Monthly Archives: January 2012

On Night Photography

Many of the comments on last night’s post asked about the techniques required for night photography.  Let me start by saying that I’m far from an expert on the topic but I’m happy to share my own experiences in that realm.  Since I’m apparently connected narrative impaired today, I’ll devolve to bullet-points.

  1. Tripods:  Get one. One tall enough that you don’t have to stoop to use it.  And don’t leave it in the car.
  2. ISO:  While it’s tempting to set your ISO at 6400 and go to town, remember that higher ISO’s are more sensitive to light but they’re also more subject to graininess.  I tend to stay at 400 all the time, night or day and if I’m REALLY desperate for light I might go up to 1000.  Also remember that different cameras react very differently to higher ISOs.  My old Canon 20D looks like hell at 400 ISO but my newer camera is sharp as a tack.  However, if you’re into grain then you’re in luck.  Jack it up as high as it’ll go!
  3. Aperture:  You know, I don’t really have a great answer to this one.  In most cases, the things one shoots at night are far away so depth of field might not be that important.  So it’s tempting to blow the aperture wide open and have at it.  However, I’ve had some spotty results in the past so part of me wonders if this isn’t a lot more important than it seems since low-light conditions do tend to play havoc with one’s auto-focus.  So unless someone has a more definitive answer, I say simply, experiment.
  4. Shutter Speed: Since you can’t just crank up the ISO and the aperture only opens so far, shutter speed is about all you’re left with.  Thus the reason you went out and got a good tripod.  Just make sure you’re aware of the wind.  Even the tiniest little vibration can turn a good exposure into a huge disappointment.
  5. Light Metering: Point light sources play havoc with your light meter so take whatever it tells you with a grain of salt.  In this digital age we can preview the exposure so put yourself on manual mode and find a sweet spot and stick to it.
  6. Movement: Generally, movement + dark = death.  However, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Use the movement to your advantage and do something artful.  Play with bulb mode a bit.  But don’t expect any crisp action shots of that night flag football game you got invited to.

Anyway, those are my top six.  I’d welcome the input of the photographers out there who have been doing this for a LOT longer than I have.  I’m sure other readers would appreciate your input and frankly, so would I!

From 2012-01-08
From 2012-01-05
From 2011-11-24 – Sandhill Cranes, Lafayette Misc *
From Misc 09-22-10
From Las Vegas, Nevada
From 2011-06-18

32 Comments

Filed under night photography

Super Bowl Indy by Night

Today’s photo set is very nearly a carbon copy of yesterday’s except it’s been flipped 36 hours into the future and thus the dark. Like most cities, Indy looks considerably better by night. Here we are looking over the city to Lucas Oil Stadium in the distance. Oh, and you can see the whole Super Bowl set here.

From Indy 2012-01-30 – Superbowl Week – Night

Note that they’re changing the signage. In yesterday’s photos, Peyton was still up to the left of the central window. More on that later.

From Indy 2012-01-30 – Superbowl Week – Night

And of course, as usual, I was distracted by the Citizen’s Gas Thermal plant. I promise that someday I’ll drag home a set of photos that doesn’t include a huge factory.

From Indy 2012-01-30 – Superbowl Week – Night

This was a heck of a party.

From Indy 2012-01-30 – Superbowl Week – Night

Portraiture is tough in the dark, but this rather plain-looking gentleman stood still for quite a while so everyone could take his picture.

From Indy 2012-01-30 – Superbowl Week – Night

The Marriott really stands out much more in the dark…

From Indy 2012-01-30 – Superbowl Week – Night

…thanks to a massive bank of spotlights.

From Indy 2012-01-30 – Superbowl Week – Night

Getting a bit closer to Lucas Oil, I found Brady stinking up the place.

From Indy 2012-01-30 – Superbowl Week – Night

The circle was home to a light show of rather epic proportions.

From Indy 2012-01-30 – Superbowl Week – Night

And the night closed with some fireworks. After three hours traipsing around for the second day in a row, I was more than a bit ready to sit down.

From Indy 2012-01-30 – Superbowl Week – Night

And that was the night that was.

17 Comments

Filed under Indianapolis, night photography, Urban Photography

The Bane of Expectations

A bit of prolixity from the writing side of the house on the topic of photography and the performance anxiety that can sometimes come with it:

The Bane of Expectations.

3 Comments

Filed under Indiana, Philosophy, photography

Indy Braces for the Super Bowl

Today was a day in which I felt impelled by circumstances to make some fairly far-reaching decisions in the realm of my photography. All week I’ve been watching people steal and reuse some photographer’s photo on Facebook without giving credit. It’s a rather nice night shot of Monument Circle all outfitted for the Super Bowl. Since it bears no watermark it has just quietly made its way from one profile to the next with no indication whatsoever of origin. Watching this rather annoyed me on the original photographer’s behalf. That annoyance made me realize that I’d be supremely perturbed if someone promulgated my photo without proper credit. I don’t expect to be paid, but if some photo I took is going to go viral then I’d prefer it to bear my name. After all, anonymous narcissism is no fun at all.

