Night-time long exposure shooting.

Discussion in 'Australia 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

    kosh Guest

    No, if it moes at a slower speed than most other cars it will be relatively
    more solid in the shot. The only action I could suggest using the camera
    re-position would be to place the camera in a position that will show the
    most movement in the car... ie at a 90 degree angle.
    Night photography is always challenging... with a certain degree of trail
    and error.
    remember point sources of light and signage is always going to have a
    tendnancy to overexpose in these shots.... the trick is picking the
    acceptable amount.
    Check you scene for what you would like to see as a midtone. I often pick an
    area that light is hitting directly from a main light source (ie stree
    lights on a mid-tone colour) This way the area you percieve as shadow will
    tend to be underexposed and the light source will still appear quite bright.
    this is light diffrfacting around your aperture blades in your lens. You
    will find this effect varies with various apertures.... I believe f22 etc
    will give a greater effect.
    I have also been led to believe the number of blades effects the number of
    points in your starburst effect.

    kosh, Jul 16, 2004
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  3. Rural QLD CC

    me Guest

    You have to close the diaphragm down so as the cars are not recorded on
    the "film" - obviously your shutter speed will remain the same.

    Tail lights are fairly bright as any light point source which records
    just about daylight EV.

    me, Jul 16, 2004
  4. Rural QLD CC

    Miro Guest

    Put them online and when you can send a link so we can see what you are
    talking about. Its kind of imaginary till then.
    Miro, Jul 16, 2004
  5. Rural QLD CC

    Justin Thyme Guest

    Try a smaller aperture. By letting less light in it is less likely to
    register the slowed down car.
    I don't use meter for shots like this. Anything the meter says is unlikely
    to be accurate anyway. The trick is to bracket. You might try 30sec at
    F5.6, F8, F11 & F16, then repeat at 15sec or 60sec. The beauty of digital is
    it doesn't cost anything to try and you have instant results. Bracketing
    that much with film is a pain because you can't see what worked until you
    get it processed. I keep notes of the exposure settings I use so that I can
    then check off which ones I liked and which ones I didn't like. Next time
    then I'll have a fair guide to go by.
    I've noticed this sort of thing happening too - and noticed that the number
    of radiant lines in the starburst matches the number of vanes in the
    aperture of my lens. If I use a lens with 8 vanes, I get 8 radiant lines.
    Lens with 6 vanes, 6 lines etc. The only way I can think of to remove it
    (and I haven't tried this) would be to expose with the aperture fully open
    and use ND filters to drop the light back enough to allow the type of
    exposures I want. eg, I found with 400ISO film, 30sec @ F5.6 to give pretty
    good results. The main lens I use is an F2 lens so I need to drop by 3 stops
    to get it back to being equivalent to F5.6. This would mean using an ND4 and
    ND2 filter together. One day when the nights aren't as cold I may try using
    this technique to see if the radiant lines disappear. OTOH I may not, cos I
    think the effect looks good.
    Justin Thyme, Jul 16, 2004
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