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DPChallenge Forums >> Photography Discussion >> Night Time Photography
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10/14/2008 07:08:04 PM · #1
Does anyone know of any sites that can give some tips and tricks on night time photography? I went out this weekend in the middle of the night, the moon was nice and bright, to get some shots at a lake. I had a really hard time trying to get my shots in focus, so that is one of the main things I am looking for help on. Auto focus doesn't work when it's that dark, and I just couldn't tell when my shots were sharp using manual focus. Any tips?
10/14/2008 07:15:33 PM · #2
This tutorial is really helpful.
//www.dpchallenge.com/tutorial.php?TUTORIAL_ID=49

One additional tip to get focus at night when there are no bright light sources is to use a high powered spotlight (1 million + candlepower). Light up something in the scene, auto focus then turn off the auto focus and shoot away.
10/14/2008 07:15:59 PM · #3
First of all, i assume your are using a tri-pod. (If not...thats the first thing to take care of.)
A trick I use I learned doing video. Find something bright/easy to define, then zoom in all the way. Focus it up using the manual focus ring, then zoom back wide.
10/14/2008 07:22:07 PM · #4
Since you are likely shooting landscape type shots, you can set the camera on manual focus, adjust to infinity and shoot from there.

10/14/2008 07:34:36 PM · #5
The easiest way to focus is to crank up the ISO and shoot test shots, tweaking focus until you get it where you want it. The test shots will also serve to tell you where you need to go to for exposure.
Keep in mind that focusing at infinity doesn't mean moving the focus ring all the way to the end of travel. You'll actually be "beyond" infinity focus at that point. You need to test and tweak.
10/14/2008 10:30:26 PM · #6
Originally posted by superclary:

A trick I use I learned doing video. Find something bright/easy to define, then zoom in all the way. Focus it up using the manual focus ring, then zoom back wide.


I'm assuming that you can also use auto focus at this point as well? Is the infinity mark zoomed in the same as zoomed out? I'm curious because I've done some night photography and always had trouble with getting stuff sharp (basically I just learned by trial and error, and I know I could be doing even better).
10/14/2008 10:40:55 PM · #7
Originally posted by Dudski:

Originally posted by superclary:

A trick I use I learned doing video. Find something bright/easy to define, then zoom in all the way. Focus it up using the manual focus ring, then zoom back wide.


I'm assuming that you can also use auto focus at this point as well? Is the infinity mark zoomed in the same as zoomed out? I'm curious because I've done some night photography and always had trouble with getting stuff sharp (basically I just learned by trial and error, and I know I could be doing even better).


Depends on the lens... better lenses are often "parfocal" which means the focus distance remains the same during zooming. Some lenses are not parfocal.
Best practice is to focus at the zoom setting you will be using. And yes, using a bright point light source is a good idea. AF may work, but manual focus checked by zooming the display is the surest bet.
10/14/2008 10:41:03 PM · #8
Originally posted by kirbic:

The easiest way to focus is to crank up the ISO and shoot test shots, tweaking focus until you get it where you want it. The test shots will also serve to tell you where you need to go to for exposure.
Keep in mind that focusing at infinity doesn't mean moving the focus ring all the way to the end of travel. You'll actually be "beyond" infinity focus at that point. You need to test and tweak.


Also, I think, temperature can affect exactly where that point is. At least I've heard that. It could be wrong.
10/14/2008 11:21:24 PM · #9
Almost every lens makes softer looking photos when you are shooting wide open aperture too, which you may be seeing in the results. If you are shooting stopped down to get the aperture "stars", you may be getting some softness in focus from doing that too. Lenses tend to work best in the mid apertures.

At night, there is still heat rising from the ground, which can cause some blur in the longer exposures that are needed to get the shots.

The moon moves pretty fast too, and you can see that in exposures over 1/2 sec or so, in the sharpness of the moon's features.
10/27/2008 11:46:48 PM · #10
Hi
I was taught with film in this area, so iso 800 up to 1600 set focus to infinity then slightly back, if your moving about in the dark tape your settings as not to knock them.
Then work out how long your exposures need to be, moon light 30 seconds, with no moon then use ambient light, if you dont have that, take one at 60 secs one at 2mins one at 3 mins etc.
Once you get the idea of it, you think you were shooting these pictures in day light, good luck and enjoy **forgot to say you need your lens set on manual focus, tripod and remote** Also practice in your back garden on your home, get some one to walk in the exposure you get a ghost like figure in the pic...Try different exposure times and write down if the moon was full/half ect and you will begin to understand this process

Message edited by author 2008-10-27 23:52:05.
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