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Photography Question 
Lou Salvaggio Jr.

bulb settings for night photography?

OK I live in new york city and due to my schedule, and what I would like to do as a photographer I want to start shooting at night, especially various streets, locations, etc. Now while I appreciate experimentation on my own I would like if anyone could suggest the proper techniques for shooting at night. I was wondering how effective a bulb or long shutter exposure would help me to photograph at night. I have a tripod, I am working with a canon rebel and have a ton of different types of film, so if anyone can tell me if im on the right track with a possible bulb setting for night shots please tell me.

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8/10/2002 12:13:39 AM

Emanuel Melo   I am in the exact position you are. Also using a Canon Rebel. I just went out last night at 2 AM looking to take some night shots (I work late too). I thought I would need a long exposure (30 sec to 2 mins). So I took a few shots of the CN Tower & skyscrapers. Tripod mounted, I did 30 sec, 1 min & 2 mins all at 6.7. Then I put the camera on auto mode and took a shot at the recommended 4 seconds at 4.5. Low and behold that auto shot turned out the best (though I wasn't happy with the framing so that's why I'm going back there tonight). I also did a bulb setting shot for 2 mins of the highway hoping to get the red and white streaks and the picture turned very yellow (probably from the street lights )and the red taillights didn't show up at all. In fact if anyone can let me know what I did wrong that the taillights didn't turn out.

Anyway, not sure if that helps or not but as I read your question it seemed like the question I would have asked myself yesterday before I took those night shots. Good Luck!

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10/2/2002 11:36:53 PM

BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/28/2002
  A few years ago I bought a beginner's book about photography and in that book there is a section about night photography. The setting the book suggested for a night time cityscape was 4 seconds at f5.6 with ISO 100 speed film and then bracket (one at 8 seconds and the one more at 2 seconds). I found that the one with more exposure (8 seconds one) looks better. The exposure is long enough to record streaks of taillights. Since then I adopted this 456 rule (4 seconds at f5.6) and has many successful photos. Since each scene is different, bracketing is a good practice. Also you may need to use a smaller aperture and longer exposure time if you want more depth. If there is a foreground element you want to include, I will set to a smaller aperature and fire a flash manually just before the shutter closes (the smaller aperature is to prevent the forground element being over exposed). Also if you are using higher speed film, adjust the exposure accordingly. Hope this helps.

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10/3/2002 10:13:27 AM

BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/28/2002
  By the way, Emanuel, it's hard to say what happened to your picture without seeing it. My guess is that the red taillight is being drown out by the yellow front light. Just my guess.

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10/3/2002 10:24:36 AM

Leo Enriquez   What Andy says could be right, but also I've seen various pics taken at dusk or night that go from 15 to 30 or 60 second exposure, and the pics are a beauty!...

Honestly I have heard that taking pics at night is a subject to study and learn very well!..My best advice for you is to buy a nice book with samples of photography that refers only to How to take pics at night (no flash or long exposure)!...

Another advice from myself is to go ahead and use Tungsten film in stead of regular or pro 400 ISO film, so you could slightly evade that yellow cast from your pics, but also remember that tungsten film turns your halo lights from withe to greenish-blue!...

Go ahead and experiment!...If it takes time from amateurs and novice to learn how to exposure, learning this could be something similar!...shot Shoot and Shoot!..

I don't think an ambient light or a spot light could work in this case, 'cause the absence of light!...Go figure!...

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10/3/2002 1:21:50 PM

Emanuel Melo   My first shots (the one with no taillights) was shot on Koday 400 ISO. I went back last night and tried with 100 ISO. We'll see what happens.

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10/3/2002 3:09:37 PM

Lou Salvaggio Jr.   well thanks everyone for the help. I took some pictures since I first posted my question back in august. For the most part they turned out ok. The best advice that someone gave (which I already found out) is
to basically take a picture or two letting the camera automatically adjust the setting and then bracket around that. I always take one pic with the automatic setting and then I use a bulb setting to take another picture. I honestly don't have it down to a secience but my bulb pictures come out fine, and all I do is guess at how long to keep the shutter open. If I have time I will post some pictures that I have taken
thank you, lou.

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10/3/2002 7:12:20 PM

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