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Thread: Do you have any tips/techniques for Night Photography?

  1. #21
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    Re: Do you have any tips/techniques for Night Photography?

    Find some veranda to hang out on with snacks and good beer. Might as well make it pleasant!

    10 minute exposure, late dusk in Santiago, Chile from the hostel's rooftop sitting area.
    I made a couple before it got dark, then two after dark (last one for the night -- about 11:30pm).
    5x7, 180mm/5.6 lens, Ilford FP4+
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails SantigoPM.jpg  
    "Landscapes exist in the material world yet soar in the realms of the spirit..." Tsung Ping, 5th Century China

  2. #22

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    Re: Do you have any tips/techniques for Night Photography?

    Quote Originally Posted by manfrominternet View Post
    I also know and experience that zen aspect that you mentioned. There's something magical about the night that really wakes me up, which is probably why I'm a resolute night owl. In a strange way, I kind of feel safer photographing at night, and while I still haven't yet done any night photography via LF, I suspect it too will become something I become addicted to.
    I started photographing at night literally by accident, when one night I found myself stuck in a small, time-warp town an hour's drive west of Phoenix with nothing to do but drink with a fairly rough crowd of copper miners in the town's one open bar or walk around explore with my camera. I chose the latter and it proved to be an immediate turning point for my photography, as my day job in the legal field was so all-consuming of my time that late at night was really the only time I reliably had available to take photos. (FYI, Oliver Stone filmed his 1987 movie U-Turn in this town -- Superior, AZ, in case you're curious -- and the surrounding area, and many of the sets that were created for the movie still exist there. Oh, and unlike in the movie, the roads in the town are all paved, not dirt!)

    P.S.: I'm not so much of a nightowl as an insomnia sufferer, but photographing at night is a great way to pass the time when I can't sleep. In fact, it was for this reason that I began photographing around my neighborhood several years ago, as it easy for me to simply toss my camera / tripod combo over my shoulder and head out the front door with my dog to walk around and take photos. The exercise this provides is beneficial generally, of course, but it also helps to make me sleepy afterward, so these outings served many different purposes and have continued to this day. In fact, as I write this, I'm sipping a cup of tea after returning from an outing that started at 3:30 am this morning, when I awoke early at 3:00 am and couldn't fall back asleep...

    Btw, that's a gorgeous photograph. Was this taken digitally? I only ask because of the aspect ratio.
    Yes, it's a digital photo, taken with one of several "FrankenKameras" I have modified to combine a modern digital camera (in this case, a Sony A7R, which is still the best overall performer for my type of photography of all the 35 mm format mirrorless cameras I've tried to date -- including both the Nikon Z7 and Sony A7RIII! -- despite it being a six-year-old design) with traditional in-camera movements. I've also added a 12.5" external HDMI monitor to make it easier for me to compose and focus in the often dim lighting present in the areas where I like to photograph, as well as n external battery pack to power everything.

    Alas, because of the film orientation of this forum, me and my cameras are considered to be outcasts around these parts (but in a polite way, of course!) and I don't post much about them or the photos I take because there are very limited opportunities to do so. But so far as I can tell, the forum rules impose no such restrictions on this particular sub-orum, so here's a recent photo of the rig I'm presently using for my serious nighttime photography:



    I started doing nighttime photography with an m4/3 camera and lenses, upgraded to a medium-format digital outfit in 2010, then reverted back to an APS-C format outfit in 2012, because doing this type of photography with a medium-format outfit proved to be very challenging and annoyingly so, which made my outings a lot less fun. After the A7R was released a year or so later, I switched from my Fuji X-Pro and finally found my "sweet spot" camera, where the sensor was large enough to gather a lot of light and also offered a very wide exposure range, but not so large as to require smaller apertures to achieve sufficient DoF and the longer exposures that go hand-in-hand with them, as was the case with my medium-format digital rig.

    I would love the opportunity to upgrade to a better performing body, but so far, it appears no such thing exists (while more modern mirrorless cameras are indeed better performers in many ways, I find the original A7R is still the best overall performer when it comes to taking long-exposure photos at native ISO and recovering detail from the shadow areas during post-processing. As such, I think my next upgrade will be to a dedicated astrophotography camera, such as the QHY 367C, which uses the same sensor as the A7R and Nikon D810, but with custom firmware -- no lossy compression schemes for saving raw files, no 12-bit restrictions on exposures longer than 30 seconds and no star-eater filtering! -- and an actively cooled sensor, which will prove very useful when photographing during the hotter summer months we suffer through each year here in the central Arizona desert.)

