Photos After Dark

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Photos After Dark
Greg Mayo

Would it surprise you to learn this photograph was taken after dark?  Yep, it was slap dark.  In fact, there was so little street light, I had to get a passing smoker to light his lighter to give me a visible focus point.  Photos shot at night can have an eerie quality and color vibrancy that is hard to get during the day.  There are two musts for creating this kind of shot.

First, you have to learn how to use long exposures.  Your camera user’s manual (do you remember where it is?) probably has a description of the process.  The idea is that when very little light is coming into your lens, you have to let it come in a long time.  Think of filling a bucket with a teaspoon.  It takes a while.  The beauty of digital cameras is you can experiment with different lengths of time until you get something you like.  If it’s too dark make it longer.  If too light, shorter.  Read about ISO, too.  It’s another thing the effects exposure, but that’s another article.

Photos After DarkThe other must is a tripod.  The camera has to be still to get a sharp image.  If it moves, the image will be quite blurry.  You can get handy little, lightweight tripods for not too much money, or you can ask Santa for one.  Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can hand hold your camera and get a sharp image.  Even if the camera is secure, anything in the frame that moves will be blurry.  This can make some really neat looking color streaks if you’re going for the arty look.

With sunset coming so early this time of year, you can go on an evening photo expedition, get some great shots and be back in plenty of time to get the little ones in bed on a school night.  Give it a try.  It’s great fun when it’s cool and the mosquitoes don’t bite.

If you have a question or comments, shoot me an email.  Past articles are available on my website, www.gregmayo.com.  Have a great holiday season!