Archive for February 16th, 2009

Beach at Night



Manzanita Beach at night.

Manzanita Beach at night.


I find long exposure photography to be a fun (if sometimes cold) way to see an area with fresh eyes. Last week I went out to the campus lagoon and beach to get some night shots with a clear sky and a full moon illuminating the ground.

At the beach I found it to be high tide with seaweed scattered haphazardly across the sand. An upturned shopping cart adorned with kelp sat forlornly next to the lagoon outflow. I really liked the cart, so I used it as the focus for my beach shots.

Some aspects of night photography in the winter I did not expect were the cold and constant loss of night vision. Because of the cold I wore gloves, this made it difficult to adjust anything on my camera, especially lens caps. Night vision is continually thrown out of whack when the LCD screen lights up bright white amid the darkness. I could have turned the screen off but I did need to frequent the screen as light was too low to focus properly.

To help focusing, especially autofocus, I found a flash light to illuminate an object in the middle distance to be handy for the camera’s autofocus. A strong flashlight would be ideal as mine only worked up to about ten feet or so.

For exposures I found a minute to work well in the lighting, my camera only goes up to 30 seconds beyond that is bulb. A timer on my cell phone let me get to sixty seconds within a quarter of a second. With such long exposures I could not use a white balance filter since there would be no light. In the end I used photoshops Camera RAW to fix it.

Finally I used photoshop and iPhoto both to edit the photos. iPhoto was a bit faster and easier to use but it could not give the same in depth color control as photoshop. For the above photo I pulled up the blues and purples of the photo to help the sky look a bit more vibrant. I tried to increase the black level, which really helped the crispness but destroyed the dark trees. They become indistinct blobs of foliage. 

Next I want to find a good place to do long exposure shots of either people on the bike paths at night or cars on a busy road.

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