    Anyway, good luck with your venture and I hope you enjoy yourself as much (or more even!) than I do, which will be quite a lot indeed!

  3. #23

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    Re: Do you have any tips/techniques for Night Photography?

    Quote Originally Posted by manfrominternet View Post
    I don't mean to cross-pollinate with my other thread, but do any of you guys use UV filters to protect your lenses, or do you think it's a waste of money?
    In my experience, filters of any kind are best avoided for nighttime photography.

    With the lenses I use, it's already a challenge to avoid flare and ghosting without them and this only becomes even more of a challenge with them.

    As always, though, YMMV and since you already have the filters on hand, why not experiment with and without them and draw your own conclusions?

  4. #24

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    Re: Do you have any tips/techniques for Night Photography?

    If you are going to want to shoot from corporate property like a parking garage roof or maybe a golf course or someplace like that, the best way to get permission is to contact the media relations office. They will know the corporate policy and can notify security. Security always says "No" because it's easier than making a decision. Media may also say no but it'll happen over the phone or email. Good luck.

  5. #25

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    Re: Do you have any tips/techniques for Night Photography?

    Quote Originally Posted by Audii-Dudii View Post
    Yes, it's a digital photo, taken with one of several "FrankenKameras" I have modified to combine a modern digital camera (in this case, a Sony A7R, which is still the best overall performer for my type of photography of all the 35 mm format mirrorless cameras I've tried to date -- including both the Nikon Z7 and Sony A7RIII! -- despite it being a six-year-old design) with traditional in-camera movements. I've also added a 12.5" external HDMI monitor to make it easier for me to compose and focus in the often dim lighting present in the areas where I like to photograph, as well as n external battery pack to power everything.

    Alas, because of the film orientation of this forum, me and my cameras are considered to be outcasts around these parts (but in a polite way, of course!) and I don't post much about them or the photos I take because there are very limited opportunities to do so. But so far as I can tell, the forum rules impose no such restrictions on this particular sub-orum, so here's a recent photo of the rig I'm presently using for my serious nighttime photography:



    I started doing nighttime photography with an m4/3 camera and lenses, upgraded to a medium-format digital outfit in 2010, then reverted back to an APS-C format outfit in 2012, because doing this type of photography with a medium-format outfit proved to be very challenging and annoyingly so, which made my outings a lot less fun. After the A7R was released a year or so later, I switched from my Fuji X-Pro and finally found my "sweet spot" camera, where the sensor was large enough to gather a lot of light and also offered a very wide exposure range, but not so large as to require smaller apertures to achieve sufficient DoF and the longer exposures that go hand-in-hand with them, as was the case with my medium-format digital rig.

    I would love the opportunity to upgrade to a better performing body, but so far, it appears no such thing exists (while more modern mirrorless cameras are indeed better performers in many ways, I find the original A7R is still the best overall performer when it comes to taking long-exposure photos at native ISO and recovering detail from the shadow areas during post-processing. As such, I think my next upgrade will be to a dedicated astrophotography camera, such as the QHY 367C, which uses the same sensor as the A7R and Nikon D810, but with custom firmware -- no lossy compression schemes for saving raw files, no 12-bit restrictions on exposures longer than 30 seconds and no star-eater filtering! -- and an actively cooled sensor, which will prove very useful when photographing during the hotter summer months we suffer through each year here in the central Arizona desert.)

    Anyway, good luck with your venture and I hope you enjoy yourself as much (or more even!) than I do, which will be quite a lot indeed!
    That's so funny. I had the Sony a7R and upgraded to the Sony a7R III and, like you, I much prefer the a7R. It's just a better design. Also, I have a Frankencamera of my own!
    Here's my Sony a7R III attached to my Linhof Technikardan 45:
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    What did you use to build yours?

  6. #26

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    Re: Do you have any tips/techniques for Night Photography?

    Quote Originally Posted by manfrominternet View Post
    That's so funny. I had the Sony a7R and upgraded to the Sony a7R III and, like you, I much prefer the a7R. It's just a better design. Also, I have a Frankencamera of my own!
    Here's my Sony a7R III attached to my Linhof Technikardan 45:
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Cool! Every photographer should have one of these handy ... lol.

