Just before the Holidays set in and the cold weather, I set out to capture some fun images for once. I found a Carnival setup in Plano on the parking lot of Collin Creek Mall. This was a great opportunity to practice on some Long Exposure Nighttime Photography. My goal was to capture images to use for some of my photography classes. Here are just a few examples…
Here are some of the simple techniques use to capture these types of images. First, it requires a very sturdy Tripod. Using a sturdy tripod will help reduce the possibility of camera shake during these long exposures. Also, never extend the center support column of the tripod. Leave it at it’s lowest point. This is where the tripod will offer the most sturdiest support.
Second comes the composition. Always try to compose the image before addressing the exposures. At this point, composition will also include focusing and focal length or zooming. However, after focusing is locked in, then switch the focusing mode to Manual Focus or turn off the Auto-Focus mode. This will ensure than the camera system WILL release the shutter and not lock-up. In Auto Focus modes, sometimes the camera will not release the shutter if the viewfinder cannot focus on a subject. Thus, setting the camera in a Manual Focus mode will eliminate that restriction.
Next come the Exposure settings. ISO is the first setting to established. Contrary to common misconceptions about nighttime photography, High ISO settings are not required for this type of subject matter. It is recommended to use the lowest ISO setting in the camera system like 100 speed or 200 speed ISO. Once main reason for this tip is to reduce the amount of Digital Noise that the sensor will record or the amount of grain in film. The second camera setting is to set the Exposure Mode to Manual Mode. NO Automatic Mode settings in any camera system can predict the photographer’s intentions like the DESIRED shutter speeds and aperture values.
While in Manual Mode, the Aperture value can be set anywhere between F11 and F22. The main reason for this is to control depth of field. Great Depth of Field is the desired look for this type of subject. It will also render the lights and lines created to appear more sharper. Shutter speeds will be more of a trial and error type of process. Mainly, the shutter speeds for this type of subject begins the in full whole seconds time frame. Shutter speeds like 1 second, 2 seconds, and 4 seconds are a good starting point to use. It becomes the person preference on how much “effect” is desired.
Finally, here are a couple of extra tips to help achieve a successful image. Use a cable release or electronic shutter release. This will eliminate any camera shake from pressing on the camera’s shutter button. In addition, placing the camera on a self timers mode and/or use the camera’s “Mirror Lock-up” mode will also help reduce camera shake.