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Posts Tagged ‘night’

Nevada City's Broad Street at night.

Nevada City's Broad Street at night.

Last year after the fourth of July parade and when the sun went down Nevada City was quiet. A few cars remained parked on the streets, not another person was walking the streets and nary a car drove down the main thoroughfare.

With that knowledge in had I had an idea: I wanted to take a few long exposure night shots of Broad Street to make an HDR image (exposure of 2 minutes to 1/4 of a second). So after dinner I was at the top of the street looking down and I set up my tripod as usual.

Then cars started to come up the street. Well that was fine cars are allowed to use the streets I suppose.

They came up the street very slowly, very carefully and often with their high beams on. Then they slowed down when they neared me and looked very slowly as they drove by. These were attendees of the local fair coming home after the fireworks finished, and they celebrated with several choice beverages based on their driving habits of the evening.

In the end I did not get a photo that satisfied me in terms of exposure and lack of high beams. I shall endeavor to try again tonight in the hopes that many people will be home, have left town or perhaps driving a bit faster then seven miles per hour.

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Goleta Dock

I don't know if I like this single photo or the following one better.

I don't know if I like this single photo or the following one better.

This is an HDR using 3 images (including the one above).

This is an HDR using 3 images (including the one above).

For a while now I have been planning on going out to a nearby beach to take some night photos of the dock. Before heading out I looked up the hours of the beach to find that it closes at sunset, a bit of setback for night photos.

I politely ignored this bit of information and began preparing to head out. While getting ready a flatmate of mine told me of how he got fined for being on a beach after closing, this made me a bit nervous but I got out of him that it was actually a group of ten guys planning to have a bonfire. Compared to that a simple photographer probably would not stand out.

Setting off I parked my bike at the edge of campus and walked down to the beach, heading through the parking lot towards the dock a highway patrol pulled up near me with a search light. He was entirely focused on the parked car next to me and ignored me as I walked onwards.

I did not realize that there was a restaurant/bar at the base of the dock and that the entire area was lit by flood lights. Flood lights really cut into good night photos.

Along with the flood lights the dock itself had a string of neon orange lights down its length. This led to a fortunate contrast between the dock lights (yellow-orange) and the flood lights (white).

In the end I got a few decent photos but not what I was planning.

For what I want I need to find a derelict dock precariously perched in the oncoming waves.

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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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The Lovable Storke Tower

The Lovable Storke Tower

Last night I went to the freshman Ice Cream Social held in Storke Plaza. It was not so much of a social and more of a large crowd accompanied by some sort of music. I went for the ice cream, I stayed for the night photography.

My goal was to get some HDR shots of the crowds with motion blur from the moving people. Except when I tried to process the photos the movement created a lot of large artifacts. I am falling back to just tonemapping a single image, as seen above. The distortion along the top of the image is from the lens hood, it was either that or a large lens flare from the light I was under.

What will make great night photos will be the trees around campus, they have good under lighting and unlike crowds they tend not to move.

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