    And for those infrequent occasions when I need a wider range of movements, including tilt and swing, and don't mind carrying a 5.5 lb camera instead of a 2.8 lb camera, I also have another FrankenKamera available to me, which I built around a Toyo VX23D medium-format view camera:



    I actually built this one before the Cambo WDS version shown above, but it proved to be overkill for a lot of my photography because the A7R's smaller sensor allows me to use shorter focal length lenses and with these, I usually have sufficient control over DoF without having to use tilts and swings, as was required when I was still shooting film in larger format view cameras way back when.

    Because all of my photography is done on foot -- no "drive-by shooting" for me, thank you! -- with me carrying the camera / tripod combo around on my shoulder (sometimes for several miles!), the weight of this camera started to become an issue for me, so I began pondering lighter alternatives. To that end, I bought a Cambo Actus outift and while it was lighter, it has some quirks that proved highly annoying to me, which is when I decided to dust off the Cambo WDS I had bought a few years earlier for another project that had stalled and modify it into the FrankenKamera show above.

    Here's a photo taken early in the process wherein I was attaching a Canon EF to Nikon F&G lens mount adapter with aperture control to a piggybacked lens panel:



    What did you use to build yours?
    I'm not sure what you're asking here. The donor camera was a Cambo Wide DS, which is a revision of the original Cambo Wide that was designed for use with 4x5 film and/or medium-format rollfilm backs back in the day, except updated to work with medium-format digital backs. As a result of my modifications, I'm now able to use it with the A7R and 35 mm-format lenses having flange-focal distances as short as ~40 mm. Alas, thanks to the deeper grips used on the later A7R cameras, as well as the new Nikon Z series, in its present form, this modified Cambo WDS is limited to using only medium-format lenses with these bodies, because their longer flange-focal distances allow me to use spacers to position those camera bodies far enough back from the rear of the Cambo for their deeper grips to clear.

    Which is not to say this Cambo cannot be further modified to accommodate them, only that with the very limited resources I have available to me -- a drill press, 10" disc and 1" belt sanders, plus hacksaws, files, and other hand tools -- doing so and achieving professional looking results in the process is far beyond my present capability. I would love to have a lathe and a mill in my garage -- oh, the things I could do with those! -- but I simply don't have room for them, so this is a non-starter for me. (Yes, I have looked into joining one of the maker's spaces that have popped up around town, but their monthly membership fees are too high given how infrequently I would be using the facilities.)

    For this latest revision to the Cambo, I modified it to work with my much-loved Contax N 17-35/f2.8 zoom, which in turn required me to modify practically every other aspect of the camera as well so as to reduce its overall thickness by enough that my Contax N lenses will focus at infinity. This resulted in me having to use titanium and carbon fiber for certain parts in order to reduce their weight and/or increase their strength within the dimensional constraints I had versus making everything from aluminum, as I had done previously. Needless to say, working with these more exotic materials is a whole 'nother ball game, but I ultimately succeeded, as my photo proves!

    If I haven't answered your question, please feel free to clarify it and ask again!

  7. #27

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    Re: Do you have any tips/techniques for Night Photography?

    Quote Originally Posted by Audii-Dudii View Post
    Cool! Every photographer should have one of these handy ... lol.

    And for those infrequent occasions when I need a wider range of movements, including tilt and swing, and don't mind carrying a 5.5 lb camera instead of a 2.8 lb camera, I also have another FrankenKamera available to me, which I built around a Toyo VX23D medium-format view camera:

    I actually built this one before the Cambo WDS version shown above, but it proved to be overkill for a lot of my photography because the A7R's smaller sensor allows me to use shorter focal length lenses and with these, I usually have sufficient control over DoF without having to use tilts and swings, as was required when I was still shooting film in larger format view cameras way back when.

    Because all of my photography is done on foot -- no "drive-by shooting" for me, thank you! -- with me carrying the camera / tripod combo around on my shoulder (sometimes for several miles!), the weight of this camera started to become an issue for me, so I began pondering lighter alternatives. To that end, I bought a Cambo Actus outift and while it was lighter, it has some quirks that proved highly annoying to me, which is when I decided to dust off the Cambo WDS I had bought a few years earlier for another project that had stalled and modify it into the FrankenKamera show above.

    Here's a photo taken early in the process wherein I was attaching a Canon EF to Nikon F&G lens mount adapter with aperture control to a piggybacked lens panel:

    I'm not sure what you're asking here. The donor camera was a Cambo Wide DS, which is a revision of the original Cambo Wide that was designed for use with 4x5 film and/or medium-format rollfilm backs back in the day, except updated to work with medium-format digital backs. As a result of my modifications, I'm now able to use it with the A7R and 35 mm-format lenses having flange-focal distances as short as ~40 mm. Alas, thanks to the deeper grips used on the later A7R cameras, as well as the new Nikon Z series, in its present form, this modified Cambo WDS is limited to using only medium-format lenses with these bodies, because their longer flange-focal distances allow me to use spacers to position those camera bodies far enough back from the rear of the Cambo for their deeper grips to clear.

