As I mentioned in my last entry, I’ve been creeping around at night with the camera and tripod (don’t panic, I’ve kept my pants on) and tinkering with night photography. In fact I’ve been out so often and taken so many pictures, I’ve got enough stuff for another 672 posts.
So, instead of blowing my bags for the usual massive write-up, I’m going to do a few short entries with a handful of photos and that’ll be it. It’s funny, but I remember a couple of years ago I’d be so short on ideas about what to write, I’d go for a day-hike just for some material. Now, there’s about 426 day walks that I’ve completed to could choose from for a post or million.
Not to mention I never did finish writing about the Overland Track and Wilsons Promontory hikes. All I can say is, one day they’ll invent the 36 hour day. Then I’d have more time. Oh, just because I’ve got a wealth of riches to write about, that doesn’t mean they’re going to be any good. It’s important to get that out of the way early. Smiley face.
Night photography? It’s a wild scene after dark and it feels as if I suddenly know nothing about photography. At least it’s digital, so photos can be previewed at the time. I had a go with my old film camera about 20 years ago and remember taking pictures and just hoping for the best. Unfortunately my hopes would usually result in the worst.
My two tips in this post are firstly, give it a miss when the moon is shining like an overhead lamp and secondly embrace the noise on the images. I’m using ISO speeds which at first glance you’d think only a delirious half-wit (first glance remember, I’m not a half-wit. I hope) would use. Well, I suppose you can get around it by having the shutter open for a decade with all the resulting problems that brings. Hey, stop waffling, this is a quick post, remember?
Right, an anonymous source told me the other day that I should head to the small town of Taradale at once, as there’s a ‘ye olde’ railway bridge there. After some research I did find there’s something called the Taradale Viaduct, which spans Black Creek and was built between 1858 – 1861.
Actually, I call it a bridge, but it’s officially a ‘viaduct’. It’s a great looking structure and actually still in use. Look, I’ve found a couple of photos from the State Library of Victoria, complete with train trundling across. Actually, if you want to be technical, I’m willing to bet big that train isn’t actually moving in the pictures.
I headed up to Taradale in the early evening, located the bridge and guess what? Yes, the moon absolutely killed me. See the photo at the start of the post? The cloud cover is insanely lit up and all the photo looks like in that 90 second exposure, is one taken in the day time, but looking weird.
There was also the problem which explains why the tree in the right foreground is lit up. Cars kept going past with their high-beams blinding the scene. In fact, I reckon it was the same car coming and going just to annoy me.
It’s funny, but when I got there, I had the images as to how they’d look like all worked out in my head. Unfortunately they’re nothing like I imagined! On these occasions I always fall back to the Salvador Dali quote, “Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.” I’ve yet to take the perfect photo. Hopefully I’ve got a few decades left to produce one.
Anyway, the multiple-same-car-passing-to-annoy-me continued, so I switched tack. At least from the next angle the night sky with stars can be seen. Again, I used high ISO to prevent star trail, but the moonlight created another world of weirdness…
I’m missing something here. Shouldn’t the grass and trees be a bit darker? That’s how bad the light was. Also, do you see what I mean about the noise? Usually I’m panicking about the grain, but it doesn’t actually bother me in a night photo. As per usual though it’s subjective, as some camera nuts may be vomiting right now.
Anyway, after an hour of playing around I surrendered to the big light in the sky and gave up. Just for something different though, before leaving I took a photo of the street I was standing in. The next picture sums up the night pictures on this occasion. Odd. I’m telling you now, the sky wasn’t blue when I was looking at it.
Oh well, when the moon has passed its cycle, I’ll go back up there. Hopefully then it’ll actually be dark, which leads me to the next night photography problem. How to focus on the subject when you can’t actually see a bloody thing.
Guess what? That’s in the next post, where I stumbled around a field in the dark trying to capture a windmill. I bet you’re all eagerly awaiting that post? On second thoughts, don’t answer that.
Look forward to seeing more, I reckon the images are great!!
The sky will be blue from scattered moonlight, just as it is in daylight due to scattered sunlight, just that you have less brightness until the camera adjusts everything. Oh, and please no more references to having your pants off, it could conjur up some awful images.
