPT THEY ARE AT NIGHT :shock:
Night photography takes a lot of effort, so why not try to make the most of the scene? But anyway to each their own.

The shot i am looking for is an old DRGW shot from a backissue of trains. THe photographer utilized some obscene numeber of flashbulbs to illuminate the entire train as it rounded a curve in a canyon... that gets my goat.
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Re: Camera hates night photography (HELP)

Unread postby legostudios34 » Mon Nov 23, 2015 10:08 pm

Shooting at night is not easy, especially with a point and shoot camera. To get decent night shots, you need one of two things - a stopped train or your own source of light (which has to be very bright and last a very short period of time). The easiest option would be to set your camera up on a tripod and find a stopped train, and use either a remote trigger or the self-timer to trigger a long exposure - some trial and error will probably be involved to figure out what settings work best, and you'll want to keep the ISO low to avoid hot pixels creating noise.

The other option, having your own light source, is a lot more expensive, takes a lot longer to set up, and can be pretty difficult to do well, but it's my favorite way of doing things. I have five Nikon SB-24 speedlights, which each have a guide number of about 140. (Guide number - number of feet away to get a good exposure at F1.0 and ISO 100 - but more on this in a minute, and why you'll never be able to shoot something 140 feet away at ISO 100 with a speedlight, at least that's my understanding of it.). Other people use big monolights, like Alien Bees, and get great results with those too (and they put out a lot more light), but they're heavy, expensive, and generally require an external power source, which adds even more to the cost. With the speedlights like the SB24, I can generally light up a train/building between 40 and 60 feet away, although I have done one shot at about 90 feet away before. The reason you'll never get something lit 140 feet away is pretty simple - I only know of one lens that goes to F1.0, it's incredibly expensive, and there's no depth of field at F1.0 so it's next to impossible to focus especially at night. Generally, you'll want to use more moderate apertures, between F4 and F5.6, as this will give you better depth of field and most lenses tend to be sharper when stopped down. This will requre a higher ISO, but most modern DSLRs do fine at ISO 1600 and under.

Problem with off camera flash is that a point and shoot camera won't fire them. They don't have the jacks for the cords or a hot shoe to put remote triggers into, and let's be honest, point and shoot cameras suck at ISO 800 because of their small sensors, and you'll need at least ISO 800 to have the light carry well enough to light up a train. I use 1600 quite a bit and have done one shot at ISO 3200, although it came out pretty soft because of all the noise reduction I had to do. So to go the OCF route will be kind of expensive, but not as much as you might think. You can get fairly recent DSLR like a Nikon D3100 for under $200 now from KEH, and used 18-55 kit lenses are incredibly cheap now too, and surprisingly, decently sharp if you don't mind the plastic build and a few missing features. As far as the lights go, I paid $125 TOTAL for all five from KEH during a sale last year, and I use Yongnuo triggers, which ran me $100 total for all 6 tranceivers I needed to have one for each flash and one on the camera. It's entirely possible to get a decent start into off-camera flash for under $500.

Now that I've gotten light placement down pretty well (it involves a lot of learning through trial and error), the toughest thing for me is focusing. Sometimes I get enough power from a pocket flashlight to focus the camera, sometimes there's ambient light or a large object that's stationary near the rails to focus on, and sometimes, it's just guesses made with trial and error and using the (rather inaccurate) focus distance indicator on my Nikon 16-85mm lens. I still mess it up occasionally.

Anyway, here are a few of my examples, lit with the 5 SB24s, and I'll link to Kent Staubus's Flickr down below also. He's a friend of mine who taught me a lot about what I know about shooting at night. He started out with smaller speedlights but now uses Paul C Buff Monolights and does great work with them.

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And Kent's Flickr -
https://www.flickr.com/photos/96826069@N00/
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Re: Camera hates night photography (HELP)

Unread postby Jochs » Sat Dec 19, 2015 7:21 pm

Another good tip, I've been told, is to use lower ISO and longer exposure time to reduce "noise" in the photograph.
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Re: Camera hates night photography (HELP)

Unread postby MQT1223 » Sun Dec 27, 2015 10:41 pm

So I acquired another tripod for Christmas. I'm hoping that it will help the quality of my photo's.
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Re: Camera hates night photography (HELP)

Unread postby C&O6084 » Wed Jan 06, 2016 3:25 am

I have a small stack of now-deeased digital cameras on my dresser, and one of them is a Coolpix 300.

First, they're simply not that good of a night camera. They have a few "settings", like FIREWORKS that work slightly worse than kind of OK, but nothing that really translates to nighttime RR photography, so the end result isn't too good.

Cameras of ANY type don't work the same as the human eye, and I've neer seen that in any manual. The human eye can register an incredible range of brightness changes located side-by-side, and cameras can't. This is the source of the moon landing hoax nonsense ("How come there are no stars in the sky?")