As a result, I’ve started watermarking my photos and only providing lower resolution versions for public download. Anyone wanting a higher resolution copy can ask for it but they’ll at least have to ask for it. I also started moving photos over to Flickr. I’m not 100% in tune with the opportunities for interaction on that service but I’m certain they’re better than those on Picasa. Anyway, on to the photos for the day.

The crowds weren’t terribly obnoxious downtown but there were plenty of people to run into:

From Indy 2012-01-29 – Superbowl Week
From Indy 2012-01-29 – Superbowl Week

Typically I don’t like heights but parking garages don’t usually bother me. Admittedly, I did get a bit creeped out when a gentleman approached me to muse about how his wife refused to come up to the roof of the garage because of her own fear. It sure is a long drop.

From Indy 2012-01-29 – Superbowl Week

It was impossible for me to get much of a shot around the circle because the crowds were obnoxious. I’ll have to go back some time later this week. These Indy cars are painted to look like footballs bearing team logos.

From Indy 2012-01-29 – Superbowl Week

And these things may be one of the few reasons we still know Roman numerals.

From Indy 2012-01-29 – Superbowl Week

Lucas Oil Stadium is made up for the occasion of course.

From Indy 2012-01-29 – Superbowl Week

…as is the Marriott. This is the only time I’ve met another photographer on top of a parking garage let alone three.

From Indy 2012-01-29 – Superbowl Week

Yup. That’s one BIG trophy!

From Indy 2012-01-29 – Superbowl Week

The sun threatened to come out at several points. Here it is over the white river.

From Indy 2012-01-29 – Superbowl Week

The city also sported the largest temporary zip line ever. It was clearly enjoyed by all.

From Indy 2012-01-29 – Superbowl Week

But amid all this plenty and people spending thousands to attend one football game, there were still those who had to beg for the kindness of strangers.  This homeless gentleman seems especially pensive.

From Indy 2012-01-29 – Superbowl Week

The weather wasn’t especially friendly at 38 degrees and blustery winds that threatened to blow people into the street. Some were lucky enough to have a warm mom to snuggle up to.

From Indy 2012-01-29 – Superbowl Week

Tomorrow I’ll traipse downtown and do the night version of the city.

21 Comments

Filed under Indianapolis, Landscape photography, sports photography

Sincere like a Pumpkin Patch

Firstly, the prize for ‘most awkward position for a photo’ (last post’s audience participation question) goes to Southern Sea Muse and Peggy/DogBreedz.net for their encounters with fire ants to get the perfect shot.  They say that suffering is an art but that’s really suffering for your art!

Today’s post goes way back into my archives.  For me though, way back only means 2009 or so when I started on this random vendetta of photography. Poking back into what seems like eternity sometimes I really want to kick past-me in the f-stop. Funny what lessons thousands of times messing something up brings, eh? Anyway, today’s photo is an example of what I like to call sincere portraiture. My stomach turns at posed photographs with forced expressions that don’t really say anything about the person in the shot. The awkward smiles of school photos are far from our brightest moments.

For the series from which this photo is taken, my daughters and I made our way to a large park on the south side of Indy early in the spring and just generally goofed around. After about the first hour they’d forgotten I had a camera at all so their true personalities shined through. This shot represents them better than any number of words could. My youngest is bright, cheery, vivacious and full of smiles and laughter. My eldest is contemplative, introspective and always studying the world around her. Of course I needn’t tell you that because you can see it all in the picture.

Sincere like a Pumpkin Patch

Sincere like a Pumpkin Patch

So what are some of your best and worst examples of portraits that both spoke to you or completely didn’t? Feel free to post a link to share and don’t be afraid to whip out some of those really horrible high school yearbook photos!

10 Comments

Filed under Indianapolis, nature Photography, portraiture

Lilies from the Valley

One of the things that the first photo taught me was that in photography perspective is everything. So I find myself constantly looking for photo ops that are just a plain old pain in the butt. If you have to get down in the dirt or be otherwise uncomfortable for a shot then it’s pretty bloody likely that you’ll be focused (no pun intended) and really concentrating on what you’re trying to do.

Lilies from the Valley

Lilies from the Valley

For the record, lilies like these from our trip to Michigan max out at a couple of feet tall. So you can bet that there’s still a spot of mud somewhere on my person from this shot but I’d say it was a good investment.

What’s the most uncomfortable you’ve ever been taking a shot?

41 Comments

Filed under Michigan, nature Photography

Ready for Liftoff

I remember well the day in July of last year when I took this photo. After half an hour of chasing dragonflies around with a macro lens this shot was more relaxed as I caught my breath a bit and pondered what horrible microbes might be festering in the bottom of my shoe so recently filled with swamp water.

Ready for Liftoff

Ready for Liftoff

Call me old-fashioned, but I couldn’t help but think of old Navy Corsairs waiting to take off from the deck of an aircraft carrier.

22 Comments

Filed under Indiana, nature Photography