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Thread: Night Photography: How to expose?

  1. #1

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    Night Photography: How to expose?

    hello there I just learned LF photography about 6 months ago in my high school photo class, and quickly fell in love with it. Forgive me if I sound alittle ignorant on the subject.
    Right now I am experimenting with night photography. After researching the subject I am still left with many questions. I live out in west marin, north of San Francisco and there are many scenes of which Ive always wanted to try out shooting at night. My main question is how long should I expose for? I am shooting with Kodak ISO 100 black and white film. The scene I want to expose for at the moment is this bay. there is no artificial light at all; only the stars. The main effect I want to capture is the fogginess of the water (from the long exposure), and the streaks of light from the stars across the sky. I'm not sure if I should use my light meter (dont have a spot meter), or if I should just wing it.

  2. #2

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    Re: Night Photography: How to expose?

    Eh, well, your light meter is going to be all but useless for a shot like you describe.

    You will get some guidelines from the great people here who have trekked out in your shoes. However, your best bet is going to be to take some advice for this type of light (or lack thereof) as you’ve asked, and then spend some money and time experimenting.

    Once you get a feel for how your film handles these situations you will be enlightened and you will start to make good images more often. If you keep at it you will probably, eventually, master that film (and similar) for star photography.

    For star-light and what ever small amount of ambient light is present, you are looking at very long exposures (hours) and this is in your favor as you are interested in star-trails.

    Go for it! And welcome!

  3. #3

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    Re: Night Photography: How to expose?

    for well lit areas (like city scenes) 100iso 5 min f8 is a good estamte form ym expeirence. if your in rurual areas with very little light polution have the lens right open and look at doing between an hour and 2 hour long exposures. I only tend to use slow films for night photography and find delta 100 to be a very good all round b/w film for the night sky and for capturing star trails. If you want to look at some of the work i've done in this way, go to my website and look at the 13th hour. all those exposures are roughly 1 hour give or take a few min. hope this helps

  4. #4

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    Re: Night Photography: How to expose?

    Will the moon make an appearance in the night sky during your exposure? The moon will kick in a lot of light to the scene.
    When I grow up, I want to be a photographer.

    http://www.walterpcalahan.com/Photography/index.html

  5. #5

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    Re: Night Photography: How to expose?

    Check this out for a pretty good set of guidelines:
    www.fredparker.com/ultexp1.htm

  6. #6

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    Re: Night Photography: How to expose?

    I hate to admit at just how useful this is, but I have been using digital cameras to figure long dark exposures. I usually use a spot meter for most of my work, but it's useless in some conditions. First I used an S70 PowerShot, then graduated to a 40D. It's like cheap Polaroid. This has been great for getting a better idea highlight and shadow, but even better when shooting color to get a better sense of broad color washes provided by streetlights, for example.

  7. #7

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    Re: Night Photography: How to expose?

    Quote Originally Posted by Robbie Shymanski View Post
    I hate to admit at just how useful this is, but I have been using digital cameras to figure long dark exposures. I usually use a spot meter for most of my work, but it's useless in some conditions. First I used an S70 PowerShot, then graduated to a 40D. It's like cheap Polaroid. This has been great for getting a better idea highlight and shadow, but even better when shooting color to get a better sense of broad color washes provided by streetlights, for example.
    totally agree. plus you can simulate different film types on the fly.

  8. #8
    tgtaylor's Avatar
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    Re: Night Photography: How to expose?

    I've been shooting B&W night scenes with Fuji Acros which is films version of a CCD chip. Acording to Fuji's data sheet for Acros, a 16 minute exposure requires but a scant 1/2 stop exposure correction (or 25 minutes instead of 16).

    You didn't mention what subject you are shooting but for images looking into the Pacific from Ocean Beach in San Francisco, 7 or 8 minutes proved to be a good exposure for me. If the moon is to be included with detail in the ocean, then use a 3 stop or more grad based upon the reading you get in the water with a spot meter to knock the moon down. Other than that you will have to experiment. For color transperiency, Fuji Provia seems a good choice.

    For good info on night photography, see http://www.thenocturnes.com/

    Thomas

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