The biggest components of night photography are persistence and luck. My next-door neighbor when I lived in Llexandria, VA was awarded TWO Pulitzer Prizes in Photography, and one was won with an unknown (at the time) broken camera. This guy worked for National Geographic and had home movies he filmed in 3-D --- INSIDE the Titanic. When I asked him why all 200+ night/motion/supertechnical pics were so perfect, his reply was, "Easy -- I threw out the 5,000 that weren't."

My last round of night pics were raken with a Canon AE-1 with a shrieking shutter-- far too loud to be called a squeak. I have microphone and infrared triggres, all home made, that I calibrated with Microsoft's audio editing software. Highly obsolete -- I can't work at the moment and food's a little more important than a camera -- but this prehistoric setup works well.

I'll try to get my scanner and cloud working and get my Santa Fe pics posted someday.

Now for some practical advice: MAKEZINE.COM (Make Magazine's blog) has/had (?) a series of programming bashes for obsolete digital cameras; some turned cameras into nigt-time ONLY cameras. Worth checking out. Another deferred project of mine.
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Re: Camera hates night photography (HELP)

Unread postby MQT1223 » Sun Jan 10, 2016 12:27 am

C&O6084 wrote:I have a small stack of now-deeased digital cameras on my dresser, and one of them is a Coolpix 300.

First, they're simply not that good of a night camera. They have a few "settings", like FIREWORKS that work slightly worse than kind of OK, but nothing that really translates to nighttime RR photography, so the end result isn't too good.

Cameras of ANY type don't work the same as the human eye, and I've neer seen that in any manual. The human eye can register an incredible range of brightness changes located side-by-side, and cameras can't. This is the source of the moon landing hoax nonsense ("How come there are no stars in the sky?")

The biggest components of night photography are persistence and luck. My next-door neighbor when I lived in Llexandria, VA was awarded TWO Pulitzer Prizes in Photography, and one was won with an unknown (at the time) broken camera. This guy worked for National Geographic and had home movies he filmed in 3-D --- INSIDE the Titanic. When I asked him why all 200+ night/motion/supertechnical pics were so perfect, his reply was, "Easy -- I threw out the 5,000 that weren't."

My last round of night pics were raken with a Canon AE-1 with a shrieking shutter-- far too loud to be called a squeak. I have microphone and infrared triggres, all home made, that I calibrated with Microsoft's audio editing software. Highly obsolete -- I can't work at the moment and food's a little more important than a camera -- but this prehistoric setup works well.

I'll try to get my scanner and cloud working and get my Santa Fe pics posted someday.

Now for some practical advice: MAKEZINE.COM (Make Magazine's blog) has/had (?) a series of programming bashes for obsolete digital cameras; some turned cameras into nigt-time ONLY cameras. Worth checking out. Another deferred project of mine.


I was tinkering with the camera on vacation and noticed it had a "night photography" setting, so I will try that out at some point.
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Re: Camera hates night photography (HELP)

Unread postby C&O6084 » Tue Jan 26, 2016 12:22 am

Any Luck?
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Re: Camera hates night photography (HELP)

Unread postby MQT1223 » Wed Jan 27, 2016 6:47 pm

C&O6084 wrote:Any Luck?


Haven't had a chance to try it yet. I'll keep you posted.
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Re: Camera hates night photography (HELP)

Unread postby MQT1223 » Sun Apr 24, 2016 4:11 pm

So I turned off my auto focus last night and I'm still having problems. I think it's due to my exposure time. At night it takes like a full second for the camera to capture the photo.
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Re: Camera hates night photography (HELP)

Unread postby SD80MAC » Sun Apr 24, 2016 6:16 pm

MQT1223 wrote:So I turned off my auto focus last night and I'm still having problems. I think it's due to my exposure time. At night it takes like a full second for the camera to capture the photo.

Are you taking one second exposures?
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Re: Camera hates night photography (HELP)

Unread postby MQT1223 » Sun Apr 24, 2016 11:16 pm

SD80MAC wrote:
MQT1223 wrote:So I turned off my auto focus last night and I'm still having problems. I think it's due to my exposure time. At night it takes like a full second for the camera to capture the photo.

Are you taking one second exposures?

I'm not sure. It takes roughly a second for the camera to capture the image. Saturnalia was there, I showed him my problem too. Even moving at slow speeds the train would get all streaky on the final shot.
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Re: Camera hates night photography (HELP)

Unread postby LSRC » Mon Apr 25, 2016 2:18 am

MQT1223 wrote:
SD80MAC wrote:
MQT1223 wrote:So I turned off my auto focus last night and I'm still having problems. I think it's due to my exposure time. At night it takes like a full second for the camera to capture the photo.

Are you taking one second exposures?

I'm not sure. It takes roughly a second for the camera to capture the image. Saturnalia was there, I showed him my problem too. Even moving at slow speeds the train would get all streaky on the final shot.


Please read the explanation that I posted earlier in the thread. It may help you with your problem.
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Re: Camera hates night photography (HELP)

Unread postby J T » Sun May 01, 2016 8:59 pm

MQT1223 wrote:
SD80MAC wrote:Are you taking one second exposures?

I'm not sure.

So in other words, you haven't read the manual yet.
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