    Which is not to say this Cambo cannot be further modified to accommodate them, only that with the very limited resources I have available to me -- a drill press, 10" disc and 1" belt sanders, plus hacksaws, files, and other hand tools -- doing so and achieving professional looking results in the process is far beyond my present capability. I would love to have a lathe and a mill in my garage -- oh, the things I could do with those! -- but I simply don't have room for them, so this is a non-starter for me. (Yes, I have looked into joining one of the maker's spaces that have popped up around town, but their monthly membership fees are too high given how infrequently I would be using the facilities.)

    For this latest revision to the Cambo, I modified it to work with my much-loved Contax N 17-35/f2.8 zoom, which in turn required me to modify practically every other aspect of the camera as well so as to reduce its overall thickness by enough that my Contax N lenses will focus at infinity. This resulted in me having to use titanium and carbon fiber for certain parts in order to reduce their weight and/or increase their strength within the dimensional constraints I had versus making everything from aluminum, as I had done previously. Needless to say, working with these more exotic materials is a whole 'nother ball game, but I ultimately succeeded, as my photo proves!

    If I haven't answered your question, please feel free to clarify it and ask again!
    Absolutely amazing!!! Your cameras look simply phenomenal! Have you ever tried using a medium format digital back for your Toyo VX23D or Cambo Wide DS?

    What I meant was what specific parts did you need to build and complete your Cambo Wide DS Frankencamera?

    Your setups must give you astonishing results. Do you have a website or gallery where I can see your work? I'd love to see it.

    Do you have a specific process of how you work? What I mean is do you just go out and take a photo of something you like/find interesting or do you plan your photos out and manipulate them/make digital montages?

    An issue I find with my Linhof/Sony a7R III Frankencamera is that, even though the adapter slides, the photos all tend to be on the more telephoto side, given that the sensor is obviously smaller and is a bit further back than the 4x5 film plane. I assume there's no real way around this other than sliding the adapter around, taking separate photos, and stitching them together later.

  8. #28
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    Re: Do you have any tips/techniques for Night Photography?


  9. #29

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    Re: Do you have any tips/techniques for Night Photography?

    Does anyone here have any recommendations for film for night shooting?

    I have 120 Kodak Ektar 100 for my medium format backs (6x12 and 6x17) and, again, Kodak Ektar 100 for my 4x5 holders.

    I'm not sure if I should continue using Ektar 100 or if I should move on to transparencies like Fuji Velvia 100/50 or Provia 100 or even higher ISO negatives like Portra or something.

    Can anyone suggest what film I should use? Would Ektar 100 still be fine?

  10. #30

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    Re: Do you have any tips/techniques for Night Photography?

    Quote Originally Posted by manfrominternet View Post
    Absolutely amazing!!! Your cameras look simply phenomenal! Have you ever tried using a medium format digital back for your Toyo VX23D or Cambo Wide DS?
    I apologize for the late response, but I didn't read this thread again until this morning, when it bubbled back to the top...

    As for your question, it's funny you should ask, because last week, I did exactly that, using my Phase One P30+ back and a used Kapture Group Sinar to Contax 645 sliding back adapter that I mounted on my VX23D via an adapter plate I fabricated:





    Although composing and focusing on the ground glass was challenging, due to the lack of light that goes hand in hand with photographing at night, and I had to trigger the back to manually via an external control box, because there is no shutter in this setup, the handful of test photos I took just outside my house turned out well, IMO.

    Alas, my back somehow died overnight and given its present market value (or more appropriately, its lack thereof), I'm not inclined to repair or replace it, so that was probably the end of that particular experiment ... sniff, sniff.

    What I meant was what specific parts did you need to build and complete your Cambo Wide DS Frankencamera?
    Well, I had to fabricate a new lens panel for the front and a new camera mount panel for the back, plus a new mounting plate to replace the wood grip because I rotated the camera 90 degrees, which had the effect of swapping the rise / fall and shift movements between the front and rear standards. (And I also added a bracket to attach a Sony A5100 camera / Fringer adapter combo to it as well, which I use to change the aperture between wide-open (for initial composing and focusing) and f8 for taking photos.)

