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Night Photography Help....  
User currently offlinerobertuk22 From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2005, 13 posts, RR: 0
Posted (2 years 3 weeks 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 11085 times:

Hi there, Now the nights are getting darker, I wanted to try my hand at finally getting the hang of night photography.
I've gone out and tried before, only to come back and find my photos very yellow and blurry.
I see some excellent night photos on here and just wondered how that's done?

If anyone has some tips for me I'd be sooo thankful and hopefully I can go out this winter and achieve some good photos.

Many thanks for reading,

Robert.


Visit my Aviation blog featuring Larnaca Airport at http://robertnoel.blogspot.co.uk/
17 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently onlinevikkyvik From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 10350 posts, RR: 26
Reply 1, posted (2 years 3 weeks 6 days 8 hours ago) and read 11067 times:

Are you talking about long exposure night photography? Short exposure / high ISO?

More specifics would help.



How can I be an admiral without my cap??!
User currently offlineCaptainKramer From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2012, 226 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (2 years 3 weeks 6 days 4 hours ago) and read 11026 times:

If you are trying to take pictures of aircraft at night, so that the aircraft appears sharp and in focus, say when lined up on the runway or after pushback and not moving, then you will need to use a tripod if possible and use a fast lens with a low fstop number e.g. 2.8, or lower, if you don't have a fast lens then open the aperture up as wide as possible without degrading the image quality so you keep the ASA/ISO setting as low as possible, this helps keep noise (i.e. like grain in film stock) to a minimum, (Noise will be there, but good photo editing skills and software, can often remove it completely) and go for a longer time exposure say 5 or 6 seconds depending on the avaialble light, longer time exposures are possible so long as you are shooting from a sturdy tripod and there is no wind and finally you are using a remote shutter release, to stop unwanted camera shake that can blur the finished image when you physically press the shutter.

As far as colour temperature is concerned, yellow shots sound like you are using a daylight setting, while shooting under artificial lighting conditions. There are many types of artificial light present in the world, at airports and on planes, all help to add an interesting dimension to a night shot if you know what your doing. For night shoots set your camera to 3400K (for Kelvin) this is the colour temperature of what Tungsten burns or glows at. An old fashioned house light bulb filament (i.e the tiny coil through which the current runs) is made of Tungsten. Aircraft built from the 1920's up to the 1990's used light that have a colour temperature of 3400K. (interior lighting is often neon, individual lights were tungsten, but B787 and A380 now uses LED)

The B787 and the A380 use Daylight rated Landing Lights with a Colour Temperature of around 5600K (The sun produces a colour temperature of 5600K to 6000K on average, but it can be higher depending on time of year!) this will give the landing or taxi light a blue tinge depending on the exposure. If you expose for the plane and not the light it will burn out, and the blue tinge will not be as apparent.

Then there is the enviroment the plane is located in. For instance Sodium Vapour lights are often used to light streets at night, they are cheap, draw very liitle in terms of power, but produce a God awful light reddish, orange light. You can't white balance for them, but so long as it is not the principle light source, say it is in the background lighting a street or a car park and that light spills onto the apron beneath the aircaft then it is much more manageable and acceptable. Also try and take your shots at Magic hour or twilight when there is still a blue cast of light in the sky, after the sun has set, this can often add some nice reflections in the hull of the aircaft. American Airlines B777, B767 or B757 with their aluminium finish/livery acts like a mirror and is the best airline for this effect.

Taking pan shots of aircraft at touch down or at take off, with the background blurred can be achieved by setting the camera to Av setting and set aperture wide open to let the most light in, and as low an ASA/ISO setting as possible - to reduce noise once again say 100 or 125 or 160, this will hopefully slow the shutter speed down from say a normal setting of 1000 to 640 to a shutter speed approaching '15th of a second or less depending on the amount of blur you want. These shots require alot of luck and a steady hand as you pan. You may take 10 shots with one approaching usable.

Finally photographic editing software and an abundance of knowledge on how to put various techniques to full use, can often give that sharp, professional finish, night shots invariably need, more so than day shots.

Here is a general rule of thumb regarding Colour temperature :

Daylight = Cool and Blue in appearance.

Tungsten = Warm and Red

Neon = Generally Cool, but nowadays can be rated to either 3400K or 5600K so be careful.

Neon appears green when photographed and developed on film or video and so had to be corrected by using a colour coating on the inside of the tube that adjusted for this.! Watch any film, especially from the Golden age of Cinema the 1970's, you can see green neon in background night shots all the time as D.P.'s or Directors of Photography would often prefer the colour it provided while lighting the foreground with Tungsten, or the budget simply didn't allow the wholesale replacement of all the uncorrected neon practical lights in the scene.


