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 Post subject: City Lights Problem.
PostPosted: Sat Jan 07, 2012 10:53 pm 
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Joined: Thu May 12, 2011 9:46 pm
Posts: 17
Location: Switzerland
Hello Guys and Girls

I have a slight issue with taking this picture at night of the city lights. My images seem to come out not the way i would of expected and i am not happy with them at all.
The image seems unsharp, blurred and haze. The lights are flickery. Is there possibly a way to do this diffrent, so the image looks more clean and crisp. If i wouldn't know which city that is, i would never be able to guess.

Better Body (FX)?
Filters?

These are 2 of the many images i shot that night, trying to get it right.


Image
ISO 800, f/11 30sec

Image
ISO 200, f/4.5, 15 Sec.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jan 08, 2012 2:45 am 
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Posts: 1819
There's no need to use a better body for the shot - I've used the D90 at night to good effect.

The main issue here is exposure.

First, a potential minor issue - focus. Your camera may be hunting a little, so I'd switch to manual focus and use Liveview to zoom right in to fix your focus.

Secondly, exposure:

Your scene is 95% black which is why you've got a 30 second exposure, even at F11. However all your lights will show as 'blinkies' on your camera's highlights review on your LCD.

Now this is normal for a nightshot, as point sources of light will always overexpose. The longer the overexposure, the more the surrounding areas around each point light source will be burnt, resulting in the apparent 'unsharpness' that you are seeing.

However, by bracketing and then stacking in software like Photomatix Pro you will get far better detail in your image, and the lights will look more defined.

Next time, try taking a few exposures, bracketing manually with exposures at f11 of 30 seconds, 15 seconds, 8 seconds, 4 seconds, 2 seconds and 1 second. Then try a trial version of Photomatix and use the Exposure Fusion method and check your new results - it should be a bit more pleasing


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jan 08, 2012 3:10 am 
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Here's an example - I was taking photographs for a night panorama - these shots are 100% crops of exposures 2 stops apart - f16 @ 2 seconds, 8 seconds and 30 seconds (longest exposure first)

30 secs

Image

8 secs

Image

2 secs

Image

See how the really bright lights affect the surrounding area (e.g. the bright light, bottom left, affecting the detail in the building)?

Now obviously the 2 second exposure individually is useless but as part of an HDR blend it is ideal as the surrounding areas around the really bright point light sources are not burnt. When blending using Exposure Fusion you get a more realistic final version.


Last edited by dubaiphil on Sun Jan 08, 2012 3:22 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jan 08, 2012 3:14 am 
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and the final version's below with a write up on the technique later in the thread below:


http://www.cameralabs.com/forum/viewtop ... sc&start=0

Image


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jan 08, 2012 3:44 am 
As well as checking your focus via live view remember to use all the other techniques to prevent camera shake when taking nightscapes:

Use mirror lock up
Use a remote shutter trigger or the timer
Make sure your tripod is rock solid. I.e. don't have the neck extended up if you can help it and if there is any breeze then weigh the tripod down using a heavy bag.

When taking long exposures of nightscapes the tinyest movement can cause lack of sharpness

One question I have is why use a high f stop? You don't need a large depth of field as the is no foreground so 4.5 / 5.6 should be fine as max

Large f stops can cause lack of sharpness due to diffraction in the lens.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jan 08, 2012 5:04 am 
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Not so noticable on the panorama above, but you get bigger starbursts from point light sources at higher apertures, which was my reasoning.

Also, the longer the shutter speed in my instance, the smoother the water and reflections, which makes it easier to stitch. Higher apertures give you that too so it's just a case of how high you want to go.

Higher that f16 for me (lens dependent) can induce diffraction, but Exposure Fusion in Photomatix can offset that by bringing out more detail and microcontrast.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jan 08, 2012 5:23 am 
Ahhh, thats interesting Phil and good to know, will have to mess with that


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jan 08, 2012 5:04 pm 
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Joined: Thu May 12, 2011 9:46 pm
Posts: 17
Location: Switzerland
Thanks Phil for the helpful info. I didn't know getting it so clean needed so much effort. Your work is amazing!

I will see what i can do. Due to the cold weather, it might take me 1 -2 months until i go try again.

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Nikon D90 / 18-105mm / 105mm Macro / 10-24mm / 35mm, 50mm f1.4, Tripod, Remote, Candles, flames, Afterburner.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jan 22, 2012 12:22 pm 
What lens are you using and what focal length was this shot at?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jan 22, 2012 12:32 pm 
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Joined: Mon Dec 28, 2009 9:08 am
Posts: 159
Great shot Phil!
Is it possible that you tell us again what the name of your FlickR Account is?

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jan 23, 2012 5:59 am 
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Thanks

philpage.zenfolio.com


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2012 12:45 am 
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Joined: Thu May 12, 2011 9:46 pm
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Location: Switzerland
@rj2000: Who are you referring to?

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Nikon D90 / 18-105mm / 105mm Macro / 10-24mm / 35mm, 50mm f1.4, Tripod, Remote, Candles, flames, Afterburner.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2012 4:04 am 
@Reborn: I was referring to you


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2012 4:28 am 
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Nikon 10-24 @ 10mm


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2012 5:22 am 
I had been facing similar problems and was wondering whether a telephoto was being used because it sometimes gets difficult to shoot lights with a telephoto as the very minute movements can cause big blurs in the photo.

The most probable explanation could be camera shake. Try reducing the tripod to minimum height (you must be using a remote / cable release). Also, the camera straps can also act like a sail and cause camera shake when there is a keen wind. This worked for me.

Focusing should be less of a problem, but in any event you may consider using manual focus set to infinity for such shots.


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