    I made the lens panel from a piece of 1.5 mm thick titanium (because I had to use a piece of 1.5 mm material to fit into the existing slot for the lens panel and aluminum proved to be too flimsy and steel too heavy.) I made the camera mount panel from a piece of .5 mm thick carbon fiber sheet to save weight and adapted a rotating camera mount bracket from a Cambo Actus GFX, so I can change the orientation of the A7R from horizontal to vertical without having to remove the panel from the WDS and rotate it manually. Finally, I also made a rotating monitor mounting bracket from a couple of pieces of 3 mm thick carbon fiber sheet and a 67 mm to 49 mm aluminum stepdown ring, which serves as the axle around which it rotates.

    It all looks fairly slick and works very well. And I would post a photo here of the final, finished camera, except it appears I haven't yet taken one ... oops! <blushes>

    But there are some interim photos of the lens and camera mount panels I fabricated, as well as one of the monitor mounting bracket, posted in the two threads Oren referenced, along with several photos I have taken using the camera in its latest version, so do check out those!

    Your setups must give you astonishing results. Do you have a website or gallery where I can see your work? I'd love to see it.
    Well, thank you for the kind words! I don't have a formal website, but I do have a photo-blog -- https://audiidudii.aminus3.com/ -- where I post a new photo every other day ... check it out!

    Do you have a specific process of how you work? What I mean is do you just go out and take a photo of something you like/find interesting or do you plan your photos out and manipulate them/make digital montages?
    Nah, there's no special process I use, although I do work on projects rather than just photograph randomly. I have two, long-running, nighttime projects I'm working on now, one of which is documenting the Garfield Historic District in downtown Phoenix and the other I call "85258," which has me documenting the zip code where I live. For both projects, I walk around on foot, carrying my camera / tripod combo over my shoulder until a scene catches my eye, at which point I'll stop, setup my camera, and take a photo. And for my 85258 project, I'm usually accompanied by very patient dog, Miss Abby, who is happy to join me and get a bonus walk each time I go out (which is usually every other night, but less often during the hotter summer months, because my A7R's sensor gets noisy when the ambient temps increase):



    Oh, and so you know, I consider myself a documentary photographer, so I shoot what I see and refuse to engage in any HDR or compositing shenanigans. That said, I have borrowed a trick from the astrophotography world and median-blend multiple, identical files -- typically seven -- into one using Photoshop. This has the effect(s )of reducing noise, increasing the SNR and exposure range, and automagically eliminating stars and star trails from the sky, as well as light trails from airplanes and cars, and any passing pedestrians, too! If there's a breeze, it also adds a motion blur to the trees and plants appearing in the composition, which I actually like and consider a plus.

    An issue I find with my Linhof/Sony a7R III Frankencamera is that, even though the adapter slides, the photos all tend to be on the more telephoto side, given that the sensor is obviously smaller and is a bit further back than the 4x5 film plane. I assume there's no real way around this other than sliding the adapter around, taking separate photos, and stitching them together later.
    Actually, it was my desire to use wide and ultra-wide angle lenses that was one of my main motivations for undertaking these camera projects (the other was having in-camera movements available, so I could for keystoning optically, pre-exposure, instead of digitally via software, post-exposure.) Specifically, I built all of my cameras to use my Contax N 17-35/f2.8 zoom, which projects an oversize image circle over the focal length range from 19 mm to 35 mm, which allows for rise / fall / shift movements of 5-6 mm up at the widest end (alas, only 2-3 mm at 17-18 mm) increasing more or less linearly to 15 mm at the 35 mm end, all of which is usually sufficient for my purposes. And ditto for the focal length range, as this lens will cover me for 95 percent or more of the photos I take. And when it doesn't, I can add a NAM-1 adapter and switch to my Contax 645 primes, which, of course, project much larger image circles. (I also have a collection of many Contax / Yashica primes and zooms, too, many of which project image circles large enough to allow for an adequate range of in-camera movements. This is especially true of the 35-70/f3.4 zoom, which in addition to being a great performer, also projects an image circle large enough to cover the 33x44 sensor of my P30+ across a large portion of its focal length range and can be see mounted on my VX23D in the photo above.)

    Again, I apologize for the tardiness of my response, but if I somehow managed not to answer your question in my lengthy post above, don't hesitate to follow-up with me or even send me a PM.

    And with that, it's time for Miss Abby and me to go for a walk -- er, photo outing -- because insomnia sucks!
    Last edited by Audii-Dudii; 30-Jun-2019 at 04:17.

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