Hope this helps. Good Luck

[Edited 2012-11-29 12:05:04]

[Edited 2012-11-29 12:15:33]

User currently offlineCaptainKramer From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2012, 226 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (2 years 3 weeks 6 days 1 hour ago) and read 10976 times:

SHOOTING AT NIGHT : SHOOT IN RAW MODE

I just want to add a very important point I failed to mention previously. When shooting at night, in order to manipulate the night shot to the extent I have recommended you must shoot in RAW, not jpeg, because RAW will allow you to manipulate the colour temperature up and down to get the best results.

In jpeg Colour Temperature is fixed, all you can do is saturate or desaturate and turn it into a B & W photo, which is what I do when I arrive at the airport and the colour in the sky has gone murky or the skies have turned overcast, you can get some dramatic results by turning the photo into a B & W and tweak it with the photo editing software.


User currently offlineSilver1SWA From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 4863 posts, RR: 25
Reply 4, posted (2 years 3 weeks 5 days ago) and read 10879 times:
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Quoting CaptainKramer (Reply 3):
SHOOTING AT NIGHT : SHOOT IN RAW MODE

I just want to add a very important point I failed to mention previously. When shooting at night, in order to manipulate the night shot to the extent I have recommended you must shoot in RAW, not jpeg, because RAW will allow you to manipulate the colour temperature up and down to get the best results.

In jpeg Colour Temperature is fixed, all you can do is saturate or desaturate and turn it into a B & W photo, which is what I do when I arrive at the airport and the colour in the sky has gone murky or the skies have turned overcast, you can get some dramatic results by turning the photo into a B & W and tweak it with the photo editing software.


Or you can set the desired color temp in camera before taking the shot.

But I agree. Shoot in RAW if you can. Much greater flexibility in post.



ALL views, opinions expressed are mine ONLY and are NOT representative of those shared by Southwest Airlines Co.
User currently onlinevikkyvik From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 10350 posts, RR: 26
Reply 5, posted (2 years 3 weeks 4 days 16 hours ago) and read 10846 times:

Quoting Silver1SWA (Reply 4):
Or you can set the desired color temp in camera before taking the shot.

Absolutely. But 1.) I usually forget for the first couple shots   

and more importantly, 2.) I set it based on what I see in the LCD, but it frequently looks different when I view it on my computer monitor. So for me, altering the white balance in post is a fairly usual thing for night shots.



How can I be an admiral without my cap??!
User currently offlinerobertuk22 From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2005, 13 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (2 years 3 weeks 4 days 3 hours ago) and read 10792 times:

Thank you very much for that Captainkramer!!  


Visit my Aviation blog featuring Larnaca Airport at http://robertnoel.blogspot.co.uk/
User currently offlinen314as From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 7, posted (2 years 3 weeks 3 days 23 hours ago) and read 10761 times:

Night photography of airliners or other aircraft:

1. Use a short time exposure with a tripod. Shoot RAW too.

2. Only shoot planes that are completely in light. Find a spot that lights the plane or use remote lighting.

Those shots that you see of just the tails lit up but the fuselage is dark is unprofessional photography. The plane must have complete lighting. Some that shoot that way will argue with me. I have shot for 35 years - before most digital shooters were even born - it is unprofessional. The plane must have complete lighting on the fuselage period.
The only time it does not need complete lighting are those shots for example that are rear or front and the plane is on a taxiway etc.......but if you shoot side-on on the ramp, the plane must be lit up.

3. Be careful of exposures that are too long. That will "mush up" all other lights (it will expand their light and that looks ugly - like a fog that gets in your way).

4. Follow professional photography principals - find locations without cones, potholes, towbars, stairs, etc.

5. For smaller planes, use remote lighting systems, sometimes remote flashes behind each wheel to give it some life in the back and underneath of the planes. Also use the flash or lighting system to light the plane up. Be careful with glaring. This is the way professionals shoot bizjets. They also do composite imaging where they have those backgrounds already set and they place planes in front of them.

6. Experiment at times with star filters for the planes lights.


User currently offlineSilver1SWA From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 4863 posts, RR: 25
Reply 8, posted (2 years 3 weeks 3 days 22 hours ago) and read 10753 times:
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Whoa, lets not scare the OP. Excellent advice has been given but just go out there and experiment and have fun. Bring a tripod, maybe a cable release and the rest is no different than any other situation. Choose your desired aperture...I prefer stopping the lens down a bit to get nice stars around light sources. Keep ISO low and let the camera do its thing in Av mode.

Yes sufficient lighting is good, but I think white balance is the real key, as described above, and makes a huge difference on how well a night photo pops with clarity.