Hi Greg, very pleased you have been keeping your pants on whilst using your tripod and camera! You have taken some very creative photographs. Would love to see some more. cheers WV.
I like your night photos. Cool effects. How long were your exposures?
"Blue skies at night, hiker's delight"? Looks like you could have a world of fun with your new photographic obsession. That's an area that might be beyond the capabilities of my little camera – I would love to get into moon photography but at present the best I can manage is a blurry white blob!
Thanks Leah! I don't actually know where to start with the amount of pictures I've got piled up. I might have to indulge in a post frenzy over the next month!
Ken, you're probably correct about the light. I did Google it, but lost interest after not finding the answer within 23 seconds. My attention span wavers! I'm getting used to the variations in colour after a few nights out. There can be a deep blue early on, but it can change to a purple (in pictures. The sky is black to my eyes!) a bit later. I'm not sure what to make of it, but it's quite entertaining compared to my normal photography.
You do realise that in about 90% of posts on this blog there are 'no pants' and dick jokes? That's standard fiasco-fare, so I'm sorry, it will continue as that's just the way it is!
It seems the 'no pants' mention was a crowd pleaser?! Actually, even I'm not hardy enough to go partially starkers during these night shoots. At Taradale it was only 4C. Icy!
Regarding the photos, thanks! I'm still not sure what to make of them yet! Maybe when I know a bit more about this 'no light' caper I can actually create what I'm actually after, rather than going for hit and miss like now!
Linda, thanks! They do look a bit weird don't they?
The first photo was at ISO 1600, F4, 90 seconds. The one under the bridge looking up is ISO 3200, F4 and 20 seconds. I could see the stars, so to avoid the star trails I needed to keep it under 25 seconds. The only way that'd work is if I went for the high ISO. I'm finding that ISO 1600 is as high as I'd preferably go. Then again, if I can get a F2 or F2.8 lens then I shouldn't need to go to ISO 3200 very often.
I read about a bloke the other day who in his night shots he'll take at least 10 in sequence at high ISO and then in processing, stack them all together. Apparently this removes a lot of the noise? No idea, but it's something for me to read up on!
I'll be interested to re-visit the bridge without the moon and see what sort of look I'll get. In my mind I can see a nice red blur across the top as a train goes by. Maybe next time!
Goat, this camera is going to kill me. I reckon when I'm not taking pictures, I'm sitting on the couch either holding or looking at it. I think it's triggered OCD! I always wanted to go full frame, just like in my old film camera days and I've no idea why I waited so long! Quite a lot of fun (obsession).
I think under moonlight your camera would work okay? It's got the same sensor as the Sony DSLR's hasn't it? Then again, for your sanity I suggest you don't. You'll never get any sleep if you did, as you may become hooked!
Don't talk to me about the moon! I've learned that you have to go for shutter speeds you wouldn't normally consider when it's dark. Fast shutter! On a tripod of course, and you'll find the moon with it's features rather than a white disc! The moon is on my hit list and has been for years. I know what I need and that's a 100-400mm lens which is in the pipeline. A lens for birds and the moon. That's it. Stay tuned!
Cool looking photos! As far as the noise goes, I don't even notice any in the first and last photos. It's certainly noticeable in the 2nd last photo, but I don't feel it detracts at all from the interesting nature of the photo.
Thanks Dave! Yes, the noise is there, but in night photos it doesn't bother me so much. There is a dislike of grain in the digital era. I was looking at some old photos taken with my 35mm film camera years ago and they do have a bit of noise happening. Something I'd probably try and smooth out these days. Oh well, with an f4 lens and the need to keep the exposure under 25 seconds, I had to head to ISO 3200 just to capture something. Like they say, a photo is better than nothing at all!
Thanks for dropping by!
Taking ten in sequence would be like taking a longer length exposure at a lower ISO. Problem with that is everything moves, so what is needed is to take separate photos, and then combine them using stacking software. Have a look at http://rogergroom.com/astronomy-resources/astronomy-deep-sky-stacking-software/ for some possibilities.
Yes, I did wonder about the movement thing. Thanks for the link! I'll do a bit of reading before attempting it again. I'll have some time to do so, as the moon is certainly not ideal right now.