Night-time long exposure shooting

Discussion in 'Photography' started by Rural QLD CC, Jul 16, 2004.

  1. Rural QLD CC

    Rural QLD CC Guest

    I took my D70 out last night to try my hand at some of the
    good old stereotypical 'long exposure car lights' shots. I got some
    excellent results (can't publish them yet....still waiting for my home
    internet connection to be working again), but I have a couple of questions.

    Firstly, can I do anything (other than relocating the camera) to avoid the
    'ghosted' car effect? In a couple of my shots, I got the ghost image of a
    car as it slowed more than the others at the roundabout I was using as a

    Secondly, in metering for these shots, what's the best area to be looking
    at? I tried a few different areas, but I wasn't able to get all the areas
    of my shot suitable exposed. For eg, I ended up with the neon/illuminated
    signs too bright, but the landscape itself suitably exposed, or the
    neon/illuminated signs exposed properly, but the landscape too dark. Am I
    asking the impossible here while using long exposure times (between 8sec and

    Thirdly, in my longest exposures, the street lights wind up with a cool
    looking 'starburst' effect. While this looks great and is something I'll
    definitely want to have in other shots, I don't necessarily want that in
    these particular shots. How do I avoid that, if possible?


    Rural QLD CC, Jul 16, 2004
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  2. Rural QLD CC

    Canongirly Guest

    Neutral density filter...brings the highs(bright areas) and lows(dark areas)
    into roughly equal proportion exposure wise
    Use a larger f stop. The starburst effect you're getting is bcaused by the
    iris inside the lens, the wider (larger) f stop the less the effect.
    Canongirly, Jul 16, 2004
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  3. Rural QLD CC

    D.R. Guest

    Oh, I thought the neutral density filter just darkens by x number of stops
    allowing longer shutter speeds. Does it really reduce contrast as you describe?
    D.R., Jul 16, 2004
  4. Rural QLD CC

    Canongirly Guest

    Yes it's what they are for...hence neutral density.
    Canongirly, Jul 16, 2004
  5. Looks like I had better buy some new ND filters, since mine don't seem to
    behave the same as yours :)

    ND filters reduce the amount of light entering the lens. Density and
    contrast are different things. ND filters reduce the density, and are
    neutral in their colouration. That's my understanding of things, but I
    would be interested to hear if I have got it wrong.

    Dennis Bradley, Jul 16, 2004
  6. Rural QLD CC

    Jimmy Smith Guest

    What is the best "general" neutral density filter to have in the bag. If
    you are only going to own one, which one should it be? It seems like there
    are different grades of density. Also, I assume you are not talking about
    the graduated types.

    Jimmy Smith, Jul 16, 2004
  7. Rural QLD CC

    dadiOH Guest

    Give up photography.


    dadiOH's dandies v3.0...
    ....a help file of info about MP3s, recording from
    LP/cassette and tips & tricks on this and that.
    Get it at
    dadiOH, Jul 16, 2004
  8. Rural QLD CC

    Steven Wandy Guest

    That's my understanding of things, but I
    Nope, your explaination is the correct one. It reduces the entire image by X
    number of stops depending on the filter used.
    Steven Wandy, Jul 16, 2004
  9. Rural QLD CC

    Slingblade Guest

    I'd go for one that reduces light transmission by 2 fstops.
    I believe if I recall that would be a ND 0.6 or a ND-4x.
    I may have the designations wrong...but anyway one that reduces by 2
    Slingblade, Jul 17, 2004
  10. Rural QLD CC

    Canongirly Guest

    Canongirly, Jul 17, 2004
  11. No, it hasn't reduced the contrast, it has just darkened the image so that
    you now have no pure white, and the shadows are underexposed.
    Reducing the contrast would be darkening the highlights, and at the same
    time lightening the shadows

    Dennis Bradley, Jul 17, 2004
  12. Rural QLD CC

    dadiOH Guest

    OK. It hasn't reduced the contrast.

    You would get *exactly* the same photo by reducing exposure the same amount
    either via shutter speed or aperture.

    To be fair, I guess you could say that one can reduce contrast by reducing
    exposure inasmuch as the least density one can have when normally exposed is
    zero. If one decreases exposure the zero areas won't lose but the middle
    and high tones have less density. Ergo, contrast has been reduced relative
    to low density areas...but it is due to underexposure, not a ND filter. ND
    filters have exactly the same effect as reducing exposure if one doesn't
    compensate for them. Their purpose is to allow one to use otherwise
    unavailable apertures or shutter speeds. Nothing else.


    dadiOH's dandies v3.0...
    ....a help file of info about MP3s, recording from
    LP/cassette and tips & tricks on this and that.
    Get it at
    dadiOH, Jul 17, 2004
  13. Rural QLD CC

    dadiOH Guest

    If you truly want to reduce contrast, one way of doing it is by flashing the
    negative...double exposing it slightly with one exposure being of a plain,
    neutral colored card (out of focus is best) and the other of the image you

    How much you flash depends on how much contrast reduction you want. Best
    way is to determine it empirically (via tests).


    dadiOH's dandies v3.0...
    ....a help file of info about MP3s, recording from
    LP/cassette and tips & tricks on this and that.
    Get it at
    dadiOH, Jul 17, 2004
  14. Rural QLD CC

    C J Campbell Guest

    A neutral density does not really reduce contrast, but you can easily reduce
    contrast later on with any good picture editor.
    C J Campbell, Jul 17, 2004
  15. Rural QLD CC

    C J Campbell Guest

    The only thing I can think is to use a shorter exposure.
    Your best bet for a single exposure is to use a neutral density gray card.
    If you are willing to make multiple exposures of a single subject then you
    can bracket your exposures -- one for shadows, one for midtones, and one for
    highlights. Then you can blend the three shots in your digital editor to
    make one picture. This might also be used to reduce your ghost car effect. I
    think you could also remove your starbursts this way.
    C J Campbell, Jul 17, 2004
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