[Edited 2012-12-01 17:27:12]


ALL views, opinions expressed are mine ONLY and are NOT representative of those shared by Southwest Airlines Co.
User currently offlineDehowie From Australia, joined Feb 2004, 1071 posts, RR: 33
Reply 9, posted (2 years 3 weeks 2 days 15 hours ago) and read 10674 times:

Shooting manual is the key to good consistent night quality images.
For stationary stuff ISO 100/F8 and 10 seconds is a good start.
Play with shutter speed and ISO remembering the double and halving relationship to get what you want.
Use your histogram to see if you are blowing out highlights.
For motion blurr depending on your camera and lens again the same deal but ISO 4000 with 1/15th at 2.8 gives excellent results for runway pitch black night images.
Again shoot manual and play with shutter speed to get the style you are looking for..


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Photo © Darren Howie - Vortex Aviation Photography


View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Darren Howie - Vortex Aviation Photography


View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Darren Howie - Vortex Aviation Photography

http://www.vortexaviationphotography.com/Civil-Aviation-Photography/Sydney-2012/i-3Vb5w89/1/L/IMG_3306-L.jpg

http://www.vortexaviationphotography.com/Civil-Aviation-Photography/Sydney-Kingsford-Smith/i-P5TWkhc/3/L/A3801280-L.jpg



2EOS1DX,EF14.2.8LII,17TS,85/1.2,16-35L,24-70LII,24L,70-200F2.8LII,100-400,300/400/500/800L
User currently offlineshufflemoomin From Denmark, joined Jun 2010, 480 posts, RR: 2
Reply 10, posted (2 years 3 weeks 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 10634 times:

Quoting n314as (Reply 7):
...it is unprofessional. The plane must have complete lighting on the fuselage period.

Don't be so ridiculous. Photography is an art. There are no rules set in stone. You can say that you find this style of shooting against your taste, but to state that it's categorically bad one way or another is laughable and arrogant.


User currently offlineDehowie From Australia, joined Feb 2004, 1071 posts, RR: 33
Reply 11, posted (2 years 3 weeks 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 10545 times:

Well said couldn't of put that reply any better myself!
Only shoot fully lit aircraft?
Last time I landed at night there are no lights to illuminate a fuselage along the runway..
Some more unprofessional images in the dark..
http://www.vortexaviationphotography.com/Other/webposting/i-xJzMFSr/10/L/emirates-L.jpg
http://www.vortexaviationphotography.com/Other/webposting/i-LWbKWXQ/14/L/jalnightjumbo-L.jpg
http://www.vortexaviationphotography.com/Other/webposting/i-cZBMQJq/13/L/a3201-L.jpg

On a serious note I've never heard anything so ridiculous in 31 years of taking photos as to what n314as had to say regarding image style.
Let me guess I'm sure you pack your gear away when the sun disappears because professionals only shoot when the sun shines and good images in anything other than sun are impossible??



2EOS1DX,EF14.2.8LII,17TS,85/1.2,16-35L,24-70LII,24L,70-200F2.8LII,100-400,300/400/500/800L
User currently offlineshufflemoomin From Denmark, joined Jun 2010, 480 posts, RR: 2
Reply 12, posted (2 years 2 weeks 5 days 6 hours ago) and read 10390 times:

Quoting Dehowie (Reply 11):
Let me guess I'm sure you pack your gear away when the sun disappears because professionals only shoot when the sun shines and good images in anything other than sun are impossible??

Just ignore him, but do read his profile if you'd like a laugh. He lists himself as a "master aviation photographer", yet says he's only been doing it for four months and he's between 13 and 15 years old. No need to pay any attention to any other nuggets of wisdom offered, I guess.


User currently offlinesoon7x7 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 13, posted (2 years 2 weeks 4 days 1 hour ago) and read 10290 times:

Shooting airliners at night is sort of a calculated crap shoot. Your at the mercy of existing ramp lighting which in many cases will be offensive to the image. You can also provide your own supplemental lighting, many strobe heads, many strobs stands, many sandbags, NEXT...one powerful strobe you wear and paint with light, my preferred method. Either way you need a tripod, shutter synch chord or remote and a dark card with an extra pair of hands. (good excuse to bring a hot chickie)!... If using supplemental lighting, the darker the environment, the better. Stop the lens down, 5/6-f8 and your ISO to 100 with max noise reduction.
New York Star
On this aircraft I actually performed none of the above...I had the aircraft positioned next to the hangar doors and opened all of them only to reveal an abundace of ambient interior hangar light which was mercury halide and digital favors this light source. The reason for this was the black painted crown on the fuselage. Supplemental light would not have been enough. I originally was going to rent 7 of those Highway construction light generators...but this result was pleasing enough and considerably cheaper and less complicated. No two shoots will be the same. Lets see your attempts at this...it is frustrating in the begining but once you get used to light sorces, color temperatures, etc...you'll get it...g


User currently onlinemoose135 From United States of America, joined Oct 2004, 2406 posts, RR: 10
Reply 14, posted (2 years 2 weeks 3 days 22 hours ago) and read 10273 times:

Very nice, Jerry! I don't think I've seen that shot before. And great job on getting the moon to poke through the clouds like that - that must have taken some coordination!  

