In The Desert
Content including photographs are Copyright © 2011 - Don & Linda Gilmore
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What's the best?
Of course the best would be a professional Nikon or Canon high end camera, BUT a less expensive alternative will work just as well. Even point and shoot cameras will work in some scenarios for some of these conditions.
A tripod is a must for "almost" all night photography and a remote shutter release is a definite plus. You can also use the timed delay for the shutter if you don't have a remote release, and you can even use your hands if your extremely steady. As we'll see in the following pages you can even shoot with the camera being hand held in some instances with success.
Learning the in's and out's of your camera is a must for this kind of shooting. It's not complicated but does take some knowledge about the way cameras work. This will help you with all kinds of photography, not just night shots. You'll need to familiarize yourself with shutter speed, including the Bulb setting. This setting allows you hold open the shutter for as long as the shutter button is depressed. You'll need to learn the meaning of Apertures so you'll be able to keep everything you need in focus. Mirror lock-up is another helpful option even for short shutter speeds like those used for shooting the moon. A lot of point and shoot cameras allow most of these options (except mirror lock-up - no mirror in a P & S or some of the newer Micro 4/3 rds. cameras) as they also have night shot modes that work pretty well. Knowing when to hit the shutter is probably the biggest asset.
Here's what we're going to cover in this article:
Fireworks -- includes lightning
Photographing the moon
Photographing moving objects in different ways
Photographing structures and other objects at night
When to use your flash
Fireworks and lightning are very similar, fast moving bright burst of light. There are different ways to accomplish this and we'll discuss them and show you some of the results that you can expect to obtain by following a few simple suggestions. Other interesting tips are included. No flash needed here!
Everyone has seen photographs of the moon, and some of them are just short of fantastic. Some are fantastic! In order to make this happen you'll need a very good quality telephoto lens of at least 300 mm or more and a decent camera. Now this is not to say you can't photograph the moon with less, but the quality of the detail and ability to see the craters on the moon's surface with some perspective will not be there. Shooting with the right camera settings helps also. Including other objects in your moon shot may be desirable. No flash needed here!
You can photograph moving objects at night using different techniques to get different results. For example, you've seen shots of traffic where the headlights and taillights are long white and red lights showing how the traffic is moving? This takes a little practice and you need a tripod or a rest for the camera. This can be done with a point and shoot camera fairly easily. You may also want to stop the action or show it in motion, we'll show you how using a flash.
Photographing buildings and structures at night can be fun and rewarding too, with a little know how. Motion comes into play here also and there are a few tricks you need to know to make this work and have it come out the way you want it to. Using a flash and an imaging trick to help enhance you photo.
I suggest that you spend some time familiarizing yourself with your camera and manual that came with it. Shutter speed, aperture and settings like BULB are explained. You'll also know if these things are available to you and where to find these settings. Some cameras (mostly P & S) don't allow a bulb setting for the shutter speed, but most other cameras do. Remember with digital, film is cheap! We'll also endeavour to explain the correct use of your flash for night photography.