As you said - there are times the light on the ramp is all you need. This was primarily lit by the lights on the Airpower Museum hangar, plus a little fill flash behind the landing gear - I learned that from a photographer friend...

http://www.moose135photography.com/Airplanes/Air-Shows/Jones-Beach-Air-Show-2011/i-RNGZq2t/0/XL/JM_2011_05_25_N529B_004-XL.jpg

This was the "dark" side, away from the ramp lights, and I used a Speedlite to light the side, multiple flashes while running along the aircraft out of the frame - shot was 100 seconds at f/11.

http://www.moose135photography.com/American-Airpower-Museum/History-Under-the-Stars/History-Under-the-Stars-2008/JM20080524N4207W001/301280212_ZJuDB-XL-3.jpg

Again, just ramp lighting, as they were getting ready to start engines and I couldn't get too close. 20 seconds at f/16 gave me those nice strobes.

http://www.moose135photography.com/Airplanes/Sports-Charters/i-g7GWG26/0/XL/JM_2010_12_18_N698SS_002-XL.jpg

15 seconds at f/6.3 - mix of ramp lighting and fill flash along the fuselage and behind the gear.

http://www.moose135photography.com/Airplanes/QANTAS-707/i-WcDQDcX/0/XL/JM_2011_10_25_N707JT_012-XL.jpg

And then there are times when all you can do is point the camera through the fence and use what you have.

http://www.moose135photography.com/Airplanes/Airliners-and-Airport-Spotting/Republic-Airport/i-ncBzm8H/0/XL/JM_2011_11_17_EA-18G_166895_001-XL.jpg

As Gerry said - a tripod, remote release, some strobes all come in handy doing this sort of shooting. Use the lowest ISO you can - most of my stuff is shot at ISO 100, and absolutely SHOOT IN RAW! You can turn those ugly yellow ramp lights into something more pleasing with a few adjustments in Photoshop.



KC-135 - Passing gas and taking names!
User currently offlinepetertenthije From Netherlands, joined Jul 2001, 3394 posts, RR: 12
Reply 15, posted (2 years 2 weeks 3 days ago) and read 10174 times:

Quoting moose135 (Reply 14):
As Gerry said - a tripod, remote release, some strobes all come in handy doing this sort of shooting

You can also use your car's high-beam lights in case you don't have a strobe. Of course this will only work if you can get close to the planes with the cars, so mostly gate guards.



Attamottamotta!
User currently offlinesoon7x7 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 16, posted (2 years 2 weeks 19 hours ago) and read 10066 times:

Quoting petertenthije (Reply 15):
You can also use your car's high-beam lights in case you don't have a strobe. Of course this will only work if you can get close to the planes with the cars, so mostly gate guards.

Tape diffuser over the headlights, helps to spread light...a lot! "Rosco" sells them in rolls/ sheets.


User currently offlinesoon7x7 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 17, posted (2 years 2 weeks 18 hours ago) and read 10053 times:

Quoting moose135 (Reply 14):
You can turn those ugly yellow ramp lights into something more pleasing with a few adjustments in Photoshop.


Nice images from FRG!...the lighting there is terrible...you managed to squeeze some good shots there. I usually taxied the aircraft south to the approach end of 32 and shot on the run up area...nice and dark there. The following are examples of some lighting conditions that were not predictable, but worked out well. When commissioned for a shoot I always brought supplemental lighting...when shooting for the joy of it I relied more on Blue Hour, fill light, etc. The 727 profile shot is my favorite as that was exposed with one strobe. Actually most of these were. We moved the aircraft to the south end of the field...(sank into the warm asphalt)!. While not very colorful, lost 10 pounds on that shoot running back and forth to the camera.
Actually nightime with Fog, one flashead
Ugly Sodium/Fog and fill lights
Blue hour w/ fill
Ambient Blue Hour w/ Fill
Single Flashead
Single flashead
Single flashead
Multiple flasheads
1930-2012 N.A.
...I had to throw in the LEM shot... Actually no flash at all, hand held, forget settings, do remember having 2 cups of coffee before getting to the museum and hand held would have been better w/o the caffeine...


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